Monogamous Shaving: Day Seven
June 7, 2005
Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, I’m free at last!
Today was my last day of monogamous shaving — that is to say, sticking with the same razor, blade, brush, and cream for a whole week. Sounds like no big deal to you mugs who shave with the same rusty disposable “Good News” plastic piece of @%#$ for months at a clip, I know. But for us serious wetshavers, a whole week without swapping out different razors, or different creams especially, is maddening. To not dip into the stash o’ varietal delights I’ve accumulated over the past year or so of serious wetshaving was sheer torture.
The good news: I learned a valuable lesson. By sticking with the same Merkur HD safety razor, the same Merkur Platinum DE blade, the same Vulfix #2235 silvertip badger brush, the same Trumper Violet shaving cream, and the same Trumper skin food post-shave moisturizer, I was forced to focus on my hand technique. And my shave got better, to the point where all the minor, niggling complaints I still had about DE shaving all went away, leaving nothing but a clean, smooth, irritation-free shave behind, day in and day out.
If I’d started out with a DE, a brush, and good cream when I first began growing whiskers, I know I’d be fine sticking to the same rig every day, getting perfect shaves, and none of this would seem exceptional in any way whatsoever. My problem is, I came to this stuff late in the game, after 20 years of shaving with el-cheapo disposables and then over-aggressive multi-blade catridge razors. So it’s all amazing to me, and I’m a little more juiced about it than is probably normal and healthy.
Which is why I can’t possibly be monogamous when it comes to shaving. At this point, I’ve given over an entire dresser drawer to my shaving crap. I’ve got seven different models of Merkur DE razors, and dozens of vintage Gillette DEs I scored on eBay before the gold rush — adjustables, both short handled and long, as well as non-adjustables, take-apart travel razors, you name it. I’ve got three disposable blade straight razors — the German Shavette, the Spanish Filarmonica. and the Japanese Feather. I’ve got scads of DE blades from Merkur, Feather, Wilkinson, and Personna. Too many brushes to think about. And even more creams than brushes. I’ve given away more of this stuff than I’ve kept for myself, but the problem is I keep buying it up, because it’s a sickness.
So tomorrow I may shave with a vintage Gillette adjustable set wide open on 9, with a Vulfix #377 brush and QED violet shaving soap. Or I might whip out the new Filarmonica which I’ve been dying to try, loaded with half a Merker DE blade. Or maybe I’ll take the Merkur Progress adjustable for a spin, to remind myself how on any given day I think it’s better in some ways than even the vintage Gillette. The handle’s less grippy but the added heft makes all the difference.
And when it comes to creams, I may go with Taylor’s Rose one day, Proraso the next, then Musgo, Taylor Lavender, Trumper Violet hard soap, and Pacific Shave Oil all by its lonesome. Haven’t decided yet. Don’t need to. That’s the beauty of polygamous shaving. It’s like that guy in Salt Lake City with all the wives who drilled cave dwellings into the side of a mountain for each one, and he made the rounds depending on his fancy. He had the right idea. Not about wives, but about shaving.
My hope is that the improved technique I acquired during this experiement carries over to my return to wetshaving tomcattery. I would love to be able to auto-adjust my hand movements to get the same great shave from whatever rig I happen to choose on any givemn morning. On the other hand, maybe it would be just as boring as this past week has been? if I get the same shave from an old Gillete travel razor as I do from the Feather straight razor, then why use different razors in the first place? Same goes for creams, brushes, all of it. So maybe it’s better to get different shaves from different razors, so when my face is starting to cry uncle from all the potato peeling the Feather straight razor’s been doing, I can settle things down with a few days’ worth of mild Gillette adjustable set to a nice, comforting 3. And when that fair-to-middlin’ type shave doesn’t do it for me anymore, I can kick it up a notch and flail away with the Shavette, till that starts to hurt a bit and I wind up back with the tried and true Merkur HD, which always gives great shave.
Vivre le difference!