Shaving Science

History of Shaving: Gillette Science, Technology and Razor Innovations

Gillette’s story is a relentless quest for perfection. It encompasses a passion for science and technology. But first and foremost, it is about shaving.


The history of modern shaving begins with the barber.

Before the advent of modern cartridge-razors, the way to get the best, closest shave was to visit the barber for a professional shave. Barbers were highly skilled at shaving, well-practised on a range of faces and types of hair, and they had various tools to do the job.

shaving at a barbers
After softening the hair and skin of the face with a hot towel wrap, the barber would apply a thick lather of shaving cream to the face in order to hydrate the hairs and lubricate the skin.
man enjoying a shave
The barber would then carefully stretch the skin taught, section by section, to create an even surface. Much skill was required to place the right amount of pressure on the straight razor blade to cut at the perfect angle, using the sensitivity of his fingers and the pivot of his wrist.

The result left the customer clean, fresh and smooth. It was a luxurious, relaxing experience – but costly and time consuming. And hard to replicate at home.

There had to be a better, more affordable way for men to get a close and comfortable shave. There had to be a way to bring the barber’s chair into the bathroom.

King C Gillette
A man named King C. Gillette worked this out. King Gillette created his first safety razor blade specifically to bring the qualities of the barber’s shave into the home. And while he endeavoured to keep improving his designs until no further improvement was possible, the evolution of men’s razors has outlived King Gillette and is still continued by the company that bears his name.
gillette flexiball razor
The history of shaving has grown alongside the evolution of the men’s razor. The shape of the cartridge and the number of blades have changed over time, and a pivot has been introduced between the blades and handle—such as on the Fusion5™ ProGlide with FlexBall Technology — to better simulate the pivot of a barber’s wrist and allow better interaction between the razor and skin.

Each iteration of the Gillette razor has brought us closer to replicating the skill of the barber. As technology advances, so too do our razors, trimmers, shaving gels and foams and other grooming products.

Before Disposable Razors – the Barber’s Chair

man shaving in a mirror
For over 100 years, men have turned to Gillette for their shaving needs. As we advance our products, it is in response to what men want: – closer shaves, more comfort and fewer missed hairs.

The history of shaving still contributes to the future of Gillette’s men’s razor designs. Every change that we make to our razors and blades is a step towards achieving our endless quest of creating a perfect shave.

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Gillette Editor

Gillette Editor

Writer and expert


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