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History, Hysteresis and Hype. The Shaving System Razor Swindle?

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[Note from Mantic59: Will King and I became acquainted on Twitter a few years ago and we’ve had some really interesting discussions over that time.  While many Sharpologist readers do not use cartridge razors, there are some interesting technologies beyond the blade count, so I asked Will to describe some of the things that go into the business of the cartridge razor.] I founded King of Shaves in April 1993 following redundancy from my job in marketing.  Twenty five years on, I take a uniquely informed look at what has changed in the world of shaving, razors and blades in nearly a quarter of a century, and what’s coming down the track.

Some Shaving Background

King of Shaves started with a single product, a shaving oil made from a blend of natural and essential oils.  Having lost my job in the marketing services industry, I wanted to get into making products – I hated shaving – daily rash, burn and pain – and the creation of my shaving oil solved that.  I hand-filled 10,000 bottles over 2 weeks, got it listed in Harrods, then Boots, bought for $18 in 1995, and we came to define the huge growth in what’s now known as men’s grooming.  Amazingly, in 1993, the only shaving brands you could buy in the UK were Gillette, Wilkinson Sword (razors) and Gillette, Colgate-Palmolive (shaving preparations).  Nowadays there are thousands of brands, all battling for market share.

When you wet shave, you need water, a shaving prep and razor.  I’ll write an article on the importance of shaving preparations (foam, gel, cream, oil, serum, soaps, aerosols, tubed) another time.  But, in short, wetting stubble, which when dry as the tensile strength of a similar diameter of copper wire, is imperative.  It weakens the cutting force needed by 90% or so.  And when you’re ready to shave, you need a razor. Here’s YOUR guide to what I know about this sector, you may be amazed, surprised and intrigued by what you read next!


Let’s get this out right up front.  Making and selling system razor handles & their attendant replacement cartridges can be a wildly profitable business.  King Camp Gillette (who founded Gillette in the early 20th century) perfected what became known as the ‘Razor & Blade Business Model’ where he ‘gave away’ a handle (that only his blades fitted), when it dulled, you replaced it.  Up until then, razors were stropped with a leather to keep them sharp, they were ‘cut-throat’ and difficult and challenging to use safely.

Gillette’s ‘Safety Razor’ was soon followed by many other imitators (e.g. Schick, Wilkinson Sword and others).  Over the ensuing years, Gillette defined ‘The Best A Man Can Get’ in safe daily shaving.  They were able to manufacture replacement blades (then DE or Double Edged) for fractions of cents, and sell for cents and increasingly dollars. The modern day equivalent of this is Apple’s AppStore, where you buy an iPhone and populate it with Apps that can be downloaded by you, but the companies who put them there face up to 30% of revenues made by them being taken by Apple.

Nice, huh!


To defend their incredible position, Gillette patented their various innovations (patents last up to 20 years), viciously defended them if competitors attempted to infringe, and spent heavily on marketing.  In the early 1970’s, a huge innovation was made in the system razor market, with the introduction of Trac2 – a two bladed razor!  What the first blade missed the second blade would get.  Wowzers!  This accelerated Gillette’s share, and along with the introduction of disposable razors from Bic (hundreds of billions will have since been used and disposed…) it was never easier for men to shave safely, easily, quickly, cheaply (kinda) and conveniently.  Schick developed their twin blade razor, and when I came to launch King of Shaves in 1993, the razor I chose to photograph King of Shaves next to was a Schick (Wilkinson Sword) Protector 3D.  Its head pivoted (sound familiar?) had two blades, with wires that acted as a skin guard, so the width between the razor blades could be wider, and so wouldn’t clog with stubble).  This had become a big problem with twin blade razors, and what happened next defined Gillette’s growth and eventual sale to Procter & Gamble in 2005 for $57Bn dollars (27 x profits, 9 x sales).


In the 1980’s, one clever chap working out of Reading, England for Gillette developed a crucial suite of patents that led to first the launch of Gillette Sensor, then Mach3 and finally Fusion (these over a 15 year period).  All of these razors featured three hugely significant (and patented) innovations.  These three patents hugely upped the performance of Gillette’s razors, and with their competitors unable to respond, exploded Gillette’s market share.  I was lucky enough to talk with the inventor in 2007 (he’d long left Gillette) but he sadly passed away shortly after.


Five things are key:

  • The blade edge and coating.
  • How the blades are held in the cartridge, and the exposure/spacing between them.
  • The ability of the cartridge to maintain contact with the skin at the pivot point.
  • The inclusion of a lubricating strip to aid glide and comfort.
  • Skin Tensioners & Edging Trimmers.

Gillette’s Sensor nailed all of these key attributes, and the introduction of Mach3 in 1998 further reinforced Gillette’s dominance up until their sale in 2005.  P&G bought Gillette (along with Duracell and its other ‘replacement’ brands) because of the strength of their IP, the profits the cartridges made (in the 90% profit margin area) and the then nigh on 80% worldwide market dominance, since eroded by competition (and no new “genuine” innovation for over 15 years).  In fact, there has been a resurgence in old school DE razors, for example Bevel sell a DE razor targeted at the African American market, as shaving with a system razor for black guys can result in severe pseudofolliculitis barbae (or ingrown hairs, very annoying and painful).

  • Blade edge & coating. Yes, if you have the money, you can buy a machine and grind a strip of steel from Hitachi, Sandvik, US Steel into a blade.  It costs a few hundred thousand dollars.  But, getting a blade ground, coated and mounted into a cartridge with a six-sigma rate of failure (0.000001) is almost impossible.  Of course, patents are important, but “Know How” is critical.  Know how is when you don’t patent (make public) how you do something, you keep it super secret (e.g. the formula for Coca Cola or KFC batter) and others can’t work out how you do it so well.

    Gillette have decades of know how, and how they make their blades consistently sharp, with evenly spread PTFE coatings (this is a plastic based lubricant that coats the blade and cutting edge to make it slide) is a thing of wonder.  No other razor and blade manufacturer comes close.  I’ll list who these are later (as Gillette only make blades for Gillette razors, not other brands).  Sensor, Sensor Excel, Mach 3 and Fusion, Fusion ProGlide cartridges and blades are all the same in their main form and function, but will benefit from better technology completely invisible to the eye.

  • Until Sensor Excel launched, blades were ‘stacked’ in a cartridge with plastic spacers between them.  This meant that they would easily clog with stubble, you’d need to tap them on the side of the basin to dislodge this, and they were annoying to use if you had a heavy stubble/growth. Remember, these things slice through tens of thousands of individual hairs, hundreds of times during a shave.  

    Gillette’s second killer patent was to develop a construction method we nickname ‘Angle Iron’ where a very thin razor blade (that does the cutting) was spot welded to a thicker structural piece of steel at an angle.  This hugely freed up the spacing between the blades and increased what we call the ‘Wash Through Index’ (more on this later).  Basically, this eliminated clogging.  And because it was a super clever construction method, allowed blades to be held at the sides of the cartridges on individual plastic ‘springs’ so they could flex and follow the face during the shave.  What we call ‘individual suspension’.  No other cartridge had this innovation.  But the real smart patent was exactly where and how the blades were spaced.   

    What’s called their exposure.  If you’re old enough, you’ll remember Gillette TV ads from the mid 1990’s and early 2000’s – the heyday for Gillette in terms of their market growth.  In short, they proclaimed ‘The First Blade Cuts Close, The Second Blade Closer and the Third Blade Closer Still!”  But, how can this be?  Well, it’s called Hysteresis – the phenomenon when changes in a physical property lags behind the effect causing it.  The patented spacing and exposure of the two, then three blades in Gillette’s Sensor and Mach3 cartridges meant that when you shaved, the first blade cut ‘nearly but not quite’ through the first hair it came into contact with.  In not quite cutting through it, it slightly tugged it up, ready for the second blade to catch it and pull it up slightly more, so the third blade would then cut it through, and the hair follicle would then drop back into the skin.  How clever is that!!!  This meant that the top of the cut hair retreated to slightly below, or on the skin surface, so post shaving you had an incredibly smooth shave, and the dreaded Five o’ Clock  shadow could be avoided.  Gillette used this fact hugely in advertising, which led to expensive and costly patent ‘wars’ between them and their competitors (primarily Schick/Wilkinson Sword) as to claims being made as to which cartridge shaved closest.  In my opinion, the best razor made (almost to this day) is the Mach3, which exploded Gillettes’ market share, because it was such a good razor.  

    However, Hype set in alongside Hysteresis with Gillette in the early 2000’s (and for many years since) with the introduction of the worlds’ first 5 blade system razor cartridge, Fusion as a ‘f*** you’ to Schick’s introduction of Quattro – their first 4 blade razor in 2003).  Whilst the first 3 blades delivered a closer shave, the subsequent additions of a fourth, fifth blade made little difference.  I mean, how much hair could be left.  This was the start of the razor blade arms race, that the Onion spoof magazine made great fun of.  As well as more blades, we also had the introduction of battery powered vibrating razors from Gillette, the M3 Power – which basically helped Gillette sell at lot of Duracell batteries.  This vibrating razor purportedly allowed a more comfortable, closer shave but was of course entirely a hyped sham (imagine driving a car around a track vibrating up and down!!!) and resulted in a class action law suit for Gillette in the USA, where people were able to get their money back due to false promises of a closer shave being found to be untrue. (Returning to the Wash Through Index or WTI, in 2004 I found out Gillette were attempting to patent this, which would have prevented competitors from developing cartridges that worked as well.  At the time, we were in communication with Schick, I sent an email to the then President, Joseph Lynch ‘tipping him off’ and Schick objected to the patent in the USA, and it was dropped.  #winning).

  • Whilst the first two patents were key, others were important too.  If you have a Mach3 or Fusion razor, look at where it pivots compared with (until recently) competitor razors.  It pivots at the base of the cartridge, which meant when you shaved, it was great at adapting to facial contours and as we said, allowed you to ‘paint’ your face when shaving.  This made it not just comfortable, but also allowed the blades to work really well and allow a very elegant cartridge ejection mechanism.  If you want to look at how badly hinge innovation has fared since, look no further than Schick/Wilkinson Sword’s recently launched 2018 HydroSense 5 razor, which as a ‘suspension’ system in the handle, as well as a swivel on the cartridge.  This in my opinion is one of the worst designed, over-engineered and unnecessary razor handles launched in recent times!

  • Next we have the area of cartridge lubrication.  As mentioned earlier in the article, you must shave with your stubble wetted thoroughly, and any technology that can help the cartridge slip effortlessly over sensitive skin is appreciated.  The ‘LubraStrip’ that Gillette debuted on Sensor still exists today, although the core patents are long expired.   When we launched King of Shaves Hyperglide in 2014, we had developed a superhydrophilic coating which covered the entire top of the cartridge  – one of its many Unique Selling Points (USP’s) that made the inclusion of a LubraStrip superfluous.  In fact, Gillette’s ProShield cartridge was a direct counter to our technological innovation.

hyperglide front back

  • Finally, Tensioners & Edging Trimmers. You may have noticed on most system razor cartridges there is a small band of rubber at the bottom of the cartridge, just before the first blade.  Often its got small ridges in it, running horizontally.  This is called a skin pretensioner, and was originally featured on the Sensor cartridge, its function is to ‘stretch’ the skin slightly before the first blade cuts the hair (imagine if you’re being shaved by a barber using a DE blade, he or she use their fingers to ‘stretch’ the skin to ensure a close shave).  Not all system cartridges have them, and for many years, there were Gillette patents around these, again which have largely lapsed.  In addition, as people started to grow stubble, then full beards, the ability to ‘shape’ and ‘define’ these became important, Gillette again were the first to add a ‘single blade’ on the reverse of the cartridge, to allow shaping and ‘edging’.  The Schick Hydro cartridges don’t have these as they would have infringed Gillette’s–actually licensed–intellectual property (IP) when launched, they have a cartridge that ‘flips’ backwards to allow more detailed shaping to occur.

The big issue for Gillette is that is has failed to file meaningful patents in the past 10-15 years, the killer patents are now out of time, there are only so many blades you can fit into a cartridge, and innovation is now very ‘cosmetic’ and delivers a very incremental shaving performance, if there is one at all.  This is a major issue as competitors like us and others improve our offer.  And of course, if the Skarp laser razor comes to the market (declaration: I am involved with and advise the Skarp team) then who would want to buy a steel blade razor when you could shave like Superman or Luke Skywalker?


I digress.  Now, let’s talk about the runners and riders in this hyper-competitive sector, which in recent years has been disrupted by other market innovation (online shaving clubs & subscriptions) and entrants.  What should you buy?  Why?  You’ll be surprised.

Gillette:  In my opinion, the Mach3 (launched 1998) remains their best razor.  Fusion has 2 extra blades (and a rear trimmer blade), Fusion ProGlide blades (launched in 2010) are thinner (and cost slightly increases) and the latest Fusion ProShield cartridges have lubrication areas on more of the cartridge (and cost even more).  In the UK, some of these cartridges are nearing £4/cartridge!!!!  The blade consistency of Gillette remains unrivalled, and if you buy Mach3 in bulk, the cost/shave is good.

Schick:  Poor laggardly Schick continue to struggle in terms of the market share and cartridge performance.  Quattro 4 is rarely seen now (these were 4 stacked blades that needed wires to stop skin being caught in them), they manufactured Hydro3 and Hydro5 more recently, 3 is widely regarded as a very poor razor (it’s actually used by some retailers as a private label brand), the Hydro5 cartridge is better, the top ‘lubrication reservoir’ pivots back so you can trim under the nose, and stops them infringing Gillette trimmer blade IP.  Their latest HydroSense5 razor is not worth the money, and Schick continues to be the brand that substantively lags Gillette:

Dorco/Pace:  Who are Dorco/Pace I hear you say?  Well, the Dong Yang Razor Company (Dorco) are a privately owned South Korean manufacturer of system razors (and the ones you’ll use if you buy into Dollar Shave Club (DSC), now owned by global multi-national Unilever).  The razors Dollar Shave Club sells are EXACTLY THE SAME as the ones sold by Dorco/Pace themselves online, and by other retailers under their private label brands.  For example, in the UK the DSC ‘Executive’ is the same as the Sainsbury’s Supermarket private label razor.  In 2017, Dorco introduced a 7 blade razor, which is only sold online.  Don’t expect any of their competitors to go to an 8-blade razor, noting all my comments on hysteresis and still preferring the Mach3.

In the early 2000’s, Todd Greene launched Head Blade, a patented device to allow heads to be safely shaved. His Head Blades use Dorco/Pace cartridges, and have little ‘wheels’ to allow them to traverse the domed head in a safe, consistent manner. Interestingly, it is often difficult to shave your head with a conventional system razor, and in fact Harry’s actively say their razor should not be used to shave heads, due to the relatively aggressive blades & cartridge construct.

Word on the street is that ‘sooner or later’ Unilever will buy Edgewell, the company that owns Schick Wilkinson Sword, and secure their own vertical razor manufacturer (incredibly DSC/Unilever don’t own their own razor handles/blades manufacturers) but this is yet to happen.

Feintechnic:  Who are Feintechnic I here you say?  Well, they’re the German razor manufacturer that Harry’s, the East Coast shave club competitor to Dollar Shave Club bought in 2015.  Harry’s, which has Tiger Global, a huge private equity fund as it’s major shareholder is Dollar Shave Club’s main competitor in the US and UK.  Despite Harry’s being seen as a successful brand/business, it remains loss making, and the cartridges it uses are found in European and UK discount supermarkets at much cheaper prices.  This in fact is where Feintechnic (Harry’s) make the profits that offset the losses.  Until recently, Feintechnic supplied UK shaving club start-ups like Cornerstone (they terminated cartridge supply in 2017, with Cornerstone needing to make a brand new handle and source new cartridges from ASR – see next) and others, but word is that they are now keeping supply to themselves, as they also look to be bought by a competitor to Unilever and Gillette…  (If you live in Europe, you may also have seen ‘BoldKing’ razors whose blades are made by Feintechnic too).

ASR/Personna:  Who are ASR I here you say?  Well, they are American Safety Razor, a private lable manufacturer bought by Edgewell to supply supermarkets.  Their razor cartridges are not as good as their branded equivalents, but are used by other competing shave clubs to DSC and Harry’s in the UK and USA (After Harry’s terminated Cornerstone’s supply, they shifted to an ASR blade).

Bic:  Bic, which until late 2017 only manufactured disposable razors, entered the shaving club market with its 5-blade cartridge & trimmer blade and system razor handle in Europe and the UK recently.

King of Shaves, which until 2015 had a cartridge and manufacturing partnership with Kai (a Japanese razor blade manufacturer) now has 2 system razors, a 4 and 5 blade as a result of partnerships with companies made since the Kai relationship ended.  The best selling Azor and innovative superhydrophilic-coated Hyperglide razors (launched respectively in 2008 and 2014 are still available, but not widely available in the USA).


To summarize, here are my key takeaways for you if you’re looking for a close, comfortable and cost-efficient (system razor blade) shave:

  • If you live in the USA, you can get Dollar Shave Club razors and cartridges cheaper from Dorco/Pace Shave (although you won’t be part of the club, the humour and their other products).

  • If you want to “MAGA” and ‘Buy American’ then buy Gillette or Schick – as their cartridges are made in the USA, although the handles are made overseas.

  • If you buy into the shaving club scene, DSC beats Harry’s in terms of cartridge quality, and Harry’s cartridges (if you live in the UK) can be bought from your local discount European supermarket.

  • There are lots of small shaving subscription companies trying to ape DSC, it’s likely they won’t scale, and will fail or have their mailing lists bought in the next few years.

  • Razors that vibrate, pivot, hinge or otherwise try to aid shaving other than what the Mach3 achieves are pointless.

  • Most of the UK shaving clubs are using similar/same cartridges to each other.  So, if you’re going to buy, then best buy on price, all else being equal.

  • Bic’s 5 blade cartridge is remarkably good and affordable…

  • Of course, I believe our King of Shaves Retro 4 and KoS 5 razors paired with our shaving gels, oils or serums deliver ‘The King of Shaves – The World’s Best Shave’.

There’s a lot more I could go into, but as they say, “If I told you, I’d have to kill you”.  I’ve been a friend of Mantic59’s for many years now, I have a huge amount of respect for ‘slow shaving’ with a traditional DE razor, but if you have to reach for a system blade, hopefully what I’ve written above will help you make an informed decision!

Keep on shaving!

Will King

Founder, King of Shaves

Will King

Will King

31 thoughts on “History, Hysteresis and Hype. The Shaving System Razor Swindle?”

  1. Thank you for the interesting insights.
    Some extra thoughts from me
    While Edgewell owns Schick/Wilkinson and ASR/Personna, the companys are interacting with cartridges and docking systems (the Personna GT3/5 uses Quattro technique and blades) not to mention the private label market is occupied by one of the big 2. (So if you are interested in supporting the “underdog” be aware that there are a lot of labels but only a hand full of maker of razor blades for the US and Euro market.)
    As you mentioned the cartridge prices have to sink in future while innovations are limited to new goodies like the gels/ lubrication strips or hinge. (Wilkinson raised retail prices in Germany from the original blades Hydro5 to the Hydro5 sense from € 2 to 4,- p pc. just for changed gel ingredients and switching gel depots between the different Hydros?)
    A word to the Dorco Pace 7, it has its debut in 2014 in Korea and 2015 in the US
    The last innovation of Dorco has been 2 blades less with the new Pace5 this year
    So the next trend could be back to less blades per cartridge 😉

  2. Really fine educational article – reference your praise of the BIC 5 blade razor, is it only available through their shaving club, or can handles and/or cartridges be found in UK supermarkets ?
    I prefer 3 blades, and I notice the club also offers that option – how do you rate it ?
    Are both sizes of cartridges compatible with the handle ?

    1. IMHO Gillette’s Mach3 is still the best 3 blade razor, mainly due to their mastery of hysteresis in a 3 blade construct. Going over 3 blades, the hysteresis effect diminishes (think shaving surface, where 5 blades ‘must’ get pretty close. We have great 4 & 5 blade solutions at KoS; it does look like their 3 blade fits same handle as 5 blade. Hope that helps.

      1. Hello Will, and thanks for that.
        Whenever I find a cartridge razor that I like it either eventually gets pulled from the market, or becomes difficult to locate.
        I’ve just invested in a KoS Retro 4, so hopefully that issue won’t arise.

  3. Hi Thanks for the great article. Personally I shave with Boldking – works really well for my head.
    You mention them but their razor is not produced by feintechnik (Harry’s)! Boldking has a completely different, Unique and better razor than Harry’s (feintechnik)!

    1. Hello Mike, as I understand it, Feintechnic do make the Bold King cartridge. I used it once, found it awful – an interesting construct and idea, but if you have heavy or touch stubble, it drags horrendously… If I’m wrong on the manufacturer, be intrigued to know who does make it…. Their cartridge ejection mechanism is also ‘very close’ to infringing the IP on our Hyperglide razor. But that’s for another time…

      1. Hi Will, in the past they used to sell the Feintechnic razor. But their current razor (which I have been buying since December 2015) is for sure not a Feintechnic razor. When did you use their razor?
        The current razor has flexible blades and doesn’t clog at all. I think they have a unique patented technology which they developed. I shaves curves (i.e. head) amazingly well.
        Their cartridge ejection is based on a very smart handle which doesn’t come close the system you mention.
        So maybe you are referring to their initial private label razor they sold in 2013/2014? If so, please have a look at their current razor…as I think you might have missed something very unique.

        1. Hi, I’m pretty sure the cartridge is manufactured by Feintechnic… Same cartridge is also used by the company behind ‘Rolling Razor’ (branded Defender Razor). If I’m wrong, I’m sure someone from Feintchnic (Harry’s) will correct…

  4. I too enjoyed the article. I was also a long-time user of your original shave oil. Your article raised some questions in my mind. The most pressing being: If there is no advantage to stocking cartridges beyond three blades, why did you then go on to produce a 4-blade and a 5-blade cartridge razor.
    Regardless of the blade count, you were going to face an uphill marketing battle anyway. Why not educate the consumer at the same time?

    1. You make good points. It took 4 years to get the Azor developed, in terms of design, manufacturing, filing of attendant IP (which a competitor then tried to get disallowed 5 times) and other. Gillette had strong IP around the exposure of of three blades (which delivered the hysteresis effect) hence Schick launching a 4 blade version, as did we. By the time we debuted Hyperglide (2014, with development work starting in 2010) Fusion had been 9 years in the market with 5 blades, ditto new entrants (Dollar Shave – Dorco) and others. So, the consumer was kind of expecting 4-6 blades. I would have loved to have launched a 3, or even 2 blade razor (ideally 1!!!) but it was impossible to deliver on close shave/promise without infringing IP. I guess its no coincidence that DE shaving with a single blade enjoyed a resurgence from 2008 onwards. One of the most ‘elegant’ and ‘effective’ razors in the market place is the Gillette Guard, only sold in India, which is a single blade system razor. A lot of what we delivered in terms of manufacturing and minimalisation their guys did with Guard. It’s not sold in developed markets for ‘obvious reasons’!!!

  5. Great and insightful article! Of course, being a long time KoS user I found myself thinking of the features of the Azor 5 I prefer over the Mach3. The shape of the handle and the design used to pivot the cartridge while keeping it firmly against the skin is far superior in my mind. These things, along with the KoS software, allowed me to cease my search for the perfect shaving system. Since you understandably held back at tooting your own horn, I figured I would do it for you. Thanks for always being open to discussing this industry with those who rely on it day in and day out.

  6. Really insightful and intriguing article. I’m a huge fan of KoS but really disappointed that Hyperglide is no more. Surely there has to be a Hyperglide 2. And as for the explosion in the shaving marketplace, there has been spectacular growth in men’s grooming. KoS anti ageing moisturiser is amazing and up there with the impressive Mancave products.

  7. Great article. I have long thought that cartridges are unfairly maligned by hobbyists. The benefit of cartridge shaving is a great shave which requires no skill.
    That’s why safety razors were invented — to eliminate the skill factor needed for straight razors — and to reduce the danger of serious cuts.
    I find that the Gillette Fusion gives me a shave equal to a DE safety razor and better than a Mach 3. My complaint is that a cartridge is good for four shaves — tops. That’s more than $1.00 per shave. Yes, I can afford it but I can get an equally good shave with my DE for pennies and take some pleasure in having mastered the technique. Having invested in a stainless steel razor I also get a lot of pleasure from owning and using a beautifully designed tool.
    Nevertheless, Gillette can win me back by halving the price of their cartridges. They could do so and still see an obscene profit .

    1. I think over the coming years, the cost of cartridge shaving will come down, the innovations being presented to the market with attendant price increases simply don’t deliver a ‘massively improved shaving experience’, and Gillette recognise that with their Gillette ‘5’ and ‘3’ offer. The choice of shaving prep (software) is key, and our AlphaGel aloe based tubed shave gel we debuted in 1996 continues to be a standout partner in this area. Best, Will

    2. I love King of Shave HydraGlide blades. But no one stocks them any more and the King Of Shaves web Site only lists the new and for new not as good razors. Every now and then I find a supplier with one or two refills and I buy them.

      Sad KOS has abounded a great product.

  8. Great article! Thanks for your excellent insight! Your use of superhydrophilic material is very smart. I used to hate how the Gillette lubrication strip would quickly deteriorate, faster than the blades. You don’t have that problem. 🙂
    There is just one minor thing that you mentioned that appears to be incorrect. You wrote that wetting stubble “weakens the cutting force needed by 90% or so”. Based on published experimental data by Thozhur et al. in 2007, it appears that the reduction is more like 25 %, and the published results by Deem and Rieger in 1976 correspond fairly well:
    Before I forget, I used to use a Mach3 Power. You’re right. The battery never did much of anything. Ah, memories. 🙂

    1. Hi Grant, glad you enjoyed the read, and I note your reference regarding stubble/tensile strength. Noting the scientific reference, I’ll go with them on this, although in tests we know this is way higher. The longer you get the hair wet, the easier it is to cut. I was very pleased with our superhydrophilic innovation, for sure that was cool, and re the Mach3 Power, goodness me – what were they thinking? (sold a lot of Duracells though!) Best, Will

      1. Thanks for your kind reply, Will. Those two experimental sources indicate a cutting force reduction of about 25 % for fully hydrated beard hair (with the more recent study having soaked the hair for 15 minutes before testing). The reduction might generally be higher, though. I forgot about this published data from Gillette that suggests a cutting force reduction of about 40 % for fully hydrated beard hair (with peak cutting force reduction occurring around 10 minutes of hydration):
        Ertel, K. and McFeat, G. Blade shaving. In: Cosmetic Dermatology: Products and Procedures (Draelos, Z.D., ed.), pp. 156–164. Blackwell, Oxford, UK (2010)
        Regardless, hydration is important for more effective shaves. Slickness is also important. Your superhydrophilic innovation should help with both. 🙂

    1. Hi Larry, you can still buy it on link here (there are multi-packs available too [link] / it’s not on our roadmap to reintroduce, but delighted you enjoy shaving with The King!

  9. Great article! Cartridges are the biggest force in shaving by a massive margin, but online shaving sites rarely discuss them other than to say how bad they are.
    This was very informative and entertaining read, and I’d love to hear more talks from the cut throat (pun intended) world of the cartridge razor business.

    1. Hi Adam, many thanks. It’s an intriguing sector, I studied mechanical engineering in the UK in the 80’s, and have had a fascination with the ‘hardware’ part of shaving for many years. Glad you enjoyed it, be ineresting to see if Gillette can reverse their slow decline, and if the loss making shaving subscription / clubs really do dent their dominance. Jury remains out…

      1. Hello Will,
        Nice article…
        I am from India , and the startup is very successful and gaining lot of traction and being loved by Indian… what do you think about it ?
        I believe they are partners of Dorco brand..

        1. hello, glad you enjoyed it. yes, letshave is an indian ‘dollar shave’ style club, lot of people in india, i’m sure they’ll get some traction, although the market (although big in men who shave) isn’t so big in men who can spend tens of dollars monthly. the indian market is an intriguing one, hence Gillette launching Guard there, and other players are sizing it up. Best, Will

          1. Hi Will
            LetsShave is not subscription based company , they are very different from dollar shave. It’s made for Indian market types one off purchase and sms and email one click buying is available with them. They are made for the market shaving company and that is why they are gaining traction in digital media and others spots.
            Their cost is very aggressive against Gillette in system razor segment. But I feel they should launch offline.

  10. Terrific and informative article, Will! I used KOS software, with fine results, when they were readily available in the states. After 52 years of shaving, I agree that the Mach3 is the best razor I have used. I do like the new Gillette3 (Machless) razor, which was developed to gain back the DSC and Harry’s shavers who left Gillette for cheaper prices, and IMHO, crappy blades. Interesting, the Gillette3 and its Gillette5 mate are the first time I remember when razors actually scaled back, instead of piling on the techie non-essentials, you so well describe. I believe Harry’s cheapened their razors when they added the trimmer blade (again, IMHO, trimmer blades are one of the worst shaving “improvements” I experienced. Glad they have not found their way to Mach3 razors. I just recently found out that Edgewell bought Bulldog a few years ago, which explains their appearance in more American outlets, like Target. Thanks again for the great article!

    1. Hi ‘Old Hound’, delighted you enjoyed the read. Dorco (Pace) do do a 7 blade, but to be honest, there are only so many blades you can fit in a small space (and still get stubble out the back). If the technology gets proven and scaled, for sure the huge jump in shaving will be a ‘single blade laser’ per Skarp project, but in the meantime, the sector remains intriguing, but nowhere near as hyper-growth as it was in the 90’s, 2000’s.

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