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Schick Quattro Titanium 4 blade razor.
Collection of modern safety razors

A razor is a bladed tool primarily used in the removal of unwanted body hair through the act of shaving.


Early razors

Bronze razor

Razors have been identified from many Bronze Age cultures. These were made of bronze or obsidian and were generally oval in shape, with a small tang protruding from one of the short ends.[citation needed]

Straight razors

Straight razors with the open steel blades, also commonly known as cut-throats, were the most commonly used razors before the 20th century. However, they are now chiefly used by barbers.

Straight razors consist of a blade sharpened on one edge. The blade can be made of either high carbon steel, which is slower to hone and strop, and holds an edge longer, or stainless steel, which hones and strops quickly, but has a less durable edge. At present, stainless-steel razors are harder to find than carbon steel, but both are still in production.

The blade rotates on a pin through its tang between two protective pieces called scales: when folded into the scales, the blade is protected from damage, and the user is protected from injury. Handle scales are made of various materials, including mother-of-pearl, celluloid, bone, plastic and wood. They were once made of ivory, but this has been discontinued, though fossil ivory is still used occasionally.

Disposable blade straight razors

Razors which are similar in use and appearance to straight razors but which use either a standard double edged blade or specially made blades are available.

Many razors of this type are referred to as "shavettes" although this name was originally restricted to a razor manufactured by Dovo in Germany.

Disposable bladed straights have many of the advantages of straight razors without needing the stropping and honing of ordinary straight razors. They are also popular in travel wash kits as a means of avoiding difficulties with airport security.

Safety razors

A modern double-edged safety razor

The first safety razor, a razor where the skin is protected from all but the very edge of the blade, was invented in the late 18th century by a Frenchman, Jean-Jacques Perret, who was inspired by the joiner's plane. In 1875 it was marketed by the Kampfe Brothers as "the best available shaving method on the market that won’t cut a user, like straight steel razors."

Gillette safety razor with 3 blades

In 1901, the American inventor King Camp Gillette, with the assistance of William Nickerson, invented a safety razor with disposable blades. Gillette realized that a profit could be made by selling an inexpensive razor with disposable blades. This has been called the Razor and blades business model, or a "loss leader", and has become a very common practice for a wide variety of products.

There are also safety razors that are made of inexpensive materials that are meant to be wholly disposable. One such device was patented in the late 1950s by American entertainer and inventor Paul Winchell.

There are many different brands of safety razor blades manufactured today including Derby, Gillette, Wilkinson Sword, Merkur, Astra, Treet, Big Ben, Racer and Feather. Blades are made in a wide variety of different countries including Turkey, Germany, England, Russia, India and Japan. Safety blades can be purchased cheaply when compared to the per blade cost of multiblade cartridges. Safety blades cost between $.01 and $.50 compared to $1 to $4 for a cartridge blade.

As of late manufacturers of modern safety razors have been involved in a race to the top, or better put, who has the most blades on a razor. This is seen by many to be fueled primarily by marketing concerns, and has triggered a small resurgence in popularity of more traditional shaving methods often involving the use of double-edged safety razors.

Electric razors

Oscillating battery powered razor
Rotary razor

The electric razor (also known as the electric dry shaver) has a rotating or oscillating blade. The electric razor usually does not require the use of shaving cream, soap, or water. The razor is powered by a small DC motor, and usually has rechargeable batteries, though early ones were powered directly by house current. Some inexpensive modern ones are still offered that run only on house current. Some very early mechanical shavers had no electric motor and had to be powered by hand, for example by pulling a cord to drive a flywheel. Properly used, electric razors give a shave that is close to that obtained from a disposable razor. This is possible because an electric shaver rolls forward skin ahead of the follicle, forcing it slightly above the unstretched skin line, where it is then cut off.[1]

The typical major designs include the foil[2] variety, which uses a structure of layered metal bands that partially pull out the hair before cutting off the extracted length and then allowing the remainder to retract below the skin. The other design is the rotary type with circular blade structures, usually three in a triangular arrangement which has the same shaving function.

The first electric razor was patented in 1928 by the American manufacturer Col. Jacob Schick. The Remington Rand Corporation developed the electric razor further, first producing the Remington brand of razor in 1937. Another important inventor was Prof. Alexandre Horowitz, from Philips Laboratories in the Netherlands, who invented the very successful concept of the revolving electric razor. It has a shaving head consisting of cutters that cut off the hair entering the head of the razor at skin level.

Early versions of electric razors were meant to be used on dry skin only. More recent electric razors have been designed to allow for shaving cream and moisture. Some patience is necessary when starting to use a razor of this type, as the skin usually takes some time to adjust to the way that the electric razor lifts and cuts the hairs. This also requires diligence in the use of moisturizers.

Battery powered electric razors

Note the standard AA-size Ni-Cd battery (600 mAh)—albeit soldered in place, preventing user replacement

Early electric razors plugged directly into an AC outlet, but in recent decades most have been rechargeable, containing rechargeable batteries sealed inside the razor's case. Most of these batteries are Nickel-cadmium batteries, sometimes soldered in place.

In theory, one can return the razor to the "dealer" for repair, but most stores that sell such devices—and even the manufacturers—lack repair facilities. In practice, a device that fails within a month can be exchanged for a new one under the store's guarantee; or a device that fails after the store guarantee expires but before the manufacturer's warranty expires can be exchanged by the manufacturer—the store guarantee and the manufacturer's warranty are mutually exclusive, because both require the original sales receipt: if one has sent the receipt to the manufacturer to register the product, one cannot the product and receipt to the store. If the product fails after the warranty expires, one is expected to throw it away and buy a new one, from the same company. There used to be repair shops that offered warranty service for such devices, but in the 1980s, most became mail-forwarding services that sent things to manufacturers for replacement; and most disappeared in the 1990s.

Some modern styles of electric hair clippers include bulk hair clippers, which are used to remove a bulk of the hair being shaved; main hair clippers, on which guards are attached to achieve a perfect length all over the head; and mini clippers, which are used to trim the edges of the haircut.

Other razors

Manual beard clipper.

A single-edge razor blade was actually manufactured prior to the advent of the double edge razor, for various applications where the blade is required to be hand-held. Single-edge blades are often a more rigid carbon steel and much thicker, and when cared for are sharper. They are used in carpentry for detailed work, sanding, and scraping (in a specialized holder), in mechanical drawing for paper cutting, in plumbing and finish work for grouting and cleaning, for removing paint from flat surfaces such as panes of glass, and in many other applications. Razors are also sometimes used in bread production to slash the surface of an unbaked loaf; in this usage, they are referred to using the French word lamé.

See also


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

'RAZOR (O.F.' rasor, mod. rasoir, from raser, to scrape, rase, Late Lat. rasare, frequentative of radere, to scrape), a sharp-edged cutting instrument, used for shaving the hair and beard. The typical razor consists of a blade, usually curving slightly backward, folding into a handle, to which it is fastened by a tang and rivet. The back of the blade is thick and the sides are hollowed or slope to the fine edge (see Cutlery). In modern times various forms of safety-razor have been invented, in which the blade fits into a fixed handle with a toothed or comb-like shield which protects the face from cutting.

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

The Nazarites were forbidden to make use of the razor (Num 6:5; Jdg 13:5). At their consecration the Levites were shaved all over with a razor (Num 8:7; comp. Ps 522; Ezek 5:1).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

what mentions this? (please help by turning references to this page into wiki links)

Simple English

A razor is a tool with one or more blades used by men for shaving the hair from their face, and by women for shaving hair from their legs and underarms. The earliest razors known are from the Bronze Age. They were made of bronze and had an oval shape. There are different kinds of razors today, including straight razors, which are rarely used, and safety razors and electric razors.

A slightly different type of electric razor is used to trim and cut hair from the head, because hair can be cut much more quickly with electric haircutting razors than with scissors.


Straight razors

Before the 20th century, straight razors were widely used. A straight razor consists of a knife blade, which can be reused. Since this blade is usually very sharp, there is a high risk of cutting oneself with the razor while scraping off the hair. Today, such razors are rarely used any more.

Safety razors

In the late 18th century a French engineer, Jean-Jacques Perret. With this system, the skin is protected, from all but the edge of the blade. This makes cutting much harder. The first such razor was released in 1875 by the Campfe Brothers. In 1901, King Camp Gillette invented the first razor with disposable razor blades. The blades were thrown away after each use. The company, Gilette still makes such razors today. They sell the razor relatively cheap, and make big profits on the razor blades.

Electric razors

For face and body hair

The electric razor was the next big step. With electric razors, shaving cream, soap or water is no longer needed. Electric razors use electricity to either make blades rotate or oscillate. That is the blades are either moved in circles, or they are moved up and down (or left and right). The razor is usually powered by a rechargeable battery. Prof. Alexandre Horowitz invented the concept of rotating blades which is still marketed as Philishave by Philips.

For head hair

A slightly different type of electric razor is used to trim and cut hair from the head. Haircutting electric razors have comb-like attachments which determine the length of the hair. Electric haircutting razors are widely used by military and prison barbers, because hair can be cut much more quickly with electric haircutting razors than with scissors.


Shaving using any of the shaving methods (straight razor, safety razor, or electric razor) can have side-effects, including cuts, abrasions, and irritated skin. Razor bumps can also occur from removing ingrown hairs. To reduce the likelihood of cuts, abrasions, and irritated skin, people can use a fresh razor blade and prepare their faces by washing in hot, soapy water and then applying a shaving cream lather.

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