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History Of Shaving And Shaving Brushes

Aug 17, 2007
The earliest shaving implements were of natural materials, shards of flint, scallop shells, splinters of obsidian (volcanic glass), all had razor-sharp edges that would allow the removal of beard and body hair. During the earliest recorded grooming rituals fellow members of a tribe would shave each other.

In ancient Egypt archaeological artefacts show that shaving was commonplace in the whole population. The poor used shards of flint or obsidian and would shave themselves; the middle classes used sharpened knives of copper and bronze; the wealthiest citizens would be shaved by their servants, whose skill was to remove all visible body hair. In ancient tomb carvings facial and body hair is rarely if ever seen; beards were seen as unclean and generally associated with the lower classes.

The Greek civilisation was generally bearded, as depicted on ancient vases. The Romans, well-known for their bath-houses and general cleanliness, went through phases of being either clean-shaven or bearded, depending on the choice of the Emperor, whose image would spread across the empire on coinage.

Even during times when men did not wear beards, they were not often smooth-cheeked. Shaving utensils were expensive and if you did not own the tools to shave yourself, you would have to pay someone else. Hardy soldiers used their swords or daggers, but by Victorian times it was more common for ordinary people to visit a back street or penny barber often a painful experience. The rich would be shaved by their most trusted servant.

It was not until the Industrial Revolution that manufacturing techniques gave access to blades in sufficient quantity and quality for the general public to own a razor.

Perhaps the most significant advance was the introduction of the safety razor. Developed in the late 1880s, it was perfected in 1895 with the King Camp Gillette disposable blade safety razor.

With advances in technology razors evolved, from a single open blade that required skilful use and meticulous care, to mass produced and inexpensive items, part of the modern disposable culture.

From the moment that razors became available to all, the freedom of choice to be clean-shaven was more often considered a duty to be clean-shaven - a contemporary uniform for society, a state that still exists for many of us today. Beards are still subject to fashionable trends but are considered by some as a way to be different or not confirm.

Through the ages men have generally followed the example of the king or an influential leader when choosing whether or not to grow a beard or be clean-shaven. In modern time fashion in facial hair is generally considered to be an individual choice but some men may still be influenced in their style preference by someone they respect or admire; this is more likely to be someone with celebrity status e.g. a popular musician, film star or sporting personality.
About the Author
Archy Ash writes for Edwin Jagger ltd. makers of shaving
brushes
, mirrors, cut throat razors and accessories at http://www.edwinjagger.com
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