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The role of shaving in history – from human pride to religious humiliation

The history of hair removal takes us back to the Stone Age. In order to apply what was then a type of tattoo, Neanderthals used a form of epilating to remove their hair. The first disposable razor blade was invented around 30 000 B.C. The ‘flint’ was a sharp object that, while serving its purpose, also dulled quickly. It was used to make carvings into the skin, which were subsequently treated with pigments. This is how tattoos were created. The first pictures of beardless men date from the first Egyptian dynasties. For Egyptians, removing all the bodily hair formed part of their obsessive hygiene and reflected beauty, youth, cleanliness and status. 

Both men and women shaved their own and their children's heads.  They wore wigs for sun protection or as a fashion trend. Since soap was hardly available for protection against head lice, infections or illnesses, the easiest and most hygienic remedy was to remove the body hair, as much and as often as possible. Legs and intimate parts were shaved for the same reason. The razors used at the time were made of gold. After shaving, the skin was treated to lovely scented oils for the purpose of soothing, perfuming, nurturing and protecting it at the same time.

In 1895 Camp Gillette designed the double-sided disposable razor blade.
Alexander the great shaved his beard and Greece began a new trend of shaving beards
Dalai Lama with shaved beard and shaved head
In 1895 Camp Gillette designed the double-sided disposable razor blade. Alexander the great shaved his beard and Greece began a new trend of shaving beards Dalai Lama with shaved beard and shaved head

In the course of history, the presence or absence of a beard on a man’s face had a socio-cultural meaning. Wearing a beard has been valued differently across a wide range of cultures and periods. Very often, the fact of wearing a beard or not, and how it was worn, was (and is) not a matter of free choice. Shaving off the beard of a defeated enemy was considered highly humiliating in certain religions. The Romans saw it as a symbol of youth, whereas the Franks and Germans held to the custom of shaving the head and beard of a conquered king or prince. The shave caused shame and humiliation. During the Macedonian era, the beard was a symbol of wisdom. Wearing a beard was the prerogative of philosophers and old men. Wearing a beard fell into disuse in late medieval Europe and sporting facial hair became a thing mainly of jurists and old men.  Alexander the Great promoted facial shaving to prevent his men from being grabbed by the beard in battle. In present day Europe, wearing a beard seems to be more of a fashion trend than anything else. Shaving hair in certain shapes and shaving and hair care in intimate areas now forms part of our daily hygiene, care and comfort.

Razoli shaving oil
Razoli shaving oil
  • A smooth shave with no irritation, rash or redness
  • 3 in 1: shaving cream, moisturizer and aftershave
  • Immediately nourishes and calms the skin
  • The razor blade glides fast and smoothly over the skin without cuts
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The role of shaving in history from human pride to religious humiliation shaving oil Amanprana