I have been reading about beards in various cultures here's some of the information from wikipedia. Ancient and Classical world
The highest ranking Ancient Egyptians grew hair on their chins which was often dyed or hennaed (reddish brown) and sometimes plaited with interwoven gold thread. A metal false beard, or postiche, which was a sign of sovereignty, was worn by queens as well as kings. This was held in place by a ribbon tied over the head and attached to a gold chin strap, a fashion existing from about 3000 to 1580 BC.
Mesopotamian civilizations (Assyrian, Babylonian, Chaldean, Median and ancient Persian) devoted great care to oiling and dressing their beards, using tongs and curling irons to create elaborate ringlets and tiered patterns.
Grecian beards were frequently curled with tongs to create hanging curls. Beards predominated among the Greeks until 323 BC, at which time the youthful Alexander III of Macedon ordered his soldiers to be clean shaven, fearing that their beards would serve as handles for their enemies to grab and to hold the Greek soldier as he was killed. When Alexander was going to fight against the Persians, one of his officers brought him word that all was ready for battle, and demanded if he required anything further. On which Alexander replied, "nothing but that the Macedonians cut off their beards, for there is not a better handle to take a man by than the beard." This shows Alexander intended close fighting.
In ancient India and Israel, the beard was allowed to grow long, a symbol of dignity and of wisdom (cf. sadhu and nazarite, respectively). The nations in the east generally treated their beards with great care and veneration, and the punishment for licentiousness and adultery was to have the beard of the offending parties publicly cut off. They had such a sacred regard for the preservation of their beards that a man might pledge it for the payment of a debt.
The Persians were fond of long beards. In Olearius' Travels, a King of Persia commands his steward's head to be cut off, and on its being brought to him, remarks, "what a pity it was, that a man possessing such fine mustachios, should have been executed," but he adds, "Ah! it was your own fault."
Shaving seems to have not been known to the Romans during their early history (under the Kings of Rome and the early Republic). Pliny tells us that P. Ticinius was the first who brought a barber to Rome, which was in the 454th year from the founding of the city (that is, around 299 BC). Scipio Africanus was apparently the first among the Romans who shaved his beard. However, after that shaving seems to have caught on very quickly, and soon almost all Roman men were clean-shaven - being clean-shaven became a sign of being Roman as opposed to being Greek, as the Greeks often grew beards. Beards remained rare among the Romans throughout the Late Republic and the early Principate, until the second century A.D., when the Emperor Hadrian, according to Dion, was the first of all the Caesars to grow a beard. This was a period in Rome of widespread imitation of Greek culture, and the philhellene Emperor Hadrian and many other men grew beards in imitation of the Greek fashion. From that time on beards were once again common in Rome.
It was a custom among the Romans to consecrate the first growth of a young man's beard (i.e., the cuttings after the first time he shaved) to some god; thus Nero at the Gynick games, which he exhibited in the Septa, cut off the first growth of his beard, which he placed in a golden box, adorned with pearls, and then consecrated it in the Capitol to Jupiter.
For the Romans, a bearded man was a proverbial expression for a man of virtue and simplicity. Roman servants or slaves were not allowed to pull their hair, or shave their beards.
During grief and mourning, a Roman would let his hair and beard grow (Livy), while the Greeks on the contrary used to cut off their hair and shave their beards on such occasions (Seneca). This custom may have led to a tradition in later Europe of widows concealing their hair for a stated period after the death of their husbands. There have been instances of a widow closely cutting off her hair, but these observances are becoming less and less frequent.
Among the Catti, a Germanic tribe (perhaps the Chatten), a young man was not allowed to shave or cut his hair until he had slain an enemy (Tacitus). The Lombards or Longobards, derived their Fame from the great length of their beards. When Otho the Great used to speak anything serious, he swore by his beard, which covered his breast.
 From the Renaissance to the present day
In the 15th century, the beard was worn long. Clergymen in 16th century England were usually clean shaven to indicate their celibacy. When a priest became convinced of the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation he would often signal this by allowing his beard to grow, showing that he rejected the tradition of the church and perhaps also its stance on clerical celibacy. The longer the beard, the more striking the statement. Sixteenth century beards were therefore suffered to grow to an amazing length (see the portraits of John Knox, Bishop Gardiner and Thomas Cranmer). Some beards of this time were the Spanish spade beard, the English square cut beard, the forked beard, and the stiletto beard.
Strangely, this trend was especially marked during Queen Mary's reign, a time of reaction against Protestant reform (Cardinal Pole's beard is a good example). Queen Elizabeth I, succeeding Mary, is said to have disliked beards and therefore established a tax on them. 
In urban circles of Western Europe and the Americas, beards were out of fashion after the early 17th century; to such an extent that, in 1698, Peter the Great of Russia levied a tax on beards in order to bring Russian society more in line with contemporary Western Europe.
Throughout the 18th Century beards were unknown among most parts of Western society, especially the nobility and upper classes.
Beards returned strongly to fashion after the Napoleonic Era. Throughout the nineteenth century facial hair (beards, along with long sideburns and moustaches) was more common than not. Many male European monarchs were bearded (e.g. Alexander III of Russia, Napoleon III of France, Frederick III of Germany), as were many of the leading statesmen and cultural figures (e.g. Benjamin Disraeli, Charles Dickens and Giuseppe Verdi, to name just a few). The stereotypical Victorian male figure in the popular mind remains a stern figure clothed in black whose gravitas is added to by a heavy beard (or long sideburns). However, in the early twentienth century beards fell almost completely out of fashion once more; they became largely the preserve of elderly, old-fashioned eccentrics.
Beards, together with long hair, were reintroduced to mainstream society in Western Europe and the Americas by the hippie movement of the mid 1960s. By the end of the 20th century, the closely clipped Verdi beard, often with a matching integrated moustache, was relatively common.
 Modern attitudes in the United States
Maryland Governor Thomas Swann with a long beard. Such beards were common around the time of the Civil War.In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, beards were rare in the United States, as elsewhere in the Western world. But as elsewhere, they had become prevalent by the mid-nineteenth century. Up to and following the American Civil War, many famous heroes and General officers had significant beards. A sign of the shift was to be observed in occupants of the Presidency: before Lincoln, no President had a beard; after Lincoln until McKinley, every President (except Andrew Johnson) had either a beard or a moustache. The beard's loss of popularity since its nineteenth century heyday is shown by the fact that after this brief "golden age", no President has worn a full beard since Benjamin Harrison, and no President has worn any facial hair at all since William H. Taft.
Following World War I, beards fell out of vogue. There are several theories as to why the military began shaving beards.
When World War I broke out in the 1910s, the use of chemical weapons necessitated that soldiers shave their beards so that gas masks could seal over their faces.
The enlistment of military recruits for World War I in 1914 precipitated a major migration of men from rural to urban locales. This was the largest such migration that had ever occurred in the United States up to that time. The rural lives of some of these bearded men included the "Saturday Night bath" as a reality rather than as a humourism. The sudden concentration of recruits in crowded army induction centers brought with it disease, including head lice. Remedial action was taken by immediately shaving the faces and cutting the hair of all inductees upon their arrival.
When the war concluded in 1918 the "Dough Boys" returned to a hero's welcome. During this time period the Film Industry was coming into its own and "going to the movies" became a popular pastime. Due to the recent Armistice many of the films had themes related to World War I. These popular films featured actors who portrayed soldiers with their clean shaven faces and "crew cuts". Concurrently, "Madison Avenue's" psychological mass marketing was becoming prevalent. The Gillette Safety Razor Company was one of these marketers' early clients. These events conspired to popularize short hair and clean shaven faces as the only acceptable style for decades to come. It has been noted that there is a close and consistent association of long standing in American film between facial hair and role—if one lead male character has more facial hair than another, he is far more likely to be the antagonist, and the man with less (or no) facial hair the protagonist.
Trimmed beardFrom the 1920s to the early 1960s, beards were virtually nonexistent in mainstream America. The few men who wore beards during this period were either old, Central Europeans, members of a religious sect that required it, in academia, or part of the counterculture, such as the "beatniks". Even today there is some degree of prejudice against beards and against men who wear beards, although it is much less serious than it once was; beards are normally much more accepted in the Western world than they once were.
Example of a young man sporting a shaggy beard, now common within the Hipster sub-cultureFollowing the Vietnam War, beards exploded in popularity. In the mid-late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, beards were worn by hippies and businessmen alike. Popular rock, soul and folk musicians like The Beatles, Barry White and the male members of Peter, Paul, and Mary wore full beards. The trend of seemingly ubiquitous beards in American culture subsided in the mid 1980s.
From the 1990s onward, the fashion in beards has generally trended toward either a goatee, Van Dyck, or a closely cropped full beard undercut on the throat. It is not unusual to see corporate executives in modern America with a full beard. Recently, short sideburns have become very popular, particularly among younger men. Beards are being seen more and more these days, most likely as a result of backlash against the popularization of the "metrosexual" character type in the early 2000's.
One stratum of American society where facial hair is virtually nonexistent is in government and politics. The last President to wear any type of facial hair was William Howard Taft, who was in office nearly a century ago. Virtually no current state governors or members of Congress, with the exception of New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, have beards or mustaches.
 Beards in religion
Beards also play an important role in some religions.
In Greek mythology and art Zeus and Poseidon are always portrayed with beards, but Apollo never is. A bearded Hermes was replaced with the more familiar beardless youth in the 5th century.
Sikhs consider the beard to be an integral part of the male human body as created by God and believe that it should be preserved, maintained, and respected as such. Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, ordained and established the keeping of the hair and beard as part of the identity and one of the insignia of Sikh males. Sikhs consider the beard to be part of the nobility and dignity of manhood.
Hassidic Jew with beard and payot (sidelocks) tucked behind his earsMain article: Shaving in Judaism
The Bible states in Leviticus 19:27 that "Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard." Talmudic rabbis understood this to mean that a man may not shave his beard with a razor with a single blade, since the cutting action of the blade against the skin "mars" the beard. Because scissors have two blades, halakha (rabbinic law) permits their use to trim the beard, as the cutting action comes from contact of the two blades and not the blade against the skin. For this reason, most poskim (Jewish legal decisors) rule that Orthodox Jews may use electric razors to remain cleanshaven, as such shavers cut by trapping the hair between the blades and the metal grating, halakhically a scissor-like action. Some prominent contemporary poskim maintain that electric shavers constitute a razor-like action and consequently prohibit their use.
Many Orthodox Jews grow beards for social and cultural reasons. Since the electric razor is a relatively modern innovation, virtually all Orthodox Jews grew beards before its advent. Beards are thus symbolic of keeping the traditions of one's ancestors. The Zohar, one of the primary sources of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), attributes holiness to the beard, specifying that hairs of the beard symbolize channels of subconscious holy energy that flows from above to the human soul. Therefore, most Hasidic Jews, for whom Kabbalah plays an important role in their religious practice, traditionally do not remove or even trim their beards.
In Eastern Christianity, beards are often worn by members of the priesthood, and at times have been required for all believers - see Old Believers. Amish and Hutterite men shave until they are married, then grow a beard and are never thereafter without one, although it is a particular form of a beard (see Visual markers of marital status).
Nowadays, members of many Catholic religious communities, mainly those of Franciscan origin, use a beard as a sign of their vocation.
Many Muslims believe that it is mandatory by Islamic law to grow the beard because in Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 72, Hadith # 780: The Prophet said, "Do the opposite of what the pagans do. Keep the beards and cut the moustaches short."
The intent of this hadith is, however, a point of ongoing discussion and interpretation, and the fundamental interpretation is not currently the only accepted one among Muslims. This hadith, placed in historical context, is seen by some as an order at that time and in that place to distinguish one's self from the surrounding non-Muslims, largely for security and cultural reasons, for that situation. It is presently not uncommon for practicing Muslims in Islamic and Western countries to not grow their beards.
In addition, following the Prophet's actions is very important as well since he was proclaimed as a walking Quran and Muslims try their utmost to follow the teachings of the Quran. Since the Prophet kept a beard, many Muslim men keep beards to follow his actions and the teachings of the religion. Depending on their sect, they have differing opinions on how the Prophet Muhammad wore his.
As with hadith, however, following the Prophet's actions is also a point where fundamentalist vs. contextual interpretations come into play. Therefore, many Muslims do shave, since it is generally considered to be virtuous, but not mandatory, to grow a beard.
According to the majority opinions in the four major Sunni schools of jurisprudence, a beard is mandatory for all men, unless they have a medical reason not to grow one. The exception is the Shafi`i Madhab, which includes two valid opinions, one stating that a beard is required and one stating that a beard is Sunnah Mu'akadah (An emphasized example set by the Prophet, but not required). Minority opinions exist in all four schools that the beard is optional, but virtuous.
Prophet Muhammed also was quoted as saying that growing the beard is part of the Abrahamic tradition that Muslims have inherited. God commanded Abraham to keep his beard, shorten his mustache, clip his nails, shave the hair around his genitals, and pluck the hair in his armpit; accordingly Muslims starting with their Prophet Muhammed emulate Abraham.
 Rastafari Movement
A male Rastafarian's beard is a sign of his pact with God (Jah or Jehovah), and his Bible is his source of knowledge. Leviticus 21:5 ("They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in the flesh.")
 Modern prohibition of beards
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 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
LDS Church Presidents from Brigham Young to George Albert Smith all wore beards of some manner. But from the time of David O. McKay through Gordon B. Hinckley, general Church leaders have been uniformly clean-shaven. Mormon men in general have followed suit, though this is not mandated by scripture or Church policy. Having a beard does not disqualify a man from temple attendance, nor from serving in many positions of local leadership.
Full-time missionaries are clean-shaven as a matter of policy. Bishops and stake presidents are strongly encouraged not to grow facial hair. Students at Brigham Young University adhere to an Honor Code containing Dress and Grooming Standards. This includes the following language: " If worn, moustaches should be neatly trimmed and may not extend beyond or below the corners of the mouth. Men are expected to be clean shaven; beards are not acceptable."  Exceptions are made for BYU students who must keep their beard for medical or religious reasons.
Today, for practical reasons (with some exceptions), it is illegal for amateur boxers to have beards. As a safety precaution, high school wrestlers must be clean-shaven before each match. Neatly trimmed mustaches are often allowed though.
The Cincinnati Reds, Major League Baseball's oldest existing team, had a longstanding enforced policy where all players had to be completely clean shaven (no beards, long sideburns or moustaches). However, this policy was abolished following the sale of the team by Marge Schott.
Under owner George Steinbrenner, the New York Yankees baseball team has had a strict dress code that forbids long hair and facial hair below the lip. More recently, Willie Randolph and Joe Girardi, both former Yankee assistant coaches, adopted a similar clean-shaven policy for their ballclubs; the New York Mets and Florida Marlins, respectively. Fredi Gonzalez, who replaced Girardi as the Marlins' manager, dropped that policy when he took over after the 2006 season.
Playoff beard is a tradition common on some teams in the NHL and now in other leagues wherein players allow their beards to grow from the beginning of the playoff season until the playoffs are over.
The 20th century American jazz drummer and bandleader Buddy Rich famously fired members of his band for wearing beards. Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons of the famous rock band ZZ Top are also renowned for having very distinctive facial hair. Ironically, ZZ Top's Drummer Frank Beard (called "Rube Beard" on earlier albums) is the one member of the group who, despite having a moustache since the early days of the group, does not wear a beard. Alternative Folk musician Sam Beam, better known as Iron & Wine, is known for always sporting a full beard.
Leland Sklar, a profilic session bass guitar player, is noted for his long hair and a long flowing beard.
 Armed forces
The Canadian Forces permits moustaches, provided they are neatly trimmed and do not pass beyond the corners of the mouth; an exception to this is the handlebar moustache, which is permitted. Generally speaking, beards are not permitted to CF personnel with the following exceptions:
members wearing the naval uniform (tradition)
members of an infantry pioneer platoon (tradition)
members who must maintain a beard due to religious requirements (Sikhs or orthodox Jews, e.g.)
members with a medical condition which precludes shaving
These exceptions notwithstanding, in no case is a beard permitted without a moustache, and only full beards may be worn (not goatees, van dykes, etc.).
Personnel with beards may still be required to modify or shave off the beard, as environmental or tactical circumstances dictate (e.g., to facilitate the wearing of a gas mask).
Beards are also allowed to be worn by personnel conducting OPFOR duties.
The "decree N° 75-675 regarding regulations for general discipline in the Armies of the 28th July 1975, modified" regulates facial hair in the French armed forces.
Military personnel are allowed to grow a beard or moustache only during periods when they are out of uniform. The beard must be "correctly trimmed", and provisions are stated for a possible ban of beards by the military authorities to ensure compatibility with certain equipment.
According to the regulations of the Israel Defense Forces, growing a moustache or a beard is prohibited. Allowances are made in the following cases:
The soldier is a practicing Orthodox Jew and requests permission to grow a beard for religious reasons.
The soldier has a medical condition (such as skin problems) that would be aggravated by shaving (medical documentation is necessary)
The soldier had a beard before joining the army and requests permission to keep it.
The soldier has completed his compulsory service and is serving in the career army.
If a soldier has obtained permission to grow a beard, the beard must either be:
A full beard - extending from the sideburns to the chin on both sides of the face.
A goatee - starting from the middle of the face on both sides and extending to the chin, including a moustache.
 The Netherlands
In the Dutch army, petty officers and soldiers may not grow beards, although small moustaches are permissible. High-ranking officers may grow full beards, although this is rare. A beard without a moustache is considered unattractive in The Netherlands.
The Spanish Legion allows beards to be grown.
 United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, the Royal Navy allows "full sets" (beards and moustaches together) but not beards or moustaches alone. The other British armed services allow moustaches only. Exceptions are beards grown for religious reasons (usually by Sikhs), though in the event of conflict in which the use of chemical or biological weapons is likely, they may be required to shave a strip around the seal of a respirator. Beards are also permitted for medical reasons, such as temporary skin irritations, or by infantry pioneer warrant officers, colour sergeants and sergeants, who traditionally wear beards. Any style of facial hair is allowed in British police forces as long as it is neatly trimmed. Beards are also permitted by special forces when not on base, ie covert intelligence operations or behind enemy lines.
 United States
The U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps justify banning beards on the basis of both hygiene and of the necessity for a good seal with gas masks. The U.S. Navy did allow beards for a time in the 1970s and 1980s, following a directive from Chief of Naval Operations Elmo Russell Zumwalt, Jr., but subsequently banned them again. The U.S. Coast Guard allowed beards until 1986, when they were banned by the Commandant, Admiral Paul Yost. The vast majority of police forces across the United States still ban beards. However, moustaches are generally allowed in both the military and police forces (except for those undergoing basic training). U.S. Army Special Forces and other U.S. Special Operation Forces have been allowed to wear beards in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other middle-eastern countries in order to better fit in with the indigenous population.
Laws on the matter are quite liberal; both length of hair and beard depends on the soldier's position. The Royal Guard is required to be clean shaven. Most operative personnel are not allowed to wear them (ex. to not interfere with gas masks) unless:
The soldier attains express permission to grow his beard from a high-ranking officer.
The soldier already has a beard upon his enlistment and requests to continue growing it or maintain it at its present length.
 Axioms about beards
"There are two kinds of people in this world that go around beardless—boys and women—and I am neither one." -Greek saying
"ÇáÑÌá ÈáÇ ÔäÈ ßÇáÞØ ÈáÇ ÐäÈ" "A man without moustache is like a cat without a tail." -Arab Saying
"The beard is the handsomeness of the face, and a wife is the joy in a man's heart." - R' Akiva, Eicha Rabbah
"How womanly it is for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, and to arrange his hair at the mirror, shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them!…For God wished women to be smooth and to rejoice in their locks alone growing spontaneously, as a horse in his mane. But He adorned man like the lions, with a beard, and endowed him as an attribute of manhood, with a hairy chest - a sign of strength and rule." - St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.275
Leonato: You may light on a husband that hath no beard.
Beatrice: What should I do with him? dress him in my apparel and make him my waiting-gentlewoman? He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man: and he that is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man, I am not for him… -William Shakespeare - Excerpt from 'Much Ado About Nothing' – Act 2, Scene I
 Early Christian attitudes
St Clement of Alexandria
"The hair of the chin showed him to be a man." St Clement of Alexandria (c.195, E), 2.271
"How womanly it is for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, and to arrange his hair at the mirror, shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them!…For God wished women to be smooth and to rejoice in their locks alone growing spontaneously, as a horse in his mane. But He adorned man like the lions, with a beard, and endowed him as an attribute of manhood, with a hairy chest--a sign of strength and rule." St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.275
"This, then, is the mark of the man, the beard. By this, he is seen to be a man. It is older than Eve. It is the token of the superior nature….It is therefore unholy to desecrate the symbol of manhood, hairiness.” St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.276
"It is not lawful to pluck out the beard, man’s natural and noble adornment." St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.277
"In their manners, there was no discipline. In men, their beards were defaced." St Cyprian (c. 250, W), 5.438
"The beard must not be plucked. 'You will not deface the figure of your beard'." (Leviticus 19:27) St. Cyprian, 5.553
"The nature of the beard contributes in an incredible degree to distinguish the maturity of bodies, or to distinguish the sex, or to contribute to the beauty of manliness and strength." Lactantius (c. 304-314, W), 7.288
"Men may not destroy the hair of their beards and unnaturally change the form of a man. For the Law says, “You will not deface your beards.” For God the Creator has made this decent for women, but has determined that it is unsuitable for men." Apostolic Constitutions (compiled c.390.