Razor Technology and Obsolescence
Glenn Reynolds tried the Gillette “Fusion” 5-blade razor when he found it on sale and he and the InstaWife were quite impressed. He wonders, “What’s next? Will my grandsons be shaving with 12-blade razors?”
I am cursed with the worst possible combination of beard growth: Fairly sensitive skin, a very tough beard in places, and yet enough bare spots that I really can’t grow a decent beard.
My personal shaving evolution has included numerous electric shavers that proved inadequate to the task; some experiments with disposables; and several manual razors including the Trac II, Atra, Tracer, a battery operated Remington whose model name escapes me, Sensor, SensorExcel, Mach3, Mach3 Turbo, and my current M3 Power.
All of these have one thing in common: They work great for a while and then give me a shave comparable to what I was getting before the upgrade. In my teens and twenties, this was easily explainable by my beard getting progressively tougher. I doubt that is still the case, though, now that I’ve hit the big Four Oh.
My wife has had a similar experience with her Schick Intuition: “The revolutionary all-in-one cartridge [which] contains triple blades surrounded by a unique Skin Conditioning Solid that lathers and shaves in one easy step. So easy, in fact, there is no need for shave gel, soap, or body wash!” The cartridges which came with her razor in fact gave her a comfortable shave. The replacements, however, rust and dull quickly under the same conditions.
If I didn’t know better, I would swear that manufacturers intentionally put out blades with two different sets of specifications: Good ones to accompany the razor and lousy replacement cartridges that encourage users to continue the search for the Holy Grail of shaving. This isn’t actually the case, since replacement cartridges are ridiculously expensive, it would cost more to manufacture two sets of blades than it’s worth, and I’ve bought multiple razors of the same model so that I have ones for my dop kit and various localities such as the parents’ house.
Still, with razor blades costing about ten times what they rationally ought to, you’d think I could get a decent, comfortable shave.