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History of Shaving

The Evolution Of Shaving

The act of shaving, the process of removing hair from the face or body, has been around since the Stone Age. It has evolved over thousands of years from an act of necessity to one of art and vanity. Today, women shave their legs, underarms and bikini lines; men carve designs out of facial hair; swimmers, divers and other athletes shave everything to cut fractions of a second off their time; wrestlers shave to avoid further agony as they fight to escape the grip of their adversary; motor-cross and Nascar racers shave their bodies to reduce rash and friction burns from their protective suits; body-builders shave to shine a little brighter as they flex their chiseled bodies for a panel of judges; Young women and men today shave more and more of their bodies simply because it looks more attractive. In the Stone Age, men and women shaved their face or body hair for a more practical reason-- survival!

Thanks to Archeologist and other scientists, we are able to trace the act of shaving as far back as the Neanderthal man. Through the study of ancient cave drawings even Mr. Neanderthal himself is pictured as a somewhat clean-shaven gentleman, albeit one in excruciating pain. How Neanderthal accomplished this look has been attributed to an ancient tool that resembles the modern day tweezers. With the help of two seashells he plucked the hair from his face.

There are believed to be many reasons for this painful effort but some of the more practical ones include: preventing the infestation of lice and fleas, to make eating easier and not as messy, and give a potential enemy one less thing to grab during hand-to-hand combat.

As the Stone Age continued to roll on archeologist believe that the first “actual” shaving tool was developed around 25,000 – 30,000 B.C. It was made with flint that had extremely sharp edges. The edges would dull pretty quickly and its usefulness would probably expire after just a few uses. Therefore, we can say that during this period the first disposable razor was born.

By the Neolithic Period (around 9,500 B.C.) even the technology of that period had begun to advance. Archeologist have excavated crude shaving tools made of other types of stone or even horn with actual handles as well as tweezers that they appeared to use to pull the hair from their faces. In other cultures of this period it has also been discovered that some men used burning twigs to singe the hair from their faces leaving only smelly stubble behind.

It was 4,000 B.C. where Mastabas show razors with hieroglyphics explaining there use. Women had developed a different means of removing body hair. They used strange concoctions of cream that contained potent ingredients like quicklime and arsenic.

Finally, about 3000 B.C. metalworking was invented and the first permanent razors were developed using copper. By 1,200 B.C. the art of making razors swept Scandinavia and elaborate bronze razors etched with mythological designs and stored in leather cases were excavated from Danish Mound Graves. In 500 B.C. there is evidence that show that many Roman men could actually start their day with a trip to the tonsor (barber) to have their face shaved for them. The tonsor could also offer a soothing cream made from scented ointments and spider webs dipped in oil and vinegar to cool the burn for those with sensitive skin.

Despite these advancements, shaving was still an often painful and gruesome process. During the first century A.D. outlandish ingredients were used by women to remove unsightly body hair: ass’s fat, powdered viper, bat’s blood, and she-goat’s gall to name a few. The Greek doctor and philosopher Galen, who had become famous for teaching people the art of sex using live models, helped develop and write down certain cosmetic practices.

Shaving was still a painful chore when the French barber Jean-Jacques Perret became the first person to propose the concept of the “safety razor” in 1770 with his lengthy exposition entitled La Pogonotomie. In that century, the Perret Razor was manufactured with an L-shaped wooden guard that held the razor blade firmly in place. The design was intended to help prevent cutting into the face. It served as the catalyst for the evolution of the safety razor.

The straight razor followed in the late 18th and 19th century. In the 19th century the straight steel razor was produced in England and the demand grew rapidly. The only problem was how quickly it dulled. It had to be constantly sharpened so it could be used over again.

An English inventor William Henson introduced his “hoe type” razor in 1847.
Henson’s invention gained instant fame with its revolutionary new design that placed the blade perpendicular to the handle for the first time. This new design allowed the shaver more maneuverability and made it easier for a more managed shave. Despite its instant success, it suffered a short-lived future. It still wasn’t that amazing “safety” razor everyone longed for.

That elusive “safety” razor would finally arrive in 1880 thanks to the Kampfe brothers of the United States. They filed for a patent in 1880. Its defining feature was a wire skin guard that ran along one side of the razor’s edge, which only allowed one side of the razors edge to be used but protected the face nicely. The Kampfe brother’s design defined the birth of the “safety” razor but it shared a problem with its competitor, the straight steel razor. The forged blade had to be removed frequently and sharpened. King Camp Gillette had the answer to that.

Gillette was a salesman in Baltimore in 1895 when he came up with his idea of a disposable razor blade. One morning, as he stood in front of the mirror shaving, the idea just popped into his head--a new razor and blade that would be disposable, yet safe and inexpensive. Over the next six years Gillette developed his idea and despite the many experts insisting that it was impossible to produce a hard, thin steel razor that was inexpensive enough for commercial use, he persisted.

Gillette introduced his idea to William Nickerson, a MIT engineer and machinist, and together they went to work on Gillette’s new invention and named their new company the American Safety Razor Company. Their new product would become a T-shaped, double-edged razor where the shaver would make a one-time purchase of the handle and only replace the blades when they became dull. The new blades would not be forged like the blades of the past; instead their disposable blades would be stamp cut from a template.

In 1903 Gillette would start production on his new shaver under the new name of the Gillette Safety Razor Company located in South Boston. His sales for 1903 were a modest 51 razors and 168 blades. In 1904 he would win a patent for his new product and sales would jump to 90,000 razors and 123,000 blades.

Although sales grew steadily, so did the competition, as other companies jumped on board and introduced similar products. In 1910, Willis G. Shockey would receive a U.S. patent for his wind-up safety razor, opening the door for the future electric shavers.

During World War I Gillette was contracted to provide every enlisted man heading to Europe to fight for our country a safety razor and a supply of replacement blades. By the end of the war, 3.5 million razors and 32 million blades were in the hands of the U.S. military

U.S. Army LT. Colonel Jacob Schick patented the first electric razor in 1928, which became available to the consumer the following year. His electric razor was inspired by the military’s repeating rifle. Like the rifle, the blades would be in clips and easily inserted into the razor when the old ones became too dull. This marked the beginning of a new shaving industry.

The 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s, were marked by an explosion in multi-bladed disposable razors.
At last count, there were four on one razor head.

In 1992, Will King gets razor burn and invents shaving products aimed specifically at preventing razor burn during shaves-- and becomes one of the largest shaving products companies aptly named King of Shaves.

Disposable razors have led to a new problem for the shaving community—Razor Gunk*, which worsens razor burn. This led to one of the most innovative and unique advances in shaving --the invention of the Razor-Gator in 2004.

Made available to consumers in 2005, Razor Gator is a whole new class of product, an R.A.D.--razor assist device, which scrapes, sweeps and wipes away razor gunk from between the blades of disposable razors. It reduces nicks and cuts while allowing a smoother shave. As more of the world shaves more of their personal area code there has been an increase in razor related ailments such as nicks, cuts and razor burn. Razor Gator reduces razor burn and keeps your razor's edge running clean so you can continue to shave smooth no matter where you drive it.

As Razor Gunk appears to be a greater problem in multi-bladed razors and as more of the world shaves more of their body, there has been a proportionate increase in razor gunk residue on these razors. Razor gunk and dulled razor edges leads to a significantly higher incidence of razor burn. Of course, razor burn can be a real problem in certain areas of the body.

Patented Razor Gator has angled teeth, a mini-brush and cloth swab to scrape, sweep and wipe away even the most tenacious razor gunk* from between your multi-bladed razor.

Razor Gator is an affordable, disposable consumer item which is lightweight, easy -to-use and has no moving parts or batteries. Razor Gator will with routine use last 4 to 6 weeks. Shave smooth. Use Razor Gator.

 

Razor Gator is not associated with the University of Florida Gators, Gatorade, or RazorGator Ticket Sales.

Last updated March 2017. Over 3,188,000 page views.
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