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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Save when you Shave - 20 December 2011

I remember vividly the first time that I shaved. I was watching my father shave his well lathered face with a Gillette double edge razor. That razor is much like the one I used today.

He reached into the medicine cabinet and extracted a small 2 inch by 4 inch by 1 inch box. The box was garishly black, red and beige the colour of the cardboard it was made from. He gave me the box and upon opening it found a small razor, just like my Dad's but light blue in colour, a box of safety blades and a small bar of shaving soap wrapped in wax paper.

My father lathered up my face, stood me in front of him so we could both observe while I tried the new razor. It was a wonderful event that I will remember forever.

Of course, I was standing on the edge of the sink in front of my Dad, the razor was blue plastic, the blades were cardboard and I was 5 years old. That was 55 years ago, 1956 ...... and it was again this morning when I stood in front of my mirror and shaved.

Shaving is something that most men used to have in common. Not so much anymore. I shave the same way as my Dad did, although for several years I used a straight razor. I don't use a straight razor any longer as my eyes require eyeglasses to see close enough and I refuse to wear glasses when I shave so I have reverted back to the trusty double edge razor.

I don't understand why people use electric razors, I just don't get it. You don't get a clean shave, they are noisy, cause ingrown hairs to many users and are of dubious hygiene.

Nor do I understand why men spend over $3 per blade to have a wet shave with the latest multi-blade gadget and use expensive but crappy canned shaving foams.

I used the outfit below to have my shave this morning.


The cost for the first year is: $20 double edge safety razor, $23 boar bristle shaving brush, $1.35 lathering bowl, $10 for 50 razor blades and $20 for the wonderful Vitos shaving cream. Total - $75 plus tax.

But the cost for your second year is only $10 for 50 razor blades and $20 for the wonderful Vitos shaving cream - $30 for a year - or about $0.60 sixty cents a week - less than 10 cents a day.

The mass marketed super duper multi-blade scenario is, at one blade a week, not including anything but the blades, about $3.60 - that is 600% the cost of the system that I use. What utter nonsense to purchase such crap and waste your after tax money. I have better things to do with the $150 dollars a year than to give it to marketers and their henchmen while getting a crappy shave in the bargain.

It should be clear to the reader that I decided a long time ago that since I need to shave daily, I might as well enjoy the activity. So to that end, I rotate between brushes, 3 at the moment. A $25 Semogue 2000 boar brush, a $100 Simpson pure badger "Duke" and a very over the top custom Thater 2 band silver tip badger - the replacement cost for which I refuse to disclose on the grounds that it might, er will, incriminate me. All 3 of these brushes are a joy to use and are of the type suitable for face lathering, called fans.

By the way, when you are soaking your brush before shaving, use warm water, not hot as you will shorten the lifetime of your brushes appreciably if you use hot water.


I also rotate between various shaving soaps and creams. I am fond of almond scented soaps. I have a few others like the really wonderful menthol and eucalyptus scented Vitos cream. My normal rotation for soaps and creams are the wonderful Cella 1kg. brick, the Vitos 1kg. brick, and the Vitos 500ml. cream. The bricks will each last about 2 years when used daily and the Vitos cream tube is good for about a year. The costs for the Cella brick is about $40, the Vitos brick around $25 and the Vitos cream about $16.


I have several shaving bowls for soaking my brush and then making the lather. I have a large custom made scuttle by Robert Becker of Texas, a German apothecary style bowl, an older soap holding English style scuttle by Mason which has a cake of hard soap in it, which was new when I purchased it and a $1.35 ceramic rice bowl. I usually use the $1.35 rice bowl. There is nothing like shaving with fresh warm lather.


Double edged razors and razor blades are usually of very good quality today and when compared to disposable razors, very inexpensive to use. Currently, my preferred razor combination is a $20 butterly opening Weishi razor in gunmetal finish and the $17 pack of 100 ASTRA carbon blades. The razor is not aggressive and the combination works well for me, without my eyeglasses.


I also keep a stptic pencil on hand if I nick myself, which happens but very rarely. They can be purchased for a few dollars at every drugstore.


So there you have it. That is what I use and I suggest that the men out there give wet shaving a try. You can start by using your current multi-blade razors and buy a good boar brush, rice bowl and shaving soap and you will be on your way to enjoying what for most is a chore - the morning shave.


We are lucky to be living in Ontario as we have some very reputable sellers to purchase all of the shaving related items I have mentioned . I can safely direct the reader to both of these sites, Fendrihan and The Italian Barber for their shaving needs.