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Here at Richmond Barbers, we’re huge advocates of the wet shave, and always recommend it as a great way to start the day. But where and when did this tradition start?

Shaving the prehistoric way

Before razors were invented, you could either let it all grow or get creative. Cave paintings show records of people shaving with clam shells, flint knives and even shark teeth. How’s that for a manly shave?

Shaving in ancient civilisations

Circular copper or gold razors were found in some Ancient Egyptian tombs. At around the same time, other cultures were sharpening volcanic obsidian glass and using that to shave with.

The famous Alexander the Great encouraged his men to shave so enemies couldn’t grab their beards during melees (how very unsporting!). However at the time, Alexander’s subjects were often shaved with a novacila, which is basically a block of iron with a sharpened edge. We’re betting there were quite a few shaving cuts!

The Romans had many different methods of beard removal. Julius Caesar supposedly used to have his beard plucked, while other Romans used razors. Alternatively, pumice stones were used to rub the beard from the face (sounds pretty painful to us!).


The straight razor

Straight razors were first manufactured and made available in 1680. By 1740, a man named Benjamin Huntsman was making them with decorated handles and hollow-ground blades made from cast steel.

These razors also inspired the imagination of writers and the infamous Sweeney Todd was born. To this day, there is still some debate over whether or not the story of the demon barber of Fleet Street was based on elements of truth or an urban legend.

Was the traditional wet shave the peak in shaving history?

When Gillette started making disposable razors, the shaving game changed. Now it was possible to shave at home in relative safety. However, the skill and precision it takes to use a traditional open razor remains an art form which we at Richmond Barbers are proud to preserve. We also think that the relaxing experience of a wet shave and the oh-so-smooth results at the end just can’t be matched by a disposable blade shave. But we think it’s best if you make your own mind up about that. Why not pop in for a traditional wet shave next time you’re in Richmond and experience an art from a bygone era?