The Duncan Banner

February 17, 2013

High-tech shaving creates a hairy situation

Jeff Kaley
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Gentle readers, serving my role of examining intellectually-stimulating topics, I’m compelled to address an issue that can enhance humanity as we know it.

For years, the Gillettes and Schicks of the world have treated consumers with bodily hair like they have the IQ of a chicken leg! The razor bladeists have conspired with the Madison Avenueists to hypnotize hair-bearing consumers into believing the number of blades on a razor corresponds with the closeness of a shave.

Now, before we go any further, let’s establish some historical context by reviewing: The History of Shaving.

As we learned in freshman biology, human beings are one of only two species that shave themselves, the other being the frog, which we know because of the phrase “thinner than a frog’s hair.”

The Internet tells us humans have been shaving since the Rolling Stone Age, which was a long time ago, when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were first introduced at a seminar on healthful living.

The Internet also says Neanderthal Man used to pluck his facial hairs by using two seashells as tweezers. No doubt, Neanderthal Woman found this very attractive, except every time Neanderthal Man snuggled up his freshly-tweezed face to Neanderthal Woman, all she could smell was clams. This led to creation of the phrase, “Not now, I have a headache.”

By 30,000 B.C., primitive man was shaving with sharpened flint, which is a ROCK! So, you had a lot of guys whose faces were basically big, oozing scabs, and the frequency of primitive woman’s headaches accelerated.

The next step in shaving technology came when Egyptians discovered how to make razors from sharpened metal. Thus, for the first time, a man who wanted to be well-groomed could cut an ear completely off.

Then came the straight razor and the razor strop, which made ear extraction even easier, and led to generations of children with welts on their legs, after parents discovered the, uh, versatility of the razor strop.

This remained the situation in shaving until the late 19th century, when, on a Thursday afternoon, the safety razor was invented. This ushered in a wonderful era known as “The Golden Age of Not Having Razor Companies Introduce An Unnecessary New Shaving Technology Every 15 Minutes.”

I grew up in that era. I got my first razor when I was 15, at which time I learned the ritual of slathering my face with enough Foamy shaving cream to fill a swimming pool and gleefully shaving my beard, which consisted of three chin whiskers, each of which was approximately one frog’s hair in diameter.

Razors of that era had one blade and they worked fine — ask any male of my generation, who came to school with little wads of bloody toilet paper stuck to his chin.

However, in 1971, Gillette discovered a way to enhance the shaving experience (i.e., “charge more”) — it came out with a razor that had TWO blades. It was called the Trac II, and I still use one, because it gives me a nice, close shave, except on my chin, where some odd skin crevices have developed over the years.

Problem was: The Trac II triggered an arms race between razor companies vying to outdo each other by adding “high-tech” features that made the product more expensive, but not necessarily better. (This, of course, is what we refer to as “American ingenuity.”)

Soon, marketing mooks, who thrive on “American ingenuity,” convinced people two blades weren’t enough. In a remarkable flurry of creativity, they came up with the breakthrough concept of THREE BLADES. Gillette introduced the Mach3Turbo, and Schick countered with the Xtreme 3, which had three blades and two “comfort strips.” (Which Neanderthal Man would have called “sissy strips!”)

Over the years ago, Razor Wars continued. Schick created a four-blade razor called the Quattro (Italian for “more expensive”), Gillette retaliated by unveiling the Fusion 5 that had five blades and Shick’s response was the five-bladed HydroSilk. None of these innovations shave you any closer than one or two blades, they costs about $57!

Where does this insanity end? What’s next, the Gillette Hydrogenated Half-Dozen? The Schick Sexy 6?

And really, what have consumers with bodily hair gained? You can still get a close shave by using seashells, and women are still saying, “Not now, I have a headache!”



jeff.kaley@duncanbanner.com; 255-5354, Ext. 172