What Moms Need to Know About Teen Sons and Shaving
A male with a hairless face is nothing new. Even Neanderthal cavemen plucked the hair from their faces thousands of years ago. Beard or no beard has been a fashion question for centuries. In 500 B.C., Alexander the Great set the trend for men in Greece. His choice was short hair and a shaved face. Alexander wouldn't even go into battle with the hint of stubble on his chin.
Roman men were shaved by tonsors (barbers). Wealthy men had personal tonsors. Others – even slaves – went to the barber daily for a shave, a hair cut and the latest gossip. The equipment was of such poor quality and so clumsy to use they never shaved themselves, preferring to have someone else do it. At 21, Roman males were ritually inducted into manhood with a party and a first shave. Julius Caesar even used tweezers to remove his facial hair!
During the middle ages when we typically consider the style to be bearded, William of Normandy successfully invaded England with the help of a shave. His conquest was due to Harold the Saxon's men mistaking the Norman soldiers for priests because of their shaved faces and short hair. The rest is history, as they say.
A Lost Art
History aside, the art of shaving has become something of a lost art. When your young son comes to you and announces his intention to begin shaving, and you look closely at his face to determine if any of that sprouting peach fuzz might need a trim, don't panic. Boys typically begin to grow facial hair at puberty – between the ages of 12 and 15 – when their bodies show signs of maturing into adulthood. They begin to grow facial and body hair, their voices deepen and their body height and weight begin to show signs of stabilizing. Boys tend to reach this point at a later age then girls. The moment of truth is noticing your son's friends have mustaches or even beards. What to do next? What advice can be given for that old lost art of shaving to make it a pleasure and not a form of torture?
A Changing History
Luckily, methods of shaving have advanced. No longer do men use two seashells to scrape and pull the hairs like the cavemen did, nor do we use the sharpened flint or the copper, bronze, iron and volcanic glass razors of the past. Times have changed, and the tools of the trade have improved. Inventors have used different materials and designs to make razors that remain sharper and easier to use.
In 1847 William Henson came up with the razor design we recognize today – the blade attached crosswise to a handle – fashioned after a hoe. Shortly after, the Kampfe Brothers developed the guard along the blade called the "safety razor." Other recognizable shaving names are Norelco, King Camp Gillette (famed for the disposable razor) and Jacob Schick. Schick, a military man, used his familiarity with repeating rifles to develop the injector razor and the first electric razor, using the concept of rapidly moving blades. Over the years, innovative inventors have changed the way men shave and the products they use.
The Advice You Need
As you ponder what to tell your novice shaver, here is advice from the "experts" – freshmen men from Brandt Hall at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa:
- A multi-blade razor is better than a single blade.
- A more expensive razor is more comfortable than a disposable. (Disposables are designed to be used for two to three shaves before tossing.)
- Today's electric razors make shaving more comfortable than ever. Some may even leave skin smoother than before shaving.
- When a razor pulls your hair out instead of cutting it, it's time for a new one.
- Shave in the shower or just after so your beard is softer. (This makes it easier and more comfortable to get a good shave.)
- Shave slowly and thoroughly so you don't miss spots.
- If you cut yourself, cover the cut with a paper towel (or equivalent) and apply pressure. (This can take time, though. If you need a fast fix, use a styptic pencil, a white chalk-like stick with a point at the end. There will be a slight sting, but a chemical reaction stops the bleeding.)
- If you wait between shaves and your beard growth is heavier, shaving could hurt.
One more piece of advice from freshman Curt Younker: "If growing a beard of any sort, be careful. It's easy to get longer hairs caught in seat belts [and] jacket collars! It hurts, and you never see it coming." Happy shaving!