I read a story the other day…
…about a barber in London proposing to tax men with BEARDS.
He said we can solve the national debt by taxing these guys!
Sounds ridiculous, right?
Fact: This has a historical precedent! (I tell you when & where below)
That's just one of many interesting things about beards and the practice of shaving throughout history…
Continue reading below for 10 shaving facts you may not know.
Fact #1 – Men Have Been Shaving For 5,000 Years
Man first learned to shave using raw materials like flint, shark teeth, and clam shells. These tools appeared in drawings found in prehistoric caves.
The very first razors were made from copper and solid gold – as discovered in Egyptian tombs that date back to the 4th millennium B.C. It was a custom in ancient Egypt (for men and women) – to shave their heads and facial hair.
They wore specially designed wigs, which offered more protection from the sun than a natural head of hair. Not only were these wigs a great fashion statement – they spared people from illnesses or infections.
In the Nile Valley back then, the climate was so hot that it was hard to stay clean with a head full of hair. Soap wasn't easily available – so going hairless was the best way to stay cool, clean and lice-free.
Fact #2 – 90% Of Cartridge Users Change Their Razor Based On Feel
The other 10% change it based on a calendar, or whenever they receive it.
Don't you get annoyed when you go out of your way to buy a new one? It sucks when you realize how often you do in a month – and how costly it is.
Fact #3 – The Average Man Takes 150 Strokes Per Shave
The average number of times you do a single “trim” when shaving is over twice the average number of legs on a centipede (70!). Pretty mind-boggling, right?
Fact #4 – A Man's Face Has 10,000-15,000 Hair Follicles
Imagine if your face was an arena for sporting events and concerts – and each hair follicle was a seat. How big would the place be?
If you compare it to the seating capacity of the Staples Center (19,000) and the Theater at Madison Square Garden (5,600), your face would lie somewhere in the middle!
Fact #5 – Your Hair Is Most Dense On Your Head
Your scalp has the greatest hair density (or “population” of hair strands) while your legs – specifically down near the calves – have the least. It's like comparing a broomstick to a wide tooth comb.
Fact #6 – Most People Improperly Store Their Razor Blade
Many of us tend to leave our razor in the shower, which is NOT a good practice.
The damp, dewy environment causes the blade to rust faster – and become vulnerable to more bacteria. So make a conscious effort to store your razor in a clean and dry place.
Remember also to change the blade of your razor after a couple of uses. Some of the signs that your razor is past its “expiration date” – a dull blade, rusting, or any nicking or tugging of the skin.
If you use the same blade for an extended period, or if you keep leaving your blade in the shower – there's a greater risk of skin infections in the form of:
- Folliculitis – causes the skin to form red bumps with pus-filled yellow heads
- Cellulitis – turns part of the skin red and painful
- Honey-colored crusts on the skin
- Further spreading of pre-existing infections (such as warts or herpes)
Fact #7 – “Clean Shaven” Became An Official Word In 1860
Why is it that this term officially entered the English dictionary – and not “well-shaven” or “completely shaven”? Even though smooth-shaven is recognized, it has never been commonly used like clean-shaven.
But think about it – doesn't the “clean” part work perfectly in marketing certain products… such as razors? A conspiracy, perhaps? No one can say for sure.
Fact #8 – Most Militaries Require Their Soldiers To Be Clean Shaven
It is believed during World War I, shaving had certain advantages. Troops needed gas masks while they fought from the trenches. A beard would only get in the way of wearing the mask properly.
It was the same deal for those pilots in World War II – who wore oxygen masks while flying high-altitude planes. But I don't even know how true that is.
The origin of shaving in the military was more likely in hand-to-hand combat. It was around 330 B.C. when Alexander the Great made it mandatory for his troops to shave – and for practical reasons.
Shaving was a defensive measure – preventing enemy soldiers from grabbing them by the beard during battle. You know how painful it is to be pulled by the hair on your head? So it makes sense how beards could've been a liability back then.
Fact #9 – Shaving Does NOT Cause Your Hair To Grow Back Thicker
This common myth exists because of the natural “tapered end” of your facial hair.
Basically, a hair strand has 2 sections – the dead and living sections – and shaving eliminates the dead portion. Since the living part (which lies below the skin's surface) remains intact, that hair follicle shouldn't grow back abnormally.
Then why does the new hair appear thicker and coarser? Let science explain:
- New and short strands tend to stick straight up from the follicles, looking thicker than the hair they replaced. A fully grown strand has a tapered end (similar to a pencil tip) – but this takes some time.
- The new hair hasn't been exposed to much sunlight or other chemicals, so they will naturally look darker than existing hair strands early on.
- There are rare cases where excessive waxing (which rips hair from the root) can eventually reduce hair growth due to repeated trauma. But you shouldn't worry about this if all you do is shave.
Fact #10 – Most Shaving Problems Aren't Caused By The Razor
We often point fingers at the razor (even though it's a quality blade) when our post-shave face looks less than ideal.
But the truth is most issues aren't a direct result of the tool, but the way it's used. Those problems can be solved with a better technique.
If you can learn the different strategies to shave better, you'll realize there's a way to make any type of razor work for you.
For starters – research is important. You should be open to exploring alternative brushes, creams, and aftershave products. You want make sure that these are men’s skincare products made from natural ingredients.
Other useful tips for shaving include:
- Use warm water before and after you shave
- Make the process smoother with a pre-shave oil
- Apply shaving cream with upward strokes to lift the hair away from your face
- Follow the shave map and go against the grain, ear-to-mouth, etc.
- Use slow and gentle strokes with light pressure
- Pull and stretch the skin carefully while shaving
- Rehydrate your skin with moisturizing lotion
Bonus – Why Beard Taxes Existed Before
Toward the end of the 17th century, Russian Emperor Peter the Great introduced a new tax on men's facial hair. It was an attempt to modernize Russian society – and you could also say it was a way of dividing “classes.”
Back then, bearded men in Russia had to carry a copper or bronze token as proof of paying their tax. The amount someone had to pay increased with his standing in society – which made facial hair a big status symbol. Monarchs in England also imposed this tax, from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I.
These days? There's recently been a call for this tax to resurface in the UK – coming from UK Barber Shops chain owner Antony Kent. He wants to make bearded men pay £100 ($125) a year, while those with “more modest stubble” would pay half the amount.
This seems like a response to the trend of “hipster beards” thanks to guys like Jared Leto. Whether the beard tax will ever back – who knows? But I'm sure of this – no one would do this for a clean shaven look. It's a huge part of cultures, societies, and the world of business.
What to read next? Find out if men should shave their armpits.