Friday, February 13, 2015

I've Been Shaving All Wrong

Apparently I've been shaving wrong for the last 33 years.

At least that's what a fancy shaving store saleswoman hinted at when we discussed my shaving habits.

I recently stepped into The Art of Shaving store where they sell different versions of a four-step shaving kit for many, many dollars. Things like scented oils, fancy foams, and brushes made from badger hair.

Plus a perfectly balanced nickel-plated razor handle for $200.

I really, really liked the perfectly balanced nickel-plated razor handle.

The saleswoman said the razor handle is "perfectly balanced" to aid with "blade pull."

Because that's a thing now, apparently.

"How are you this morning, Mr. Deckers?" they'll ask at my coffee shop one morning.

"Not too good, Zach," I'll say. "My blade pull was a little off today."

"Ah, that explains the arterial spray on your shirt."

The saleswoman tried to convince me of the wonder and beauty of their four-step shaving kit, and how it could revolutionize my whole morning routine by turning a five minute chore done with soap and a razor in the shower into a 30-minute drudgery with four expensive ingredients.

Their fancy four step process starts with a shaving oil, then a special shaving cream applied with the badger hair brush, then shaving with the perfectly balanced nickel-plated razor handle, followed by a post-shave oil.

Then all your friends will laugh at you for smelling like a high school kid on his first date.

I walked into the fancy store, sporting at least four days of growth, and a goatee that looked more like a goat. It wasn't my intention to upset anyone, but once I saw how fancy the place was, I figured there was no harm in trying.

The saleswoman asked me what my usual shaving cream was

"Lever 2000," I said. "I shave in the shower."

She had been trained not to shriek at clients, so she remained calm. But she did develop a tic in her left eye when I said I only shaved every two or three days.

I started shaving when I was 14, a couple years before I actually needed to. I was so eager that I started as soon as I saw the first hair on my chin. It was probably one of my head hairs that got stuck after eating soup, but that didn't matter. Now I was a man! It was time to prove it by removing all the hair from my face.

Before then, when my dad wasn't home, I would lather up and "shave" with the plastic lid from the shaving cream can, so I wouldn't cut myself, pretending it was a real razor.

It was my stepdad who told me the best way to shave. "Put hot water on your face, as hot as your face can take," he said

I still say it to myself whenever I shave at the sink. "Put hot water on your face, as hot as your—ow, son of a—!"

The problem isn't how hot my face can take. It's that the water burns my fingers and I jump around and flap my hand like I smashed it with a hammer.

Besides that, most shaving advice varies wildly:

- Use a good moisturizer. Don't bother with a moisturizer.

- Shave in the shower. Shave after a shower.

- Use proper shaving cream. Soap is a suitable shaving cream. What are you crazy? Shaving with soap will make you look like the Elephant Man!

- Shave with the grain, and then against the grain. Under no circumstances should you ever shave against the grain! It's like crossing the streams in 'Ghostbusters,' only worse.

According to the advice from my fancy shaving saleswoman, everything I've done up to this point is wrong. I don't use any pre-shave treatments, post-shave treatments, or lather between shaving with and against the grain.

And I don't have a perfectly balanced nickel-plated razor handle, which means my blade pull is all wrong. I might as well be shaving with WD-40 and a rusted sickle.

I'm not a fancy guy. I don't need fancy razors and soaps to make me happy, or even give me a close shave. I've used the same brand of razors, Gillette Fusion, for years, and I use whatever soap is handy.

The whole idea of a four-step scented shaving process to me is a complete waste of time and money, and frankly, a little sissified for a guy like me.

Which is why I only bought the $25 starter kit.

I have a feeling we're going to be very happy together.


After I wrote this column, I actually ended up getting the full kit, not the starter kit. I also got a new Gillette Fusion razor. As much as I joked about the overdoing-it-ness of their four step process, I absolutely have gotten the closest shave I've ever had in 33 years of shaving, and my face is baby butt smooth. I may have teased The Art of Shaving in this piece a bit, but man oh man, this really is awesome!

Photo credit: MagicRobot (Flickr, Creative Commons)

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  1. I'd argue that you are going all fancy pants with the Fusion, Gillette has put (tens? hundreds of?) millions into it. Being a productivity geek I've spent way too much time trying to improve my shaving process. I used to own a balanced handle but didn't bother upgrading when the Fusion came out, it's a nice luxury but makes no difference. The other thing is that everyone's skin is different, a lot of the oils and creams that people swear by just make me itch. I always get a closer shave in the shower than after though...

    1. We'll see what happens. I'm going to shave with the new kit tomorrow (Monday), and we'll see how it goes.

  2. This comment system blows. After I commented and hit the publish button it logged me in as a Google commenter and came back to an empty comment box.

    1. Sorry, John. I don't know why that doesn't work. It seems your first comment went through, unless you had to retype it.

      But thanks for the comment. I'm glad you read it!


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