The Evolution of the Modern Safety Razor
Posted by Hafiz Mirza on
The safety razor is an integral part of everyone’s personal grooming kits. The razors in our bathrooms are incredibly efficient at their job, guarantee a closer shave, and are completely safe to use.
That being said, shavers weren’t always as efficient or safe as they are now. Let’s just say that our ancestors had to work hard if they wanted to rid themselves of unwanted facial hair. Here’s how the modern safety razor has evolved over the years.
Shaving As A Safety Measure:
Although our ancestors are often depicted as savages with unkempt beards in movies and TV shows, evidence suggests that they had been shaving since at least the last Ice Age! However, in those days, shaving was more of a necessary evil than a fashion statement as wet facial hair accelerated frostbite and jeopardized the safety of our ancestors.
To protect themselves from harm, humans started shaving nearly 100,000 years ago! Granted the practice was closer to plucking than modern shaving as these people used tweezers made from seashells to minimize the dangers of frostbite.
The Egyptian Period:
Modern shaving can be traced back to the fourth century. Egyptian men, women, and children all openly participated in the practice of making themselves as hairless as they can. In fact, the lack of hair signified financial stature and social goodwill—people in Egypt who had facial hair (or hair at all for that matter) were criminals, mercenaries, peasants, and slaves, etc.!
To rid themselves of hair, Egyptians used depilatory creams that smoothened the skin and made the removal of hair easier. Archaeologists have also discovered multiple circular razors that were used to achieve this hairless state!
Alexander and His Great Influence on Shaving:
The popularity of a clean shave in the Roman Empire can be attributed to Alexander the Great. Alexander claimed that having no facial hair was a tactical advantage in battle as it gave the enemy nothing to grab onto.
As the Roman Empire grew and soon engulfed a significant portion of the planet, his sound reasoning became popular as people all over the world started shaving their facial hair.
The Romans even had a special razor blade that made it easier for them to shave. The Novacila was a circular blade that improved the design used by the Egyptians. The blade would reduce even the unruliest of beards to a harmless stubble in seconds, which was later rubbed off by pumice stones!
The First Modern Safety Razor:
Shaving essentially remained throughout the middle ages. People used to go to barbers as shaving was considered a specialist’s job. However, that all changed in the 18th century when the popular a French inventor, Jean-Jacques Perret, developed the first modern safety razor.
Perret’s safety razor included a wooden handle that was connected to blade slot (called the head). This safety razor caught people’s interest as it guaranteed a closer shave from the comfort of their own homes.
The First Blade with a Replaceable Head:
The problem with Perret’s design was that it was prone to rust. After the head of a Perret safety razor encountered rust, it had to be manually dismantled and made sharp again via a whet stone.
One traveling salesman envisioned a world where safety razor could be used for years without deteriorating. He wanted to design a model in which the head of the blade could easily be replaced if it contacted rust. The salesman struggled for 8 years until finally he was able to create a model that guaranteed durability, efficiency, and safety.
By 1906, he was selling more than 300,000 razors a year and had also started supplying the US military with razors for World War I. All in all, this man had the most significant impact in the world of shaving and completely revolutionized how we shave today. His name? King C. GILLETTE!
The world of shaving has progressed in leaps and bounds since Gillette’s design shot to prominence. Nowadays, we use highly efficient blades that guarantee the closest shave possible and make grooming ourselves a breeze.
If you’re in the market for professional safety razors with sharp blades, we at Mac's professionals would love to help. We are your one stop shop for barbershop supplies providing you with professional grade shears, scissors, and blades etc. at an affordable price.
Shop with us today, and take your shaving game to a whole new level!