As a contrarian, I’m a sucker for the idea that there’s a far better way to do some everyday thing, which everyone else is doing wrong. That’s why, a few months back, I ended up buying a safety razor.
For the rest of my life, like most other dudes I know, I’d purchased Gillette blade cartridges. Sure, I might use fancy handles I’d received as gifts, or apply a variety of shaving creams and lotions, sometimes with similarly gifted badger-hair brush. But, where the rubber hit the road – or, rather, the steel met the stubble – I was using whatever Walgreens was selling. From two blades to three, and then (reluctantly) to four a pop.
But over the past year, I’d increasingly seen articles and blog posts arguing that each of those additional blades made shaving a worse experience, not a better one. That, in fact, the best shave (especially for anyone curly-bearded as I am, and therefore prone to ingrown hairs) was also the simplest: a return to safety razors and single razor blades.
I actually owned a safety razor, my father’s ancient Parker 96R, buried deep in the back of a closet. So, with the relatively low cost of a pack of Feather Double-Edge Blades, I took the plunge.
Over the last few months, I haven’t had a single razor-induced ingrown hair. Though, conversely, I manage to cut the crap out of myself at least half of the time I shave, wandering post-shower with bits of bloody toilet paper stuck to my face. Admittedly, I tend to grow my beard in two- to three-week cycles, so I’ve really only shaved my entire face a half-dozen times in the past couple months, the rest of the time (and more successfully) simply shaping around the edges every few days. (Helpful note: nobody looks good with neck hair.)
Perhaps, with a few more months of intermittent practice, I’ll get the hang of carefully aligning a razor blade with the contours of my chink and cheeks, learning to balance between an angle too shallow to actually shear hair and one steep enough to nick skin. And, either way, I’m not giving up any time soon. I’m convinced that a safety razor is at least the better choice on paper, and I’m much too stubborn to give up on a good idea just because it leads to a bit of mess in real life.