How Many Blades Are Enough?

January 27, 2012

Is this our future? (Source:

I needed some razor blades the other day, so I went to pick some up on a trip to the supermarket. I’ve been using a twin-blade Gillette razor for quite some time now, and it suits me well.

Surprise! There were no twin-blade cartridges on the shelf. Nothing was in that store but three-, four- and five-blade systems. The top of the line was the Gillette Fusion, a five-blade outfit that comes in both manual and battery-powered versions.

I probably could have gone to another store and found the twin-blade cartridges I needed, but who wants to chase around after razor blades? So I bought a four-pack of high-end disposable Gillette razors with three blades. I’ve been using them for a couple of weeks, and I don’t think they shave any closer than my old twin blades. Plus, with one extra blade, they’re bigger and less maneuverable. It’s harder to make them hug the chin line.

I’ve got to confess, though — I’m a little curious about the notion of a five-bladed razor. If you’re one of those guys who has a 5 o’clock shadow at 10 a.m., with whiskers like wire bristles, I guess it might be helpful to have a few extra blades scraping things. But for the average man, it really does seem like overkill.

But there must be something to the idea. Gillette’s website for the Fusion razor has more than 1,700 customer reviews, and the average score is 4.7 out of … 5.

So it looks like the The Onion successfully peered into the future in 2004 with “F#%$ Everything, We’re Doing Five Blades,” the classic satirical commentary from Gillette’s CEO.