Yes, it’s that time of the year again, the whole month of November, the time when Movember (acronym for Moustache-November) kicks into high-gear. Men are encouraged to stop shaving for a whole month, and grow their facial hair, to raise awareness of men’s health, various cancers, like prostate cancer, etc. If you want to know more, you can read all about it in their website (link above).
This article is part of the Going Old School series. If you landed here out of nowhere, then click here to go to the beginning. Otherwise, please continue reading.
As a man of the typical Asian heritage (the Oriental variety, if you’re curious), I’m not blessed with the genes that allow for the growth of neat “manly” facial hair. Oh yes, I can stop shaving and allow my facial hair to grow. But in a short couple of weeks, the unruly growth of beard and moustache that populate in small clumps here and there start to make me look really unkempt. Sorry mate, there’s no way I’ll be able to sport George Clooney’s five-o’clock-shadow look. And sorry Movember, I won’t be able to support your cause, no matter how charitable it is.
With that out of the way, the only logical way for me to maintain my professional stature is to go clean-shaven all the time. Of course, there are times when I’m just plain simply lazy, and skip shaving for a whole week. But that only happens when I don’t have to go out and meet people. *wink*
So clean-shaven look? Check. Manly tools to keep that clean-shaven look? Hmm… What’s considered “manly” in the first place? Well, if you believe what the advertisers tell you, two brands will pop into your mind immediately. Gillette and Schick (Wilkinson Sword in certain markets). That’s right, with their multi-million dollar advertising budget, anybody will believe that their way is the right way to shave… The ONLY way to shave.
Wow!… Looks very high-tech and space-age, right? But be prepared to pay an arm and a leg if you wanna buy that model. That’s right, shaving with the top-of-the-range razor by either brand will cost you top dollar. The razor (handle) itself isn’t really that expensive, but the blade cartridge replacement will really bleed you half to death (pun intended). Buying into that high-end models may be relatively affordable, but replacing the cartridges on a regular basis is gonna be a killer to maintain in the long term.
Of course there are always the lower-end models offered by both the brands, and also other not-so-well-known brands offering similar items too. But without the equally big budget for advertising, not many people will really know them as intimately as these two duopolies.
But their multiple blades must be really high-tech, right? More blades equals to a closer shave, right?… Right?…
Well… Not exactly… Experience tells us that repeatedly shaving on the same plot of skin will often result in bruised and red skin. So if you’re using a five-bladed cartridge, that equates to five passes of the blade on the same plot of skin with each single pass that you shave. If that’s not overkilling it, I don’t know what is…
So if you can’t bear to put razor-sharp steel in contact with your bare-skin, I suppose you could always go even higher-tech, and get a battery-powered electric razor, right?
Again, another two brands come into your mind when you think electric razor. Panasonic and Phillips (Norelco in certain markets). Again, there are other brands offering similar products. And again, these two are still the most well known brands out there when you think electric razors.
Advantages over the muscle-powered steel blades?… Of course. You can shave while multitasking, like when you’re behind the wheel, being stuck in the traffic jam driving to work, or while reading your morning newspaper while waiting for your morning coffee to brew. But then again, people might ask, why don’t you just wake up earlier, and get your personal grooming done during your *ahem* personal time?
Disadvantages?… Plenty. First off, it’s a much more expensive initial purchase than the muscle-powered variety. But at least you don’t have to change your blades regularly. So does that translate to savings? Well, eventually your rotary blade or foil blade will also dull, though it’s not a regular affair. And changing those little fellows will cost you much, much more than changing the multi-bladed cartridges. Most people I know simply retire the razor and buy a whole new one, rather than to replace the little piece of spare-part, which may or may not even be available for purchase over the counter.
Performance wise?… Well, if your objective is to compliment your primary muscle-powered razors for the days that you’re in a rush, then it’ll serve its purpose. But if it’s gonna be your primary razor, then you’re gonna have to settle for a permanent stubble. Those rascals “shave” your face like lawn-mower cut the grass in your garden. It’ll never give you a close shave. And five-o’clock shadows become more like 12-o’clock, mid-day shadow.
So what’s my personal choice of razor? Well, as the series title suggests, I’ve been going back old school on shaving too. I’ve rediscovered the joys of wet shaving. That’s right, the way our forefathers were shaving long before the modern invention of multi-bladed, non-recyclable plastic cartridge and handles. And definitely long before they invented the battery operated, hand-held, motorised mini-lawn-mower. That, my friends, is my personal shaving kit. Centred around an old-school cut-throat, straight razor, are all of the necessary tools to make shaving such an enjoyable time in the bathroom. No more five-minute rush jobs for me. I now enjoy half-hour, therapeutic, me-time, in the bathroom for my shaving ritual. No more squeezing excessive amounts of synthetic, pressurised goo out of an aerosol spray can. I now use REAL shaving soap, applied tenderly with a REAL shaving brush. And I shave with a non-disposable, single-bladed, steel straight razor.
I never knew before that good old fashioned practice like wet shaving can make me feel so MANLY!… Take that Gillette. You’re no longer “The Best A Man Can Get”, with your sissy, multi-bladed “modern” technology, sorry excuse for being a razor. I’m sticking to a REAL razor for my grooming needs.