24 Cent Shave Club

The razor blade business model is a cliche in the business world.  Give them the razor, sell them the blades.  Sell the coffee maker at a loss, mark up the absurdly wasteful pods.  Make the printer cheap, but sell proprietary ink at prices higher than human blood.

Some clever folks over at dollar shave club caught on, and started a razor blade business of their own.  A dollar a pop sounds cheap.  But I think I have a better idea.

Introducing:

Tiny Life Gear's 24 Cent Shave Club

Cartridge razors are a relatively recent invention.  And the funny thing about them is that they're terrible.  It's really a multi-layered razor blade business.  Give you the razor, sell you the blades, then sell you a menthol shaving cream to numb your face, and a bunch of salves and ointments to help dull the pain caused by the razor blade that tore up your face.

Before there were cartridge razors, there were safety razors.  A heavy chunk of metal that costs around $30 new, but lasted so long that you could inherit a perfectly good one from your grandfather that he received as a gift on his 18th birthday.  The best safety razor blade in the world costs $24 for a pack of 100.  And with a little practice, it'll give you a better shave than any modern cartridge razor on the market.

Wet Shaving Technique

Wet shaving takes a little practice, but like all skills, the superior result is well worth the patient experimentation.  Follow a few rules, and you'll do fine.

  1. Prep.  Wet your skin and work your shaving cream or soap into a nice lather.
  2. Very gentle pressure.  If you're used to a cartridge razor, you've likely been pressing the razor hard into your skin all your life.  A safety razor requires a light touch.  Imagine you're gently wiping the lather off your face.  A normal first reaction to the correct amount of pressure is disbelief that you're actually shaving.  Look at the hair on the blade as proof it's working.
  3. Short strokes.  You'll maintain much better control of the blade angle and the pressure you're using if you use lots of short strokes, rather than taking long swipes at your skin.
  4. Shave with the grain.  You can get closer if you shave across or against the grain in subsequent strokes, but these are advanced techniques that can cause ingrown hairs and irritation if done poorly.  Start by shaving with the grain only.
  5. Pull the skin tight.  Keeping your skin stretched tight will create a nice flat surface for your blade and help prevent nicks.
  6. Aftershave.  Skip the alcohol based aftershave products that can irritate your skin.  Usually a quick rub with an alum block is all you need.

Wet Shaving Gear

You'll need a safety razor.  If you weren't fortunate enough to inherit one from an ancestor, there are lots of options available for around $30.  Choose one you like, because you're never going to have to buy another one.  Maybe pick one your (future?) grandson or granddaughter might like to inherit. 

For face shaving, a razor with some heft and a standard length handle gives you the best control.  For shaving legs, especially in the shower, a long handle with some texture can provide better control with wet soapy hands.  For blades, most people are partial to Feather blades, but there are lots of cheaper options to try.

A shaving brush is helpful for working up a good lather on your skin.  Silvertip badger hair is the traditional premium option, but a modern synthetic brush can be arguably just as good.

While you can build lather in a shaving bowl, or just in your hand, a shaving skuttle with a hot water reservoir can keep your lather piping hot throughout your shave.  Shaving soap, made differently from regular soap to provide a richer lather, is available in a dizzying array of scents.

For after-shave, an alum block is all you need.  Wet the block, rub over the area you just shaved, and let dry.  One alum block can last several years, helps nicks and razor burn to heal, and helps prevent ingrown hairs.  It's also good for helping your skin recover and preventing ingrown hairs after waxing, especially in sensitive areas.

Have you switched over to wet shaving, or are you still on the fence?  Leave a comment below.