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Old Fashioned Stuff I Like: Classic Wet Shaving

Sometimes, the old ways of doing things are still the best – at least to me.

What is it?

A double-edged safety razor (or a “DE razor”). It’s a (comparably) heavy, classic, metal razor that comes in three pieces. Along with it, I use disposable razor blades, a bar of shaving soap and a badger hair shaving brush. Just like your grandfather used to use.

How I use it

For shaving my ugly mug (old-fashioned slang for “face”).

Why I like it

  • It’s easier on my skin. I have sensitive skin and curly hair, otherwise known as the “double whammy”. So I need a high-quality blade that will shave efficiently, and I can’t shave a whole lot at one time because my skin will break out in a rash when irritated. So, picture a 5-bladed fancypants razor that every company makes now. Every time I make a pass with that razor, I’m sliding a blade across my skin 5 times. That sucks. And it’s not good for your skin, either. Ask anybody who knows anything about shaving and they will tell you that rule number one is to not shave anywhere without shaving cream on it. By the time that 4th or 5th blade hits your skin, there’s not a drop of shaving cream on your face. With a DE razor, I’m using one blade at a time, and it works so well that I don’t need any extra blades. I don’t have to make more than two passes on my neck. Less passes = less irritation.
  • It’s cheap, baby. In my broke college days, I used to come across budget-busting weekends that I affectionately called, “The Perfect Storm”. On these weekends, I was simultaneously out of razor blades (which I had used weeks longer than any sane person would), deodorant, body wash, and shaving cream. So a good $20 or so of my budget was already spent. The vast majority of that cost went to a 3-pack of razor blades, which was usually between $15-20 alone. Often, I’d save a couple bucks by just buying a new razor that came with two blades. While a quality DE razor will cost you $30 or so, it will also likely be the last one you ever buy. And the cost of blades? This week, I went on Amazon and purchased a 30-pack of replacement razor blades for $8.95. That 30-pack will last me around 2 years or so. And shaving cream? Once you buy a good brush for $10-20, you can use a bar of shaving soap and an old coffee mug you have lying around. That shaving soap? About $5 at Target, and the mug was free, since I got it out of my cupboard. Oh, and the shaving soap lasts over a year. And since it doesn’t come out of an aerosol can, I can see exactly how much I have left and prepare for the expense. Even if a Perfect Storm hit me these days, I could spend under $15 on both blades and shaving cream and be set for another year.
  • It feels and looks manly. Stupid? Sure! But I don’t care. There’s nothing wrong with a man wanting to look and feel like a man. And instead of getting into stupid and unnecessary fistfights, I’d rather be a more dignified man. This is one way to go about it. Outside of the benefits listed above, the shaving process feels great, and that chrome shaving stand I have on the bathroom counter with my brush and razor looks old-school awesome.

Why people don’t use it

  • Marketing. This is the number one reason, hands down. Somewhere along the line, razor companies preyed on the stupid “if one thing is good, then MORE of one thing is better!” attitude that we have, and they said “TWO blades will shave better!” So how do you keep selling to the same market over and over again? Add another blade. Then another. Then another. Then make it vibrate for absolutely no logical reason. We all fell for it, and as a result, we’re blowing a crap-ton of money on shaving supplies every year.
  • Nobody sells them in stores, really. This is an important factor, too. Walk into Target, and you’ll see rack after rack of those fancypants razors, but no DEs anywhere. Since nobody sells them, it’s virtually impossible for the average person to find them, except on Amazon.
  • They’re scared of the blades. I shared the below link about lifetime cost on my Facebook page the other day, and a friend of mine said he read it, but he was terrified of slicing up his neck with the blade. This is a legitimate concern, but can be addressed pretty easily (see below). Make no mistake: I’ve done some terrible hack jobs with my DE razor. Awful. Painful. Burning. But 99.9% of those times were completely avoidable and a result of my own ignorance or stupidity. Since addressing those concerns, I get the smoothest shave of my life – no exaggeration.

Why you should think about it

  • It’s easier on your skin. Yep, see above.
  • It’s your cheapest option, outside of letting that neckbeard fly. Just look at this post detailing the average cost comparison of shaving with a DE razor versus shaving with a fancypants razor. And if you have a wife like mine, you’re not allowed to have a neckbeard anyway.
  • You can learn the technique pretty easily. There is a slight learning curve when you first get your DE razor, but it’s not complicated. Your three rules of thumb are – #1, shave at the proper angle. You can find this angle by holding the razor perpendicular/flat against your skin, and then gradually tilting the handle down as you pass until the blade is actually shaving the beard. This is generally around a 45 degree angle. It will become second nature to you once you find it. And #2, don’t press on the razor. With the fancypants razors, you have to use your own pressure to cut the hair because the razors are so light and plastic-y. With a DE razor, if you push on it, you’ll just cut the crap out of your face. Don’t be shy with it, but let gravity and the weight of the razor apply the pressure for you. This takes getting used to, but it’s imperative that you just let the razor do the work. And #3, use short strokes. Don’t drag the razor all the way across your face or down your neck. Do a little at a time. Be patient in the beginning.
  • You have blade options. The number one reason why I’ve cut myself so much is that I didn’t have the right blade brand for my face. There are dozens of companies that make DE blades, but only one of them will work for your face. I went on Amazon and bought a mixed collection of 50 blades for $10. Then, I kept a spreadsheet and took notes on how each blade felt. The mistake I made was, even after I found a blade that worked perfectly, I kept going through the collection, hacking my face with blade after blade that was no good. Once I went back and used another one of the good blades, I had my best shave in months. So try out different blades, and then commit to one when you notice it works for you.

Some chuckle at my DE razor shaving, but I’m not looking back. It’s old-fashioned, classic, and works like a charm.

money, shaving