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Shaving Around the World: 7 Wild Grooming Rituals and Traditions

Shaving is a right of passage that all men go through, and most will never forget. That first shave with a manual razor is both exciting and scary at the same time. What if you cut yourself? Ah, that first splash of aftershave (alcohol based), who can forget the sting!

But what do shaving rituals and practices of other cultures look like?

Join us as we examine shaving around the world unique grooming practices and traditions.

What is the Cultural Significance of Shaving?

men from different cultures having a haircut

Shaving has a rich history, with different cultures shaving for various reasons. Here's what they have in common:

  • Hygiene: In most cultures, shaving is one way to maintain cleanliness and hygiene. People either shave all their hair, their facial hair, their beard hair, or have their heads shaved.

  • Status and Power: In ancient Egypt, Pharaohs were clean-shaven to show authority and status.

  • Sacrifice and Devotion: Buddhist monks have their heads shaved to symbolize sacrifice and dedication to a cause.

  • Coming of Age: In some African cultures, young girls shave their heads upon reaching puberty, a sign of transition into womanhood.

The Top 7 Wild Grooming Rituals, Practices and Traditions

Ancient Egyptians and Body Hair Removal

ancient egyptians shaving

image via egypttoday

Ancient Egyptians didn't shave all their hair during the start of their civilization. They wore facial hair (beards and mustaches) and braided their hair. The hot climate and obsession with cleanliness may have brought about the clean-shaven look.

Egypt's scorching heat made long hair unbearable, so they said goodbye to all their hair (leaving eyebrows and eyelashes). Wealthy Egyptian men and women shaved their heads and bodies entirely. They wore false beards and elaborately crafted wigs as a fashion statement.

The wealthy most likely had personal barbers who always kept them clean-shaven. Wealthy Egyptians were buried with their razors, believing they might need them in the afterlife.

Maasai Tribe Kenya

maasai tribe warrriors

The Maasai tribe shave their heads to signal rites of passage like circumcision.

Young Maasai boys take a cold shower and get a close shave two days before circumcision to purify themselves. This ceremony is called Enkipaata. Where boys between 12 to 16 years old go through a trial before they are circumcised. First, he has to gather cattle for 7 days in a row, if he is successful, circumcision will happen on the eighth day.

Turkish Fire Shave

barber performing ear hair singeing

When you're in Istanbul, you might want to try a Turkish fire shave. Also known as hair singeing, this technique is a great way to eliminate hairy ears but is not for the faint of heart.

The process begins with a Turkish barber applying a volatile liquid on your ears, pulling out a lighter with a two-inch flame, and applying it to your ears.

The result? Burnt ears (not painful, apparently), the smell of burnt hair, and cleanly shaved ears using fire!

Mundan Shaving Ritual

mundan baby head shaving ritual

image via indiatimes

The Mundan ceremony is a popular Hindu ritual in which a child's head is shaved when he is between 1 and 3 years old. Each strand must be collected and not thrown anywhere.

The hairs are offered to God or immersed in the holy river Ganga. After shaving, the child's head is washed with holy water from the river Ganga. A turmeric and sandalwood paste is also applied to heal any cuts.

Hindus believe this practice purifies the baby from thoughts, impurity, and karma from their previous life.

Another reason for Mundan or shaving the baby's hair is that it helps expose the baby to sunlight and increases Vitamin D absorption.

US Marines (The First Shave)

induction cut

Image via Petty Officer 2nd Class Nathan Wilkes

What's the most common scene when you watch a TV show or movie about someone joining the US Marines? Yup, you've guessed it, the first buzz cut.

During World War 1, shaving facial hair and beard hair was required in the US military to promote proper hygiene. Every soldier was clean-shaven and had a buzz cut no more than an inch long. A buzz cut was also crucial for wearing a gas mask, as there were threats of airborne gases at that time.

When recruits join the service, they are subject to the first shave on the first day of boot camp.

In the US Marines, there's a weird tradition where Marines going on their first combat deployment should shave their heads, similar to their first shave on day one of boot camp. The boot camp shave symbolizes entry into the Marine Corps, and shaving your head before combat deployment shows that you've become an infantryman.

Usually, senior Marines would pass around hair trimmers, and marines would shave in their barracks.

Anything goes here. It's common to see mohawks and some other wacky haircuts.

Shaving before deployment is a fun tradition that's not compulsory, but saying no means you are left out of the pre-deployment festivities and fun.

Female Pubic Hair Removal (Islam)

female with razor ready to shave pubic hair

Muslim females and men are prescribed to remove pubic hair. It's part of an elaborate religious ceremony. You can remove pubic hair anytime, but 40 days can not pass without pubic hair removal.

Islam encourages cleanliness in marital relations, which is why married women should remove their pubic hair before approaching their husbands.

Women can't go to the salon to have their pubic hair removed. They must do it themselves. Islam considers it unlawful for a man or woman to open his or her private parts for hair removal.

The five ways an Islamic women can shave her pubes are:

  • Shaving: the most common and easiest way to shave but needs extra care to avoid nicks and cuts

  • Waxing: provides longer-lasting results but is a more painful process

  • Hair removal creams: Depilatory creams remove hair painlessly. Islamic women must choose creams with ingredients that comply with their religion.

  • Trimming: trimming is a more comfortable and safer option for pubic hair removal. An electric trimmer is easy to use and helps keep your private area clean and neat.

Women Shaving Their Head (Buddhist Nuns)

buddhist nun getting head shaved

image via favsnews

Buddhist monks and nuns adopt the tradition of shaving their heads while they are in the monastic order. They are not required to shave their whole life. If they leave, they can grow their hair once more.

Buddha ordained his followers via the Vinaya-Pitaka, stating that hair should be shaved at least every two months or when it has grown to as long as two finger widths. Monks and nuns must also use a razor to remove facial and scalp hair. Scissors are only allowed if they have sores on their heads.

Some orders consider electric shavers as scissors and forbid their monks and nuns from using them.

Why do Buddhist monks and nuns shave?

  • Symbolizes renouncing material desires and attachments

  • Promotes equality within the monastic community

  • Form of spiritual discipline and commitment to the Buddhist way

  • Follow tradition and Buddha's teachings

  • More hygienic and practical during long meditations

The Bottom Line

Shaving has existed since ancient times and has transcended hygiene. Whatever your reason for shaving, you must have a dependable electric shaver in your grooming arsenal. We don't shave like the ancient Egyptians anymore.

The FlexSeries is a modern tool every shaver must try for a safe, smooth, quick shave.

Get one now for $39.95.

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