|I received a razor just like this as a gift. The handle was a very heavy,|
gold-toned metal. The cartridge head did not pivot on those early versions.
I never even tried a double-edge (DE) safety razor. I started shaving in about 1971, and the Trac II being new and "improved" must be better -- or so I thought. It never occurred to me that the double-edge razor was no longer patent protected, meaning anyone could make razors or blades, which would drive down selling prices and accompanying profits.
There were benefits. The Trac II system would tolerate large pressure against the skin. Also, the cartridge face determined the shaving angle (this was before the pivoting head was introduced), so all the user had to do was make sure the cartridge face was flat against the skin.
There were also drawbacks. The shave wasn't as close as that from a single blade. Hair and lather tended to stick in the cartridge head, reluctant to come out during rinsing. One also risked ingrown hairs if shaving against the grain of the beard. Also, we couldn't foresee the proliferation of ever-more-complex multi-blade designs, with their ever-upward-spiraling prices. Lastly, few of us gave any thought to the environmental impact of disposable shaving systems and related products such as shaving cartridges, then whole razors as well as empty metal cans that had dispensed shaving foam and, later, gel.
Eventually double-edge safety razors and their cousins, single-edge designs, were squeezed off drug-store shelves, with even the replacement blades becoming increasing rare and of lower quality (and higher price!). Commerce in these razors was only revived by Internet sellers, making the entire world a potential store from which one could order.
Why did so many men make the switch from their double-edge razors to the cartridge systems despite the cost, the inferior shave, potential ingrown hairs, and the adverse environmental impact? I don't know for certain, but here are my speculations:
- Multi-blade-cartridge-shaving systems are quick and easy. No skill required to speak of, while DE shaving does demand skill and patience. With a multi-blade, you can stroke like a mad man and still escape with little to no blood shed. You can also shave in a single pass (that is, lather, shave, rinse, and after shave) and get a reasonable (but not the best) shave. Five minutes or so, and you are done with the morning chore before work. (Not many men approached shaving with anything close to a Zen mind set.)
- Maybe equally important was the predominant razor design, the twist-to-open (TTO) butterfly-door design. I speculate that this design had become much more prevalent than the original unscrew-to-open (UTO) two- and three-piece razors. This is a likely factor in the success of multi-blade systems because, of the two designs: UTO versus TTO, I believe that UTO razors shave more comfortably. And they were increasingly disappearing from the mainstream North American shaving scene. Most "progressive, modern" men had long earlier "upgraded" from their UTO razors to the "easy-access" TTO type.
- No one knew or were discussing, as compared to DE shaving, the drawbacks of the Trac II: clogged blades, in-grown hair, inferior closeness of shave.
- Lastly, of course, was the marketing of the new systems. Men were bombarded with TV ads (as they still are today for the latest battery-operated, ever-more-blades-added, zip-zap gizmos) touting the benefits of the new shaving products. (And by the way, if the multi-blades are so good, why do the companies have to keep introducing "better, improved" models?)
Yet today, DE shaving is making a comeback. The reasons are several as follows:
- DE shaving can be far less expensive over time as compared to multi-blade systems.
- DE shaving promises a far better shaving result if done with appropriate skill and patience.
- DE shaving has a lower environmental impact due to fewer routine disposable items (and more recyclable material).
- DE shaving products (razors, blades, related supplies) are readily available via Internet sellers.
- DE shaving information is readily available via Internet blogs and videos.
- DE shaving offers a regular ritual that can celebrate one's manhood, rather than viewing the shave as an onerous chore.
- DE shaving can be satisfying and fun.