For as long as I can remember, I have hated shaving. Seriously. I would do anything I could to avoid it. I didn’t want a beard, so shaving was an inevitable part of my life, so I am always searching for a way to make it suck less.
I am not a super hairy guy, but my facial hair grows in thick. Like many guys, if I shave with an electric, I am inevitably shaving again very soon. As I hate shaving, this was not an option I was interested in. I tried the electric route for a few years early on in my life with facial hair, but did not stick with it. I hated the skin irritation, I hated the frequency, and I decided electric saving was not for me.
Most likely thanks to the free razor Gillette sends to all of us guys on our 18th birthdays, I was a dedicated Mach 3 user for about five years. In those years, I was mostly in school and didn’t care if I went a few extra days between shaves. I found the razors did the job and I thought it was as good as shaving could get, but I still hated it and often found my skin irritated after cutting those hairs away.
Over time, I tried other razors as well. I eventually switched to the Mach 3 Turbo, which came with added lubricants. A slight improvement, but nothing earth shattering. Later on I tried the Shick Quattro but was not all that impressed and moved back to the Mach 3 Turbo. Still later, I upgraded to a 5 blade razor from Gillette that vibrated as you shaved. It helped a little, but again not a huge improvement.
Eventually, I tried out the Dollar Shave Club. The mail order razor program brought me quality cartridges that I could change once a week without going to the store for $6 per month including shipping. It has been a good deal and has kept me happy for the six months or so I have been a member.
Changing Shaving Creams
I started my shaving life with a gel. For the ladies out there that have not tried it, a shave gel comes out of the can as a gel and lathers into a thicker cream. It was okay, but I hated shaving and was always on the prowl for a better way.
For most of my shaving life, I used simple, cheap shaving cream. It was thick, lathered well, and got the job done. It was cheaper than the gel, which provided a similar result, so I was content with it.
Eventually I got bored and tried other things. I went back to gels for a while and settled on Edge Pro Gel for sensitive skin. But with all of this, I still hated shaving. I was willing to do it, as I hate having an itchy face even more.
A Brief History of Shaving
One day, I decided to take a more dramatic step. I spent hours doing research on improving your shaving experience. As it turns out, shaving has changed quite a bit over time. It turns out, though, that it has changed for the worse.
At its heyday, shaving was something many men found pleasurable. It was an art. Each morning, men around the world would spend part of their morning softening their skin and hair, lathering, carefully brushing on a smooth lather, and delicately shaving away the whiskers from their face.
Due to a combination of factors, this art was lost over time. I blame this on two primary problems. First, fathers stopped teaching their sons how to shave. It became something that guys just figured out on their own as the need grew over time. I am not sure the cause or effect, but this is very closely related to the second issue, shaving technology.
Where computers advanced our ability to do complex things easily and automotive technology allowed us to be safer and increase fuel economy, increases in shaving technology led to stupidity and laziness. Rather than refine a well developed art, new shavers allowed us to brutally beat our faces without hurting ourselves. New cartridge and disposable razors were designed to be able to push harder and harder without causing damage. As most of us are stupid people who don’t understand the mechanics of shaving, this was a good idea. However, in creating shavers that allowed us to shave faster and like brutes, we lost the best parts of shaving.
My $11 Shaving Cream
In my research, I found that a quality cartridge is an acceptable razor, though a quality safety razor leads to arguably the best results. I was not quite ready to make that jump, and what I learned indicated that my Dollar Shave Club razors were not the cause of my terrible shaving experiences over the last decade or so. My high-end cartridges were able to be improved on, but the improvement would be small.
The number one place I could find improvement was by changing my shaving cream. Little did I know that the part of my shave I had spent the least time worrying about was causing me the most trouble.
I spent time assessing dozens of shaving creams, from very high-end British shaving creams to the low-end shaving creams on the bottom shelf of Walmart. I found that I didn’t have to spend $20 or more on a shaving cream, but the $1 can was not going to cut it.
Based on my research, I found that the best option for me would be to try out a quality, mid-range cream and give it a test go. I settled on a well-known Italian shaving cream, Prosaro Shaving Cream with Eucalyptus and Menthol, and ordered it from Amazon.
Three days later, I eagerly put my new shaving cream to the test. After all, an extra $10 better produce some results. I squeezed a small amount of the menthol shaving soap from the tube into my hands, lathered up, and got to work.
I had the best shave of my life.
Outside of the one time I paid for a hot barbershop shave, nothing came close. I had made the single biggest improvement to my shaving experience ever. But I was not satisfied. As shaving turned from something I despised to something I could tolerate, I thought back to the heyday of shaving when true gentleman would carefully shave each morning. I was on a mission.
The $19 Shave Brush
I hit the books again, this time looking for other methods to dramatically improve my shaving experience. It was not long before I noticed a trend: beaver fur brushes.
Everywhere I looked, I found shaving experts and newly minted shaving aficionados writing about the marked improvement from adding a quality shaving brush to their morning routine.
I spent some time sifting through reviews and decided that a high-end beaver brush, some of them well over $50, was not worth it. I trusted my Italian shaving cream maker to know the right brush as well, and I went with the same brand for a boar hair brush.
After a few clicks on Amazon, my Prosaro shave brush was on its way. I waited anxiously over the next couple of days for the brush to arrive. After all, if changing shaving creams could make such a big difference, imagine what a brush might do.
When it arrived, I set it out next to my sink, along with my razor and new shaving cream, for the next stage in my life as someone who shaves as a proper gentleman. The next morning, I meticulously followed the steps to a proper wet shave.
First, the very hot shower. A hot shower softens your skin and the hairs on your face. Next, I put a small amount of shaving cream into a mug and whisked it on the end of my brush. I splashed hot water on my face and began brushing up and down. That motion raises the hairs on your face to stand straight up and allows for a clean-cut closer to the skin. A good lather built and I grabbed the razor. It was time to test my $30 shave.
I put the razor at the bottom of my left side burn, as I do every morning, and slowly pulled the razor down my face. Shaving from top to bottom creates less irritation, I read a few days prior. For this occasion, of course, I used a fresh new blade. It gently cut at the bottom of each hair. No tugging, no pulling, and no cuts on my face.
As the soothing menthol and softening moisturizers made my face feel better than it had in my life, I carefully slid the razor along each corner of my face. My cheeks smoothed in a way I had never felt. My neck followed shortly after. As the blade followed the curve of my chin, each hair painlessly cut away close to the surface of my face.
After finishing, I used warm water to clean away the remnants of a pleasurable morning from my face, I knew I had a winner.
The Cost of a Perfect Shave
So far, my shaving habit has led to a $6 per month cost for razors, $11 for shaving cream that will likely last two to three months, and $19 for a shaving brush that will hopefully last for at least a year or two. That is a monthly amortized cost of $11-$12 per month for shaving.
With other cheaper options available, many of my counterparts in the personal finance blogging world would likely criticize me for wasting money. After all, when you can get a similar result for less, why spend more?
The answer is simple. Just like the final rule of Zombieland, we must enjoy the little things. Of course, if you are in debt or can’t afford your lifestyle, adding an extra $5-$10 per month is a stupid idea. But if you have everything under control, enjoy your money. Take pride in your appearance, if you value it, and take even more away by removing a stressor and turning it into a pleasurable part of your daily routine.
You can do what I did and enjoy your $30 shave too. If you do, let me know how it goes.