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Shaving soaps?

Posted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 8:47 am
by Alan E
Does anyone have any evidence of what soap :?: was used for shaving (from late C14 to early C15)? Or was something else used?

Posted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 10:11 am
by gregory23b
Can't recall, Sally P, would be helpful, whose soap I have used for shaving and washing and washing my hair, good stuff it is too.

I wouldn't pay much heed to this stuff though

"Shaving was difficult, painful, and infrequent, since the soap was inefficient and razors, which looked like carving knives and perhaps substituted for them at need, were likely to be old and dull. Even haircutting was disagreeable. Scissors were of the one-piece squeeze type, similar to grass trimming shears; they must have pulled mightily."

http://www.godecookery.com/mtales/mtales08.htm

Hecredits a 1970 tome - oh my.

Utter skcollob on so many counts. One of the downsides of the democratisation of the new medium I guess.

Posted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 10:26 am
by Mr Dreadful
:lol:

"old and dull"? Because, of course, honing stones hadn't been invented then! Not even for the carving knives. :roll: I do love it when people don't let logic get in the way of their assumptions.

And the scissors....

Posted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 11:16 am
by lucy the tudor
Snips are flippin' lethal. I have used my tiny snips, which I bought for £3 two years ago, for trimming cloth, felt, horses tails and all kinds of other stuff, and they are still sharp enough to snip through my finger ends without pain so that the first thing I notice is the red colour spoiling the braid I am making......... Old technology, great stuff. :oops:Lucy

Posted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 1:30 pm
by Chris, yclept John Barber
gregory23b wrote:"Shaving was difficult, painful, and infrequent."
That's why the contemporary illustrations show everyone with beards and 'designer stubble', of course...

What, they don't? :?

(BTW Jorge: I know you were posting it as a comment on the quality of info on the net - I just couldn't resist another way of pointing out how easy it is to spot some of the worst of it.)


I've tried soapwort for both washing and shaving - it produces a surprisingly good lather. And of course tallow soaps were around. But that's just hearsay - I can't provide evidence.

Posted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 2:12 pm
by Grymm
Take a trawl through this I had a quick look but 'Small' is bawling for a bumchange and milk...
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/search ... y=soap&p=1

Posted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 5:22 pm
by Cat
And do speak to Sally P. People who shave their phyzzogs have rated her castille soap on here before, I believe.

Posted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 5:33 pm
by gregory23b
I was Chris, but also you are right, the pictures do show a lot of unshaven faces, quite a bit of stubble, some Flemish portraits spring to mind. :D

Posted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 1:42 pm
by Colin Middleton
gregory23b wrote:razors, which looked like carving knives and perhaps substituted for them at need,
This could actually be correct (by accident naturally), didn't all the household manuals tell you to keep your carving knives REALLY sharp so you could cut the meat properly? You probably could shave with one :shock:

Posted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 1:53 pm
by Panda
Colin Middleton wrote:
gregory23b wrote:razors, which looked like carving knives and perhaps substituted for them at need,
This could actually be correct (by accident naturally), didn't all the household manuals tell you to keep your carving knives REALLY sharp so you could cut the meat properly? You probably could shave with one :shock:
A very old method (AFAIK) of testing the sharpness of a blade is to see if it can shace the hais from the back of your hand. This is the testing method I use for any blade I sharpen. And if it don't shave it aint sharp....
Also shaving is a very silly idea. One wouldn't want to be called a woman now would one. ;) :P

Posted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 6:03 pm
by gregory23b
"This could actually be correct (by accident naturally), didn't all the household manuals tell you to keep your carving knives REALLY sharp so you could cut the meat properly? You probably could shave with one "

You could shave with a very sharp sword or piece of glass, yet you probably wouldn't.

If you needed a carving knife, that suggests you have big lumps of meat, which suggests you are well off enough to have a carving knife and therefore a razor or pay a barber - my issue is not with the sharpness or lack of, of a carving knife, but the dodgy logic (theirs Colin, not yours).

Posted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 6:04 pm
by Alan E
gregory23b wrote:...I wouldn't pay much heed to this stuff though

"Shaving was difficult, painful, and infrequent, since the soap was inefficient and razors, which looked like carving knives and perhaps substituted for them at need, were likely to be old and dull. Even haircutting was disagreeable. Scissors were of the one-piece squeeze type, similar to grass trimming shears; they must have pulled mightily."

http://www.godecookery.com/mtales/mtales08.htm

Hecredits a 1970 tome - oh my.

Utter skcollob on so many counts. One of the downsides of the democratisation of the new medium I guess.
Precisely.

NOT carving knives folks - they had steel by then (in small pieces - which is what you need for a razor)! Shears are excellent for cutting hair (I use a small pair to trim my beard - much easier than scissors because I can hold shears at different angles - unlike small scissors).

Thanks Jorge, you did say to ask Sally P at this site - remember now! :P

Posted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 11:31 pm
by gregory23b
Oh, and they had cross scissors, we know this because they survive and are seen in pictures, not just spring snips either.