Over two decades, it seems that razors have added and added to their row of blades, with some razors now featuring as many as an impressive 6 blades. But are more blades, always better? In this blog article, we’ll find out…
An expired patent and the story of the 6-blade shaver
In 1901, Gillette released the very first safety razor – and for twenty years it flew off the shelves. Over these years, men and women alike used one blade just fine – it was effective, with the single straight edge serving as the perfect tool for clean-cut and silky skin.
So the question then is how we ever ended up with razors featuring 4, 5, or even 6 separate blades? Well, oddly enough, the answer lies in a patent that expired.
After twenty years of healthy sales, Gillette’s razor patent expired. At this point, with competition hot on their heels, Gillette needed to innovate, improve, and continually add to their razor blades – leading to more and more blades being added to the design.
For some, this worked just fine – better. In the case of men, the first blade in a three-blade razor ‘hooks’ the hair follicle, slightly lifting it so it can be cut close to the skin. The third razor then ensures that no hairs have been missed. This process is repeated twice when there are 6 blades. Yet for women, it has quite the opposite effect of this smooth, silky finish…
Hook, pull, ouch! - The intimate area and the challenge of shaving
Hair in the intimate area is coarser and curlier than the rest of the body, and the skin is more sensitive. In turn, this area is trickier to shave, leading to razor bumps, ingrown hairs, and even scarring (far from the ideal when you want body confidence!).
For the intimate area, it’s all the more important to pick the right products for the job – and for women, the more blades there are, the more chance there is of bumps, ingrown hairs, and scars. Why? Because the hooking and pulling of the hair don’t work effectively with coarse, curly hair. The multiple blades only serve to irritate and damage the sensitive skin in this region, leaving hair resting under the skin. As these hairs attempt to grow, they sometimes fail to break through the newly formed skin–forming ingrown hair.
All in all, the more blades there are, the more the irritating, often painful cycle repeats itself.
So that’s a potted history of how razors came to feature an ever-growing number of blades. Men look forward to shaves that become cleaner and smoother. Yet for women, anything but the original one-blade design is the potential for lumps, bumps, and soreness.