Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Focusing on the right things

with 4 comments

A recent post on Wicked_Edge expressed combined surprise and dismay:

I felt like I was fully converted. bought a shiny expensive razor, hundreds of blades, new products, and loving using them. asking questions on here, thinking about new brushes and blades. a full convert.

until just now when my faith was shaken.

just now I got a whisker away from a BBS with a $3 disposable and canned foam that I only used because I was in a hurry. shave took less than 2 minutes, and it’s about 95% perfect. another 2 minutes and I would have had a BBS.

I don’t know what to do with this information.

He augmented the post the next day, after reading and sleeping on the replies he received. And one of those replies was from me:

You may be looking in the wrong direction: toward efficiency instead of enjoyment. I regularly got good shaves with a cartridge and canned foam, though generally short of a BBS result, and the shave didn’t take long. It certainly took much less time than the 25 minutes I spent at the outset, though over a few months that dropped to about 15-20 minutes (and now is 5 minutes).

However, shaving was for me a tedious, boring, hateful chore, devoid of enjoyment. I got a clean-shave face, but I hated the task. The biggest payoff for me was that, using brush and soap and a DE razor, I found I actually enjoyed shaving and looked forward to my morning shave, which was a period of meditative activity that left me feeling refreshed and restored and ready for the day and what it might bring.

iIn the early chapters of my Guide I point out this particular benefit in detail, since most men who shave with cartridges and canned foam focus only on the end result, and (for obvious reasons) pay little attention to the nature of the experience of the process of shaving. Their attention is directed away from the experience, so it requires some effort to focus on the right things. It’s as though one goes to a concert and pays attention to the orchestra’s attire and not to the music, and becomes impatient for the concert to end once he’s looked over the orchestra carefully. What more is there?, he might ask as the music swirls around him, unnoticed.

If you truly enjoy what is happening, you generally don’t mind the time it takes. Men who brag that they can make love in 3 minutes flat are missing the point. 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

30 November 2015 at 11:26 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

4 Responses

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  1. Well put Michael, its the journey not the destination. I’m not sure why cartridge razors were introduced in the first place, probably the unending drive for higher profits rather than addressing the “inadequacy” of the safety razor. I can understand the evolution from straight razor to safety razor – in the time before safety razors I think most men left the labour and skill required of the straight razor to their barber, or they wore beards. The safety razor made the prospect of a daily shave a reality within the grasp of the average man. I can’t see why we allowed ourselves to be bamboozled into adopting cartridge razors and canned foam. The environmental impact alone should be enough to drop it and return to traditional safety razors and soap. The lure of progress and the modern age – like white bread and TV dinners which as a kid growing up in the 60s was the height of progress. Its what the astronauts ate or at least something like that squeezed out of a tube. I’m for slowing it all down and enjoying the process – we all know what the ultimate destination is so we may as well take the time to enjoy and truly experience life.



    1 December 2015 at 7:25 am

  2. I agree. I switched to cartridges mainly because I simply did not know how to shave and did a terrible job of it—which is why I grew a beard and kept it from college through most of my working life. But I literally did not know what I was missing. I was barking up the wrong tree.



    1 December 2015 at 7:43 am

  3. Michael, I think that while process and experience are large parts of the raison-d’etre of traditional wet shaving, I must add that the results are also quite different vs. modern cartridge shaving. My own experience is that a modern cartridge can actually give you near BBS each and every time. But I have observed that the difference between a DE and a modern cartridge shave “outcome” is very different OVER TIME. I worked for quite a few years in the aesthetic dermatology and plastic surgery area. The big buzzword there for decades has been “exfoliation”, and as you are doubtless aware, many techniques from scrubs and acids to lasers and dermabrasion are used to expose new layers of skin. This is by happenstance, exactly what a straight razor and a DE do. Because the blade is in immediate contact with the skin, a thin layer is removed each time one shaves. It is NOT the case for a multi-blade cartridge system which actually floats above the skin and uses beard hysteresis (pulling out the hair and cutting it with each successive blade). This does not exfoliate the skin. Hence, while one can get a BBS shave with a modern cartridge, over time the skin does not feel, nor look the same. I have remarked this over many years because when I travel I use a cartridge (Thank TSA rules for carry-on luggage) and over the course of a week I notice that my skin doesn’t feel as “clean”. This is not noticeable after one or two shaves, but after a week to 10 days the difference is quite palpable.



    4 December 2015 at 1:46 pm

  4. Very interesting, and it makes sense. It is also consistent with my feeling that using a facial scrub on areas one shaves with a DE is too much trauma (shave + scrub) to be good for the skin. One or the other, not both. Thanks for the comment.



    4 December 2015 at 2:37 pm

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