A Brief History of Shaving

A guest post from Jack Prenter. 


This infographic was designed by Jack Prenter of http://www.KnownMan.com. Jack is a millennial from the UK who currently lives between Toronto and Birmingham. He’s been interested in mens style from an early age and developed a fascination for wet shaving after years of dreading shaving in the morning with a cheap disposable razor. More often, you’ll find him writing at his desk, always beside a cup of his beloved espresso. 

Men have been shaving for as long as we have recorded history, originally starting with sharpened rocks and shells, it wasn’t until 1780 that we had specialized shaving tools. The straight razor was invented in France by Jean Jacques Perret in 1780, it quickly gained popularity and spread across the Western world. 

Straight razors have remained a staple of many barbers toolkits ever since, despite the invention of newer technologies.

 A surprising fact is that the electric razor was invented before cartridge or disposable razors. Schick released the first commercially successful electric razor in 1930, whereas it wasn’t until 1971 when Gillette released the Trac II, the world’s first cartridge razor.

 It’s fascinating to look back at the history of shaving and to see that the same companies have dominated the industry from the very beginning. It was Gillette himself who first popularized the DE safety razor and his company has managed to retain customers ever since.

 In recent years, Gillette and their competitors have faced a lot of criticism regarding the number of blades they use on their razors and the effectiveness of it. It’s fascinating to see that the company who popularized DE safety razors have moved to razors with 5-blades, but with a worse performance.

To this day there is a strong and growing community of men who enjoy traditional wet shaving and it will be interesting to see where Gillette pivots from here. There is only so many blades they can add to a single razor and they will need to innovate soon. They were able to gain fame originally from developing a new form of shaving that we had never seen before and undoubtedly they will have to do that again within the next few decades to retain the profit margins that they have enjoyed so far.

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