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The history and evolution of shaving

The art of shaving is a timeless practice.

The average person spends 3,000 hours of their life shaving, roughly equivalent to a third of an entire calendar year. But do you know how shaving was born?

This infographic from our sponsor Henson Shaving examines the history and evolution of shaving, from ancient times to the present day.

A timeline of shaves

The rich history of shaving begins in 3000 BC. Let’s dive into it.

Ancient Egypt

3000 – 332 BC. AD: In ancient Egypt, shaving was associated with status, wealth, and social position. The appearance of facial hair implied that a person did not have enough money to visit a hairdresser frequently. Although to a lesser extent, this way of thinking has bled into the 21st century, in that a clean-shaven face is now associated with professionalism and success.

Alexander The Great

356 – 323 BC: In ancient Greece, beards were the norm in society as people looked to Plato and Socrates.

Alexander the Great, however, was a trendsetter and disrupted this status quo by practicing close shaving. He became the first Greek ruler to do so. In fact, he pointed out that a man’s beard could be grabbed easily, which put soldiers at a disadvantage in military combat. So he ordered his army to shave their faces before battle.

Julius Caesar

100 – 44 BC: Appearances had a big part to play in the Roman Republic, beards were considered barbaric and “un-Roman”.

Julius Caesar, known for being fashion-forward and wearing a “loosely belted” toga, also plucked out his beard hair, setting a trend that many Roman men followed. Emperor Augustus Caesar, whose uncle Julius was, also shaved daily.

Shaving even had a spiritual component in Roman society. A young man’s first facial hair was cut and offered to the gods for blessing and good fortune. Celebrations and parties would ensue soon after.

As we fast forward to the 18th century, major developments were made by what could best be described as the founding fathers of modern shaving.

Jean-Jacques Perret

1762: Jean-Jacques Perret, a Frenchman from Paris, designed the first model of safety razor with a wooden guard attached to a regular razor. A safety razor is a razor with a guard placed between the edge of the blade and the skin, making it less dependent on the steady hand and skill of a barber.

William Henson

1847: William Henson revolutionized shaving with the design of the modern T-handle razor, which has continued to this day. This design places the blade at a right angle on top of the handle, which resembles a hoe gardening tool.

The Kampfe brothers

1876: The Kampfe brothers are known for adding safety and efficiency improvements to Henson’s design with the star safety razor. They shorten the blade and attach a frame from the handle by interposing a blade holder, which is quickly becoming popular.

King Camp Gillette

1900: King C. Gillette used existing designs at the time to create disposable razor cartridges. This was a key event in shaving history, as disposable razors still populate the market today.

world at war

1914-1945: During wars, most armies forced their soldiers to shave. Clean shaves contributed to functionality, such as ensuring a perfect seal with gas masks and other facial equipment. They also helped instill a culture of discipline, which the military is generally known for.

Cartridge razors became the predominant style of razor during and after World War I, when the United States Army began issuing Gillette shaving kits to its servicemen.

After war

After the two World Wars, innovation in razor design somewhat stalled. As patents began to expire, the shaving industry became increasingly corporatized.

This period in history of mass production, long assembly lines and planned obsolescence has extended to the present day, where people buy razors for a short time before replacing them.

The current shaving landscape

Despite a rich history, the modern shaving ecosystem is rife with flaws. The market is flooded with cheap plastic cartridge razors and gimmicky marketing.

For example, the number of blades on a razor has increased from one to five. However, there isn’t much data to suggest that more blades give a better shave. In fact, for many consumers, multiple blades are a direct problem that leads to ingrown hairs and razor burn.

A multi-blade razor cuts the surface many times, which is not suitable for coarse hair or skin prone to irritation. In particular, up to 30% of people experience some form of irritation from multi-blade cartridge razors. And for people of color who are more likely to have curly or coarse hair, that number can go up to 60%.

Additionally, plastic cartridge razors contribute to the current pollution crisis facing society.

How Henson Shaving is revolutionizing the game

The art of shaving has gone astray over the last century. Fortunately, shavers all over the world are starting to change their habits, and opt for quality over quantity, by choosing a Henson shave.

Henson Shaving seeks to disrupt the shaving industry by opposing trends that have emerged over the past century. They’ve taken a 150-year-old idea and executed it with 21st-century manufacturing and technology. The precision of each razor results in tolerances of less than a third of a human hair. Other benefits include:

  • Speed, unique design
  • No plastic, 100% aluminum
  • Affordable blades
  • Better for the environment
  • Lifetime warranty

>>> Learn more about the latest razor you’ll buy with Henson Shaving by clicking here now.

About Laurence Johnson

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