Henna has been used to dye and condition beards and facial hair for just as long as it has been used for hair on the head. Henna was used to dye hair in Persia as early as 1000 BCE. Persian men used henna alone or in combination with indigo to cover grays and to keep beards conditioned and healthy.
The use of henna for hair and beards was common throughout South Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Middle East, and eventually spread to western regions, then throughout the world. At public baths, men relaxed and socialized while keeping up their washing and grooming habits, which included dyeing their beards. Henna made beards smoother, shinier, and stronger.
A man receives a Turkish massage at a public bath. Ottoman Empire, early 20th century.
In ancient times, Roman travelers noted that Persian men appeared to have This was most likely a misinterpretation of their gray hairs which took on a copper shine after being hennaed. It was also common to dye the beard with indigo after it was hennaed, to achieve a jet black result. This is known as the .