Wednesday, August 26, 2020




Shaving is most commonly practised by men to remove their facial hair. A man is called clean-shaven if he has had his beard entirely removed.It is believed that the  ancient  Egyptians and Greeks were the first to promote shaving.

In my childhood and youth, Godrej and  Erasmic shaving soaps were quite popular though shaving creams had also arrived in Kashmir. A piece of alum ( Phatkari ) was always there in the shaving box. It was used to prevent infection from cuts and to act as an astringent to reduce skin irritation and a moisturizer to soften the facial skin.

The shaving box also had a shaving brush, a small iron scissor, a metal Katori for hot water, a napkin, some old and new shaving blades and a blade sharpening tool called hone.A three-piece metallic shaving razor(machine ) was the core device. The metallic shaving razor consisted of three parts, you had to put the blade on the top part then the bottom one and screw the handle.Some elderly persons used the old single piece barber’s razor ( straight razor ). They felt more comfortable with this oldest shaving device.

 Safety razors have been known to exist since at least 1876 when the single-edge Star safety razor was patented by brothers Frederick and Otto Kampfe.In 1895, King Camp Gillette invented the double-edged safety razor, which utilised inexpensive, disposable blades sharpened from two sides. It took him until 1901 to build a working, patentable model, and commercial production began in 1903.Shaving was done with Removeable blades or safety razors since the first quarter of the twentieth century.There was a time when single blade manufacturer Malhotra’s brands Topaz and Lazor ruled the country. The double blade Wilkinson Sword was a British brand. It was followed by Gillette and  7′o clock edge blade. Ashok, Topaz, Panama, Prince, Gillette, Wilkinson sword, Erasmic, 7Oclock, Bharat and Nacet were popular brands of shaving blades sold in Kashmir. Presently cartridge razors,  developed in the 1960s  are mostly used for shaving the world over.

And later during my college days, I noticed that a small bottle of Dettol antiseptic liquid and Boroline cream got added to many shaving boxes.

Even shaving box of Shri S. K. Kak (IAS) had these items only. I happened to see Kak Sahib shaving at his Naidyar , Rainawari residence one day during morning hours. A marriage invitation card had to be delivered to his family. I believe he was director Tourism or Controller Tawaza at that point of time. It could be around 1972 or 1973.I am not sure.Kak Sahib finds mention in V.S. Naipaul's book" An Area of Darkness" as well.

 It is now believed that shaving helps to rid our face of the harmful bacteria. We look younger and better. Research has shown that a beard can make a man look older by almost 10 years.  Shaving helps to remove the daily skin debris that is created along the outermost layer of the skin.  This debris can get impacted within the hair follicles and lead to acne. However, with regular shaving one can remove these dead skin cells without the need to scrub his face.

(Avtar Mota)

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