Be Good Not Bad by Brian Warren

20 December 2005

Just One

When Gillette announced they were going for a five-blade razor I made a decision. First of all, good gravy, who needs five blades on a single razor? I really liked their Mach 3 razor. It was easy to use, never cut me and all-in-all I got a decent shave with it. Gillette decided to skip over releasing a four-blade razor and jumped straight to five. Something tells me this has something to do with their rival, Schick, announcing a four-blade razor, but they say it “has nothing to do with this”.

Well, who cares, I’m ditching the modern shaving world all together. I’m sick of paying big bucks for replacement cartridges with pivot heads, rubberized something or others, and lubricating strips.

New Shaving Gear

About a month ago, I bought an old school razor that uses a single blade. These are known as safety razors. They have no moving parts, just three pieces that screw together to hold the blade down. The blades cost about fifty cents or less to replace.

I don’t use a shaving gel, I use a badger-hair brush and some english shaving cream.

The whole process of shaving is much more intuitive and interesting now. I can feel the single blade cutting my whiskers, I can even hear it happen. Now, I want to be clear, it doesn’t hurt or anything, it feels very normal. It’s a neat thing, and I haven’t cut myself yet.

I am much more attentive now when I shave. Modern razors are designed for tired bleary eyed gents who just scrape and go. Shaving old school requires you to slow down and think about the process. If you know me at all, you know that I like stuff like that. Still, with slowing down, lathering up the shaving brush, and shaving my face; the whole process takes maybe four minutes. And I end up with a closer shave.

What? A closer shave? How can that be, with only a single blade? Surely three blades should cut a closer shave? Well, I could try to explain it but the results are what they are. Ok, well, I’ll try my guess at explaining why: When you shave with a modern, multiple-blade razor, the blades go in one direction, each right after the other. So, if it’s a three-blade razor, effectively you shaved in three passes in the same direction. When I shave with my single-blade, I shave once with the grain of my whiskers, lather up again, and shave a second time at about a 90° angle to the grain. So, I get a closer shave. That’s just one reason, I’m sure there might be others. Arguably, you could do the same with your three+ blade razor, but you will end up with six passes (three for each direction), and some guys’ skin might not like that as much. Nonetheless, you’d have a hard time convincing me that the modern razor cuts closer.

All in all, I’m very happy with my new purchase. I enjoy the closer shave, the more interesting process and the general rebellion against the extortion that is the modern shaving industry. I hope I can continue using this for a lifetime.