When we prepare for an uncertain future, we often consider the big things. Things like preparing a bug-out bag, getting enough water, foraging for food, buying enough ammo or increasing our tactical skills.
Yet there are smaller items that make life better. Having soap, for instance. Or toilet paper. Or, in the case of today’s article, being able to shave and still feel like a human being under less-than-ideal conditions.
Sometimes old tools are the best tools.
This is the case with many gardening implements, cast iron cookware, and…
I’m not crazy enough to go all the way back to using a straightedge razor; however, a few years ago I switched from using an electric razor or disposable razors to using a classic Gillette double-edge safety razor from the 1950s. It was an antique-store special… and it was one of the best buys I’ve ever made.
When I first started shaving, I used cheap disposable razors, later followed by a Gillette Mach III. That provided a good shave but the cartridges were prohibitively expensive. since they cost $2-3 each and only shave well for a few uses.
If you’re an obsessive saver, paying $1.00 PER shave is distasteful in the extreme.
After switching back and forth between my Mach III razor and cheap disposables for a while, I was given an electric razor. Unlike the Mach III, it was cheap to use; however, it had a downside: it didn’t provide a really close shave.
I was wandering aimlessly through my manhood, ne’r to find a good shave… until four years ago when I came across this post over at Lew Rockwell’s site.
I’d always assumed that the old double-edged safety razors had fallen by the wayside because they were inferior to modern razors. After reading the above article, I decided to give them a chance.
A week or two after the thought of a vintage shave entered my mind, I happened to be near one of my favorite antique stores. I stopped in and decided to look for old razors that were still in working condition.
Lo and behold… I found a few. And they were cheap. I picked up a pair of single-edged razors along with a Gillette double-edged safety razor (which cost me $12.00). After buying the razors, I stopped by the grocery store and found some single and double-edged blades in the pharmacy section, along with some “Mug” shaving soap and a cheap bristle brush.
I quickly discovered the single-edged razors were really tough to handle, so after a few days I gave up on those. The double-edged razor worked wonderfully, however.
I was impressed.
Better: the initial investment in the razor was minimal, costing less than a new Mach III. It’s not pretty anymore, but it’s solid.
The real savings start to add up when you buy blades. I usually get them for about $0.07 each and they last for two shaves and can stretch to three or four if you don’t mind a less comfortable experience.
As for a shaving brush, you can get by with cheap bristle brushes but a well-made badger brush will serve you a lot better in the long run. I’ve been using mine for three years and it’s still holding up. A shaving brush allows you to build up a good hot lather and shave well. It also prepares your face for the blade when used properly.
The Mug soap is cheap stuff but lasts a long time. I have a mug I made in a ceramics class I took long ago (don’t ask… I’m a terrible potter) that serves as my receptacle for the disk of soap. Here – this is my kit:
One other thing: I don’t use traditional aftershave (unless I’m feeling like a fox, then I use Brut). Instead, I picked up a trick from my dad who uses a solution of witch hazel. That stuff is really good and it’s cheap.
Though the entire shaving kit is perhaps slightly more complicated than a cheap plastic disposable razor and a can of weirdly scented shaving gel, it saves a lot of waste in the long run. You’re not chucking plastic razors every other day or ditching plastic and metal Mach III heads. Plus the double-edged razorblades can be pressed into service (carefully) for cutting twine or making bladed tools or scary apocalyptic weapons.
Saving money is a big reason why I made the switch to a double-edge safety razor, but saving at least a little piece of the environment feels good too. I hate our disposable culture.
There’s also something very satisfying about shaving a little slower and doing the job well with a solid tool rather than a piece of Chinese plastic.
Try out a true double-edged safety razor. Though they’re obviously not vital to survival, stocking up on blades and shaving soap is really cheap… and the money you save can be used for much better things.
You’re not sacrificing a good shave. You’re sacrificing decades of modern marketing hype and plastic trash.