Beardless: Shaving through the Centuries

There are some modern conveniences that are taken for granted because most people don’t know their history. One of these conveniences is shaving creams for men. Today, shaving products are dedicated to producing a great shave including pre-shave oil for men to keep skin supple. A smooth cream with just the right consistency to render a close shave is a modern invention, and shaving has gone through various incarnations to reach this point.

Men have always applied a substance to their face before shaving. In ancient times, this preparation likely consisted of some type of animal fat. Crude items like sharpened stones and shells were then used to scrape the hair away. While many men simply grew their beards to long and generally unkempt lengths, some like the ancient Egyptians valued a smooth, close shave.

As time moved on, preparations changed to soaps and oils. These concoctions were then scraped away with shards and blades of obsidian and copper. Fashions changed, and a smooth shave was not just the purview of the elite, but a mark of good grooming. The means to soften facial hair for removal didn’t switch to shaving creams for men until the eighteenth century.

From the late eighteenth century through the early nineteenth century, rich, high-lather soaps became the de facto shaving aid. Special soaps were created that could maintain lather longer than regular soap. By the middle part of the nineteenth century, the first version of a shaving foam was created with tablets that produced a luxurious foam. The method for removing the beard was a straight-edged razor.

A modern version of the aerosol spray cream that could be applied without a shaving brush didn’t appear until the post-war mid-twentieth century. The first electric razor was invented in the 1920s, eliminating the need for any type of cream or lubricant. This came in handy during wartime in the 1940s when shaving cream was rationed. The infamous aerosol spray made its first appearance in 1949.

The aerosol enjoyed unparalleled popularity until using aerosol cans started drawing some ire for the negative environmental impact it caused. Today, luxury shaving has made a comeback and more attention is being paid to comfort and a smooth, immaculate shave. Pre-shave oil for men is a popular item to condition the skin in preparation for shaving, and other quality preparations are available to continue the fine tradition of the smooth shave.

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