December 5, 2009

Product: The Ghosts of Razors Past

Simple topic. Razors.

I was planning for something more profound and contemplative, but the only thing I can contemplate at present is the profound inconvenience of having to start busing to work when I already devote so much time to shaving and the application of make-up in the morning. Having to get up two hours earlier is only the newest addition to a list of unpleasant elements to an otherwise rewarding job. This is causing me to contemplate the profundity of resignation. And it's scaring me out of my pants.

But back to razors. Somehow in the past year and a bit, though I've talked a lot about shaving, I have never commented on the razors I've used. Picking the right razor has always been a concern for me, as a lady trying to decide what to use on her face. But after several years, I try to tell myself that if I can't find the kind I prefer at the store, trial and error really isn't so bad. At worst, I've spent a week or two living with a rough, irritated shave, and come out of it knowing I'd never try that blade again.

My first desperate swipes, taken in the cramped lavatory of a trailer on a summer trip, were with the Schick Personal Touch. Two blades and a moisturizing aloe strip. I had it because it was simply the one my mom bought for me when I began shaving my legs in junior high. And she had one because I believe it was one of the first refillable safety razors marketed to women. Because my face was new to shaving, the results were great. I used to keep one cartridge for my face and one for my legs, and just swap them back and forth because they used to last so long.

But then the refill cartridges gradually disappeared from all the stores, and I had no choice but to find something new. A little while ago my mother ran across some and gave me a packet, but I seem to have forgotten how to use a razor with an inflexible head on my face. Trying to get a close enough shave, I gave myself some of the worst nicks of my life before I gave up on this one. The blades are really hardy compared to disposables, but negotiating my chin is a nightmare.

I was still quite young, and Gillette's new three-blade razor was all the rage--all my friends seemed to have a Venus. But we were a single parent family. Spending so much on refill cartridges was out of the question. But we both agreed that skimping on razors was not a good idea, either, so my mom brought home a slightly less expensive three-bladed alternative, Schick's Xtreme 3 Comfort Plus disposables. Once I got used to the flexing, pivoting head, it gave me the closest, least irritating shave I've experienced. It dulls noticably after a week of daily shaves, and the shea moisturizing strip tends to disintegrate, but the results make it the razor I prefer. When I can't find the women's version, the men's works just as well.

And sometimes they were hard to find. Or we were looking for a cheaper alternative. That led to a few more experiments. Bic's Soleil disposables were attractive colors (yes, of course I take looks into consideration) but gave me such horrifying razor burn on my legs the first go-round that I didn't let them anywhere near my face.

Schick's Slim Twin was, as the name indicates, a two-bladed disposable, and had a cool little blade cleaning feature. You could push down on it and force debris out from between the blades. I found it too small and flimsy to use on my legs, but it was decent on my face. Not as easy to get a close shave with it was the Xtreme 3--but it came in a ten-pack, and I did not have trouble using them all.

Gillette Daisy, a two blade disposable, seemed to have very little lubrication (yes, even with a shaving medium, I still say I could tell) and was not great for the close shave I needed. I'd rank it between the Soleil and the Slim Twin. I shared these with everyone else in the house to get rid of them faster.

Right now I have a pack of Schick Slim Triples that I got on sale. It amuses me far too much that the brilliant pink color perfectly matches the bottle of shaving oil I'm also experimenting with. They also have a flexible rotating head, but the experience is still a little different from the Xtreme 3. I'm still trying to figure out why I don't like them as much. Perhaps it's because they, too, seem flimsier and dull quicker. Or perhaps it's all in my head. But I haven't stopped using them so they obviously aren't that bad.

You know, looking back, I've been shaving my face off and on since high school, and I haven't tried an awful lot of razors. Perhaps more experimentation is in order.

Do I think the number of blades makes a difference when it comes to shaving my face? No. I don't know how razors are made or how they differ in more subtle ways, so I can only talk about what I've experienced. The spin of it seems to be that the more blades you have, the closer the shave will be, but wouldn't two passes with a twin blade equal one pass with four blades and have the same risk for irritation and ingrowns? I'd rather have one hardy, quality blade than five crummy ones working simultaneously.

Would I try one of the more popular refillable brands? Yes. Unlike disposables, which are pretty interchangeable between men's and women's, a refillable man's razor is designed to shave a face. I'm very curious to know if they would make a difference in the irritation and dryness that never completely goes away. However it's simply not something I'm interested in spending a lot of money on right now.

Would I try a more traditional safety razor, or even a straight razor? Yes. It's certainly not a dead art, and if people are still picking it up, it must not only be better for the environment and your wallet, but the resulting shave must also be good. I'm just too darn frightened of something that sharp. I've seen Sweeney Todd.


Sophie said...

Reading about razors in such a detail makes me feel I should acknowledge that razors exist and we need them, too... It's funny how I can just "erase" shaving and the razors from the mind...
I dont use them on the face so it might be completely irrelevant but i do use them quite regularly for my tummy and below (where my skin is "face like") and bought this recently: (sorry, couldnt find in english)
it is actually quite gentle, although I dont think it is an extremely close shave. i dont know - i still have no light in the bathroom... ;)
When I was about 16, I used my grandpa's razor (old fashioned even for him, I think it was an antique from some centuries ago). I used it only on my arms (yeah, I used to do that, stupid cow..) and the smoothness and closeness is magical but it is so extremely easy to cut yourself... And for me, back then, it was the worst idea...
I will stick to the shaving creams for as long as I can, however observing my face leads me to think it won't be too long...

Allerleirah said...

I do keep hearing good things about the Venus line. Gentle is important...

Was your grandpa's razor something like this?

Those really interest me. A hundred refills for a few dollars? Sign me up! But you really do have to learn how to use them properly, I hear they are *so* sharp.

Aww, you used to shave your arms? That's tough. So many girls do. I have told myself I will never do it. The hair is not *that* dark, and it will only be one more thing to worry about maintaining. But I do get tempted sometimes...

If you are thinking of trying a new method on your face, just remember you can *always* switch back if you don't like it. :)

Jadri said...

I've been using the Venus Embrace razors for a bit now, probably the best results I've had from a razor. There's 5 blades per cartridge, so a once-over's all you really need (though I am so used to meticulously doing like 2-4 passes that i think I tend to over do it with this one, and now I've got all these tiny bumps that won't go away.) The moisture strips are wider & feel awesome, but yeah like you said, they fade pretty quick. The width of the blade is significantly longer than most, so it covers more area per stroke-time saver for sure. I tried the older, regular length one after using the Embrace for awhile, and it was quite annoying. So definatly my fave so far. The downside: ridiculously expensive. It's almost criminal ya know... it's gotta be one of the cheapest things to make, yet so many people rely on them, so they get away with selling razors like they're gold because we WILL buy them. Bah.
Anyways, thanks for sharing your Spiro. experience thus far! I mustered up the courage today... well honestly it was more like being At my Wit's end... and I went in and told a doc what was going on and that I wanted bloodwork done and he also gave me a 'scipt for Spironolactone!! God do I hope this does something for me!! And for you as well. Keep us posted!

Allerleirah said...

Interesting. The newer Venus is starting to sound pretty good. You are so right; they know we rely on them and we'll pay for them, so they can keep their prices high. It's nuts!

Good for you! It's never easy taking the step to go to a doctor, but I like how it feels to be doing something about it. :) Let me know how it goes.

Anonymous said...

hey, i sent a comment with links to razors and stuff - have you got it? soph

Allerleirah said...

Soph, I received and published the one with the link to the Venus Breeze. Was that the one?

Sophie said...

nope :)

again, my grandpa's story went to waste... ;)

ok, in short:

i mentioned those: :)

and then there was something about my grandpa using the one you posted link to (older version, from like fifties... )and that it was undestructable and he was using one all his life and the refills were next to free (i think still are) and it shaves well close!