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The History Of Razors – most likely tidbits left out of beauty schools‘ history classes.
Cavemen get vain. Smart archeological people figure out that the earliest shaving razors were made of flint blades, which started out incredibly sharp, but dulled after use. Yes, cavemen used disposables.
Metal mania. Thanks to a lot of metal clanging and banging, copper razors (which make for a more “permanent” solution) make their way into the mainstream… well, if you want to call Egypt and India the mainstream of the B.C. era.
1500 – 1200 B.C.
Designer razors. Leave it to the Scandinavians to bring style to the art of shaving. Razors discovered from this time period were adorned with etchings of cool stuff like horses, and came in cute leather carrying cases. Seriously!
Alexander the Clean Shaven. Apparently the “great” one was obsessed with having a smooth complexion. Legend has it that he wouldn’t be seen in battle before shaving.
B.C. Barbershops. A rich Greek businessman, Publicus Ticinius Maenas, decided that he was too rich to shave himself, so he brought over professional barbers from Sicily, and started a fad. In fact, in Rome, a popular 21st birthday ritual included a first-shave party to celebrate adulthood.
All hail the beardless. Speaking of Rome, Julius Caesar was very into personal grooming, down to plucking stray hairs with tweezers. As they say, when in Rome… shave like the Romans do.
Razor trickery. William the Conqueror defeats King Harold in the Battle of Hastings, in some part thanks to his army’s calculated decision to shave their faces and cut their hair to resemble monks. The deception meant that King Harold’s spies underestimated the enemy threat, and the rest is history.
New world barbering. Archeological evidence indicates that the Aztec Indians of North and Central America created razors from volcanic glass. The first hot shave?
The book on shaving. Perhaps it’s no surprise that a Frenchman literally wrote the book on shaving as an art form: The Art of Learning to Shave Oneself (La Pogonotomie). Sort of like a beauty how-to article, the guide may also be the first to introduce the concept of “safety” razor.
Who you calling a hoe? The hoe-shaped razor (resembling the farming tool) that we recognize today can be credited to English inventor William Henson. It’s all about a comfortable grip.
Shave safely. King Camp Gillette (you know, the-best-a-man-can-get guy) teams up with an MIT genius named William Nickerson to perfect the safety razor, complete with double-edged, disposable and replaceable blade. Side note: Isn’t Nickerson a funny name for a guy who wants others to shave without getting nicked?!
The war on facial hair. Gilette’s popularity skyrockets worldwide after he cuts a deal with the U.S. Armed Forces to give every enlisted soldier a safety razor and blades as part of their off-to-war care package. Foreign soldiers are envious, and European sales soar.
Invention intuition. Adapting a military idea for a practical use inspired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jacob Schick to invent a new razor – the Magazine Repeating Razor. Similar to how a magazine clip contains bullets, this razor housed replacement blades right in the handle.
No water required. Schick invents and patents the first electric dry shaver, great for roaring ‘20s men on the go.
Back to basics. The disposable razor, not popular since the stone ages, makes its way back into mass popularity. Cheap to make and easy to use, all of the major razor manufacturers offer a throwaway option.
Headline-worthy beards. If you’re a celebrity, sporting a beard represents a lifestyle choice. Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Conan O’Brien, Joaquin Phoenix – need we say more?