Science smoothes way to a closer shave
May 8, 1997
From Correspondent Ann Kellan
BOSTON (CNN) -- For most Americans, shaving is a necessary evil.
For Gillette, it's big business.
Shaving is also a science for the razor manufacturer, dating back to the early 1900s when King C Gillette came up with the idea of a disposable razor blade, held in a nondisposable frame with a handle.
Today, the typical American man spends 3,000 hours of his life shaving. That totals out to 125 days -- more than a third of a year. He averages 200 to 400 swipes at each session to cut some 7,000 to 12,000 beard hairs on his face.
Women take longer strokes and are more careless when shaving, according to Gillette spokesperson Michele Szynal.
"From our ... studies, we feel women actually think the longer you use a blade, the safer it is," Szynal says. "That's not true."
To accommodate the differences, Szynal says, women's shavers are wider and angled differently.
Building a better razor
At Gillette's research lab in England, researchers regularly use three-dimensional computer modeling to compile and analyze data. They are continually searching for new ways to cut hair closer without cutting skin. But only with disposable razors -- the company isn't interested in electric versions.
"We use calipers to pull one hair out of the follicle, and we measure how the hair reacts, how long it takes for the hair to come out of the follicle before pain is registered,Ó a researcher says.
"Right now, the best material to use to shave, as proven by computer animation, is to shave with blue steel," he continues. "There's nothing better today, but who's to say there won't be something tomorrow?"
Always striving for the perfect shave, some Gillette employees even wait and shave at work to help test new products in the company's shave test room.
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