History of Shaving
What is the origin of shaving? Today, many people are asking this question, and not many understand where it all started. It may be shocking for you to discover how old shaving is and how the shaving razor originated. Irrespective of the style of shaving you prefer, whether you like a mustache, a full beard, or mutton chops, they all have a history.
Like many other things, shaving has evolved in and out of fashion over the years. Mostly, shaving has evolved according to religion, region, and other social aspects. For instance, Orthodox Jewish men aren’t allowed to shave in line with Leviticus 19:27, which prohibits shaving of beards. Similarly, Amish men are only allowed to shave up when they marry. Afterward, they let their beards grow all their lives. Well, that’s how fascinating the history of shaving is, and it carries a lot more facts.
Below are in-depth historical facts about the origin of shaving.
When Did Shaving Start?
Since time immemorial, shaving has been a crucial ritual practiced by both men and women. Archaeologists have discovered several old tools dating back to 30,000 BC as proof of shaving in the ancient world. These tools are what ancient people used while shaving their beads and heads.
Since the Stone Age era, prehistoric cave paintings worldwide have been displaying men who lack facial hair. Such paintings demonstrate that flint, clamshells, obsidian, and flames were serving as shaving tools. Whereas flint and obsidian might have served as sharp razor blades in the era, clamshells were for plucking undesirable hair, similar to today’s tweezers.
History of Beard Shaving in Ancient Egypt
In ancient Egypt, their cultural life was so complicated that it isn’t understood fully today. In those times, beards and facial hair acted as symbols for asserting power. In particular, Pharaohs kept exceedingly long and thin beads which got modeled into bushy and thick shapes. Ancient Egyptians used wax from bees, the same ingredient used in producing the contemporary beard wax. Ancient Egyptians used beeswax for styling their beards naturally.
Apart from signifying authority and power, beards also linked the ancient Egyptians with their gods. Shaving of beards had immense religious importance and connected them to divine influences. As such, a Pharaoh who wore a beard demonstrated the status of a god on Earth.
In the ancient Egyptian community, most men often had a close shave. In particular, the Pharaohs had a close shave as a way to depict their sophisticated social status. At the time, to get an excellent close shave, it took time — a symbol of luxury. Afterward, the Pharaohs would then wear their fake beards to assert their authority and power.
Like the contemporary people, ancient Egyptian Pharaohs wanted to get a close shave using the best tools. However, at the time, they didn’t have high-end tools like Gillette razors. Instead, they made use of sharpened stone blades anchored into a wooden handle. The desire to get a high-end close shave led to the first historical professional barbers in ancient Egypt.
History of Shaving in Ancient Greece
Ancient Greeks valued having full beards, and it was the best fashion at the time. The importance of keeping full beards reveals itself through the paintings of Greek scholars and philosophers. At the time, keeping full beards was seen as a symbol of wisdom and masculinity. Greeks would cut their beards only when mourning a loved one.
However, when Alexander the Great came into power, the culture of keeping full beards changed. Alexander inspired his soldiers to shave beards to avoid enemies from grabbing them while having one-on-one confrontations with them. As a result of his influence, shaving quickly took shape in ancient Greek, and soon it became the new fashion in town. From the time onwards, razor technology started developing, and soon after, the making of shaving razors from copper or iron began.
History of Shaving in the 18th Century
In the history of shaving, the year 1770 was of great significance. During the time, a gentleman named Jean-Jacques Perret released a book that helped teach men personal shaving tricks. Additionally, a shaving razor that went by the name Perret got invented. These events led to a revolution in shaving history as it marked the turning point for modern safety razors. It contained a blade anchored onto a wooden handle to allow a firm grip by the user. These inventions of the 18th Century led to breakthroughs that are now the foundations of modern shaving tools.
History of Shaving in the 19th Century
As the 19th Century started, straight razors became the best blades for shaving. Most men opted to shave using straight razors during the time as they offered an excellent close shave. Besides, in this period, the straight razor got the popular name of “cut-throat razor.”
Additionally, it was in the 19th Century that the double-edged safety razor got invented. These razors’ inventions made it possible for nearly anybody to give a close shave without necessarily being experienced. It allowed most men to carry out shaving on their own without necessarily depending on trained barbers.
Still in the 19th Century, more specifically in 1847, William S. Henson invented a razor with blade sets positioned at right angles. It was in this Century that the phrase ‘safety razor’ got patented. The term referred to shaving razors with extra safety devices attached to glide the blade while shaving. Since then, safety razors are among the most effective razors that can give a high-end close shave.
History of Shaving in the 20th and 21st Centuries
As the shaving revolution continued, in 1928, Jacob Schick, an American inventor, designed the first electric razor. These types of razors made shaving easy and quick for men who had daily routines of shaving.
Finally, in the 21st Century (modern), there are several types of shaving tools and accessories to select from when shaving. From razors to shaving brushes and aftershaves, the 21st Century has had plenty of alternatives to make shaving easy, quick, and fascinating. Ultimately, the shaving history is long and has led to various inventions and revolutions that have entirely changed the industry.