How Did They Shave in Ancient Times?

Shaving is a daily routine for most of us today, but have you ever wondered how people in ancient times managed to keep their facial hair in check? The answer might surprise you as the methods they used were quite different from what we use today. In this article, we’ll explore how people shaved in ancient times.

The Ancient Egyptians

The ancient Egyptians are known for their elaborate grooming habits and shaving was no exception. Men and women both shaved their heads and faces using sharpened flint or bronze razors. They would apply a mixture of animal fat and honey to their skin before shaving to reduce irritation.

Interestingly, the ancient Egyptians also used depilatory creams made from a combination of pitch, resin, and other ingredients. These creams would dissolve the hair at the root, allowing it to be wiped away with a cloth.

The Ancient Greeks

The Greeks were also known for their grooming habits and had a unique approach to shaving. They used a special tool called a “strigil” which was made of bronze or iron.

The strigil was used to scrape off dirt, sweat, and oil from the skin after exercise or bathing. This process also had the unintended effect of removing any facial hair.

Those who wanted a closer shave would use pumice stones or even clamshells to remove facial hair. These methods were not as effective as razors but were still popular among the Greeks.

The Romans

The Romans took shaving to new heights with the invention of the “barber”. These professional shavers would roam the streets with their razors offering shaves and haircuts to anyone who wanted them.

The Romans also introduced the use of soap for shaving which made it easier to remove facial hair. They would mix olive oil with ashes from plants such as beech or juniper to create a soap-like substance that could be used to clean the skin and soften the hair before shaving.

The Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, beards became a symbol of masculinity and were often worn by knights and soldiers. However, this trend was short-lived as shaving became popular again in the Renaissance period.

Shaving during the Middle Ages was done with a straight razor which was made from iron or steel. These razors were sharp but required a skilled hand to use safely.


As you can see, people in ancient times had a variety of methods for shaving. From flint razors to clamshells, each culture had its own unique approach to grooming.

Today, we have access to modern razors and shaving creams that make our daily routines much easier. But it’s fascinating to look back at how people managed without these conveniences and still found ways to keep their facial hair in check using only the resources available to them.