11. Shaving was seldom an everyday event
As portrayed in art, the Founding Fathers were clean-shaven at all times. This is simply because when sitting for portraits, they appeared in their best clothes, most of them bewigged, and having been closely shaved. Few men shaved themselves. The wealthy owned their own razors and other shaving equipment, such as soap and brushes to apply it, but their manservants attended to the shaving. Razors and soap were both expensive, the best imported from Europe. The less well-to-do among the Founders relied on barbers, who performed their work in their shops as well as calling on their clients in their homes and lodgings.
Washington, also meticulous about his personal appearance when in public, shaved daily, usually in the hands of his manservant, William Lee. Washington referred to him as Billy. One of his shaving sets is on display at his Mount Vernon home. John Adams also preferred to be clean-shaven, his less attentive to hygiene cousin Samuel did not. For the most part, men shaved later in the day if at all, rather than as part of their morning routine. Franklin advocated daily shaving, as well as the need to acquire and maintain a good razor, despite their prohibitive cost. Others disagreed. The use of hot water when preparing to shave was considered dangerous to the overall health, and cold water shaving was common among men of the late 18th century.