The act of removing hair from the body dates back to well before people started writing stuff down. It must have been pretty darn painful to remove hair during prehistoric times, considering what they used (broken shells, anyone?). Today’s options are a lot less painful, though it’s still entirely possible to cut yourself and bleed profusely all over your bathroom sink. On that happy note, let’s check out a brief history of shaving, shall we?
The Earliest Razors
Cave drawings dated 30,000 B.C. indicate prehistoric folk used clam shells and pieces of flint to remove hair from their bodies. Eeesh. Thankfully shaving implements evolved in the time between 30,000 B.C. and 6,000 B.C., with archeologists finding bronze, circular razors in Egyptian tombs. The Egyptians thought hair was a sign of the uncivilized, and they shaved their heads and faces as a result.
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great is believed responsible for bringing the art of shaving to Greece and Rome. He had his troops shave their faces and heads so enemies couldn’t grab at their hair and cause injury. Razors during this time included those of iron, copper, and gold. The Greeks and Romans are credited with developing the first versions of the straight razor.
By the time of the Middle Ages, European clergymen were encouraging shaving as a way to distinguish oneself from Muslim and Jewish “infidels.” This occurred in 1054 following the Eastern Orthodox Church’s split from the Roman Catholic Church.
Straight and Safety
Straight razors were all the rage during the Industrial Revolution, during which time shaving tools had become much more precise. Soaps and creams were manufactured as well, and in 1770 Jean-Jacques Perret created the first safety razor. The razor was subsequently patented by the Kampfe brothers in 1880, and the disposable safety razor came out in 1895. It was developed by a traveling salesman named King C. Gillette.