When and Why Did Men First Start Shaving?
When you take out your cut throat razor and start shaving, do you ever think, why am I doing this? Probably not! For most people, it’s something we have done ever since we started sprouting facial hair.
Also, have you ever considered how long man has shaved for, and when the process first started? We dive into these questions in the below article and look at why we shave, and who first did it!
To improve cleanliness
This has been one of the main recurring reasons throughout time and dating back to prehistoric times when people first started using rudimentary shaving tools.
Hair can be a breeding ground for things like bacteria and lice. Thousands of years ago when sanitary products and personal hygiene were non-existent, things like that would thrive. As a result, basic razors were created so that men could keep their beards under control and reduce the risk of irritations.
For religious purposes
Many religions have the practice of shaving facial hair or head hair for different reasons. For example, Amish men will shave their beard until they get married. In contrast, the Sunni Islam followers are taught to let their beards grow and will rarely shave. In Hinduism and Buddhism, monks of sacred temples will have their hair shaven as a symbol of their renouncing of esteem and worldly fashion.
To maintain a sense of youth and style
Today, shaving is mainly done for cleanliness but also often as a style statement and a way to maintain our youth. Some people simply look older with a beard; therefore, many (myself included!) will shave regularly to try and prolong aging.
Others will style their facial hair with something like a straight razor kit and shave to create designer stubble or mould their beards into unique designs. Today we can see a weird and wonderful variety of beard styles, lengths, and colours and shaving plays an important role in this.
Rather than a necessity due to poor hygiene, shaving has become something of a fashion statement, something we can do to change how we look and reinvent ourselves.
For tactical advantage in battle
Yes, that’s right! In ages past, shaving was thought to give a tactical advantage in battle. During the Roman empire, the legions of discipline Phalanx and foot soldiers were often told to clean shave before the eve of battle.
It was believed that having a long beard could be a potential weak spot. During fraught mele battles each man needed any advantage they could get to gain the upper hand. Some generals believed that the enemy could grab onto beards in those horrific close combat encounters and thus overpower the legionaries.
And This Has Been Done for Thousands of Years
So we know the whys, but when did this practice start? It may amaze you to know that shaving has been done since prehistoric times. Evidence has shown that in this era, humans fashioned basic razors from natural items like clam shells and shark’s teeth.
After that, we developed our skills and the Bronze Age saw metalwork introduced. We mined and melded metals like bronze and copper. As a result, simple razors using these substances were created. Burial sites and tombs have shown evidence of these metal razors, particularly constructed from copper. Flint was also a common item used as this was readily available and didn’t require as much mining effort.
It wasn’t until the 18th century that something like the straight razor blades we use today were created. This was first done in the home of steel – Sheffield. During the industrial revolution in England, Sheffield was a key area for the development of metalwork and steel and it’s still something it’s known for today.
We can thank Benjamin Huntsman for creating the first razor blade with a new type of hardened steel. This was developed in a roaring hot crucible where different materials like steel and other debris were melted to form a tough and durable composite that could be poured into different moulds.
From here, things improved and we now have access to some incredible quality blades that keep sharp and are easy to incorporate into things like safety razors and cut throat razors.
Next Time You Shave, Think Yourself Lucky!
So, the next time you slap on your shaving cream and get ready to trim your growth, take a moment and think of the luxuries you can enjoy with amazing products like safety razors. Just imagine what it would be like to try and shave with a clam shell or a shark tooth instead, I think I know which tool I would prefer!