7 Weird Facts About Shaving

The Secret History Behind That Thing You Do Every Day

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No. 1: Clams Were the Original Razors

Not our first choice for a razor, but, hey, times were tough.
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In the paleolithic age, men turned to objects found in nature to remove hair. That meant picking up sharp rocks, like obsidian, or cracked clam shells.

No. 2: Worshipping a Good Clean Shave

No unwanted hair here.

In Ancient Egypt, being completely shaven from head to toe was all the rage. It makes sense when you consider the extreme heat—the less hair you had, the cleaner (and better smelling) you would be. Later, in Europe during the Middle Ages, church-imposed rules banned dudes from having beards, not even a 5 o'clock shadow. The reasoning was that without beards, Catholics would no longer be mistaken for Jews or Muslims. Also trendy: xenophobia.

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No. 3: The Disposable Razor Was a Big Deal

Modern luxuries, we love you.

Safety razors had been around by the time King C. Gillette got to working on his. But his mission to make blades out of inexpensive, thin steel that could be thrown away after a few uses changed the shaving industry. This alternative to having to sharpen blades became popular in the early 20th century, and was widely used by soldiers during World War I.

No. 4: The Workforce Inspired a Women's Electric Razor

Makin' airplanes and weapons, shavin' with electric razors, changin' up gender politics.

When women began replacing men in industrial jobs during World War II, Remington added an electric razor for women's legs to their arsenal. It was a convenient way to quickly shave before a day at work or a night out.

No. 5: Yes, a Shaving Machine Existed

These men don't really seem like they want a machine shaving their faces... Photograph courtesy of Ken Howard/Getty Images

In the fall of 1960, a shaving machine was showcased to a controlled group of people to see if the tool, which would apply lathering cream and remove hair down an assembly line of people, could work. Unfortunately, it never became available because it had problems accommodating different face shapes. Also because it seems like it could easily kill someone.

No. 6: There Was Some Pressure Put on Shaving Cream

Shaving cream—yours for less than a dollar!

For most of shaving history, shaving creams were sold as actual creams in jars that you had to brush on your face or legs. In 1947, Aero Shave released the first pressurized can of shaving cream. Suddenly shaving didn't have to be such an event or require another person to help you; you could simply press a button and lather the cream yourself.

No. 7: Shavers Are Going Back to the Barber

Just like the old days.

A barbershop shave used to be standard for men's grooming for decades. Though disposable razors and canned shaving cream moved all this to the comfort of men's own bathrooms, there's been a resurgence of interest in the traditional method of shaving. This is in part undoubtedly due to a trendy interest in all things "artisanal," but indicates an increased appreciation for hair care in general. You can find beard conditioners and soothing aftershaves on the market that take out the stress and pain of shaving's past.

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