Shave on the cheap
Try this for an authentic and affordable replication of your dad’s shaving experience.
THERE it was, an anachronism amid the paraphernalia of modern shaving equipment, a shiny piece of aluminium – or perhaps it was steel – beckoning like a beacon in the night.
A closer look confirmed it – I was looking at a safety razor, the likes of which I hadn’t seen for nigh on two decades. You know, the sort with a cylindrical metal handle and two metal plates between which you sandwich a blade.
If you’re over 40, chances are you shaved using one of these back until the 1980s.
I was shopping at a hypermarket recently for refills for my most up-to-date shaving kit, when I spotted the safety razor.
You see, a while ago, when I wrote about today’s generation of high-tech shaving utensils for men and my experiences with them, a reader sent me a clipping of an article about how the older safety razors gave you a better shave. I stopped using these razors back in the 1980s, when the newer cartridges with multiple rows of blades caught my fancy.
Now, I was curious again – what did that safety razor feel like? The devil in me stretched my arm and picked this one off the rack.
My curiosity for nostalgia knows few boundaries, and this reminded me of simpler and less chaotic times. Would I dare use a safety razor again? Things were a bit hazy and then, I found myself in possession of my first safety razor in years.
I got around to using it a few days later, and this is for all who remember and miss the old razor: one, you need to be extra careful – nasty corners of the blade can nick various parts of your face; make sure your hand doesn’t accidentally grab the business end of the blade!
Two, new cartridge razors have a lubricating strip above the blades to ensure smooth multiple passes over your skin. There’s nothing like this on the older razor, so it is more likely your face will feel raw and tender, like freshly peeled fruit, when you’re done shaving!
We have become so accustomed to modern razors that glide slickly over the contours of our face (hey, I’m not making this up, it’s what the famous razor companies have claimed for long!) that the older “technology” takes getting used to again.
Still, I stuck my jaw out and manfully buckled down to the task – intense concentration was mandatory. A modern razor practically navigates itself across the skin, but the old one needs to be carefully guided.
After 10 minutes of paying more attention to the task of shaving than I had done since the late 1980s, the job was done.
As I dabbed at tiny spots of blood on my jaw and cheeks, I realised what an involving experience the safety razor was, cuts, rawness and everything included!
Incidentally, using the old instrument also meant I didn’t have to belong to either of the “big-boy” razor camps – you know, those two legendary companies. The unit I bought was made in India, where, presumably, there is still a big market for these things, rather than the exorbitantly-priced “branded” modern utensil.
Ah yes, let’s not forget the economic impact of shaving in today’s world. A modern razor with one or two cartridges will set you back about RM25. The safety razor I found, with four blades in a pack, cost me a mere RM7.50. Both are good for a month or so.
Given inflation and our dwindling purchasing power, you know which direction to go if you want to save a buck on a shave! Ah, the good old times ...