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The Barbers VS. The Barbarians

Hair. Since the first caveman realized he was covered with it, efforts have been ongoing in an attempt to tame, conquer and control it. In fact, it seems that humanity’s appropriate management of hair, beards or locks has played a part in separating the civilized from the not-so-civilized - the groomed from the not-so-groomed.

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In the popular battlefield of “etymology,” where the learned duke it out over word origins and word roots, questions pertaining to hair remain debated. One popular question is, does the word ‘barbarian’ come from the Latin word, ‘barbarus,’ meaning foreigners who are lacking in refinement - or did it come from the Greek word, ‘barbaros,’ meaning foreigners who talk funny and say strange things no one can understand, like, “bar-bar, bar-bar.”

While the etymologists apparently remain divided over the “bar-bar,” roots, at some point other bystanders noticed that the barbarians were generally uncouth in appearance. They did not conform to the customary principles of personal grooming. Their faces were hidden behind woolly, rag-tag beards, and covering the rest of their bodies were shaggy mats of shorter, but equally unkempt, wild hairs - something recognized by all as probable breeding grounds for various life forms, while also evoking the well-known aroma of eau de barbarian. It was perhaps inevitable that someone would finally put two and two together, and realize that “bar-bar! bar-bar!” was a cry for help. Those people were in search of barbers!

It is safe to say that personal grooming has been a part of civilized man’s daily routine since day one. This is because good grooming habits are found universally in all living species. Grooming, a necessary part of daily routine, is a means of acquiring and maintaining optimal health. It is an act of health maintenance. Birds groom, bees groom. It is only natural for humanity to follow suit and also do what comes naturally. Appropriate hair grooming, including shaving, not only helps curb the growth of pests (visible and invisible), but also sends out a visible signal to others saying, “This person takes good care of him/herself.” Good grooming is a universally desired trait.

Grooming techniques have, thankfully, evolved since day one and the Stone Age. Shaving and other hair-removal methods have varied throughout the centuries, with earlier techniques (and some modern ones as well) sometimes being crude, painful, and downright injurious. Nevertheless, the desire to remove and conquer hair, one way or another, has remained forever with us.

As medicine has evolved, the skin has been found to be a living, functioning organ rather than a convenient, nearly indestructible form of packaging. More thought continues to be put into its proper care. Professional opinion now holds that shaving and skin care can actually go hand-in-hand, and that there are both science and an art to proper shaving.

Shaving properly can help bring about an image that is sleek and healthy in appearance. Doing it improperly, however, can result in shredded skin, razor burn, nicks, cuts and rashes. Far from being sleek and healthy, improper shaving can result in skin that is rough, raw and infected. Setting one of the body's major organs up for infection is never good.

For shaving purposes, having a sharp and clean blade is the first and most fundamental step in achieving the desirable, sleek and healthy appearance. The blade should be thoroughly cleaned before each use to help maintain and assure conformity of the blade edge. It should then be cleaned again after each use to help prevent the buildup of debris, which can also be a breeding ground for bacteria.

Cleaning the skin and softening the beard with warm water, oils and sudsy foam comes next. The next step is the shaving technique, itself - and according to grooming guru, Kyan Douglas of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, this means shaving in the direction of the hair growth rather than against it. He suggests that the art and science of shaving not be rushed, that appropriate time for all steps be taken.

What it all comes down to is that good grooming seems to be a great and ancient factor that continues to separate barbarians from the rest of us. Never leave home without it.

The cost of the shaving materials will vary according to personal tastes and needs, with some skin types requiring only the very best and most expensive shaving products that can be obtained. Regardless of the brand selected, taking a moment to clean the blade before and after use with the Razor Gator ($1.79) will help give you a more sleek and comfortable shave, as well as reduce razor burn and keep disposable razors shaving smooth.


This article was written by Mary Sparrowdancer, author of Love Song of the Universe.



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Last updated March 2017. Over 3,188,000 page views.
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