How Shaving Works

Gillette's Safety Razor

Gillette's safety razor
Image courtesy U.S. Patent Office

In order to make shaving safe, comfortable and easy, someone would have to completely re-conceptualize the shaving tool. That someone turned out to be a man named King Gillette.

Gillette's idea was brilliant in its simplicity. His goal was to create a small, inexpensive metal blade that would be sharpened in a factory and then thrown away when it became dull. In Patent number 775134, Gillette put it this way:


A main object of my invention is to provide a safety-razor in which the necessity of honing and stropping the blade is done away with. By doing this, Gillette would accomplish three goals:


  1. He would completely eliminate the tedium and "art" of manual sharpening, making the act of shaving much simpler.
  2. He would replace the inherently dangerous straight razor with the "safety razor" -- a device where injury is nearly impossible.
  3. He would create one of the greatest business models ever devised. Millions of people would be shaving, and these people would be using one of Gillette's blades every week. If Gillette made a little m­oney off of each blade, he would become fabulously wealthy.

Turn the page to see how Gillette made these goals a reality.