The Razor’s Edge: Evolution of Shaving

For many men and women, shaving is part of a daily grooming routine. It’s a process that ensures personal hygiene and can even be a form of self-expression. In some cultures and societies, shaving or not shaving is viewed as normal and acceptable depending what area of the world you are in. Some jobs require employees to be clean-shaven, while others allow the freedom to choose your own style.

Shaving involves the removal ofexcess facial or body hair using a razor or a bladed implement to slice the hair down to the same level as the skin. Shaving is mainly practiced by men who want to remove their facial hair, and for women to remove unwanted armpit hair and leg hair. Althoughshaving can be a little annoying sometimes, it’s not too much trouble if you have the right instrument, such as the top-of-the-line electric shavers reviewed at Manly Matters. When we look at shaving in perspective a little more, we find out shaving hasn’t always been easy. Let’s have a look at the history of shaving.

Shaving Techniques in the Ancient World

You may be wondering: when did shaving different parts of the body become a popular thing?

We have a love-hate relationship when it comes to removing our body hair. Humans have tried some strange things to remove hair by burning, pulling, tweezing, and even plucking hair throughout recorded history. Some culture used two shells to pull the unwanted hair out, or by using water along with a sharp tool such as flint knives and even a shark’s tooth! It was around 3000 BC when copper tools came about, and this is when copper razors started to develop. As far back as 4000 BC, women did some crazy things to remove their unwanted hair. It is believed that women used substances like quicklime or arsenic to help get the job done. Can you imagine? We have certainly come along way in the past few thousand years.

Egyptians, on the other hand, had no problem removing all hair from their head to their toes. Egyptians loved the look, but also had a purpose for doing so. The absence of hair actually discouraged the spreading of diseases as well as creepy-crawly vermin such as lice. By 500 BC, women started to learn how to use a razor and also used pumice stones. During the reign of alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, shaving became more widespread because Alexander believed it looked tidier. As time went on, the obsession and fascination with silky smooth faces, legs, and armpits continued to grow.

The Disposable Razor

Razor designs date back to the 1700s, but it was over a hundred years later when razors as we know them began to take shape in Sheffield, England. In 1847, William Henson invented the hoe-shaped razor that is still in use today. By 1895, a successful salesman by the name of King Camp Gillette combined the hoe-shaped razor with the idea of being able to safely shave with a disposable double-edged blade. Gillette had solved the annoying problem of having to remove the razor’s blade to make sure it was sharpened every few uses.

The idea was a wonderful one, but a problem did occur: the blades for shavers were not easy to make. Six years later, Gillette finally found someone to make the disposable blades. Professor William Nickerson joined forces with Gillette in order to figure out a way to stamp the blades out of sheets, made out of high carbon steel. It was finalized by the year 1906, and it wasn’t long before Gillette’s design was successfully moving 300,000 units per year. At the time, it was a bit of a loss for Gillette, but he made up for it by being able to sell the blades at a huge profit. Now, his name is synonymous with disposable razors.

The Electric Shaver

As the 20th century rolled on, advancements in technology led to the invention of the electric shaver. Powered by batteries or plugged into a wall outlet, these handy gadgets make shaving a breeze for men and women alike.  Once you’ve found one that works for you, you may never go back to using a manual razor again.

The next time you’re shaving, think back on the history of this grooming technique and be thankful you never have to use a shark’s tooth to get the job done properly.