Zen and the art of the wet shave

Picture of shaving foam covered face
CC licensed: Some rights reserved by Darran J on flickr.com

Like most things in life that are “essential” they quickly become way over commercialized as they are a great way to get you to spend money, shaving in the western world is probably one of the best examples of this. Gillette Fusion cartridges for example sell for upwards of $16 for 4x blades, outrageous. They can’t cost $2 to make, and no amount of complaining or whining by Gillette will convince me its the research cost, to put 2/3/4/5 blades on a single razor. They go to more trouble and effort to package than the blades, as anyone that buys them would know.

Add to that regular purchases of a branded-shaving foam and you are spending at least a couple of bucks a day to shave. Ridiculous. That probably also accounts for while razor blades are one of the most stolen items from stores, they are necessary, expensive, available…

About 10yrs ago when I was travelling a lot, time would come and I’d forget razors, forget to take extra blades on a multi-week trip, forget to take shaving foam etc. One trip my suitcase went AWOL and all I could get was a disposable razor, and a very small disposable pouch with something called shaving oil. I followed the instructions on the pouch and yeah, I had a great shave. Disposable razors had never worked for me, and this one gave four great shaves until I ran out of oil.

Back home, I tried switching back to disposable razors, #fail. Cuts, scrapes yuk. So I ordered some shaving oil and tried again, success. So we had the answer, but the shaving oil, by volume, was nearly as expensive as printer ink. Then the time came, on a trip, no shaving oil, all I could get late night in Leeds was some Almond Oil, by volume it was 100x cheaper than the shaving oil. That’s what I’ve been using ever since. My skin is great and there are a few tips to it, but it’s pretty simple. These days I use the Now Foods Almond oil, it’s $7.99 and a bottle can last 1.5 years. Seriously.

Wet your face with warm water, rub vigorously, don’t dry. Pour maybe 6x drops of Almond oil onto your palm, spread by rubbing palms together, rub face vigorously again and leave. Either wash off you hands or just rub them until dry. Shave as normal, regularly washing out the blade. Do us all a favor, don’t leave the tap/faucett running between rinses.

Downside. There is one downside, using any oil over a long period of time will cause the sink to gradually clog. To avoid that, a couple of times a year just pour a small amount of sink deblocking liquid down the drain hole.

Upside.

  • It’s much more sustainable, heck you can even get bottles refilled in some places
  • It’s mostly natural, no nasty chemicals that you don’t know what they are/do and no pressurized canister to dispose of.
  • It’s fragrance free, you can use an atomizer after shave, which again is way more inexpensive
  • It’s cheap
  • Razor blades last much longer. If you use the multi-blade systems, wash the blades and blow vigorously to get the debris out from between the blades, otherwise this will reduce the life as the blade will back up with clogging. A blade will often last for 20-shaves.
  • Your face will be much softer. After shaving, don’t rub dry with a towel, simply take your hands and distribute any left over oil around your face, it’s ok, it’s not moisturizer, you are not becoming a metro!

Cuts. I can’t promise you you won’t cut yourself this way, but I’d bet you cut yourself less. I’m down to maybe once every couple of months and usually even when I do, it’s because I’m rushing. The best way to stop the bleeding is a combination old-school and new age solution. First get a small piece of toilet paper on your finger, no more than 2x the size of the cut; Second, wet the paper with a few drops of water; Third, drop a couple of drops of tea tree oil onto the center of the paper, just a couple; Fourth, hold the paper tightly against the skin for 60-seconds.

Yes, it will sting, but hey man-up you cut yourself shaving. Leave the paper on for as long as you can, but not long enough for the paper to become bone dry otherwise it will stick as the skin starts to heal.

So guys, time to mix up that shave routine, maybe you need to visit Mike but don’t be fooled, his multi-blade razors are anything but a dollar.

I should have probably started a twitter id for this, sh*t your Dad didn’t tell you…

Author: Mark Cathcart

Formerly an Executive Director of Systems Engineering and a Senior Distinguished Engineer at Dell. Prior to that, an IBM Distinguished Engineer working for the Systems Group in NY and Austin. I'm currently "retired until further notice".

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