Ever since disposable razors became the norm, innovation in the shaving industry has been lackluster. Year after year big brands like Schick and Gillette launch new razors with more blades, bells, and whistles, yet they fail to produce a better shave.
With the exception of a small but growing segment of the market, consumers are still dealing with razor burn, bumps, and rashes. Those who aren’t dealing with skin irritations have escaped that cycle by going back to traditional wet shaving.
Wet shaving is making a comeback
Electric shaves are quick and easy, but leave stubble that detracts from a professional image. That’s just one reason an estimated 85% of men prefer wet shaving over using an electric razor. The main reason men are ditching electric razors is because a wet shave is unbeatably close and smooth. Shaving with traditional single-blade razors is even smoother.
Traditional wet shaving has been making a comeback for several years. In 2014, the New York Times reported a massive increase in safety razor sales by several popular shaving companies. It turns out, 150-year-old shaving technology is actually superior to the popular cartridge razors.
Several years ago, when wet shaving began its comeback, razor clubs like Dollar Shave and Harry’s dominated the market with almost no competitors. It didn’t take long for other companies to form: 800Razors, Shave Mob, Razors Direct, and Kiehl’s are just a few of those companies. In 2017, Billie raised $25 million and launched the first shaving club specifically marketed to women.
Until recently, razor clubs only offered multi-blade cartridge razors. Now that single blades are making a comeback, razor clubs are offering traditional shaving tools to tap into the market. For instance, Bevel offers a safety razor subscription kit that comes with 60 replacement blades, a shaving brush, shaving cream, priming oil, and restoring balm. Shave.net offers straight razors, safety razors, shaving soap, brushes, and other accoutrements like beard oil and handmade shaving bowls.
The Wet Shave Club also offers safety razors but sends customers a year’s supply of replacement blades all at once for half the cost of Dollar Shave’s cheapest razor plan. Traditional shaving tools are not only superior, but are also cheaper than cartridge razors; replacement blades can cost as little as ten cents each.
Going back to a simpler time
After experiencing the simplicity and ease of a traditional shave, a growing number of wet shavers no longer think of innovation in terms of more blades but fewer blades. They’ve taken a step backwards in time to embrace the simplicity of a single, sharp blade.
Consumers have caught on to the gimmicky nature of multi-blade razors that now top seven blades and still result in razor burn. Men are realizing that so-called innovation in the shaving industry isn’t helping them get a closer shave and they’re turning to tradition for relief.
A traditional wet shave has always been the best method for achieving a clean, close shave without irritating the skin. The only reason corporations began reinventing the razor was to package it up as a disposable product and sell it for long-term profit. It was never about the consumer.
When innovation is corporate greed in disguise
What the shaving industry considers innovation is really just the same inferior technology repackaged with more blades, a new name, and a higher price. Brands add features like pivoting heads and moisturizing strips but it’s never enough to produce the clean shave everyone wants.
Innovation should be about helping consumers get a better shave, not creating fancier razors that are still inferior to traditional tools. Truth be told, there isn’t a better shave than using the tools of the past and that’s why all modern shaving innovations are corporate greed in disguise.
Brands don’t add more blades because it gets a better shave. Consumers are stuck in the mindset that “more is better” and razors with more blades sell faster. Even razor clubs that sell monthly subscriptions encourage users to change out their blades once a week and continue to buy 4 new cartridges each month. It’s important to change out your blades regularly, but it doesn’t make sense to pay more for an inferior razor that’s already dull out of the box.
Instead of buying safety razor replacement blades for $0.20 each to get a fantastic shave, consumers pay $5 or more for one replacement cartridge that won’t even get them a close shave. Many men go through multiple $5 cartridges per week when a single 20-cent safety razor blade would last at least 8 shaves.
The razor with the most blades won’t win
While multi-blade razors are popular, it’s only a matter of time before more wet shavers discover the ease and simplicity of traditional shaving tools and make the switch. Understandably, consumers are tired of razor burn, nicks, and bumps. They’re looking for innovation to resolve these issues, and they’re finding the solution in straight razors and safety razors.
Consumers don’t need a fancy new razor designed for sensitive skin. Consumers need a single, sharp blade and hydrating shaving soap. Multi-blade razors and canned shaving cream cause the very skin irritation brands promise to relieve by adding moisturizing strips to their irritating razors. It’s a senseless cycle that many are opting out of.
As traditional wet shaving continues to make a comeback, the disposable shaving industry will continue losing sales one customer at a time. Once a consumer discovers the simplicity of classic shaving, the disposable shaving industry will never win them back.