What's new

What is the future of 'wet shaving'?

I have often thought that the term 'wet shaving' is sometimes a misnomer, since people who use canned foam and gillette mach3s are, quite literally, wet shaving. But what we practice here is a higher form of the art. I wonder if DE use is growing? And are more guys starting to use higher quality products to shave with? I am the only guy I know who has an interest in DE razors and stuff like that. And I would imagine that most people here would say the same thing - unless, of course, you have got a family member interested in this sort of thing, as I have. But that doesn't count.
I just wonder if there is a growing market for these high quality creams, blades, razors, brushes, etc. If it does grow, then I would think that the mainstream market for shaving products would eventually be effected by it. You'd think that a big company like Gillette would want to re-introduce a DE razor. I would love to see that. Its strange that the biggest supplier of men's shaving products is not in the business of making DEs. As far as I know, there are only a few companies in the world that make them these days.
I've been a wetshaver all of my life. Most of it spent with a Gillette Atra and either Barbasol or Edge Gel (which was a treat when it was on sale!). I now refer to my shaving method as "proper" wetshaving, and I don't differentiate the use of this description whether I use a DE vs. a straight razor. There are a number of guys here who still use a cartridge razor, but they have improved their shaves by adding a quality brush and quality shaving cream/soap. My dad laughs at what I do since he has gone "electric". But, he is happy with his shaves, and I don't say a word. My 18 year old son has a quality set up, a C&E Badger brush, several quality soaps and creams, and both a Gillette Fatboy adjustable and a Merkur HD Classic. And tonight he was sporting a beard!

I've been at this form of "wet shaving" for about two weeks. Before it was multiblade cartridges and cans of Barbasol. For those that don't shave the "enlightened" way, I feel for them because they really just don't know what they are missing. It's early in the game but, my setup is growing and I have targeted some items for use. I have sample products coming. Acquistion for real quality products takes time, unless I want to float a loan at the bank . . . but, I see what I have missed out on and I am pursuing it AND I AM ENJOYING THE PROCESS.

I have mentioned wetshaving to some at work and they look at me as if I'm nuts. You know the old saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make 'em drink." But, on the other hand, if wetshaving really took off and everyone was shaving this way, would it take away the uniqueness of it for the rest of us? Would we have the forums to talk about it and share information or would we be taking it all for granted?

I long for the day when there are more REAL barbershops again; those high-end, high-toned men only palaces of pure testosterone and when people don't view dressing up and grooming as a hassle or "what for?". Nobody seems to want to look their best, ALL OF THE TIME (I've been guilty of it although now I am more aware of it. It's hard to be dressy in scrubs though . . .) You put on a coat and tie anymore and people wonder if you are going to a funeral or something or they ask, "Why are you all dressed up!?" . . . and you can forget about wearing a tux, at least around my part of the world.

Shaving, dress, and overall grooming are all tied together but, I think we have become way too casual.
Since I got into wetshaving I've mentioned it to most of my friends. Apart from one who actually tried my Merkur when he came over last week, there rest don't seem interested. Most trot out the lines "i don't have enough time in the mornings" or "that proper wetshaving gear is too expensive" etc.

They don't seem to see the irony that it doesn't actually take much longer than a Mach3 and canned goo shave, can actually be cheaper (blade cost) and will give them a better shave as well.

I doubt if the big companies would ever try to reintroduce a DE razor now, their marketing strategies are driven by shareholders and there would be no money for them in doing that. Like car firms they rely on their products wearing out quickly and needing to be replaced, usually upgraded for the latest and greatest model.
The market for traditional wetshaving supplies will likely continue to be a niche market in N. America and W. Europe (more so in N. America, as there are several European suppliers of both high-end and drugstore products). Sadly, as countries develop and people have more disposable income, the major manufacturers will attempt to "upgrade" consumers to canned foam/gel and cartridge razors and will likely be successful over time.

Companies like Gillette have no interest in introducing new DE models where they have established markets for cartridge razors and canned foam/gel. Simply put, the modern razor business is all about getting people to switch to razors that use expensive disposable cartridges. What some people forget is that King Gillette invented the DE as a way to get people to switch from straights or other sharpenable razors to a razor that used disposable blades. As with Gillette's current marketing strategy, the razor was essentially given away to hook the user on a particular brand of disposable blades.

In my very humble opinion, the best razor for a company to re-introduce would be a high quality injector with a lever to open the head for cleaning (a la hydromatic). The injectors are very easy to use and cartridge shavers can adapt very quickly to an injector, which is not the case for a DE, GEM, etc.

What the Nationwide Campus experience suggeste is that there is demand for new injectors, but they seem to have fallen short on quality/consistency. Now if someone (and don't hold your breath waiting for Gillette to do this) were to come out with a high-quality clone of an injector (either the retro 1940's style (unlikely) or L-Type (more likely as the model is easier to manufacture), they could probably sell the things for $20 - $25 bucks each.

You won't likely see anyone clone a Superspeed, as they are realtivly complex to manufacture (for a razor) and would likely cost a fair bit if built to the same standards as they were back in the day. Simply put, very few manufacturers (Merkur is an example of an exception) are interested in making products that will outlast their original owners - its just not good for the bottom line.

Anyhow, my very long .02.
Just look at the amount of new members here at B&B.

If nothing else, this indicates that traditional DE shaving is making a comeback.

Some do it for monetary issues, others do it for grooming issues and others do it for novelity issues.... but suffice to say, that without any advertising at all and continual marketing push from Gillette to create Fusion users, DE shavers are increasing.

Still a drop in the bucket - Gillette will spend billions to develop its next generation multi-blade monstrosity rather than spending $.01 on re-introducing a DE or SE safety razor.
To be frank, I think the cartridge razors market developed so well simply because more and more people have less and less time and they see the shaving process as something they have to do, not something they can enjoy. Wetshaving, like reading or grinding and brewing my own coffee, is a full part of my art-de-vivre. That’s a luxury not many people can afford. I’m just thankful I can.
Lyrt said:
...because more and more people have less and less time ...

While I do agree with you, I have to disagree about the time aspect. After a month DE shaving, I have found that I can shave in the same amount of time as with the cartridges.

The learning curve was steep, yes, but it has paid off in dividends.

I wonder if itwould be worth sending a letter to Gillette on behalf of the forum, to ask if they's consider reissuing a DE razor in SS. Even if it cost a fair bit I'm sure it'd sell as a niche market item.
It would so contradict their whole marketing strategy, though. Plus, for a company that size, mobilizing to do such a small production just wouldn't be worth it, even if it was in theory slightly profitable.

Wow, I sound negative. Still, I just think the chances of some other, much smaller company more interested in niche markets making a good DE is much higher.
moses said:
Still, I just think the chances of some other, much smaller company more interested in niche markets making a good DE is much higher.

I agree. Gillette's current business model depends on selling things by the millions. Even if they decided to produce a new DE razor, distribution would be a big issue.

Wal-Mart doesn't want stale inventory. Put a shiny new stainless DE razor on the shelf and they would sell so few that it would quickly be replaced by something that moves.

This is one of the benefits of e-commerce. More unique specialty products are available now by mail order. Smaller firms can access niche markets much more easily.

I've never actually seen a Merkur razor on a store shelf, but there are a number of places online to buy one.
after a month DE shaving, I have found that I can shave in the same amount of time as with the cartridges.
I bow to your shaving skills.:wink: The simple fact that I have to soak and rinse my brush and clean my shaving bowl makes it impossible for me to be as fast as I used to be with my Wilkinson Xtreme3/Nivea foam combo.

More unique specialty products are available now by mail order. Smaller firms can access niche markets much more easily.
Agreed. Without CS, C&B or Gentleman’s shop, I would have not discovered the joy of wet shaving. Forums like those of B&B are also gold mines. Without all of you, I’d probably still be stuck in modernity.
Interestingly, I noticed that my local Von Maur is carrying Truefit & Hill wetshaving supplies (brushes, creams, etc.). My local JC Penny is carrying eShave brushes, creams, and upscale mach 3s. This was not the case just last year AFAIK. Body Shop is carrying shaving cream and low end brushes, even local grocery stores are carrying Kiss My Face, JASON and Tom's shaving creams. Maybe the market is expanding?:thumbup1:
kozulich said:
Interestingly, I noticed that my local Von Maur is carrying Truefit & Hill wetshaving supplies (brushes, creams, etc.). My local JC Penny is carrying eShave brushes, creams, and upscale mach 3s. This was not the case just last year AFAIK. Body Shop is carrying shaving cream and low end brushes, even local grocery stores are carrying Kiss My Face, JASON and Tom's shaving creams. Maybe the market is expanding?:thumbup1:

Unlike the razors, I do think there's a good market for traditional brushes, creams, a/s products, etc. There's no doubt that even using an Omega boar brush and some Proraso will improve the performance of a cartridge.

I think that there are a lot of guys who would easily add the brush and a quality cream/soap to their routine as this would only add a few minutes.
I think it is interesting that some of the items that were once simply "day to day" items, like shaving soap, or perhaps cream, and a brush....are now thought of as pampering, "spa" type items. Proraso, for instance, is not in the lowly "shaving" isle of Target, but in the fru-fru "Spa" section. Just because it does a better job shouldn't mean it is somehow a "luxury" or overly "pampering" oneself.
Just some thoughts, anyway.
John P.
I think that more and more niche companies will be selling more and more shaving products in the future. This will turn people on to other methods of shaving.

As I said in my first post I think that Gillette has overcooked things with the Fusion. Different things work for different people so without doubt there will be a guy on the planet who uses a straight razor with canned foam and is happy with it, he would never consider using a cartridge shaving system but also see nothing wrong with canned foam.

You will also see the guy at the checkout with the full armoury of Fusion products: The razor and cartridges, matching gel, balm, etc.

The future is by no means certain, but like anything, if you are interested in any subject (such as shaving) and prepared to step away from the mainstream products, the rewards are there. Personally I think that the percentage of people with less and less time on their hands will increase and so will sales of anything to save time. On the other hand there are those who spend leisure time wisely and savour tasks like shaving.

Here in the UK, I like to think of two types of people, mentioned, as having very similar approaches to owning cars.

One has a new Volkswagen every three years, looks down his nose at owners of older cars and sees himself as driving a 'premium brand' vehicle. His eyes cannot see the massive depreciation he suffers each time he replaces his car.

The other drives an older, scruffy, luxury car like a Lexus or Bentley. He knows what he has, is confident with this and is happy to breeze through life understanding and appreciating the finer things on offer.

It's 'horses for courses', 'each to his own', etc. but those who know they are experiencing a good shave know it and those that think they are experiencing a good shave think it. That's the difference.
I have just started wet shaving. Yes it takes me a bit longer but it is worth it so far. I don't understand the argument that some people use that it takes to long, or they just are to busy for this sort of thing. I think we as a population have never had more free time than we do now. I get up at 5:15 am get to the gym for 5:30. I either run/workout/swim squeeze in a steam and get to work for 7:00 am. I work 10 hours and get back home around 5:45 pm. I still have time to sit down and eat supper. Help my childern with what ever they need, watch TV for a bit and sit with my wife. I am in bed at 9:15-30, read for a bit and get up again and do it all over. I still have time to wet shave. Free time is what we have when we are not working. Free time is when you are spending 2 hours watching tv. Free time is when you stop at Starbucks 2-3 times a day for coffee. People don't know how to prioritize their time and what is important to them. TV usage is on the rise, internet blogging/chatroom ,playing games is on the rise. I enjoy wet shaving because of the time I spend doing it. Yes my kids also start swimming next week with soccer and ballet included. I am thinking about starting to learn how to type and possibly getting back to taking up the piano again. All you have is time, and it is a non-reusable resource. Oh ya I play hockey at 11:00 pm till 12:30 am Fridaynights. Yup still have time to wet shave.
After "properly" wetshaving for about six weeks, I would never go back. I sported a full beard for many years, and then just w/in the last two years went to just the moustache/goatee. My Dad has pretty much always had a full beard, and so I never learned the "right" way to shave. I was content with a Gillette Sensor razor, or (God help me) the cheaper disposables with any ol' Barbasol or other canned goo, or even an electric razor. I never felt like I got the greatest shave, but I got it over with and moved on with my day.

But as I get older, I want to do things "better", not just more quickly. (I've gotten that way with my coffee, tobacco, and other pleasures in life, too. Quality over quantity and simple convenience!) And as others have pointed out here, it really doesn't take that much longer to "properly" wetshave.

I'm still using the starter stuff, like a Col. Conk boar brush and The Bay Rum shave soap I got at the local general store. I love my Merkur long-handled classic razor. But I am also looking forward to "moving up" to a good badger brush and higher-end creams, etc.

I think the online purveyors will still be the best way to go, because the Wal-Marts and Eckerd's of the world sell what sells most. But as long as I can get the more quality items (wherever they can be gotten) I will do it. (And you should see my Christmas wish list!)
Top Bottom