Saturday, April 30, 2005

Legal Eagles

It's fairly clear that Schick and Gillette, the world's two largest shaving companies, like to sue each other a lot (1, 2, 3, 4). Schick has been trying to get Gillette to alter it's marketing of the M3Power.

On Gillette's side, they've been trying to prevent sales of the Quattro, claiming that the Quattro violates Gillette's patents from the Mach 3. To wit:
Gillette has argued that any razor head with a group of three blades would be covered by its patent. Its Mach3 razor and M3Power, a pulsating razor based on Mach3, as well as the women's Venus razor, each have three blades.

Energizer's Quattro and the recently launched Quattro for Women each have four blades. St. Louis-based Energizer's Schick-Wilkinson Sword is the No. 2 razor company behind Boston-based Gillette. The rivals have been waging legal battles since Schick released new products -- including Quattro -- to try to cut into Gillette's dominance of the global shaving market.

Judge Patti Saris of the District Court of Massachusetts in January 2004 rejected a bid to halt Quattro sales on the grounds the device infringes on the patent for Gillette's three-bladed Mach3 razor.
The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has bounced the case back down to a lower court, so the battle continues. If Gillette wins, sales of the Schick Quattro will be blocked in the US.

All I can say is, I have no sympathy for either company. It's over $3 (Cdn) per blade for the Mach 3 and Quattro, and they both sell very well. They're good razors, but the prices are ridiculous.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Shaving over the lunch hour

shavedIt's always good to see students learning the value of taking care of each other. The Arizona Republic shares the story of a school where the students shaved their heads to help their classmates.
Twenty-eight students and teachers at Sandra Day O'Connor High School went bald after they sold $2 chances to win a shot at shaving a participant's head.

Twenty-one male students, six male teachers and one female student shaved their heads during two lunch periods Friday.

The $700 raised from the ticket sales will benefit two O'Connor students in the homebound program who are battling cancer.
That's great work, folks.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Hair Cut-a-thon has the story of a Hair Cut-a-thon held in support of the Loma Linda-based Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of the Inland Empire.
Whenever Andrew Raad has been a patient at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital, where is being treated for leukemia, his mother holds his hand and comforts him.

This weekend, the 5-year-old Upland boy returned the favor.

"He came up to me and he said I'll hold your hand so you are not scared,'" said Maria Rivera-Raad, who shaved her head during a Hair Cut-a-thon in support of her son and other children battling cancer.
It was the organizations first-ever hair-cutting event, and it successfully raised over $8,000.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Arizona Smooth

It must be the season for articles about the mainstreaming of the bald-by-choice look. has this article about shaving in Arizona. Like yesterday's article, this one tells a number of stories. For instance:
But when T. Cook's pastry chef Pierino Jermonti opted for the bald look five years ago, it marked a complete turnaround. When he was a teenager, Jermonti worked as a hair model.

"I used to have a lot of hair," he recalls. "But the older I got, the hair just wasn't that great."Initially, he fought to keep a full head of hair. First came a hairpiece. A few years later, he opted for a hair transplant. A scar on the rear of his head is a reminder of that procedure.

After going smooth, though, he felt as if he had found himself.

"I have to shave every day," he says. "When I'm shaved, I feel stronger. Your attitude and everything else is just better."Plus, it makes a man look younger, Greene says.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Bald in Arkansas

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has an article about balding and head-shaving in the region. It ranges far and wide, but in general is about the mainstreaming of the bald-by-choice look.
By Design, the styling salon Marion visits, in the downtown Metropolitan National Bank Building, gets about 70 percent of its patrons from the male population, and about half of those males are balding. "They don’t try to camouflage it like they used to," says Susan Conde, a By Design hairdresser. "They have a different attitude; they just go with it. We don’t see the bad comb-overs and we rarely see a toupee. We probably have two customers that wear those."
It's a pretty positive article, and a decent read.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Bad hairless days

If you've watched any episodes of the Warner Brothers series Smallville, you have no doubt noticed the strikingly-handsome figure of Michael Rosenbaum, the actor who plays the role of Lex Luthor. He looks great on screen, but apparently isn't that big a fan of the hairless look.
Rosenbaum would also like to do more comedy, but apparently there aren't all that many roles for bald white dudes.

"Well, that's the thing," he says.

"A lot of directors can't see past the bald. A lot of directors say, 'Michael, I want to work with you, and I will work with you when 'Smallville' is over and you can grow your hair back.' I've had some directors who put wigs on me, but then I hate the wig. But it's only another year or two, and then I'll grow it back, God willing, and I don't all of a sudden go bald the last season.

"A nasty trick to do to me in the final season would be if I go bald. Wouldn't that be the irony of it all?
I'm biased, of course, but I think the look suits him quite well. Still, I wish him luck in retaining his hair, if that's what he wants. It's too bad that it interferes with acting jobs, though.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Still raising awareness

shavingSt. Patrick's Day may have passed a while ago, but St. Baldrick's events continue to raise money for childhood cancer research. The Western Courier has the story of a St. Baldrick's event at Western Illinois University that brought in $9000, almost double the original goal of $5000.
Bre Hoffman, freshman philosophy major, was one of the girls who chose to shave her head for the event.

"Everyone told me I shouldn't do it because I had such long hair," Hoffman said. "I did it because I wanted to help raise awareness about childhood cancer."

Though Hoffman has no personal connection to childhood cancer, she feels an obligation to help the cause. She said that since she shaved her head, she has been asked often why she did it. People then have to listen and learn about the fundraiser, which she hopes will help raise awareness.

"It's about time we found a cure for cancer, and if shaving my head helps, I'm willing to do it," Hoffman said. "If the fundraiser is still here in a few years when my hair is long again, I'll definitely get my head shaved again."
Way to go, Western Illinois!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Code of the shaved

An article in the Telegraph Online reminded me of a nugget of information that I'd learned long ago and forgotten: headshaving used to be a way to get secret messages transmitted. From the article:
“The Greeks would shave a messenger’s head, write a secret message on his scalp, and let the hair grow back before sending him,” said Bryan Higgs, whose fascination with codes and history led him to this unusual tidbit. “It makes you think: ‘OK, time wasn’t quite as critical for them.’”
The rest of the article is about cryptography, of course.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Close shave in the Amazing Race

Uchenna and JoyceLast night's episode of the Amazing Race featured a challenge where the contestants had to shave their heads to get a fast forward, so they could skip other tasks in this leg of the race. They've had this option in at least one other season of the show, but in that one, the contestants declined to shave their heads.

This season, though, the team of Uchenna and Joyce went through with it. Uchenna was already shaved bald, and his wife Joyce sacrificed her long hair to move forward in the race.

It was quite a scene. Joyce cried through much of the shaving, covered her head after the shaving, and didn't want to expose her scalp later in the show. However, it must be noted that she looked very good with her head shaved. She's a beautiful woman, with or without hair.

Uchenna and Joyce are also a great team, and one of my favourites of this season. They've already done very well and have a great shot at winning. The shaving ritual they performed is a traditional Hindu ceremony for good luck; perhaps that luck, combined with their upbeat attitude and competitive spirit, will be enough to get them the win.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Pre-shave oil a no-no?

The Sydney Star Observer has an article on shaving advice from Graham Fish (of men-u products). It's generally pretty good advice, though one thing caught my eye.
Shaving cream will also help soften a beard - and he doesn’t believe in using a pre-shave oil.
I imagine his opinion (which isn't backed with any additional information in the article) might be related to the lack of a shaving oil in men-u's product line. I tried their product and reviewed it a while back, but while I like it, it's not as good as shaving oil when it comes to protecting the skin from nicks and irritation (and it's significantly more expensive than most shaving oils).

Unfortunately, the article was brief and the line about shaving oil was a throw-away. It would be interesting to know why he doesn't believe in pre-shave oils (aside from a commercial interest).

Monday, April 18, 2005

32 Microns

Coverage of the trial on the merits of the M3Power ad campaign continues in the Connecticut Post Online. Kevin Powell, director of Gillette's Advanced Technology Center, came from England to testify at the trial.
Powell described a series of tests of oscillating razors that indicated that vibrations extended hair sometimes as much as 83 microns, depending on the type of blade used. One micron equals approximately 0.00004 inch.

The M3P, according to Powell, extends hair approximately 32 microns, but he admitted he has never tested the current model being marketed, and his figures are based on a prototype.

The Gillette lab also ran tests to see if the way people prepare to shave affects hair extension. The tests showed that just about any time moisture is added to the skin, hair exposure is decreased, most likely because skin soaks up the moisture and hides some of the hair, Powell said. However, when a person rubs his or her face for 20 seconds with a dry finger, hair extends 19.8 microns, according to the tests. But Powell noted that shaving without moisture would be "excruciating." Powell also showed off some of his lab's technology.
Of course, there's more than one expert being called to testify.
Powell wasn't the only scientist questioned Wednesday. John Thornton, an independent statistical consultant who analyzed results from tests that Schick ran on the M3P to see if it performed as Gillette claimed, testified that the data revealed that "there was no significant statistical change in hair length with power on or power off."
But Thornton admitted that his conclusion is derived only from the test data he was given, and that one couldn't conclude that the M3P doesn't extend hair.
It's amazing how much money is involved in something so small. The "hair-lengthening" effect that Gillette is advertising is measured with a microscope, but it's worth untold millions of dollars to the company.

For comparison, hair for most people tends to grow about 200 to 400 microns per day, most of the time (as an estimate).

Saturday, April 16, 2005


Phil Temples wonders about headshaving in his blog.
While dining at lunch today, one of the waiters I've come to know started chatting wtih me. He appeared different. At first, I couldn't put my finger on it. I soon realized that his normally closely-cropped hair was completely missing! He now sported a shaved head.

I've often wondered what it would be like to be completely bald. I've never worked up the courage to do the experiment.
My website ( is also quoted, along with the comment that he is amazed that there are websites like that out there. I don't know why that surprises people; there are websites for virtually everything that one can think of.

Friday, April 15, 2005

M3Power still in court

We've read before about Gillette being taken to court by Schick over it's claims that the M3Power razor's vibration feature causes hairs to stand up (1, 2). Schick won an injunction in Germany that prevented Gillette from advertising those claims. Now the two shaving giants are in court in the US, and the Connecticut Post Online has an article about the on-going trial.
Schick called several witnesses to the stand Tuesday, including its own director of marketing, Adel Mekhail, who, under cross examination, revealed that Schick was going to claim that its own vibrating razor raised hairs "before we found out it doesn't." Dr. David Leffell, a professor of dermatology and clinical surgery at Yale University School of Medicine, testified that he witnessed two tests in 2004 that indicated that vibrations from Gillette's M3P wouldn't cause hairs to be raised up.
Gillette, of course, denies Schick's claims.
Clay denied that his company made any false claims about its product and said that Gillette tests showed that hairs are elongated by 35 to 40 microns when the M3P is in use. One micron equals approximately 0.00004 inch.
I've always considered the claim that the M3Power causes the hair to stand up to be dubious at best. While I like Gillette's Mach 3 razor, I'm skeptical about their advertising claims, and disappointed in their marketing tactics in general.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Shaving satori

Dan Neil of the LA Times writes a humourous piece on shaving (registration required), both the face and below. It all starts with the need for a new razor, and the discovery of the M3Power.
I was skeptical. This language - lauding the mysterious, curative effects of electricity with the power to make whiskers erect - put me in mind of 19th century medical devices like galvanic trusses that promised instant "invigoration." But I needed a razor and, frankly, men are powerless in the face of needless technology.

Once in front of the mirror, with a Santa's beard of shaving cream on my face, I switched on the M3Power, which began to buzz in a way both familiar and disconcerting, like something you might pull from the night table. Then, shaving satori! The M3Power purred softly against my cheek like an affectionate cat. It traced the contours of my face with a sweet, gliding, electrified caress that banished not just the hair but all memory of hair.

Two minutes later, my face was smoother than a salamander. It was like shaving down to my soul.
Neil later suggests that the modern razor is over-engineered for the face, and is gearing up to shave all body hair.

Personally, I've never wanted to put in the time required to shave my entire body, but I know of people who do it. I find it challenging enough to find the time to shave my face and scalp regularly.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Bald Aunt Donna

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a beautiful story about a long-distance familial relationship.
With one e-mail, Donna Fahey went from "Great Aunt Donna" to "Mediocre Aunt Donna."

Yesterday she changed her image again, for a girl she hasn't met but loves superlatively.

Their relationship began in early 2003, when Fahey's 9-year-old third cousin, Taylor Adkins, was battling a brain tumor. The Hampton, Va., girl's ups and downs were followed by people all over the world via a Web site set up by one of her teachers.
Taylor and Donna established a long-distance relationship through the website. They bonded with humour and developed a real connection, even though they never met each other in person, or even spoke on the telephone.
Then, last April 30, Taylor died.

Fahey knew it was coming, but still was crushed. She thought, Taylor and I were having so much fun.

So dear had Taylor become to her, Fahey wanted to do something special to honor her.

When a relative called in February to ask, "How would you like to shave your head for Taylor?" Fahey said, "Sure!"
She shaved her head on March 20th at a St. Baldrick's day event, and her group managed to raise $2500 for childhood cancer research.

Monday, April 11, 2005


The Arizona Republic has an article on the mainstreaming of the bald-by-choice look.
A lot of guys have taken a razor to their scalp as a way to essentially thumb their nose at hair loss. The bare look has been growing in popularity, cutting across various ethnic and economic boundary lines. According to a March study by Roper Public Affairs, 86 percent of respondents say they see more men with shaved heads now than they did 10 years ago.


According to the Roper study, 10 percent of men say they have a shaved head; only 5 percent say they had one 10 years ago.

Perhaps most important to men who go hairless, 52 percent of respondents view men with shaved noggins as "confident." Forty-five percent say they're "masculine." And 24 percent opt for "sexy" - take that, Hair Club for Men.
There's quite a bit more in the article, including quotes from Todd Greene, the guy behind the HeadBlade. There are also a couple of tales of men who used to fight nature with wigs and hairplugs, but who subsequently moved to shaving and haven't gone back.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

The hair growth myth

Back in January, I addressed the question of whether shaving affects hair growth. It's a very common hair myth, and I've seen it addressed in many sources. From the Peninsula On-line (Qatar), this article:
Would shaving my head once or twice help my hair to grow thicker and stronger once again? I am 28 year old man and since coming to Qatar about four years ago, I’ve been suffering from hair fall and my hair has become thinner and brittle for some reason. I was advised by friends who have stayed here for long to have my head shaved once or twice to allow thick and strong hair to develop. Some say it is better to go bald in summer, due to the high heat and humidity and if I do so in winter, I will suffer from colds. Others tell me that summer is bad because my head will be exposed to strong sunlight and heat and can damage the brain. Which is the best season to shave my hair and does it really help? My job is indoors so sunlight is not much of a problem.

I am sorry to say, but you are totally misguided by your friends. It is a myth that shaving the head or hair in any part of the body will make it grow stronger, longer or thicker. Shaving does not have any influence on the hair growth. On the contrary, pulling the hair as in threading or waxing for removal of unwanted hair stimulates the hair from its resting phase to the growth phase. This does not mean that you should pull hair for better growth. It is ridiculous that going bald will directly affect your underlying organs such as the brain.

But exposure to extremes of temperature does have generalised effects such as heat stroke, hypothermia and frost bite, among others. There are many reasons for hair fall which I have explained in my previous articles. To summarise, they are stress, improper nutrition, inadequate sleep, irregular work hours etc. Get yourself evaluated by a dermatologist and clear your doubts. There is no particular season to shave off your head if you wish to. But do not expect any change in the hair growth after shaving.

- Dr Jameel I Sayed. MBBS. DDV. DNB. MD (Skin and VD). Specialist Dermatologist. Al Rafa Polyclinic.
I'm sure we'll see this one many times more, of course.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The old-fashioned wet shave

MSNBC has an article called How to get that perfect shave, and it's a pretty good read. It's a call to the old-fashioned wet-shave.
The key to proper wetshaving is keeping your face as wet as possible at all times during the shave. Even if you keep your current tools and routine, you’ll marvel at how much closer and more comfortable shaving can be when you keep your face hydrated at all times with lots of hot (not scalding) water.
The article goes on to recommend using expensive European shaving creams and badger-hair brushes, along with an old-fashioned double-edge razor, and goes into quite a bit of detail on how to shave the old-fashioned way. Very interesting reading.

I found the article through Metafilter, which has a thread discussing the article, and shaving in general. Insightful things are often revealed in Metafilter threads.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Old School Shaving

Straight razorThe Richmond Times-Dispatch has an article on shaving with old-fashioned straight razors and single-blade razors. It's an interesting piece. They have some quotes from a barber who still gives straight razor shaves, as well as comments from Ray Dupont of Classic Shaving.
In a nutshell, single-blade razors are better cutting instruments, don't clog up, are adjustable, and cheaper, he says. "A Mach 3 costs $2.50 to $3; the average guy uses two a week. A double-edge razor costs only 45 cents a week. A straight edge, virtually nothing."
Besides being cheaper, Dupont says that single-blade razors cut closer. The author of the article shares his experience, too.
I bought an old Gillette single-blade razor on an eBay auction after seeing the "Today" show.

The razor appeared new and much heavier than multiblade ones I've always used. It seems to cut slightly more closely but is much, much more comfortable. Several times I've had to check to make sure it's actually cutting.

By the way, the razor, with 10 blades, cost $25.
I've never tried shaving with an older single-blade razor, but this article definitely piques my interest in it.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Kojak's back

We had an article on the original Kojak, Telly Savalas, about a week ago. Recently, the USA Network launched a new version of Kojak, this time starring Ving Rhames as the bald, lollipop-sucking detective.

Rhames himself was not a fan of the previous series, according to an interview with the Miami Herald (registration required):
''Kojak wasn't on in my house,'' he told the Boston Sunday Globe. ``I grew up in Harlem one block away from the Apollo Theater, where a version of Kojak's show was happening every day in the neighborhood. There were thugs and criminals and detectives running around. Why would I want to watch a show about that? I think I've seen one rerun.''
While I think the idea of a Kojak re-make with Ving Rhames sounds like a neat idea, initial reviews of the series are not optimistic. From an
article in the New York Times:
"Kojak" fans do not need to worry that this remake will ever supplant the original. It seems destined to go the way of the 2003 remake of "Dragnet" - nowhere.
The Reuters review of Kojak focuses on the differences, too:
"Who loves you, baby?" was the catch phrase uttered by Telly Savalas as Kojak, the colorful, lollipop-sucking New York police detective in the 1970s. Fans loved him. He stood out as a unique character in what had largely been a bland world of police drama. Universal, which produced the hit series, loved him, too, for all the obvious reasons.

Universal, now a part of the NBC Universal leviathan, is trying to share the love again, reviving the name of the series and many of its trappings, while doing its best to ignore the fact that the new star, Ving Rhames, for all his acting chops, is about as similar to the original Kojak as Lt. Columbo is to Andy Sipowicz.
As far as I know, no Canadian networks have picked this one up yet, so I won't have a chance to watch it. Too bad; I'd be interested in watching it, even with the initial negative reviews.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Help Kim out

Kim Brown shaved her head at a St. Baldrick's event recently, as a great many other wonderful people did. She has raised over a thousand dollars for childhood cancer research, but she wants to do better than that. So she's pledged to stay bald until she can raise $19,000.

She has set up a blog where you can keep up to date on her project, and she's got a page on the St. Baldrick's site where you can donate some money to the cause.

It's a great cause, and Kim's determined to do her best. Give her a hand, and donate some money if you can.