In search of a close shave (#blogboost)

I’ve been shaving since I started high school. I didn’t have much of a beard, but the Jesuits told us all that we had to start shaving because some of us were coming to school with a shadow. There weren’t many choices for shaving at the time; you had the safety razor, the injector razor, the straight razor, and the electric shaver.

Fortunately, we had never gotten around to getting rid of Dad’s shaving stuff after he died, and his razor and half a container of Gillette blue blades were still in the medicine cabinet, along with a can of Noxzema Medicated Comfort Shave (the one advertised by Gunilla Knutson) and an old bottle of English Leather after shave lotion.

Ad for Noxzema featuring Gunilla Knutson

So, that Saturday morning, I went into the bathroom, lathered up my face, and attempted to shave the way the guys in the commercials did.

And cut myself in several places. (At least I’d have no trouble proving to Fr. Mulhern that I had shaved over the weekend.) That’s when I learned what the after shave was for: to stop the bleeding. Stung like hell, but it did the trick.

Mom, of course, was beside herself, and asked her boyfriend at the time to show me how to shave. He and I stood in the bathroom and I showed him what I was doing, and he went out and reported that I was doing just fine. I still cut myself, but I learned that the guy in the commercial was using a razor without a blade, and that’s how he was able to shave the way he did without slicing his face to ribbons.

I shaved with a either a safety razor or an injector razor (it arrived in the mail one day, I tried it, and I liked it) until I started traveling. By that time, the disposable razors had come out, and it was just easier to use a disposable and throw it out at the end of a trip. Plus, I didn’t run the risk of forgetting it or damaging it in my luggage. Not long after moving to Atlanta, my trusty safety razor fell apart, and by that time razors and blades were as rare as hen’s teeth, so I said, “the hell with it,” and just started using the disposables every day.

They must be making them much cheaper these days, because for the first few months of this year I had been trying to get a decent shave with a disposable, and I’d end up just as hairy after I shave as I was before it. The disposables are so dull you couldn’t cut a fart with them. (I just had to use that joke.) Evidently this is a problem for a lot of guys, because I’ve started seeing the safety razors pop up in ads for Barbasol shave cream. I don’t know if it’s a nostalgia thing or just guys being frustrated with the whole shaving experience, but the safety razor is making a comeback. This is a commercial for one such razor that I’ve started seeing, featuring Rick Harrison from the TV show Pawn Stars:

A couple of months ago, I told Mary that I was going to order myself a razor and some blades. When the razor came, I shaved with it for the first time, and it was a bit of a bloodbath. I have had to make adjustments to the pressure that I use from the disposable, where I had to press hard to get it to cut anything, to the new razor, where I barely have to press to get it to remove the hair from my face. I also purchased a styptic pencil and a bottle of Aqua Velva, my favorite after shave from the old days. It soothes a raw face after a good shave, and Mary likes the scent.

I’m happy. Now, if I could only find menthol shave cream…

How do you (or the man in your life, if there is one) shave?

10 thoughts on “In search of a close shave (#blogboost)

  1. This brought back memories that were similar to yours. I never had too much problem with cutting myself except when I’d get in a hurry. These days I use disposables or that kind where you just pop off the old head and click on a new one. My favorite shave cream is Barbasol–in fact I have a blog post waiting in the wings about this cream.

    These days I’d be happy if my face just stayed hairless and I didn’t have to shave.



    1. Of the shave creams out there now, Barbasol might be the one I like the best. It’s inexpensive, lasts a while, and a little goes a long way. They have a few of them, but seem to have phased out the menthol and lemon-lime. I always liked those. I look forward to your blog on Barbasol.


  2. These days I use a Gillette Pro Glide and Edge shaving cream. The Pro Glides have 4-5 blades and don’t go dull as fast as most razors do. And the Edge shaving cream is super thick so it makes the shave even more comfortable. Barbasol is my second favorite. My grandfather used to use aqua vevla too.


    1. I think the most blades I ever used was three. Maybe more blades would solve the problem, but I’m really surprised how well the single blade does. I think it might be the razor and the way it holds the blade.

      Aqua Velva has been around forever. It does what it’s supposed to do, it’s not real expensive, and the aroma is light, so I don’t get complaints about it.


  3. Proraso makes a good menthol shave cream, I am told. My Dad always used Afta because he has such sensitive skin, and Old Spice cologne.


  4. Shortly after I accepted my husband’s proposal while he held me in a turquoise pool in the Grand Canyon (but that’s another story), he looked at me and said, “So, we’re engaged. I guess that means I have to start shaving now.”

    I stared at his perfectly bearded face, and I couldn’t say anything for a minute or two. I think my response was ultimately something like, “Don’t you dare!” as though it was my face he wanted to shave…

    Other than one short-lived job that required him to be clean-shaven (we had a newborn then, and needed to eat), he’s been delightfully bearded for the seventeen years I’ve known him. The last several, he’s taken to dying it blue, which is even cooler (he otherwise could pass for Henry VIII).

    I do love beards, but it was fascinating to learn more about the world of shaving I only know in a shadowy way from my father and grandfather.


    1. I tried a beard once, and it came out in corkscrews. Seems the hair on my head isn’t all that’s curly. I’ve had a mustache for almost 40 years, though; it started out dark brown, now it’s mostly white.

      Glad I was able to shed some light on a shadowy subject for you.


      1. My father wears a moustache, and has as long as I’ve known him. He had a beard a few times, but never kept it.

        Out of curiosity, I asked my son, who is almost 13, if he thought he’d wear a beard, or shave.

        He looked at me blankly, and said he’d never thought about it. He’s more focused on being old enough to get working papers, drive, and vote…quite a realist, that boy…

        Guess I’ll have to wait and see.

        To me, your post smelled like Hai Karate, which my Dad used to use…


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