Deciding to use a straight razor is perhaps as deep as male grooming gets these days, but way back when, shaving was a ritualistic practice and rite of passage. Let’s go back in time, shall we?
Ancient Egyptians were all about the facial hair until the Dynastic Period. At some point, they decided that facial and body hair were uncivilized and animalistic. Thus, in the spirit of new-found sophistication (and a desire to look more civilized), men shaved head to toe. It was a daily regimen; appearing unshaven symbolized low social ranking.
Baby smooth was the goal for the Ancient Egyptians, but royalty were allowed small, well-trimmed goatees.
Did you know…? Kings were buried with a barber and their trusty razor so he could go into the afterlife clean-shaven.
Ancient Greeks, however, believed that beards represented a man’s masculinity and wisdom. Trimming was optional, but highly discouraged: in other words, the bushier, the better. The only time a beard would meet a blade was in times of mourning.
It’s safe to say that Aristotle never had to worry about razor bumps and burns or ingrown hairs. Or shaving cream at that. Lucky chap.
Did you know…? Cutting another man’s beard was a punishable crime (and getting de-bearded was the greatest shame a man could ever endure). Pursuing a career as a barber was certainly not in anyone’s future.
Ancient Romans, in a collective effort to do whatever the Greeks didn’t do, hailed the clean-shaven look. They were the compromise between the Egyptians and Greeks – not quite baby-smooth, but definitely never overgrown. A boy’s first shave was an elaborate celebration; rather than shave in privacy of his own accord, it was a ceremonial ritual with quite the public viewing.
Did you know…? Boys would rub olive oil on their face in an attempt to grow a beard faster (and thicker) for that first ceremonial shave.
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