The History of Shaving
The evolution of shaving began during prehistoric times and continues to develop to this day. From plucking hairs out with shells to using electric shavers, shaving has undergone many changes.
It is believed that prehistoric man would pluck out hairs using two shells. Quite inefficient, these would eventually be replaced by flint razors, which proved to be much sharper. Unfortunately for ancient men, flint razors were not very durable.
Consequently, the use of metal razors eventually developed. Approximately five thousand years ago, copper razors became moderately widespread in regions of Egypt and India. The ancient Egyptians proved to be rather extreme in the use of their shavers. It was considered unsophisticated in that society to possess any visible hair at all. To have such hair would indicate that a person was a barbarian or a criminal. This trend went to such an extreme that the entire head was shaved, resulting in the use of wigs. It is believed that such practices were begun due to hygiene, as a lack of hair deterred lice infestation and cooled down a person. Egypt priests believed that body hair was shameful and unclean. Wild animals and barbarians have hair, not the sophisticated and advanced Egyptian empire. Being hairless was achieved by shaving, using depilatory creams and rubbing one’s hair off with a pumice stone. The Egyptians had a preoccupation with body hygiene, the Greek historian Herodotus (485-425 BC) commented that the Egyptians bathed several times a day and “set cleanliness above seemliness”.
Interesting Fact - The Greek historian and storyteller "Herodotus" states that it was the Egyptians, who actually invented circumcision, and all who practiced it, really learned it from them. Which logically follows, because there is a hygienic value to circumcision. If not kept scrupulously clean, a male can have problems there - it's not all about torturing little boys. Source
Later, in the time of Alexander the Great, shaving became more widespread, reaching Greece and eventually Rome. It was said that Alexander was so conscious of his appearance that he would not enter battle without a preliminary shave. Subsequently, for many, a short haircut and a smooth face were considered necessary as well as aesthetically pleasing.
Shaving once again regained popularity in the middle ages with the advent of elaborate headdresses for women. Many shaved off their hair as well as their eyebrows in order to accommodate such accessories. Men, meanwhile, were expected to possess neatly trimmed facial hair or none at all.
The shaver itself evolved noticeably since the middle ages. In the early 1800s, a straight razor was extremely popular. Somewhat resembling a pocketknife, the blade folded into the handle. This proved to require much maintenance and skill to use, prompting its fall to the shaver we know today. In the later half of the 1800s, the blade became perpendicular to the handle, making the product easier to use. Eventually, disposable blades became available and have proven popular ever since.
Over the past few hundred years, shaving has evolved into its modern form. The mass marketing of shaving products has exploded over the past century, partly through the growth of the media. Women, for instance, began shaving their armpits in 1915, following an advertisement in the United States displaying a woman's shaved arms. Shocking at first, this soon caught on, prompting women to shave their armpits, a trend continuing to this day in much of the western world.
Undoubtedly as trends change, shaving will undergo more modifications. As it stands, however, shaving is an ingrained practice in all societies and is likely to become more sophisticated over time.
When it comes to men, the face is typically the region of the body to be shaved. There are two general purposes for men's shaving. The first is to completely shave off all facial hair on a regular basis. The second is to groom some or all facial hair in order to maintain a beard, mustache, or a goatee.
For those who shave off all facial hair, there are many available tools for shaving. These include t-razors, electric shavers, and straight razors. Each suitably completes the job, although they each have different advantages. T-razors and electric shavers are most commonly used today. Straight razors, on the other hand, require much skill to use and become dull fairly quickly. As a result, they are no longer commonly used.
T-razors and electric shavers are the tools of choice for men in today's world. The electric shaver has gained immense popularity due to its ease of use as well as due to the speed at which it is able to complete the job. The downside to this shaver is that it is harsh to the skin, as it requires the skin to be dry in order to function. T-razors, despite being a slower method, provide a closer shave. They are also more soothing to the skin, especially when a used in combination with a decent gel or oil.
For those with some facial hair, a combination of the above with a beard or mustache trimmer will suitably complete a shave.
Women's Hair Removal
For women, there are four major types of body hair removal. These include shaving - the most common method, waxing, the use of depilatory creams, and electrolysis.
The most widespread means of eliminating body hair is shaving. This can be used to remove hair from the legs, underarms, and - with care - the bikini area. A razor combined with a conditioning shave cream or lotion is best used to promote smooth skin. When shaving the legs, it is best to shave against the grain, permitting that the same area is not shaved over more than once. Repeatedly shaving the same spot may cause ingrown hairs.
Another popular form of hair removal is waxing. Two types are used, one of which is peeled off with special paper while the other is peeled off after hardening. Waxing is best used for the more sensitive areas of skin, such as the face and bikini area. Waxing is performed both by professionals as well as at home with the use of kits.
Depilatory creams are another, potent method for hair removal. Consisting of strong chemicals, this method is best used on more rugged skin, such as on the legs or underarms. At most, depilatory creams should be used once or twice per week, depending upon the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
The final method for female hair removal is through electrolysis. Permanent, expensive, and painful, this procedure is the least common. Despite its permanence, the procedure is costly and slow. A needle is inserted into individual hair follicles, and then an electric current is sent into the hair, effectively killing it. This is precisely used in order to remove certain areas of hair growth.
- Prewash the skin using warm water in order to open pores and to soften the skin's surface. This is best performed following a bath or shower, which naturally warms and moistens the skin's surface.
- Do not use excessive amounts of shaving foam or gel. Additionally, it is best to use those which benefit the skin. Foams and gels containing vitamins for the skin, which help repair shaving damaged are available.
- Shave using a razor, not an electric shaver, for best results. Electric shavers typically operate on dry skin for best performance. They are not as accurate as a sharp razor and may more easily abrade the skin's surface.
- Be sure to use a sharp razor. Regardless of the brand, if it is not sufficiently shape, it won't produce as effective a result. In fact, the odds for damaging the skin increase significantly with an older, blunt blade.
- Shave in the direction of hair growth to reduce the blade's friction with the skin. Otherwise the blade is likely to cause damage to the skin in the form of a cut or a rash-like abrasion. An exception to this is for women shaving their legs.
- Be sure to rinse the blade several times per shave in hot water. This will keep the blade clean and improves its performance.
- Rinse the skin with warm (not hot) water when complete. This washes away the foam or gel used and helps to restore the skin's moisture level.
- Do not use aftershave when finished. Aftershave contains alcohol, which closes the skin's pores and dries out the skin. Since the act of shaving removes skin oils, it is not a good out to dry out the skin any further. Instead, use shaving oils to replenish the skin's moisture.
- Cave drawing from as early as 10,000 BC depict both men with clean-shaven faces and those with short beards.
- Ancient Egyptian barbers regularly shaved their clients with razors and pumice stones, as a beard was considered an indication of personal neglect.
- The straight cut-throat blade was introduced in the Middle Ages.
- 1680 is the year in which the first narrow-bladed folding straight razor was introduced.
- Alexander the Great observed that beards could be easily grabbed by the enemy during battle and insisted his troops fight with clean-shaven faces.
- Peter the Great of Russia imposed a tax on beards, which was collected at every town gate.
- The world's oldest existing barber's is Truefitt and Hill in St James'Street, London, England which opened in 1805.
- It is estimated that 90% of all adult males shave at least once a day.
- The first safety razor was patented in 1901.
- It is also estimated that a man will shave at least 20,000 times in his lifetime.
- The average shave will trim away somewhere between 5,000-25,000 hairs from a man’s face.
- When saturated with water, the strength of a single strand of hair is approximately one third to one half less than the strength of dry hair, making it much easier to shave.
- Most shaving cuts are caused by using dull and/or dirty razor blades, insufficient preparation of the skin and hair before shaving, and using inappropriate equipment and products.
- Shaving cream was only made for men until the industry specifically targeted women in 1986.
- Shaving cream didn’t always come in aerosol cans; the method wasn’t even introduced until 1950.
- The Pharaohs of Egypt probably liked a good shave every now and then, of course using nothing less than the best made from gold and silver. Archeologists have found razor relics that date back as far as the fourth century.
- Only about 30% of men who shave use an electric device to shave.
- When a man wet shaves, it’s as good as using an exfoliating product because the process removes dead skin cells promoting healthier skin.
- Archeologists believe that caveman used clams and shark teeth to shave with, 20,000 years ago-in the Stone Age!
- Nearly 70% of American women prefer a clean-shaven man.
- The average man will spend 60 hours shaving each year.
- Men spend an average of 5 months of their lives shaving.
- Shaving, tweezing or waxing does not cause hair to grow back thicker or fuller.
- Marketing campaign convinced the women of North America to shave their body hair. Notably, women in the other parts of the world do not engage on masse in this ritual. Even in French Canada, the habit is not largely undertaken. It all began with the May, 1915 edition of Harper's Bazaar magazine that featured a model sporting the latest fashion. She wore a sleeveless evening gown that exposed, for the first time in fashion, her bare shoulders, and her armpits.
- It is false that human hair continues to grow after death.
The Histories, Herodotus, Everyman's Library (March 25, 1997)