Ah the razor, the "big bang" of grooming; the tool that set the grooming industry (for men) in motion. From your great grandfather to your future great grandson, this nifty little tool has been and will continue to be the foundation of men’s grooming. Throughout time, the razor has assumed various shapes and sizes, but one thing remains the same: its sole purpose is to shave a man’s body hairs. The existence of this tool stretches as far back as the Bronze Age, with the oldest known razor dating back to 18,000 B.C. As we take a ride down memory lane in our imaginary DeLorean, the stories of various styles of the razors pass right before our eyes….
Straight Razor - a single blade razor often seen at the local barber shop; this iconic tool was commonly used before the 20th century. The single blade is usually pinned to an equal-length handle made from various materials such as wood, plastic, ivory, and mother-of-pearl. The length of the blade provides the user with control of the overall radius as the blade moves across the face. Depending on the razor blade’s material (e.g., stainless steel, carbon steel, titanium), the overall sharpness and durability will vary. If you ever want to confirm your manhood and are brave enough to do it, try using one of these. It will possibly turn you into a real man!
One of the infamous highlights of the straight razor was the overall lack of protection between the blade and one’s vulnerable skin. For those with shaky hands, fear not! By 1904 King Camp Gillette, introduced the world to a new way of shaving: safety razor.
The Safety Razor - as the name suggests, it incorporates additional sleeves which protect the skin from all but the edge of the blade. The anatomy of the safety razor consists of 3 parts: the cap, the base plate, and the handle. The cap and base plate hold the razor blade and, together, are referred to as the head. The handle of the razor holds the blade at a slight angle to align with the curvature of the head. This allows a cleaner and less abrasive shave. Aside from the physical look of the razor, the safety razor is divided into two types: a single and double edge.
One of the biggest advantages of the Safety Razor was having replaceable blades. This advance not only saved users the time required for sharpening the blade, but also created an additional revenue stream for the grooming companies. As we fade out of the age of single edge shaving, we re-emerge in a more modern period, the period of Multi-Blade Cartridge Razor.
The MBC Razor (for short) - was a step-up from its predecessors. The fundamental thinking behind this new lineup was the notion that more blades equaled a better and smoother shave. Just like the arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States, when Gillette first introduced its Mach 3 triple blade cartridge razor in 1998, the race for (razor) market dominance was on! From then 'til the present day, we’ve seen razors with up to 5 blades in addition to nutrient-rich protective strips and battery powered handles. Players in the market include corporate giants such as Gillette and Schick, along with independent newcomers such as Harry’s and The Dollar Shave Club. Multi-blade cartridge razors are by far the most common razors in the market today.
For those expecting our space continuum to cross over to the territories of electric shavers, we beg to differ. In our opinion, real men don’t use razors with a power cord… OK, we are kidding. Electric shavers and many other MAN-tools will make appearances in future articles. For the time being, gentlemen, this is our stop. To leave you all with words of encouragement: we are living and breathing in the renaissance of grooming. Depending on your preference and style, we say to thee, “to each his own, draw your blade!”