Sunday, March 15, 2015

More Thoughts on the Near Death of DE Shaving

An anonymous comment on my previous article about the near death of DE shaving served to stimulate thoughts for today's article.

I remember in the early 1970s when I got the heavy, gold-toned Gillette Trac II handle and cartridges as a gift. I never shaved much with any other device. From the original Trac II, I eventually migrated to the various pivoting designs of the two-bladed shaving head, with occasional forays into the realm of the single-edge disposable such as those offered by Bic.

I never moved on to the three-blade (and more) designs. I guess that I felt I was getting an adequate shave from two.

I looked upon my Dad's Gillette Slim Adjustable that was then resting unused in the bathroom cabinet as one might examine a fossil fragment in a museum. It never occurred to me to give that instrument a try.

But it's good that I didn't, or I might have been permanently discouraged from the DE choice. Obviously my Dad -- a long-time user of the Slim -- felt that the Trac II gave him a better shave. And of course, 40 years later, I find that the Slim is hardly the ideal DE razor for my mug. Fortunately, there are other razor and blade options that were generally unavailable in the 1970s.

But to slightly dispute an opinion of Anonymous commenter, in-grown hairs were an issue with the dual-bladed cartridges. Even though I am not particularly prone to getting in-grown hairs -- especially with a DE razor -- I can remember both my dormitory roommate and I getting and discussing in-grown hairs as a result of shaving with the Trac II.

I also think that many men like me never had any shaving instruction and never even considered doing multiple passes during a single shave. I remember that the issue my roommate and I discussed was shaving direction; that is, should we shave with or against the grain? It never occurred to us that we might do both: first with, then after, against.

Also, given that we had no significant experience with other razors, the cartridge-based designs allowed us to, pretty much, press razor firmly against skin with relative impunity.

So the popularity of the cartridge razors was due in part to the safety and adequacy of a single pass. What I never understood until I tried a DE razor was the marvelous closeness that could be achieved in multiple passes. All those years, I was getting a mediocre shave, but didn't realize it. In this case, ignorance was bliss.

When I finally broke out my Dad's vintage Gillette Slim in this new century, the closer shave (even despite the irritation) combined with the slightly greater challenge of the DE shave as well as the long-term economy and greater eco-friendliness of the process, I was hooked.

Happy shaving!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for following up with another post. My point was that for many men, ingrown hairs were and are not a problem. Obviously, they are a big problem for some, especially men of color.

    I agree that many men had no instruction in shaving.