Blade Runner: What Really Is “The Best A Man Can Get?”
After a short sabbatical from Bathroom journalism while I attempted to live solely inside my bathroom like the unnamed Parisian in Jean–Philippe Toussaint’s wonderful Novella The Bathroom, I am back and ready to discuss all the relevant bathroom-related news one misses while actually living inside a bathroom. *
Every few years it seems as though a think tank at P&G gets together to see what they can add to a razor to convince people that what they currently own is obsolete. This seems like a good pretense for an episode of Mad Men. It is also, in my opinion, an annual money grubbing tradition. Ever since November 15, 1904, when patent #775,134 was granted to King C. Gillette for a, “Safety Razor,” a rapid evolution has taken place. New brands enter the market, and are quickly bought by P&G if they are the least bit successful. And new innovations in the razor business take place constantly. From Gillette’s Track II, the first mass produced multi-blade razor in the U.S. with a disposable blade cartridge, Gillette has been able to sell the cartridges at a higher price than the single blades, allowing higher profits, and beginning an astounding series of prolific innovations that some would call necessary, and others would call bullshit.
Gillette Innovation Timeline
1977: The Atra (Pivoting head)
1985: The Atra Plus (with lubricating strip)
1989: Sensor System (Twin Blades, Spring-loaded, aloe)
1994: Sensor Excel (Same as the sensor but with a more kick ass name and has something called Gillette calls “microfins”)
1998: Mach3 (3 Blades. Also sounds like it’s an airplane. Used by Tiger Woods and Roger Federer)
2001: Mach 3 Turbo (An even faster airplane)
2003: M3 Turbo Champion (in race car red) M3 Turbo G-Force (Granite Handle)
2004: M3 Power (Vibrates. Claims to raise up hairs before they are shaven. This claim was ruled as unsubstantiated and inaccurate by a federal judge)
2005: M3 Power Nitro (This is getting ridiculous. Inspired by high performance racing vehicles.)
2005: Fusion (5 Blades, Trimmer on back)
2005: Fusion Power (5 Blades, Vibrates)
2007: Fusion Power Phantom (Sleek, Black)
2008: Fusion Phenom (Manual or Power)
2009: Fusion Gamer (Used only by God)
For once however Gillette seems to have been beat at its own game by two Florida brothers Louis and Peter Tomassetti, whose invention — The Shave Mate — administers shaving cream straight from the razor to your skin!
The Shave Mate comes in two flavors: “Diva” for women and “The Titan” for men. Both seem to be exactly the same except the Diva is pink and spits out pink shaving cream. They have been picked up by Walgreens to be sold nationwide. With corny and unknown British TV personality Anthony Sullivan as their spokesman, Shave Mate seems like it might be just ridiculous enough to convince consumers that all other razors are obsolete… that is, until they use it.
Boasting six (“Count ‘Em!”) blades, and having actual shaving cream dispense from the handle, the Shave Mate seems like just the razor for the 21st century male. But right out of the package you can tell that the Shave Mate is cheaply made. It has the unsurprisingly shoddy craftsmanship one finds with many “As Seen On TV” Products. Still, as a shave aficionado, I was excited to try this puppy out — especially considering its possible historical spot in the timeline of razor innovation.
I turn the bottom of the razor, which doubles as an on-off switch, to “on,” and push down to dispense the shaving cream. At first I think, cool, my razor dispensed shaving cream! Then I rub it on my face and it does not feel like much thought was put into the shaving cream itself. It’s okay, but it has no perfume to it, and it’s rather thick, but not lathery. I continue on and shave with the six-bladed razor, and I’m not impressed. Some would say the more blades, the closer the shave; but I tend to believe the more blades, the more chance you have of cutting yourself and walking around with toilet paper on your face for the next hour. My theory rings true with the Shave Mate. There’s only a very weakly-lubricated aloe strip above the blades, the kind most of us are used to seeing on their Gilettes. The bulky handle doesn’t make it easier to control the blade, and it’s an awkward shape.
Altogether the shave is not terrible but definitely nothing special. I would compare it to the shave from a mid-level disposable three-blade razor. I’m also wary of the amount of shaves the cream in the handle will hold up for; especially for women and all the distance they have to cover (even though I think most of you are vagazzling these days anyway). The Shave Mate will make a wonderful razor for the man on the go. I myself would put it in my weekend bag (yes, I have a bag, and it’s for weekends), so it’s not a complete disappointment, but its not going to eat into Gilette’s profits. At the end of the day, the Shave Mate makes me wonder if we are at a point where shave technology (in terms of a the manual razor) is finally at a standstill. But I will leave it up to the fine people at Gillette to see what they come up with next. It’s the best a man can get, right?
* I did not actually live inside my bathroom but I did read the novella and now want to as it seemed like an interesting idea.
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