Since prehistoric woman let her prehistoric man dance with her cheek to cheek men have been indulging in the ritual of shaving. Primitive man devised crude instruments with which to cut hair, simple cutting implements such as sharpened flint or oyster shells were used and to this day there are parts of Polynesia where they still use similar objects for cutting hair.
Anthropologist Desmond Morris sites 4 advantages for being clean shaven:
° It makes you look younger
° It makes you look friendlier; it's easier to read your expressions
° It makes you appear cleaner
° Its clearly better for sex
Psychological studies have found ‘women find male faces most attractive when they are masculine-looking but not ultra-masculine.' Women want dominant males, but ones friendly enough to care for offspring, they tend to see these traits in clean-shaven faces.
The Basics of a Good Shave
° If possible take a hot shower before shaving, this opens the pores and softens the
° Wash the face before you start shaving, this removes any dirt which might get in the
way of the razor, it also lifts the hairs.
° If you're wet shaving apply the shaving cream in a circular motion, this lifts the
whiskers and works the shaving cream into the hairs.
° Shave the easier areas such as the cheeks 1st, this allows the shaving cream longer to
sink into the stubble softening it and making it easier for the razor to cut through.
° Shave 1st with the grain, when you have finished shaving apply lather again and shave
a 2nd time across the grain. For a really close shave re apply lather and shave against
the grain. In areas prone to irritation skip this last pass altogether as it can cause
° While shaving try to place as little pressure on the razor as possible too much pressure
can cause razor burn.
° If shaving with an electric razor apply an electric razor lubricant, this will cut down any
irritation and soften the whiskers. Shave the tender areas 1st as the razor will heat up
as you shave. Grooming Health recomends
° Whether wet shaving or shaving with an electric razor when finished splash your
face with cold water, pat dry and apply moisturiser or shaving balm to re-hydrate
and sooth the skin.
° Between shaves brush the stubble with a fine brush such as a tooth brush this
makes sure the hair is growing in the right direction and not curling back into the skin.
A Little Bit of Shaving History
Down the generations and through the centuries we have developed a rich culture of shaving and rituals surrounding shaving. There has been many superstitions surrounding shaving, it has been believed that people can be bewitched by their hair clippings, to this day in countries such as Benin and Togo these beliefs still exist with people still taking cuttings of their enemy's hair to have them cursed. In previous generations and in different cultures the privilege of hair cutting was designated to a priest or medicine man. Irish peasantry used to believe that hair cuttings needed to be burned or buried so no evil spirits would haunt the individual. American Indians thought hair had a vital connection to the body and if anybody possessed it they could work their will on the owner. Roman judges ordered the hair of Christian martyrs cut before putting them to death because of the belief unshaven long haired people possessed magic.
Through the generations shaving has come in and out of fashion, it has also been affected by religions. The beard has often been seen as a sign of manhood, among Jewish people it has been considered an outrage to cut off another mans beard. Many Muslims see it as an outward sign of faith. Sikhs are not supposed to cut their beards or hair hence the turbans. With Christians the clergy were encouraged to shave their beards.
There of course countless other reasons and pressures religions have placed on the length of beards and hair.
Shaving was popular with the majority of the ancient Macedonian population before being spread to Egypt, all eastern countries including China and to the Mediterranean Romans where Julius Caesar compelled his solders to cut off their beards as had Alexander the great. Later Peter the Great actually imposed a tax on beards and in so doing practically made shaving compulsory.
The rise and fall of Barber-Surgeons during the middle ages
The barbers in the middle ages not only practiced shaving, haircutting and hair dressing, but also dressed wounds and performed surgical operations, this is why they were called barber-surgeons. Much of the barbers experience was acquired from the monks, whom they assisted in the practise of surgery and medicine. The barber-surgeons became quite numerous when Pope Alexander III forbade the clergy to shed blood in surgical operations.
To protect themselves, the Barbers' Company of London was organised in the thirteenth century. The object of the trade guild was to regulate the profession for the benefit of its members. Among the regulations passed was that no barber was to keep more than four apprentices in his establishment.
The company of barbers was ruled by a Master, and consisted of two classes of barbers, those who practised barbering and those who specialised in surgery. Under Edward III, the barbers made a complaint against unskilled practitioners in surgery. As a result, the court chose two Masters to inspect and rule the guild and give examinations to test the skill of applicants.
The sign of the barber-surgeon consisted of a striped pole from which was suspended a basin: the fillet around the pole indicated the bandage twisted around the arms previous to blood-letting and the basin the vessel for receiving the blood, blue the veins, and white the bandage. This sign, without the basin, has generally been retained by barbers to this day.
Beside the Barbers' Guild, there was also a Surgeons' Guild in England. There is reason to believe that competition and antagonism existed between these two organisations. In 1450, both groups were united by law for the purpose of fostering the science of surgery. A law was enacted that no one doing surgery should practise barbering and that no barber should practise any surgery except the pulling of teeth. The long slumbering jealousy between the guilds soon reached a climax. The surgeons harboured a dislike for a system under which the diplomas were signed by governors, two of whom were always barbers. Finally in 1745 a bill was passed separating the barbers from the surgeons.
The barber- surgeons also flourished in France and Germany. In 1371, a corporation was organised for the French barber surgeons under the rule of the king's barber. Wigs became so elaborate in the nineteenth century that a separate corporation of barbers was formed in France. These corporations were dissolved after the French revolution.
The Dutch and Swedish settlers in America took with them barber surgeons from their native countries to look after the well being of colonists, they both shaved and performed everyday medical and surgical procedures. There was also a barber surgeons corporation in Prussia, formed in 1779 and disbanded in 1809 when new unions were started.