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A brief history of close shaves

The first safety razor is believed to have been invented in the late 18th century by a Frenchman, Jean-Jacques Perret, and a similar model was made in Sheffield in the 1820s. In 1901, US inventors King Camp Gillette and William Nickerson invented a safety razor with disposable blades. Gillette's brand proved remarkably popular, with sales reaching 90,000 razors and 123,000 blades by 1904. In 1965 Wilkinson Sword sneaked ahead of Gillette in the market by switching from easily-rusting carbon steel blades to stainless steel, allowing for much more usage. Gillette then had to follow suit. The razor changed again in the early 1970s with the introduction of replaceable blade cartridges. Gillette then brought out its first double-edged blade in cartridge form. Meanwhile, Bic entered the market in 1974 with the fully disposable razor. At the turn of the millennium, Gillette introduced the triple blade cartridge, sparking the "blade wars" to bring out the razor with the most blades: hence the Schick Quattro and now the five-blade Fusion.

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