It’s time for the second part of our History of Shaving series (in case you’ve missed it – here’s the first part). This time we will travel to ancient Egypt and focus entirely on that.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear ‘Egypt’? Pyramids, the Sphinx, pharaohs, ancient civilizations… Okay, sand might not be first, but it is somewhere there, right? Egypt is hot and you don’t want to be hairy when it’s hot. That’s one of the reasons why ancient Egyptians shaved their bodies – women, men and children. They were also famous for being clean and bathing a few times a day – and in that time it was something to brag about even more than it is now!
Of course, Egyptian fashion had eras filled with beards and mustaches. Men used to braid their beards and decorate them with gold. But at some point they decided that hairlessness separated man from beasts, so they started to clean shave their entire bodies in order to become more civilized. Sometimes they even shave their eyebrows and pull out their eyelashes. Yes, PULL OUT THEIR EYELASHES. Pretty brutal, huh? It was sometimes a part of ritual cleansing, so that’s fun.
Since they were so focused on hygiene, being completely bald seemed like a logical solution for keeping clean. What started as a health procedure resulted in ancient Egyptians distinguishing themselves as an entire civilization of baldies.
Looking gooooood! Source
In order to become very sexy and completely bald Egyptians would use depilatory creams, pumice stones and bronze razors. But the wealthiest would hire a barber to live with them and clean-shave them every day. Pharaohs’ barbers would even use sanctified razors with jewels. Position of barber was pretty high, since removing hair was so important for the Egyptians.
Fresh clean shave! Source
But wait a second. The Egyptians are always portrayed as ones with big black bobs on their heads, decorated with gold ornaments. Yes. Those were wigs. Going completely bald in public was not common and was not seen as something polite. Also those wigs were protecting them from the sun. Remember? Egypt is hot!
Facial hair were also seen as a negligence. And yes, pharaohs are pictured with long, slim beards, even female pharaohs. They were also fake. Yeah, we know: it’s confusing.
Beards worn by pharaohs were called osirids and they were made out of gold or silver. They were usually worn during celebrations and fancy parties. It was straight when the pharaoh was alive, but after his (or her!) death it was changed to curly one. It was a symbol of pharaoh becoming a god (or a goddess!). And probably nothing shows how important hair was for ancient Egyptians.