The art of shaving, pogonotomia, comes from the Greek words pogon “beard” and témno “to cut”. It is a very cool word and one to remember for the Scrabble game. The oldest razors have been dated at 18,000BC. They were made of bronze or obsidian (a naturally occurring volcanic rock that looks like black glass) and were generally oval in shape. In prehistoric times, shaving was done using sharpened shells and flint which is fairly amazing considering the effort and difficulty involved in preparing the razor, keeping it sharp and shaving.
Razors made of gold and copper have been unearthed in Egyptian tombs and dated to around 400BC. They were in use in Ancient Rome in the 6th century BC but they did not come into general use until 100AD. Shaving was not a widespread practice across the world until after World War 1. The fitting of gas masks made close shaving a common practice and disposable razors were also introduced around this time which made daily shaving easier and quicker. Early disposable razors were literally single use razors, not the ones we know today that have a disposable head that can be replaced. Even the ones that do not have a replaceable head can be used more than a few times before they are too blunt to do a good job.
The first stainless steel safety razors were made by the ceremonial sword makers Wilkinson (now that logo makes sense doesn’t it?). The use of stainless steel meant that razors could be used more than once which reduced the cost of shaving and helped to make the practice more widespread. Modern shaving choices are a straight razor, a disposable razor, a double edged safety razor or an electric shaver. Straight razors consist of two parts, the blade and the handle (called “the scales” – no I don’t know why). Some are fixed and some razors fold down alongside or into the handle. They come in a range of sizes and the best quality is made from stainless steel which keeps the best edge.
Disposable razors come in a dazzling array of choices from those with replaceable heads and those without. The ones with the replaceable heads are generally a bit more expensive to buy upfront but the replacement heads are quite cheap so they probably save some money in the long run. They may have anything from one to five blades on the head and they are designed to be used with shaving creams and foams to achieve a good result. Although they are the most common type of shaver in the world they also probably give the worst result with disposables generally accused of causing skin irritation and ingrown hairs and you need hair regrowth Melbourne to get it back.
Double edged safety razors are not as popular as disposable razors but they are easier and safer to use than a straight razor and they do give a good result. Electric shavers differ from the other kinds because they can be used on dry skin. There are models available that can be used wet or dry and my reading informs me that the use of shaving oil is a good idea at a minimum to reduce skin irritation.
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