When did man first start to shave?

What decided whether men would let their beards grow or shave them off? All through history, it was chiefly a matter of religious custom or just fashion.

We don't know exactly who the first men were who shaved their beards. But we do know that the ancient Egyptians did shave their faces for religious reasons. On the other hand, the ancient Jews were required to wear full beards, and there are many Orthodox Jews who still do so for religious reasons.

The ancient Greeks wore beards, and many portraits of the great Greek philosophers show them with long flowing beards. Then Alexander the Great introduced the custom of shaving to the Greeks. He is said to have done this so that his soldiers wouldn't be grabbed by their beards in combat.

The early Romans didn't shave until about 300 B.C. when barbers were introduced. The first Roman known to have shaved every day was the great general Scipio Africanus (237-183 b.c.), and then shaving soon became a regular practice among the Romans. By the way, in time of mourning the Romans let their beards grow—and the Greeks cut their beards.

The Roman custom of shaving influenced the Roman Catholic Church to have the clergy beardless and cleanshaven. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the wearing of beards was revived among popes, cardinals, and priests. Later Ro­man Catholic practice went back to the idea of shaving, except for members of monasteries.

The custom of shaving was introduced into England by the Saxons.