Recently there is an increase in interest among men to shave with a top straight razor. The revival of the straight razor is almost like a renaissance. This has led to the number of websites, online videos on using a straight razor. The straight razor is now seen as a symbol of masculinity among urban men. During the 90s and early 2000s, most barbers used a straight razor to trim beards and to attain the perfect mustache. Check out this infographic on injuries caused by improper shaving https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3559025/.
However, there was a decline in the popularity of this great manly accessory with the dawn of the new millennium. However, it is heartening to see the emergence of the straight razor. Through this article, we provide you with a glimpse of the colorful history of this ubiquitous gentleman’s accessory.
The Art of Shaving even precedes Homo Sapiens
History states that during the last ice age, Neanderthals discovered the disadvantages of having facial hair in the freezing temperatures. Till then they had enjoyed a tropical climate but with the onset of the ice age, they had to face several new difficulties. They gradually found that facial hair served as a magnet for moisture and froze quickly. This lead to frostbite and even resulted in death at times. So the Neanderthals figured that they had to remove the facial hair to survive in the Arctic temperatures.
They started removing facial hair using stones, clam shells and other bones and sticks. Archeological evidence proves this fact. So if your mental image conjures up cavemen with long, unsightly beards, then it is time to refresh that image. As Neanderthals evolved and Homo sapiens arrived on the scene, the trend of plucking out facial hair continued.
As early men gave up their nomadic life and began practicing agriculture they discovered yet another profound reason to do away with facial hair. Living in close cramped fields, there was a greater chance for the spread of infection and diseases. Hence, early men began to develop an obsessive tendency towards personal hygiene. Removing hair was not restricted to the face, but to all over the body. Men, women and even children were totally hairless to prevent the spread of parasites like lice and ticks.
The Greeks who had long beards and hair discovered a new difficulty with long hair. Long beards and plaits made them vulnerable in battles and combat. It provided a place for grip for their enemies. So during the reign of Alexander the Great, warriors were required to wear their hair short and to be completely shaved when it came to facial hair. The Romans began to adopt these new regulations followed by the Greek. It is to be noted that it was the Romans who first established barber shops. Barbers were treated with high respect and ranked with doctors when it came to the social hierarchy.
The straight razor as we know it today was developed in the early 1800s. It is believed that Edouard Pinaud invented the razor on the request of Napoleon the Third to do away with the smell emitted by soldiers.
The safety razor came into existence in the 19th century and electric razors were invented in the 20th century.