THE HISTORY OF SHAVING
Shark Teeth & Flint, Ouch! - 3000 BC
Early man (3000 BC and earlier) used shells, flint and even shark teeth to remove facial hair, ouch! It’s been reported that they used animal fat as a skin conditioner prior to shaving. Mankind made some big progress around 3000 BC when copper was being used to fashion tools and consequently the crude blade was born and used as a facial razor.
Warrior Beard Grabbing – 400 BC
Alexander the Great in 400 BC helped spread the clean shave look by marching around clean shaved soldiers to war. Alexander thought that all facial hair should be shaved before battle so as to avoid beard grabbing and he also liked the tidy look on his men. It’s easy to see how shaving prior to battle made shaving a manly activity.
Spider what? – 100 BC
We can credit the early Romans for inventing the first shaving cream which was made from perfumed ointments, oil, vinegar, and yes spider webs to form a plaster. The shaving plaster was invented because the Roman’s used an iron Novacila or Roman razor which would quickly dull. The shaving plaster gave better life to the Roman razor and helped avoid cuts which were quite common at the local Tonsor or what we call today the barber shop.
The Throat Cutter! – 1740
A major razor development happened in 1740 when Benjamin Huntsman from England produced the first superior hard steel grade razor through a special crucible metal making process and formed what we know today as the straight edge razor or as some call it the throat cutter. The straight edge razor held its ground as the preferred razor until the mid-1800’s to eventually be replaced by the next razor innovation.
Wee Wee, My Good Man – 1748
Shortly after the introduction of the straight edge razor and it’s migration to France, the French are credited for adding to the shaving experience by introducing the shaving brush in 1748. The shaving brush and shaving for that matter turned into a symbol of social and economic status. The expensive early shaving brush handles where made from gold, silver, crystal, porcelain and even tortoise shell. As for the hair on the shaving brush, badger hair was the preferred hair for its soft qualities and its ability to retain water. Boar’s hair was also used but was not considered as prestigious.
Hot Steamy Lather – 1750’s to early 1900’s
With the brush came the mug which held the common household hot pressed soap bar made primarily from lye water and animal lard. With time the hard bar soap was formulated specifically for shaving and was molded into a round disc to better fit in the mug and it also created richer lather. The mug also evolved from a basic mug to what is called a ‘scuttle’ mug. A scuttle mug has two separate containment areas, one for holding the soap / lather and the other to put hot water in so as to keep the lather hot for use.
Throat Cutter put on Endangered List – Late 1800’s
Although the straight edge razor stayed sharper longer than its predecessors it too quickly dulled and had to be sharpened often which lead to frustration because shaving was beginning to take place more at home appose to the barber shop. In the late 19th century Jean-Jacques Perret of France made the first ‘safety razor’ which was then marketed by the Kampfe Brothers. The safety razor gave an advantage over the straight edge razor in terms of safety because the razor was placed on a handle at a slanted cutting angle with a protective guard covering the razor. The safety razor made it even easier for the common man to shave but the razor still had to be sharpened.
No More Dull Butter Knife – Early 1900’s
The biggest problem that early man and 19th century man had with their razors was keeping them sharp. In 1901 American inventor King Camp Gillette solved the dull razor problem by giving the shaver a safety razor that loaded inexpensive thin steel deposable razor blades. King was also a genius marketer and came up with the ‘loss leader’ concept where he gave away safety razor handles for next to nothing but sold the disposable loadable razor blades for a high margin which helped provide continuous sales.
The thin steel disposable razor blade that King invented was only good for one shave and rusted quickly. The German firm Wilkinson which made ceremonial swords innovated the safety razor disposable blade by making a stainless steel disposable blade in 1950 which was compatible to the Gillette safety razor. The stainless steel razor blade lasted for multiple shaves and is the safety razor blade of choice today. The disposable razor blade is here to stay and is the desired format, be it a single safety razor blade or a 6 blade cartridge.
Not all Inventions are Good – 1928
Just as a side note the electric razor was invented in 1928 by Jacob Schick for all those that wanted a quick crappy shave.
Party in a Can - 1949
Until the 20th century the hard bar shaving soap with the shaving brush and mug was the only game in town for skin preparation prior to the shave. In the 1940’s several companies made creams that could be applied by hand and didn’t require a shaving brush. And shortly after the brushless cream came the aerosol shaving cream which was introduced by Carter-Wallace Company in 1949 giving even more speed to lather. By the 1950’s over 2/3 of the US shaving market switched to the aerosol shaving cream format. Although aerosol shaving cream still is the primary shaving cream format used today, users are discovering that a lot of the aerosol can propellants (pentane, propane, butane and isobutane) are NON-friendly (causes dryness and irritation) to facial skin.
The Future of Shaving
So what does the 21st century hold in store for shaving? Well for starters, men are starting to change their attitudes about shaving, that it’s not some activity to be powered through but should and can be enjoyed. There is a big growing interest in getting away from aerosols and returning to the old school shaving brush and using high quality shaving products that protects, rejuvenates and moisturizes the face.
Men today are fed up with the exuberant high cost of replacing razor cartridges and have desire to return to the more cost effective old fashion but extremely close shaving single razor blade found in a safety razor. Men today are also waking up to the ‘loss leader’ gimmick and would rather pay more for a good heavy weighted razor handle and less on the inexpensive disposable blades (average safety razor stainless steel blade can last up to 7 days and can cost less than .20 – depending on beard type).
Handsome Rob Shave Company has taken the best shaving practices from the past and has created high quality shaving products coupled with a shaving process (1-Lube, 2-Lather, 3-Shave and 4-Soothe) that will change your shaving experience forever. Join us and BE HANDSOME by doing the following steps:
1 – Lube
After a hot shower which will open your pores and cleanse your skin use our Pre-Shave Oil to soften your beard and protect your face before you shave.
2 – Lather
Although you can use your fingers to apply our amazing Shaving Cream we recommend you use one of our best hair badger shaving brushes. With hot water in the brush and a small amount of shaving cream on it you can build a thick hot lather that will further soften the beard, lift the beard whiskers and provide shaving glide for your razor.
3 – Shave
Shaving your face should always be done with a quality razor that is properly weighted and balanced so your razor can effortlessly glide across your face. Quality razors should always have equally quality razor blades that are changed often and that on first pass, shave with the grain.
4 – Soothe
Finally after your smooth shaving experience, use our After-Shave Soother which will moisturize and rejuvenate your skin leaving it feeling refreshed and energized.