A History Lesson Of Gillette’s Safety Razors


Gillette’s name is pretty well known in most shaving circuits. Whether you talk about their Fusion series or their Mach3 series, it definitely stands out among others. The thing to notice here is that all the current Gillette razors you will find are cartridge loaded and not your typical safety razors. But when it comes to a real man – what he needs is a serious safety razor. And unfortunately when it comes to Gillette, the current fair is going to disappoint you.

If you did want a Gillette safety razor, you’d have to either go back in time or go find one at an antique shop. Sometimes you do find really good options here as well – some in mint condition, others used, but restorable!

And today we are focusing on Gillette’s adjustable safety razors:

These were razors that worked with double edges blades that fit into the casing on top. To open the doors of the casing you needed to twist the handle and then screw it to close the doors again. In addition to this, right under the cutting edge there is also a dial that allows you to adjust the height of the blade. It is because of this feature that these razors would be called ‘adjustable’. By altering the height you’d be able to determine how fine a shave you got depending on the length of hair.

Photo Credit: RaSeBo via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: RaSeBo via Compfight cc

In addition to these features, the handle would usually be designed in such a way that it wasn’t likely to slip from your grip while shaving. And they usually fitted surgical grade blades made of very good quality steel that gave the cleanest and the most precise shave.

Photo Credit: aveoree via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: aveoree via Compfight cc

These were produced by Gillette mainly in the mid-1900s and were discontinued at the end of the century. If you were to want one, as we mentioned above, you’d need to check out an antique store that sells razors. But alternately you could check to see if you can find any of your dad, grandfather or uncle’s old razor – they may be adjustable safety razors – and even better if they are of the Gillette make.

In the mid-1900s these razors were all the rage – and a fine job they did of shaving. In fact, here is a TV commercial for the same aired in the year 1961:

Today both commercials as well as razors may have come a long way from that – but when it comes to a comfortable and clean shave, a vintage Gillette can give any of the new shavers a run for their money (or reputation!)

If you too want to give one of these a shot, then get yourself to a vintage razor shop and look for one. And when making your choice, look out for:

  • A razor that uses blades that you can still find in the market – a razor without a blade is no good.
  • One who’s body is relatively intact.
  • A razor that can be cleaned and restored easily and without causing further damage to the razor.

Any vintage safety razor can be a great thing to acquire – but among them a Gillette safety razor will be an asset to covet. If you have seen one – or manage to find one in an antique store, treasure it – because it can truly give you an unmatched shave!