Men: Shave or go Unshaven? Why we shave and whether you should – Part I

Before the advent of razors, hair was sometimes removed using two shells to pull the hair out.[4] Later, around 3,000 BC, when copper tools were developed, copper razors were invented. The idea of an aesthetic approach to personal hygiene may have begun at this time, though Egyptian priests may have practiced something similar to this earlier. Alexander the Great strongly promoted shaving during his reign in the 4th century BCE to avoid “dangerous beard-grabbing in combat”, and because he believed it looked tidier.[5]
Today, the average man will shave about 20,000 times between the ages of 15 and 75[citation needed], which equates to five months of actual time. Ninety percent, or 94 million, of American men over the age of 15 shave, with 75 percent shaving daily. The average fifteen-to -twenty year old shaves 275 times per year, while shaving frequency rises to almost daily for men aged twenty to sixty-five.[6]

Shaving… it’s an everyday ritual for most men and yet not many know why we shave… In some parts of the world, shaving is more common than others… For some occasions, shaving is important and for others it isn’t… The goal in this two part series is to talk about why men shave and to discover (from a fashion/style perspective), whether we should or should not shave.

Thanks to razors, we don’t have to use two shells to pull out our facial hair. Sounds weird, but that’s exactly what used to happen up until 3,000 BC when copper was invented. With copper, of course, we learned how to build sharp objects and so we moved away from using shells to shave. Shaving has been seen all throughout history. Alexander the Great was a big advocate of shaving. Not only did he believe that it looked tidier, he also wanted to avoid beard grabbing during wars. Today, though, men shave about 20,000 times during their lifetime. This adds up to about 5 months of one’s lifetime. Wow. The average 15-20 year old male shaves about 275 times a year while men between the ages of 20-60 shave almost on a daily basis.

Believe it or not, some religions have prohibitions against shaving. For example, the Bible (Leviticus 19:27) talks about not shaving your beard and the sides of your head. Some Muslims and Jews also believe that the beard should be left unshaven.

Even after copper came and even after human kind became much better at metallurgy, men continued to grow beards. The problem was that unless you lived in a city and were wealthy, it would be very difficult to get a professional shave. Then, everything started to change in 1901.  Gillette came up with the “safety razor” and then offered them to World War I soldiers. The soldiers were war heroes and were looked up to. The soldiers, of course, would shave since they needed to wear gas masks and such and shaving would help the masks fit better. Since soldiers were considered heroes, others started to imitate them and shave as well.  Growing a beard was almost a taboo between 1920 and 1960. The companies that promoted shaving saw profit in shaving and since they couldn’t make as much money off beards they used their influence to ensure that shaving was stylish and in fashion.

Ever since, most men in North America shave on a daily basis and it has been the stylish thing to do ever since. With that said, facial hair can also be stylish and that is what we’ll talk about in part II of this post.

Leave a Comment