Shaving cream is a cosmetic product with a gentle formula designed to support the removal of unwanted hair. Although it was used in beautification rituals of both sexes in the past, today it is considered primarily a privilege of men.
According to scientific researches, the earliest kind of shaving cream was made in 3000 BC by the Sumerians. They mixed wood extracts with animal fat to soften hairs and facilitate their removal. Egyptian priests were the first to put into practice shaving as a part of the personal hygiene. For the purpose they used aromatized animal fats and a pointed copper tool. Later, the Ancient Greeks and Romans introduced various types of oils and soap for skin preparation before shaving.
Shaving was highly tolerated by a number of powerful rulers such as Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great and Peter the Great, because perfectly smooth, hairless skin played an important role in social status and religious rituals. The changing attitude towards hair and hairstyles over the decades required the sophistication of the cosmetic tools, including the shaving cream.
To 18th century the main ingredients in the product’s formula were oil and soap. Later people started seeking ways to adapt it not only to shaving, but also to the whole personal hygiene. In the 19th century the production of a specialized shaving soap bars began. Their foaming and longer lasting formula was applied to the face with a special brush made of hog bristle or badger hair.
In the 20th century the American scientist John Washington Carver created a shaving cream that was very easy to store. The cream was highly foaming, as well, and helped the razor to glide smoothly over the skin. In the 1940s appeared formulas that neither produced lather nor required brushes.
During the Cold War (1947 - 1991) shaving cream tubes were used for delivering secret codes and messages. Before filling the tube with cream, a balloon with the specific message was inserted. That way it was carried in the luggage without raising suspicion.
In the 1950s the first aerosol shaving cream (pressurized product) was developed, in the 1980s - the first shaving gel, and a formula combining properties of both gels and foams, in 1993. And because male skin has no less specific needs than in the past, all varieties of shaving creams, including soaps, are commercially available nowadays.