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Why do people want more aggressive razors than the 40s to 60s Gillettes?

I was thinking about why there is a fad today for ever newer and generally more aggressive or mid aggressive razors. Yet the big sellers of the 1940s and 1950s when almost all men shaved with DEs tended to be mild Super Speeds or Tech equivalents. Many now find even the Fatboy and Slim insufficiently aggressive at the top numbers.

My best guess for this is that today men are less likely to want or need to shave everyday. They are more likely to alternate between carrying heavy growths or beards and then shaving. And for some there is less practice doing regular shaving with mild razors. They want efficiency and the ability to deal with rough, heavy beards. In contrast men in the 40s and 50s not only would shave everyday but do an evening shave or risk looking indecent at an evening public event if five o'clock shadow was too severe. Today's socially acceptable shave -- usually visible stubble -- would have gotten you kicked out of most good houses.

People also point to the earlier Gillettes as having more blade gap. But I think the older blades didn't cut as well or got dull more quickly. Certainly that's what an older professor who passed away in his nineties told me. He claimed that in the 30s the blades would dull too easily and all were amazed at how much sharper the Wilkinsons and Gillette stainless steels of the 1960s were. So on average the two systems cut equivalently. In contrast, today many like the most aggressive early razors with some of the best of today's blades like the Feather and GSB.

This is all just shooting the breeze. So any opinions welcome.
 
Machismo factor? I hesitate to speculate or assume how others experience their shaves, as there are many modern DE shavers that like a variety of razors and experiences.

In support of aggressive razors I think using a very light touch along with an aggressive razor could possibly make the shave easier and more consistent in that there is a larger sweet spot for cutting whiskers, that the shave would just work nearly every time once that technique was dialed in. I also wonder if it is related to shavers who like to only use a blade once or twice before tossing it, which is another practice I don't really understand from a blade cutting performance point of view.
 
Longer lasting BBS shaves. Something that wasn't important back in the day. Shaving with a mild razor a BBS only last me 1-2 hours before the stubble returns, unless I scrub my face with it getting razor burn. A "aggressive" razor BBS will last me 4-6 hours. Machismo? I grow out my beard for that, not try to make it resemble a babies butt :)
 
It's common for members here to shave with several days growth. That's been given as a reason for needing an aggressive razor.

Many have discovered the GEM MMOC as a more effective razor than any DE.
 
No need to overthink this. It's just a matter of personal preference. On the one hand we have those that like mild to moderate DEs because they're smooth. If that works then fine.

On the other hand we have those that like very efficient razors, the thinking being that the closer you cut on the first and second passes, the less cleanup required so less strokes = less irritation.

A sub-group of "very efficient" are the rigid blade fans -
- GEM razors, Micromatics 1912 etc, with a rigid PTFE blade
- Artist Club SEs with a rigid blade
- DEs which grip the blade efficiently both top and bottom closer towards the edge, e.g. Fatip.

Put me in the "very efficient + rigid blade" category.
 
By aggressive razor I think of efficient + harsh. You can get razors that are efficient + smooth, but we haven't thought a word for it. Sometimes they are described as 'deceptively smooth'.

Some razor designs today are copies from old successful products, which were made to work with thicker, not flexible or very keen blades. Today's blades are thin, flexible and very sharp. When combined with such efficient razor designs for stiffer milder blades they result in harsher shaves, albeit more efficient ones.
 
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I have tried pre-60's blades and they were not pleasant. Lots of pulling & tugging. I think also today there is a preponderance of over achievers & "one upmanship" at play as well. "My razor cost $300 and doubles as a spokeshave!!" As well, if I were to be completely honest, I think some people simply don't know how to shave properly and still implement disposable cartridge mentality when using safety razors.
 
I have tried pre-60's blades and they were not pleasant. Lots of pulling & tugging. I think also today there is a preponderance of over achievers & "one upmanship" at play as well. "My razor cost $300 and doubles as a spokeshave!!" As well, if I were to be completely honest, I think some people simply don't know how to shave properly and still implement disposable cartridge mentality when using safety razors.
:a29:
 
BTW there is nothing wrong with machismo and competitiveness among men. Blow on your pumpkin soy latte before sipping, might be too hot still.

:a29:
 
I reckon those shaving up to the last 10 years or so were happy if they got a decent-looking shave and didn't lose blood in getting it. There were no on-line tutorials on how to shave, or discussion of same, so the technique of many could well have been less than perfect. Hence the popularity of milder razors, which will do a decent job with little effort or risk. Of course you can get an excellent shave from many of these old models, but care and attention is required.
 
Never hear it mentioned, but some have better skills that others. These skills or lack thereof will effect how the razor performs.
 
Never hear it mentioned, but some have better skills that others. These skills or lack thereof will effect how the razor performs.
And often times folk equate needing a more aggressive razor because they can't get a good shave, when it actually is a matter of building their skills.
 
When you place a modern blade in the razors that are pre-1940, they accomplish much of what folks were chasing before 1940. At least this is my opinion.
It would also explain why so many suggest King Gillette got it right in 1904.
 
Just to mention a few reasons. There are some beginners that have tried the razors of the 40's and 50's that Think they have the right technique but do not and feel a more aggressive razor will be the cure. Others may feel that a more aggressive razor will help them use less passes in their shave, There are those that feel that the more aggressive razor will give them a better shave. Gillette had been coming out with more and different razors for years. From the Old Tech to the New, Flare Tip Super Speeds Blue and Red, Gillette Adjustable's, just to name a few and each attempting to address a mans want of a more aggressive razors
I think if a man has the right technique, blade razor combination and a proper prep almost any razor will give a great shave. But to each his own choice.
Personally I like my Gillette Slim (started shaving with it in 62) but also like my other adjustable's.
 
My "narrow slice" observation is that's it's less about men of the 40's desiring milder razors, and more about what was available. I think at that time the market was pretty thin, at least compared with the sea of boutique razors we have now along with the vintage razors available.

Also just because mild was what they had then, doesn't mean it was best. Innovation, T&E, R&D etc produced other theories along with new products for a variety of tastes that many either didn't have then, or didn't know they had. Also having to shave daily or twice a day was likely a large factor as previously stated.

Also I think a milder razor makes sense when you need to shave everyday: even though an aggressive razor can do a bangup job, your not likely to get socially acceptable (by 40-50's standards anyway) for more than a day. Shaving daily with an R41 I've heard is not the best choice....so a mild razor fits the bill.

Just my $.02 at 5:30 on Monday.
 
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