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The History of Shaving and Barbering

Hair removal is necessary for the sake of body hygiene, and a sleek look. Today, shaving and barbering have evolved from what it used to be approximately 60,000 years ago. Around 3000 BC, copper tools were developed, and before that sharp stones, tools and shells were used for the removal of hair.

Prehistoric Times

Since the dawn of time, human hygiene has been given the utmost importance. According to cave paintings depictions, it is believed that early humans used to pull out or burn hair to prevent frostbite and other skin diseases. They would use sea shells or sharp tools to remove the hair.

Shaving in Egypt

According to historians, Egyptians were known to set the standards of personal hygiene. They used to bathe several times a day. Egyptians were known to set strict regimen of ensuring that their bodies were cleaned from any hair.

One of the major factors behind shaving all hair was the extremely hot temperature of Egypt. Long hair meant inviting pests and head lice. The priests of Egypt used to believe that body hair was unclean and shameful.

A standard was set among the Egyptians – rich would go bald and only the poor sported hair. Egyptians used to rub their bodies with a pumice stone, and apply depilatory creams to remove every little trace of hair. It was perceived as personal neglect if someone from higher class would grow facial hair.

The rich Egyptian men would have a house-in barber for daily shaving and keeping them tidy. A barber had a well-regarded position in the society comparable to other professional trades. They were given a status of celebrities in that time.

It can be said for certain that Egyptians were the ones who specifically focused on human hygiene. They started a trend that was followed by many others to come.

Following the Fanatical Hygiene Standards of Egyptians

Others were impressed with the hygiene standards of Egyptians, and that explains why Alexander the Great was a huge fan of shaving – he believed that shaving gives a tidy look. In his reign in the 4th century BC, he promoted shaving and ordered his troops to shave. Soon, the shaving trend became a vital part of Roman society.

In the Middle Eastern region, a decline was witnessed in the shaving practice. This part of the world did not welcome the personal cleaning standards of Egyptians as much as the Greeks, yet the cleaning custom did not endure a complete denial.

The First Ever Modern Safety Blade

In the 18th century, razors became more than just sharp slabs of metal. Thanks to French inventor Jean-Jacques Perret, men of that time were able to remove their own stubble at home. A first safety razor was made by deploying a wooden guard onto a straight razor.

In the 19th century, safety blade was shaped into the modern Sheffield straight razor. A model of safety razor was introduced by Kampfe brothers, but the razor had to be sharpened after removing it from the handle.

The man who changed the world of shaving is none other than King C. Gillette. He came up with an idea about using a sharp, thin, disposable blade for shaving. It took 8 years in developing and with the help of MIT professor William Nickerson; a double-edged modern safety razor was introduced. The designs of safety blade evolved with the passage of time.


From the Bronze Age in Egypt, barbers have been an integral part of societies. In Egypt culture, they were some of the highly respected individuals. In 296 BC, Rome was introduced to the concept of barbering. In no time, barber shops became popular centers for daily gossip and news. In the coming centuries, barbering evolved and prospered along with shaving.

Today, in various parts of the world, barber shops are the hubs for social interaction, voicing public concerns, open debates, and discussions about different contemporary issues.

It was thought that the introduction of personal safety razor would reduce the demand of barbers – a perception that vanished into thin air a long time ago. Today, barbering is considered an important profession, and the barber shop industry is still flourishing.