One of the oldest habits of men is to shave their facial hair. Although, at different times, beards and mustaches were considered a symbol of masculinity.
A bit of history
The first razor blade was invented around 30,000 BC using sharp flint with which men trimmed their beards. With the arrival of the Bronze Age, humans gained the ability to forge simple metals and began making iron, bronze, and even gold razors. We find the first representations of men without beards during the first Egyptian dynasties. Shaving one’s whole body was considered hygienic, beautiful, youthful, clean and of high status/nobility.
Thus, ancient Egyptians had the habit of shaving their beards and heads. For ancient Greeks, beards were a sign of virility and wisdom. Plutarch said that according to custom, the first beard of a young boy was dedicated to the Sun-God Apollo during a religious ceremony. Cutting another man’s beard was a serious offence. However, the Greeks would cut their beards during periods of sadness, loss and mourning.
Among Spartans, shaving half of a man’s beard was a sign of his weakness or failures in the battle. Unlike the Greeks, the Romans were almost always cleanly shaven. The first shave of a young Roman was an important event and was considered a symbol of youth. In India, beards were the norm for many faiths, but some did have first shave ceremonies like the Romans. The ancient Jews and Muslims opposed shaving, as well as for the first Christians waxed and maintained beards were very important.
In the Middle Ages, the profession of barber-surgeon appeared. Home shaving became common in the early 20th century with the advent of safety razors. Technological advances made shaving safer and more efficient. Shaving products, in turn, have experienced similar developments, gradually improving soap, blades, and aftershave products, subsequently making the process ever more sophisticated.
Today, wearing a beard is usually a matter of fashion or religiousness. Shaving and maintaining hair on our face and intimate places is an integral part of our daily hygiene. To date, virtually all men shave or maintain their beards almost daily from home, using a wide range of items or products. Shaving products are have become everyday objects dedicated to the daily routines for both men and women.
How many minutes does an average shave last? How did razors work in ancient times?
We bring to your attention a selection of interesting facts about one of the oldest male habits.
- Prehistoric man seems to have shaved very early, using naturally occurring means such as sharp shells, flint knives and even shark’s teeth. The first razors made specifically for the removal of facial and body hair comes from the bronze age.
- The Aztecs used volcanic glass as a shaving tool.
- In Ancient Egypt, razors were made of copper and bronze; resembling small axes.
- Alexander of Macedon often reminded his warriors of the need to shave. The commander considered that a scruffy soldier was vulnerable: he could easily be defeated in combat because of his beard. He never started a battle with an unshaven face and asked of his soldiers to do the same.
- During the First World War, razors were needed by soldiers due to the danger of chemical weapons. Gas masks worked better when worn on a clean shaved face.
- Today, 75% of men shave once a day, almost 20,000 times in their lifetime. That’s up to 8 meters of hair every year.
- The shaving takes an average of three minutes. Not shaving at all could, therefore, save 145 days in a man’s life.
- The longest beard with a length of 564cm belonged to a Norwegian named Hans N. Langseth (1846-1927). He is officially in the Guinness Book of Records.
- People with pacemakers should only shave with a safety razor rather than an electric one because electric razors can cause interference and may cause the pacemaker to malfunction.
- A Chinese phone “Rong Zun 758 Razor” (or Cool 758 Razor) owes its name to actually being part electric razor.
- In many organizations in the country of Japan, it is in the company policy that no beards are allowed. It is so strict that it can sometimes leads to lawsuits. In the past, beards allowed the famous samurai to look a little more serious. This then became a negative symbol when the country gained political stability and became associated with violence or rebellion.
Did you know?
Russian Tsar Peter the Great introduced a tax on beards in 1704. By his order on August 9th, 1699, he strictly forbade carrying a beard, accepting only the beards of priests. The beard was not only functional for the Russians; protecting the face from frostbite during cold, long winters, but by the religious standards, shaving one’s beard was considered a sin. The idea of replenishing the state budget by taxing beards came to the Tsar on his first trip to Europe. Back in Russia, the king shaved his beard and imposes a tax for those who wanted to keep their beards.
Those who paid the tax received a bronze token with the following inscription: “The tax has been collected”.
The beard tax was also introduced by King Henry VIII of England in 1535 to regulate the appearance of men.