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Adventures in Shaving: The Safety Razor

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Am I the last guy in the world to find out about this?

No, because most people are barely aware these things even exist.

First there was the open blade, as in the straight edge razor. Yes, you can still buy one new. Many are listed as a barber razor, because professional barbers are the people who use them most.

After that came the safety razor. It's called as such because it has a guard on it. This is a shaving technology that is literally centuries old. The first safety razors required the blade to be stropped (you cleaned and sharpened the blade yourself).

It's the second incarnation of the safety razor popularized in the early 1900s that most are familiar with.

When you search for a safety razor, what you're going to find is the type that uses disposable double-edged blades...

...and that's the one I'll be talking about. But before I do that, I have to talk about the dominant razor people use now, the cartridge razor.

Several attempts were made at making a cartridge razor that people would actually like, and the one that worked was the Gillette Trac II, introduced 1971. There was never a Trac I. The whole point of Trac II was to promote the fact it had twin blades.

Things got even better later in the '70s with the Gillette Atra introduced in 1977, the first to feature a pivoting head. The Atra also had a lubrication strip. You can still get replacement cartridges to this day for the Atra.

Obviously, the cartridge razor was wildly successful and still is.

Schick has the flexible blades.

Gillette has the Fusion ProGlide with the "Flexball" technology (the ball is on the handle and not the blades themselves, you'll see it in plain sight).

Gillette also has a very thoughtful product, the Gillette Treo that's specifically made for caregivers that shave other people.

But then there's the old school safety razor, so let's get into that.

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Published 2024 Jan 9

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