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Breakthroughs XVIII

Science News from P&G Beauty & Grooming VOL. XVIII


For nearly a century, scientists have sought to enhance the shaving experience, from improving formulations of shave gels, balms and creams to enhancing the efficiency and comfort of the razor itself. Today, a myriad of razor options are available. What's a consumer to choose and is there really a difference between one blade, three blades and five blades? Scientifically speaking, there is.

"People are always surprised when I tell them my sole area of focus is the science of shaving," says Graham Simms, Research Fellow at P&G Beauty & Grooming. "Every day, I'm in the lab applying physics, geometry and biology to help men have a better shaving experience. And I'm not alone, hundreds of scientists have been studying this area for years."

As early as 1929, an inventor striving for the perfect shave saw the benefit of a five-blade razor and patented it. However, the invention never reached the public because this five-blade razor irritated and cut the skin. For the next several decades, the single-blade razor remained the gold standard. Then, in 1971, Gillette scientists were successful in creating a two-blade razor that demonstrated a closer, more comfortable shave than the long-standing single blade. In 1998, the three-blade razor, which built on the two-blade improvements, was introduced.

Research has demonstrated the benefit of multiple blade razors. The first blade engages the hair and extends it out of the follicle so that the subsequent blade, if accurately placed, cuts the hair further down the hair shaft before it can fully retreat back into the follicle.

A razor with multiple blades replicates this process and gives a measurable improvement in closeness; however it can also introduce new challenges. Studies show that when a multi-blade razor is used to shave the face, skin is forced up and between the blades in small bulges. This can create drag and discomfort and can result in skin irritation.

Scientist uses a scanning electron microscope to look at a component from a five-blade cartridge.

Scientist uses a scanning electron microscope to look at a component from a five-blade cartridge.

P&G Beauty & Grooming scientist studies facial skin and beard hair at high magnification using a video microscope.

P&G Beauty & Grooming scientist studies facial skin and beard hair at high magnification using a video microscope.

Simms and his scientist colleagues addressed this problem through rigorous study of new technologies and materials as they designed the five-blade razor. First, scientists discovered that by moving each of the five blades closer together, the bulge height was significantly reduced and a more uniform stress was placed on the skin, translating to less drag and a safer, more comfortable shave. P&G Beauty & Grooming scientists also sought material improvements on the stainless steel blades. These blades, that are sharper than a scalpel, are enhanced with a diamond-like carbon coating and a telomer anti-friction layer, which dramatically enhance the blade's performance with less tugging and more comfort.

But scientists still had one more hurdle. While the closely-packed blades provided an improved shave, they also caused the razors to clog easily. Simms and his colleagues solved this last problem with narrower blade supports. By thinning the material under the blades, they allow more room for shave gel and hair to be washed away.

Through decades of scientific study and experience, P&G Beauty & Grooming scientists have made a 1929 inventor's dream of the five-blade razor a reality. "We were able to apply years of incremental advances, and multiple disciplines of study to make this come to life," says Simms. "I felt as much like a detective solving a complex problem as I did a scientist as we were creating this latest advance. I'm eager to be presented with the next problem to solve."

Scanning electron micrograph of beard stubble emerging from the irregular skin surface of a man's face.

Scanning electron micrograph of beard stubble emerging from the irregular skin surface of a man's face.


Many women are looking for ways to make their hair feel more moisturized. However, hair with high moisture content can actually lead to a "bad hair" day. Scientists have observed that moisture increases friction between hair fibers and decreases tensile strength, which leads to an increase in hair frizz and styling difficulties.

P&G Beauty & Grooming scientists conducted an experiment to understand the meaning of "moisturized" hair, as defined by women. Specifically, blindfolded panelists were asked to assess their perception of "moisture" in two hair samples. One sample was equilibrated at 15 percent relative humidity (RH) and the other was equilibrated at 80 percent RH. Seventy-five percent of the panelists characterized the 15 percent RH hair samples as feeling more moisturized, smoother, less tangled and less damaged, while less than ten percent found no difference between the samples.

A novel microwave resonance measurement determined the actual water content of each sample. This assessment verified that the water level of the 80 percent RH sample was significantly higher than that of the 15 percent RH sample, which sharply contrasts with the panelists' sensory assessment of "moisture."

Relationship Between Hair Conditioning and Perceived Hair Attributes

Relationship Between Moisture and Perceived Hair Attributes

These findings, presented at the 2008 Asian Dermatological Congress, allowed P&G Beauty & Grooming scientists to confirm that "moisturization" correlates with tactile characteristics such as smoothness, degree of tangling and hair damage, rather than actual water content. "These findings allow us to better target women's hair care needs," explains Michael Davis, P&G Beauty & Grooming Senior Scientist.

A second sensory experiment performed by P&G Beauty & Grooming has helped women understand how to achieve the desired feeling of "moisturized" hair. The panelists felt two damaged hair samples, one treated with shampoo and another treated with shampoo and a conditioner containing bis-aminopropyl dimethicone, a modified silicone conditioning agent. Panelists determined the hair treated with both shampoo and conditioner felt more "moisturized." "These findings are significant steps toward dispelling the myth of ‘moisturized' hair," says Davis. "By educating women about the importance of conditioning, we will empower them to get the hair texture they want."


Massage, whether it is gentle stroking or strong kneading, is recognized as one of the oldest methods of healing. P&G Beauty & Grooming scientists have developed a technology for facial masks that builds on the fundamentals of massage. The unique technology uses a stretchable underlying layer, or substrate, to apply a gentle, massage-like pressure to the face.

The mask's special substrate is enhanced with "splitable fibers" that increase coverage on the uneven surface of the face. These fibers are designed to disentangle more easily than traditional masks, creating a contoured face mask. This superior fit enhances blood circulation and allows the ingredients in the mask to penetrate deep within the skin.Traditional masks are constructed with a non-stretchable fiber, such as cotton or rayon. The non-stretchable fiber is highly tangled, limiting the mask's elasticity and ultimately its ability to fit the face.

Splittable Fibers

Non-stretchable Fiber

The snug fit of "splitable fibers" provides the full coverage necessary for noticeable skin benefits.


Shaving makes hair grow back thicker.

MYTH: Shaving does not change hair texture. P&G Beauty & Grooming scientists have found that shaving does not cause hair to grow back thicker, darker or faster. However, when a shaved hair begins to re-grow, the tip shape is different from an unshaven hair. This changes how the hair feels initially, but if left to re-grow completely, it will return to its former texture.

The shave gel and the razor are essential partners.

FACT: Through years of shaving research, P&G Beauty & Grooming scientists have learned that the ideal complement to a state-of-the-art razor is the right shaving gel. It allows sharp blades to cut close while minimizing the risk of irritation by providing a protective anti-friction layer. Quality shave gels contain advanced lubricants to enhance razor glide from the first stroke to the last and help protect against nicks, redness and tightness.


Antiperspirant Delivers Prescription-Strength Wetness Efficacy Without Severe Irritation

Often prescription-strength (Rx) antiperspirants are recommended for patients with severe perspiration. Though efficacious, these products with aluminum chloride can irritate the skin forcing patients to discontinue use.

P&G Beauty & Grooming scientists addressed this issue by studying perspiration and skin irritation when using a new (or specially formulated) over-the-counter (OTC) antiperspirant or a prescription-strength wetness protection product.

Clinical trials were conducted to compare the underarm performance of a "soft solid" OTC antiperspirant (containing 20 percent aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex gly) with a prescription-strength antiperspirant (containing 6.25 percent active aluminum chloride). Every evening for ten nights, male panelists applied 0.6g of productand females applied 0.4g of product. A qualified clinician assessed skin irritation among female panelists. Researchers quantified underarm sweat from all panelists on days seven and ten.

Sweat Remaining After Evening Antiperspirant Application

Data from these trials, presented at the 2007 and 2008 American Academy of Dermatology conferences, demonstrate similar efficacy for the OTC antiperspirant as compared to the tested Rx product containing 6.25 percent active aluminum chloride. However, clinician assessments suggest the OTC antiperspirant delivers this efficacy with significantly less skin irritation.


Graham Simms, Research Fellow

Graham Simms

P&G Beauty & Grooming recruits experts with diverse specialities to develop the most advanced and effective shaving technologies. Graham Simms, Research Fellow at the Gillette Technology Centre in Reading, U.K., is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer who has worked in the Grooming division for 19 years. His reputation for being an enthusiastic innovator is bolstered by the fact that 17 patents, ranging from razors to writing instruments, carry his name. He has made significant contributions to the development of many system razors such as Venus Divine and M3Power.

Simms created the Future Technologies department at Reading to scout the world for novel technologies that could be used in new razor prototypes. He also led the multi-disciplinary Concept Engineering Team that overcame tough technical challenges to make five-blade razors a reality.

Prior to joining P&G Beauty & Grooming, Simms worked at British Aerospace and invented navigation systems for military aircrafts, ships and missiles. "I moved from designing products that I hoped people would never use," notes Simms, "to designing products that I hope consumers will use every day.

Acclaim for P&G Perfumers

At the 2008 annual meeting of the American Society of Perfumers, P&G perfumers were awarded nine Perfumer Choice Awards for best in-market fragrances. In the 20 year history of these awards, no company has ever swept more than a third of the awards in a single year-until now. More than 200 perfumer peers chose the winners based on a blind sampling of products in 25 categories. Of the nine awards received by P&G, four awards were for products in beauty care categories. Zerlina Dubois and Stacy Hertenstein, P&G Beauty & Grooming perfumers, accepted the awards.

The following coveted awards recognize the superior fragrance science and design that P&G Beauty & Grooming provides to the world's consumers every day:

Best Hair Care Fragrance Mass

Pantene® Pro-V Color Expressions Shampoo

Best Body Care Fragrance Women's

Secret® Clinical Light & Fresh Scent

Best Body Care Fragrance Men's

Old Spice® After Hours Deodorant

Best Fragrance Line Extension Specialty

The Herbal Essence® Series


American Academy of Dermatology

American Society of Perfumers

Eighth Asian Dermatological Congress

P&G Beauty & Grooming Science

P&G Beauty & Grooming Science has more than 1,800 scientists and technical employees working at nine global technical centers with an unparalleled commitment to technology development. Company scientific efforts have resulted in over 10,000 patents. This allows P&G to develop products uniquely suited for different types of hair and skin, and tailored to different cultures and climates.

P&G Beauty & Grooming products help make beauty dreams real for women worldwide and help men look, feel and be their best every day. With more than 100 brands available in nearly 130 countries, P&G's beauty and grooming products delivered sales of nearly $28 billion in fiscal year 2007/08 , making it one of the world's largest beauty and grooming companies. P&G Beauty & Grooming offers trusted brands with leading technology to meet the full complement of beauty and grooming needs, including Pantene®, Olay®, Head & Shoulders®, Max Factor®, Cover Girl®, DDF®, Frederic Fekkai®, Wellaflex®, Rejoice®, Sebastian Professional®, Herbal Essences®, Koleston®, Clairol Professional®, Nice 'n Easy®, Venus®, Gillette®, SK-II®, Wella Professionals®, Braun® and a leading Prestige Fragrance division that spans from point of market entry consumers to high end luxury with global brands such as Hugo Boss®, Lacoste®, and Christina Aguilera®. (NYSE: PG)

Contact Information

To talk to a P&G Beauty & Grooming scientist or to learn more about ongoing research at P&G Beauty & Grooming Science, contact:

Heather CunninghamP&G Beauty & Grooming Science 513-626-2606

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