The Razor Wars

How do men get the closest, smoothest shave?

Is it the razor?

The shaving cream?

The handle?

Whether or not the head pivots?

Razor companies grapple with such questions day in and day out. They have no other choice. With competition heating up on the market, it's the little details that make a big difference.

But today, something new has the two biggest razor-makers working themselves into a lather. It's the number of blades. CBS News Correspondent Susan McGinnis reports for The Early Show.

The latest hot new products may look like a simple couple of razors. But look closely. Gilette's Mach3 has three blades instead of two. It also has "microfins" and a lubricating strip.

The new Quattro by Schick has four blades and two conditioning strips and it stands up.

But can Quattro stand up to industry Goliath Gillette when it comes to selling razors?

Since 1901, Gillette has dominated the market with macho male products that have given it a competitive edge – most recently with a version of the Mach3 called The Mach3 Turbo Champion.

"What makes this the Champion is it's in this sexy, red color, which young men like. And also older men like it, too," says Michelle Sznal, Gillette's communications director. "For the guys who can't get the red Ferrari, they're going to get the red razor."

But Schick Wilkinson Sword, always a distant second, is slowly chipping away at Gillette's market share with the Quattro.

While neither side admits it, experts are calling these "The Razor Wars."

Andrew Shore of Deutsch Bank has been following the personal care industry for 17 years. He says, "I do believe there's a razor war. One company already has global dominance: Gillette at 70 percent, while second Schick has 15. That doesn't mean, though, that a smaller company can't create some casualties."

At Gillette's shaving-test lab in Andover, Mass., dozens of men a day test razors, blades, gels, and creams, all in pursuit of the perfect shave for themselves and the 1.3 million men worldwide who take it off every day.

And every day in Milford, Conn., men shave for Schick in front of two-way mirrors as researchers monitor every action and reaction. What they really want to know now: Is four better than three?

Amy Roman, brand manager for Schick's Quattro: "We found that the four blades provide superior closeness to three blades."

Gillette's Sznal: "Four blades does not work better than three."

Schick's Roman: "Well, if the fourth blade didn't do anything, we wouldn't have introduced a fourth blade - a fourth-bladed product."

It sure sounds like a war.

"Well, if it feels like a war, the enemy is men's facial hair," says Gillette's Sznal. "Every day, they're going into that bathroom, shaving off their hair. And that's who the enemy is for us."

Both sides know what's at stake. The victor walks away with loyal customers spending cash on the razor industry's biggest money-maker: replacement blades.

Says Schick's Roman, "If you sell the razors and the product performs well, the blade sales will come. And that's really what you want to do, is you want to get consumers into your blades franchise."

They're also adding to their arsenals

Gillette's Sznal: "We have identified the next best way to shave. I'm not going to tell you what it is."

Schick's Roman: "We're always working on something."

It's not five blades, is it?