Monday, February 22, 2021

Or Straight Razors

"Fountain pens, automatic watches, tube amps, revolvers, mechanical cameras..."  I am right there with you, Tam, on old style tech.  Fascinated by it.  And dabble in it to one degree or another.  

But.  I can tell you definitive experience, the technological progression of the shaving razor were all upgrades.  For a time.  (Tam doesn't argue agin this, per se, this is more a general old-style tech argument with To Whom It May Concern in the header)

I shave with a straight razor occasionally.  I am decent at it.  It is easy once you know the method and get over that first scary hurdle where you might, no shit, cut your throat unto death.  It's a skill and a luxury shave when you have time.  Like on a Saturday.

But a straight razor is slow and inefficient.  Compared to a safety razor.  You know, that double edged razor blade invented a bit over a hundred years ago.  I shave with one.  Most days.  Much faster to accomplish when you gotta get to work.  My father shaver with one, too, in the 70s.  I shave with it as a bit of a conceit to the older tech.  But.  Then...

Remember the hype of the Trac II on the TV commercials?  'The first blade cuts, the second blade gets it before it retracts into the skin.'  I'm here to tell you, on a beard only 24 hours since the last cut?  This razor is much closer, much faster, much more efficient than a safety razor.  Fewer nicks and cuts too.  A  disposable double blade would shave faster than my Olde Timey safety razor at only a bit more cost.  

Then, the razor reach exceeds the grasp.  It's harder to get under the nose with a triple blade, even harder with a quintuple blade.  The slimy lubrication strip on the cartridge just makes it harder to clean your face after.  The swivel does nothing special.  Shaving efficiency hit the wall in the 1970s, sad to say.  I use Mach 3 three-bladed cartridges when I shave my head.  For my face?  Nothing patented after 1975 is an improvement.  If Trac II cartridges without the slime strip were still available I'd still have one. 

The greater 'market' signals this, now, too.   People are hungry for alternative to unwieldy 6-bladed razors that cost $20 a cartridge and delivers extra benefits on a diminishing return for four decades.  And those markets have risen in to place to satisfy this hunger.  Cheaper, simpler, subscription services.  And retro folks like me returning to safety razor solutions (ten cents a week, after you guy a $70 handle.)   


(Oh, and I love fountain pens, but I get ink on my fingers and they do require regular care.  And never loan one to any one born after 1975.  They don't know how to hold it. ) 


Sean D Sorrentino said...

I switched to DE safety razors and I’m very happy with them. I’m in the middle of variety pack of different blades trying to decide which I like best. I think the Feather blades I shaved with for the first year might be too harsh on my face, so I thought it would be a good idea to try some different blades. I like them all better than cartridge razors.

Marty said...

Nice. Gone hipster! Me too. I love my LPs. You forgot to mention vinyl albums and reel to reels!

Ritchie said...

New Thing, six blade razor with a 4 blade trailer! I went back to DE safety razors for a long time, but the "Safety" part is relative, so went further back to electric since the blood thinners kicked in.

Jim said...

Have been shaving with the safety razor for a little over 4 years now. I buy new soap every 8 months or so, and a box of 100 blades every other year. Once I retire from the Army and don’t have to shave my whole face every day, blades will likely last 2 weeks instead of one, and I’ll buy blades 2-3 times per decade. Wrote a blog post on it about a year in: It’s way better than the 5 bladed hack job for the post-weekend shave, but I still keep an electric on hand for field conditions, since that’s faster and safer when one is sleep deprived and has little water. But the safety razor does go out for occasional use with hot water, as a luxury.

Will said...

Took me a while to figure out what was wrong with multi-blade razors.

Turns out I have what is termed "Mediterranean facial hair growth pattern". Among other problems, the hair can grow out at any angle to the skin surface, even nearly flat on the skin. Stretch that hair out and whack it even shorter with a second blade, and you have a good chance of it growing back into the skin, since it now has a sharp tip like a knife or chisel. Add in that this sort of beard hair is typically curly, and you have increased the chances of being ingrown.

Now you know why so many men wear beards around the Med/Middle East, even with the heat found there.