I recently made the decision to buy some new shaving gear and elected to go retro with my purchases. While the razor companies continue to try to add one more gadget to the idea of shaving (battery-powered razors?), I got tired of trying to keep up.
After being inspired by an excellent post at the “Art of Manliness” blog I decided to throw out all of my razor handles after I ran out of cartridges and I went online to purchase a safety razor. You can’t buy these in stores anymore but there are many different kinds online. I settled on a Parker brand razor like the one at right and then decided to purchase a new mug, brush, and some new shaving soap. I had converted to a brush and mug back in my late 20’s but hadn’t considered actually purchasing a retro razor until this summer. My wife was looking for a birthday gift for me anyway so I talked her into my new gear and I wasn’t disappointed.
The safety razors operate with the old single blades that you can still buy at the store today. Many people buy them to scrape glass but I noted that Wal-Mart actually sells Wilkinson safety razor blades in its shaving department. The razor I purchased came with ten “shark” brand blades that are outstanding.
So a few of my friends have asked why? Why go retro? Well, I have a couple of reasons. The first is cost. The razor itself will run between $25 and $40 when you purchase it but the long-range savings are tremendous. A few years back I purchased a new razor handle for about $12 and the cartridges ran me about $4 a piece when purchased in 8-packs. I changed cartridges roughly twice a month so cartridges alone were costing me $96 per year. The blades for a safety razor average about 18-cents a piece and I change them about twice a month also. So my annual cost for blades will be about $4.32 per year!! That saves me over $90 a year, more than enough to pay for the razor. For you “green” supporters, the blades from the safety razor also recycle much easier than the cartridges so there’s little waste.
The second reason is purely a preference but I enjoy wet shaving much more than shaving with all of this electric gear today. The shaves are horrible and until you wet shave with one of these razors, you don’t know what a close shave is. The Parker safety razor gives me a barbershop close shave that the cartridge razors can’t duplicate no matter how hard they try to the clean feeling afterward is impossible with electric razors. When you lather up with a warm lather from real shaving soap and a boar bristle brush, your face will thank you. The blade glides smooth (you never knew ONE blade could do that did you?) and you will feel refreshed by the time you are done! My wife thought I was crazy at first but now, my teen son has taken to using the razor and recently threw out his new razor handle after feeling the difference. A good wet shave is one of the few pleasures we men get to enjoy exclusively so why not go retro?
My earliest memories of my dad shaving was with a Gillette “Fatboy” safety razor. I wish now he would have saved that razor. They are hard to find in antique stores these days. But my investment in the Parker Razor was well worth it and if you’ve thought about wet shaving, you ought to give in and try it. You won’t be disappointed.