It's a new battle every day in the war on whiskers | History | Smithsonian
Current Issue
July / August 2014  magazine cover
Subscribe

Save 81% off the newsstand price!

It's a new battle every day in the war on whiskers

Razors have come a long way in 7,000 years, but preparation and a steady hand remain the survival skills each time steel meets skin

Smithsonian Magazine | Subscribe

Handed one of the ever-changing instruments tested at Schick's Shaving Research Center, Mark Hurley, a lawyer and professional shaver, flips his necktie over his shoulder, lathers up and scrapes off the whiskers stubbling his face. Then Hurley quickly fills out a form, rating the razor's performance. At the bottom he scrawls: Very clean and smooth shave today."

Little may Hurley recognize the remarkable nature of such an outcome. For most of human history the "gentle art" of shaving has been anything but. Given all the arterial blood that was inadvertently let, it's a wonder the species survived. Today, although twin-bladed, cartridge-style razors are a major improvement over the animal horns, flint and straight razors used by our ancestors, the device is still only part of the equation. The key is preparation, because a good shave begins well before steel touches skin...

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus