The Safety Razor and its origin

When did man start shaving? A long time ago, before razors came into the world of shaving, the use of two shells was used to pull out the hair from your face - It was not the best of experiences by a long stretch! Not only was the method crude, but epilation(or removal of the hair root) on the face was extremely painful. It was only the elite that could afford the shaving experience, this was said to allow them to stand out in society. It is a wonderful thing we have evolved from this method to today's choices - but even today some methods are worse than others. This all started about 100,000 years ago from what archaeologists could gather, then 60,000 years ago, sharpened obsidian and shells came into play. At least then hair was cut and not plucked out!

Obsidian rock fracture which would have been used for wet shaving

Author Ji-Elle -

Brass, Copper and Gold Age of Shaving

Brass, Copper and Gold razors were discovered and used for tools a long time ago (about 3000BC). Alexander the Great strongly encouraged soldier shaving their beards off before the battle as the enemy might grab the beards, placing soldiers in a vulnerable position while fighting. This would have been the first razor build that humanity would embrace and use for a common goal - the single-blade razor (straight razor) was born and is still in use today.

Alexander the great encouraged his men to shave - History of wet shaving

The straight razor

Sheffield England (1680), marked a key historical marker of the straight razor, It was at this time that the first steel razors were made. Keeping a sharp edge on a blade has always been critical to a good shave, even today. Steel, especially modern steel is able to keep a sharper edge longer. Steel quality improved dramatically over the next 200 year improving on the straight razor design. This method of shaving would be the norm for the next 200 years. These high quality, carbon steel straight razors would make their way to the United States and out to the West being used predominantly by barber shops as a treat, for a special occasion or for the elite. This type of blade is what is known today as the “cut-throat razor”...although this term “cut-throat razor” truly belongs to Jean-Jacques.

History of wet shaving - the cut-throat straight edge razor

The first safety razor

In 1762, a Frenchman, Jean-Jacques Perret developed an extremely sharp straight razor 10 years later he wrote a book. Pogonotomia loosely translates from the Greek words “pogon” meaning beard and “temno” meaning cut, In 1772  Jean-Jacques Perret published a book called “Pogonotomy”  or the "Art of shaving" which was a booklet detailing his observations on shaving. It also proposed the first safety razor, by attaching a wood guard to his straight razor cut-throat razor.

The first safety razor was a wood guard on a straight razor - History of wet shaving

The Wet Shaving era

Other people including William Henson(Invented the "T" shaped safety razor), the Kampfe brothers who improved upon the design, many evolved this design with numerous variations, including the introduction of a disposable blade.

It was King C. Gillette, a traveling salesman, who ultimately standardized the double edge safety razor we know today. What made his invention work was William Nickerson who ultimately came up with a way to stamp, sharpen and mass produce an inexpensive, disposable razor blade.

Gillette safety razor patent from 1904 a part of wet shaving history

Gillette was already a popular brand but with World War I he gained a contract with the US Army which required each soldier to have a shaving kit. This growth continued with the military through World War II...making popular the disposable razor.

Well groomed military men during World War 2 - King C. Gillette introduced the disposable razor

This is a critical time in history for men’s grooming, often times you see this evolution documented in vintage photography...generally in pre 1900  photographs men appear more “disheveled” often with beards and facial hair but after this period you begin to see vintage photography showing well groomed men.

With King C Gillette’s double edge razor and Jean-Jacques Perret's Safety Razor, the possibility of shaving "at home" became a reality, the revolution started when it came to commercialization and having the freedom to shave at the desired interval at home. Together with the shaving brush, lather soaps, a sharp shaving blade the full-on experience that higher-end households would indulge in could become a reality for the every day man (and woman).

Vintage shave - early 1900's Safety razors was made popular by King C. Gillette

Further developments in shaving

The improvements to steel quality cannot be understated in shaving , Stainless Steel specifically, with its 12.8% chromium and 0.24% carbon,  while this material was specifically being designed for military arms it has impacted the wet shaving world. The quality of this stainless, its corrosion resistance, its hardness all have played into the wet shaving world. Furthermore, in 1928 a retired US Army Colonel Jacob Schick applied for a patent for the first commercially manufactured electric razor that was introduced in 1931. It was in the 1960’s that plastic disposable razors were introduced...

When was the first plastic disposable razor invented?

The first plastic disposable razor was invented in 1974. The razor was called the "Bic disposable razor", it was introduced by the French company Bic. It revolutionized the shaving industry by providing a convenient and inexpensive alternative to traditional safety razors and straight razors, which required sharpening or blade replacement. The Bic disposable razor featured a plastic handle and a single blade that was designed to be discarded after use. Its introduction marked a significant shift in consumer behavior towards disposable products. It was then the day of plastic disposable razors began away from the traditional safety razor.

The first plastic disposable cartridge razor was invented in 1975 by the American company Gillette. It was called the "Gillette Trac II," and it featured a plastic handle with a cartridge, this disposable cartridge razor contained two blades. The Trac II razor introduced the concept of a cartridge system, where the blades could be easily replaced without the safety razor. This innovation made shaving more convenient for consumers, as they could simply dispose of the entire cartridge when the blades became dull. The Gillette Trac II razor revolutionized the shaving industry and set the stage for the development of subsequent cartridge razor systems with multiple blades and additional features.

The shaving experience

While modern times give us a lot of options on the shaving front with plastic multi-blade razors, multi-head electric razors, when it comes to a smooth shave, a traditional wet shave delivers the best experience. The zen of the routine, the aroma of the shaving soap, the downtime to reflect, and the nostalgia of shaving the way your father or grandfather shaved. Today you can opt for a synthetic shaving brush, a large selection of lather soaps, and get the hot water running all the while minimizing razor burn.

Wet shaving experience - 316L stainless steel shaving brish with 316L safety razorPhoto credit @agravic1331 (Instagram)

We are no longer having to pick out our hair with sea shells for a close shave, and while plastic disposable multi-blade razor are very popular, sometimes these feel like we are still plucking hairs, avoid these disposables for a more sustainable approach and a good way to avoid the razor burn. A safety razor is a must-have experience, and its worth exploring the ritual, the meditation, the “me-time”.

Little has improved from the single edge sharp obsidian rock, ironically obsidian's edge is still sharper then a razor blade however you still only need one sharp blade for the best shave!
If you have questions and would like to know more about the Cx-316L/Web or our Cx-Ti/Web and how it can change your shaving experience - reach out to us at

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1 comment

  • Vary interesting article thanks.

    • Eric