When I turned 18, the ever-lovin’ Gillette company sent me a free Mach III razor. Unsolicited. No idea how they even got my birthdate. It looked, y’know, razorly. It had a sturdy handle and those little disposable triple-bladed cartridges that you shoot out when they dull. Like any good recipient of capitalist largesse, I began shaving with it. And never stopped.

This not only shaped my shaving habits, but it shaped my internal ontologies: it never even occurred to be that there was another sort of shaving. At best I was dimly aware that old tyme barbers used to strop straight razors and such. But I assumed that this was an ancient practice, unlikely to be found outside of theme parks like Old Sturbridge Village or Deep Hipster Brooklyn. Not for mere mortals. Silliness.

I still have that same razor handle. In the intervening decade and a half I have spent hundreds of dollars on razor cartridges. The only reason I haven’t spent thousands is because, as you know, I don’t shave very often :-)

About three years ago I started eyeing an upgrade. I wanted something prettier – a handle upgrade – maybe something made out of wood. It never occurred to me that it would be anything more than an aesthetic improvement. Which is why I filed it away under “stupid uses of money that I don’t have” and didn’t pursue it further.

A few months ago, when wandering around the dim recess(pool)s of Reddit, I discovered a shaving subreddit. And, like… Charlene’s beard paper from Cryptonomicon. Holy shit. People posting long meandering YouTube videos comparing different brands of razor blades. Unboxing sequences for jars of shaving foam. Serial exclamation points following announcements that West Coast Shaving, Inc., was offering a 10% discount on alum blocks. (As an aside: the saddest aspect of modern culture is how we’re taught to look down at childish enthusiasm.)

The central tenant of this (and related) subreddit was: shaving with a safety razor – a double-edged, or DE razor – is objectively better in every way than using a ‘modern’ cartridge razor. And like everything on Reddit that doesn’t relate to politics: fucked if they were not right.

I have switched to a DE razor. And, ah, I am a bit mad at myself for not doing it sooner. For not doing it from the get-go, point of fact. One might even surmise that I am angry angry angry at the Gillette company. I tip my hat to them, I suppose. But also would not pee on them if they were on fire – and otherwise, would merrily pee away.

Here are my observations:

1) The learning curve involved in making the switch is minimal. My second shave with a DE blade was as good as my general shavitry. My third was better. I am still seeing improvements

2) It hurts less. A lot less. Like, the physical act of shaving is more pleasant. Which, wow.

3) It’s a better shave. My face – the portions of it that I shave, at least – is more hair-free 24 hours after DE shaving than it was immediately after cartridge shaving.

4) It’s cheaper. Crazy cheaper. Each blade is about a tenth of the price of a March III cartridge. Also, each blade lasts longer.

5) The initial investment cost is not large. It’s obviously no free-razor-in-the-mail, but it’s not high. You can get a set-up for thirty or forty USD – razor handle, shaving brush, lather bowl, and stand for them all. (I don’t know how much they cost in Britannia. For all I know the NHS provides a free kit to every man-jack on the isle, that he may better grow a mustache for the Empire. If anything it’s probably cheaper, since most razors of this sort are made – shockingly – not in East Asia, but in Germany. Land of steel and chins, after all.)

6) It produces far fewer cuts. Because you’re angling one blade, rather than trying constantly to find the center-point of three blades, which I assume that even a topologist must struggle to accomplish – especially at 630AM on a Tuesday.

7) It produces far less irritation. I’ve always struggled with razor burn. I’ve basically done away with it.

8) It does come part-and-parcel with a bit of greater shaving knowledge, much of which could – to a lesser or greater extent – be adapted to use with cartridge shaving. But, like, I took ten minutes to watch a youtube vid about how to properly create lather with a brush. I spent fifteen minutes ‘beard-mapping’ – determining the direction of hair growth so that I could shave with the grain. Both of those things are proving powerfully useful to me. And that was about the extent of the time investment required.

9) Also I bought some fancy hipster shaving soap and now my bathroom smells like an apothecarist’s fuck-dungeon on Tangerine Tuesday.

In conclusion, I am very happy to have made the transition – and have only to wonder at what other aspects of my life, large or small, might be made better. Here’s to finding out in 2018 – and every year thereafter.


~ by davekov on 3 January 2018.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: