The History of Shaving
The evolution of shaving began during prehistoric times and continues to develop to this day. From plucking hairs out with shells to using electric shavers, shaving has undergone many changes.
It is believed that prehistoric man would pluck out hairs using two shells. Quite inefficient, these would eventually be replaced by flint razors, which proved to be much sharper. Unfortunately for ancient men, flint razors were not very durable.
Consequently, the use of metal razors eventually developed. Approximately five thousand years ago, copper razors became moderately widespread in regions of Egypt and India. The ancient Egyptians proved to be rather extreme in the use of their shavers. It was considered unsophisticated in that society to possess any visible hair at all. To have such hair would indicate that a person was a barbarian or a criminal. This trend went to such an extreme that the entire head was shaved, resulting in the use of wigs. It is believed that such practices were begun due to hygiene, as a lack of hair deterred lice infestation and cooled down a person. Egypt priests believed that body hair was shameful and unclean. Wild animals and barbarians have hair, not the sophisticated and advanced Egyptian empire. Being hairless was achieved by shaving, using depilatory creams and rubbing one’s hair off with a pumice stone. The Egyptians had a preoccupation with body hygiene, the Greek historian Herodotus (485-425 BC) commented that the Egyptians bathed several times a day and “set cleanliness above seemliness”.
Interesting Fact - The Greek historian and storyteller "Herodotus" states that it was the Egyptians, who actually invented circumcision, and all who practiced it, really learned it from them. Which logically follows, because there is a hygienic value to circumcision. If not kept scrupulously clean, a male can have problems there - it's not all about torturing little boys. Source
Later, in the time of Alexander the Great, shaving became more widespread, reaching Greece and eventually Rome. It was said that Alexander was so conscious of his appearance that he would not enter battle without a preliminary shave. Subsequently, for many, a short haircut and a smooth face were considered necessary as well as aesthetically pleasing.
Shaving once again regained popularity in the middle ages with the advent of elaborate headdresses for women. Many shaved off their hair as well as their eyebrows in order to accommodate such accessories. Men, meanwhile, were expected to possess neatly trimmed facial hair or none at all.
The shaver itself evolved noticeably since the middle ages. In the early 1800s, a straight razor was extremely popular. Somewhat resembling a pocketknife, the blade folded into the handle. This proved to require much maintenance and skill to use, prompting its fall to the shaver we know today. In the later half of the 1800s, the blade became perpendicular to the handle, making the product easier to use. Eventually, disposable blades became available and have proven popular ever since.
Over the past few hundred years, shaving has evolved into its modern form. The mass marketing of shaving products has exploded over the past century, partly through the growth of the media. Women, for instance, began shaving their armpits in 1915, following an advertisement in the United States displaying a woman's shaved arms. Shocking at first, this soon caught on, prompting women to shave their armpits, a trend continuing to this day in much of the western world.
Undoubtedly as trends change, shaving will undergo more modifications. As it stands, however, shaving is an ingrained practice in all societies and is likely to become more sophisticated over time.
When it comes to men, the face is typically the region of the body to be shaved. There are two general purposes for men's shaving. The first is to completely shave off all facial hair on a regular basis. The second is to groom some or all facial hair in order to maintain a beard, mustache, or a goatee.
For those who shave off all facial hair, there are many available tools for shaving. These include t-razors, electric shavers, and straight razors. Each suitably completes the job, although they each have different advantages. T-razors and electric shavers are most commonly used today. Straight razors, on the other hand, require much skill to use and become dull fairly quickly. As a result, they are no longer commonly used.
T-razors and electric shavers are the tools of choice for men in today's world. The electric shaver has gained immense popularity due to its ease of use as well as due to the speed at which it is able to complete the job. The downside to this shaver is that it is harsh to the skin, as it requires the skin to be dry in order to function. T-razors, despite being a slower method, provide a closer shave. They are also more soothing to the skin, especially when a used in combination with a decent gel or oil.
For those with some facial hair, a combination of the above with a beard or mustache trimmer will suitably complete a shave.
Women's Hair Removal
For women, there are four major types of body hair removal. These include shaving - the most common method, waxing, the use of depilatory creams, and electrolysis.
The most widespread means of eliminating body hair is shaving. This can be used to remove hair from the legs, underarms, and - with care - the bikini area. A razor combined with a conditioning shave cream or lotion is best used to promote smooth skin. When shaving the legs, it is best to shave against the grain, permitting that the same area is not shaved over more than once. Repeatedly shaving the same spot may cause ingrown hairs.
Another popular form of hair removal is waxing. Two types are used, one of which is peeled off with special paper while the other is peeled off after hardening. Waxing is best used for the more sensitive areas of skin, such as the face and bikini area. Waxing is performed both by professionals as well as at home with the use of kits.
Depilatory creams are another, potent method for hair removal. Consisting of strong chemicals, this method is best used on more rugged skin, such as on the legs or underarms. At most, depilatory creams should be used once or twice per week, depending upon the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
The final method for female hair removal is through electrolysis. Permanent, expensive, and painful, this procedure is the least common. Despite its permanence, the procedure is costly and slow. A needle is inserted into individual hair follicles, and then an electric current is sent into the hair, effectively killing it. This is precisely used in order to remove certain areas of hair growth.
The Histories, Herodotus, Everyman's Library (March 25, 1997)