Most people don’t realize that when they lather up with their favorite shaving cream, they are actually joining a rich history of shaving cream users dating back to 3000 BCE. One of the earliest civilizations in Sumeria (modern day Iraq) created a shaving preparation made from animal fat and wood alkali. Ancient Egyptians also used animal fats for shaving, as it was the Egyptian priests that first promoted the practice as an important part of personal hygiene. Julius Caesar shaved with the oils and soaps applied by the Roman barbers. Russian Czar Peter the Great was so fond of shaved faces, he is said to have taxed anyone with a beard.
Shaving soap was refined and improved over thousands of years, though the basic premise of hard shaving soap bars and sticks didn’t change substantially until the 20th century. In 1940, entrepreneurs looked to get away from the process that required brushes to apply the soap and work up lather. Brushless creams were introduced, and enjoyed some popularity; however the lack of soapy lather reduced protection against nicks and cuts.
Shaving soap alternatives didn’t really take off until aerosol shaving cream came to market in 1949. In a brief 10-year-period, a full two-thirds of the shaving product market were devoted users of the fluffy canned shaving cream that most resembles the type many of us still use today.
Shaving cream canisters have played starring roles in Hollywood films, for example as a container to smuggle dinosaur embryos out of Jurassic Park. Secret spy messages were transported through Russia during the Cold War via shaving cream tubes.
Shaving gels arrived on the scene towards the end of the 1980’s, providing a nice lubrication for closer, more comfortable shaving. Proctor & Gamble combined the best of both worlds in 1993, when they invented a shaving preparation that came as canned gel, but worked into a lather once dispensed. Today’s grocery and drugstore shelves offer a wide variety of options, from creams to gels to old-fashioned shaving soap. The shaving mug with soap and brush is coming back into vogue, as specialty stores now make luxurious concoctions to suit every taste.
Hope you enjoyed reading this Shaving Cream History.
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