Simply Shaving

Just before we left the UK, I was frustrated by the fact I could hardly ever get a good shave. I was using a ridiculous Gillette Mach 3 multi-blade razor and some evil concoction as a shaving gel. Not long before Gillette had brought out the Fusion razor, with even more blades. I was very tempted by this, as I still wanted that better shave.

The Mach 3 was indeed the best razor that I had ever used, handily thrashing all my previous wet shave gear. Electric razors were useless on my stubble, and were long ago given up on. I dread to think how much I had spent trying to find a shaving system that worked. Unfortunately, the Mach 3 was far from perfect. If I shaved every day, I got nasty razor burn. The blades lasted only a couple of weeks at the outside, and cost a fortune. My stubble would block the tiny gap between the blades, which I would then need to use a nail brush to clear (blunting the blades even faster), and quite often I still would have a prickly short stubble remaining. So, would the newer, improved, even more bladed, even more expensive system take me that extra few percent and get me that perfect shave?

It was the idea of switching yet again, and the feeling that I wouldn't get enough of an improvement to justify the cost that got me looking at alternatives. And, in one of the first examples of a theme which I seem to be repeating in several different parts of my life, I discovered that going back to a simpler and older approach may be the solution.

The alternative I thought I'd try was going back to single blade shaving, was a double-edged blade safety razor. The initial investment was quite steep, as the razor handles are now quite expensive (the demand being a lot lower these days leads to the cost going up). The whole kit, a Merkur stainless steel razor, a sampler set of different blades, a badger hair shaving brush and a tub of shaving cream set me back around £150. Enough that I would give it a solid try, and not give up during the tricky learning period.

Looking back on my first attempt to shave is so funny. I was actually shaking with nerves as I lay the very sharp mildly guarded blade against my skin. It seemed that I only had to hold the handle wrong by a couple of millimetres and I would cut myself, and in those early days I couldn't shave at all without several nasty nicks. I would come out of the bathroom with several patches of toilet tissue glued onto my skin with blood. Sometimes it was take an hour for the bleeding to stop enough that I no longer needed any tissue to stem the flow. Also, I would have patches of barely shaven stubble amongst areas that were as smooth as a babies skin. A useful resource that I found at this time was Mantic59's Blog

I stuck with it, and in only a couple of weeks had a reasonable shave and a passable nick rate with only a couple of nicks per shave which could usually be stemmed in 10 minutes or less. At this point, I think the shaves were better than those I got with the Mach 3, the razor burn was gone and the number of cuts were low enough to not be an issue. I decided to stick with it. Not a major success, but good enough. An interesting negative point is the amount of mess. Having to really soak the face, build up lather on it with a brush, etc, causes quite a bit of soapy water to be getting around and a full size bathroom sink is a necessity. When we first arrived here in Australia, the temporary house we had used those tiny space saver bathroom sinks, and it was impossible. I would end up soaking the bathroom floor.

Over the months I have changed a couple of things. I now use shaving soap. The water we have where we live works well with the soap, and I get a nice lather from it. I also have a bottle of styptic lotion, which stems the odd tiny nick I get instantly - no more patches of toilet tissue to forget about and leave stuck to my face when I go to work!

The final result, over a year on is that I can shave in less than 10 minutes, with only infrequent tiny nicks, I get a better shave than I got on any previous system and the running costs are tiny (10p a week in blades, a £20 block of shaving soap looks like it will last a year). May be these new fangled gizmos are not as good as what our grandparents had, eh?

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