Too much innovation: Everybody must get stroned

Every week, the Wall Street Journal publishes a quick-and-dirty "Tricks of the Trade" column with an expert within a certain field. Some weeks, it might be a wine sommelier at a fancy restaurant explaining how to preserve a bottle of wine overnight, while other weeks, it might be a big-shot travel expert explaining how to save a few bucks on a travel reservation to Europe. (I find these types of insights strangely addictive, even if I don't actually get to use them.) So anyway, the topic of this week's column was "A salon owner shaves," and it featured the owner of a chain of private men's salons that provide grooming services to men. What better person to explain how to get a nice, close shave? After all, John Allan Meing ("John Allan" to his clients) also has a line of grooming products available at Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys New York and considers himself something of a close shave expert.

That's why I was surprised to hear that he uses a Gillette Mach 3 blade -- something you can buy off-the-shelf at the local Duane Reade. As John Allan points out, "Three blades is enough. I tried five blades and didn't see a real benefit from it." Let me repeat: three blades is enough.

Which brings me to my innovation question of the day: Is there ever a case when you can have "too much" innovation? I think

that companies like Gillette have been laboring under this delusion,

with their breathless claims of brand-new technology ("Fusion," "Nitro") or

breakthrough shaving experiences (e.g. is Mach 3 a razor blade that functions at three

times the speed of sound?). For the past 50 to 60 years, in fact, the razor blade industry has always operated under this assumption -- that rapid, technological innovation with razor blades is the way to go. Referencing this 1948 vintage shaving advertisement, Corey Greenberg of the Shave Blog weighs in:

"Shavegeeks tend to romanticize the past, and I'm as guilty of it as

anyone. I talk about safety razors like they're some pure manifestation

of The Greatest Generation, used by JFK, Cary Grant, and Lee Marvin,

back when men were men and shaved like men, even though the women

probably had legs that felt more like Brokeback Mountain than

smooth 'n' silky.

But the more I delve into shaving's past, the

more I see that the times, they've never really a' changed much. Witness

this 1948 magazine advertisement for the then-new Schick/Eversharp

Injector safety razor, and its absurd claim that each and every blade

was "stroned!"



is to say, stropped and honed, like a straight razor's edge -- honed on

a whetstone, and stropped on a hanging leather strop. Serious he-men

wetshavers who use a straight razor have to periodically hone their

razors on a stone, and then before each and every shave, they swipe the

blade to and fro on a leather strop to keep the edge keen. But safety

razor blades?

I believe Schick was honing all of their

Injector blades -- all razor blades are "honed" in one way or another,

whether it's done with a stone or a laser beam. But am I really

supposed to believe Schick was stropping each and every Injector blade

with "30 ft. of leather" any more than I'm supposed to believe that the

Mach3 Power's "micro-pulses" make the shave closer?

How stroned do they think I am?"

[image: Shave Blog]

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

In a first for humankind, China successfully sprouts a seed on the Moon

China's Chang'e 4 biosphere experiment marks a first for humankind.

Image source: CNSA
Surprising Science
  • China's Chang'e 4 lunar lander touched down on the far side of the moon on January 3.
  • In addition to a lunar rover, the lander carried a biosphere experiment that contains five sets of plants and some insects.
  • The experiment is designed to test how astronauts might someday grow plants in space to sustain long-term settlements.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Love in a time of migrants: on rethinking arranged marriages

Arranged marriages and Western romantic practices have more in common than we might think.

Culture & Religion

In his book In Praise of Love (2009), the French communist philosopher Alain Badiou attacks the notion of 'risk-free love', which he sees written in the commercial language of dating services that promise their customers 'love, without falling in love'.

Keep reading Show less