And now for something completely different

I write about a lot of things here. Maths, Programming, Voting Theory, Cooking, Fiction and anything else that amuses me. This post however is about something I’ve never written about before (and will probably never write about again). Shaving.

I really hate shaving. I hate shaving with a passion I normally reserve for homeopaths, inconsiderate pedestrians and J2EE.

Unfortunately I also hate having a beard.

By way of compromise I tend to shave only every 4 or 5 days. After a week I’m verging on beard territory, so that’s really too long. But this only accommodates my hatred of shaving, it doesn’t reduce it.

Part of why I hate shaving is how ridiculously gimmicky it is. The shaving companies will go to increasingly elaborate lengths to get you to buy increasingly expensive products. “This razor has five blades! And they’re really small! And it has a built in vibrator, which will totally make your skin happier really!” (Perhaps there needs to be a realrazororparodyrazor site. I sure can’t be bothered to build it though, it would just depress me).

It’s insulting and it’s expensive and, what’s worse, it gives you a really shitty shave.

But there is a way out of this. A secret that Big Shaving has kept from you.

What if I were to tell you that there was a better way? That it is in fact possible to shave without a vibrator. Perhaps even with only one blade? A way to spend 25p instead of £2.25 every time you have to replace one of those damn razor blades. And that you would even get a better shave out of it. (Spoiler: I’m about to tell you that).

There is! Behold the safety razor:

Low budget take on the safety razor

It’s a classic design, one step up from the cutthroat: Most of the quality of shaving, none of the slicing your throat open and sending you to the emergency room. The cheap ones (I use Boots own brand, which I think is the one in the picture above) are typically as good as the expensive ones (because really all it is is a small semi-disposable blade for running across your face. It’s not rocket science: You make it out of decent metal and you make it sharp. That’s it). It gives you a really close shave for a really low price, the blades clean easily and last well, and it probably won’t insult your intelligence when you’re using it (though Gillette do one, so I can’t guarantee it).

It’s not better in every way of course. TANSTAAFL applies, and anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something (like the idea that you should give them 10x as much money per razor blade). The cost is that you have to be more careful whilst shaving or you’ll get shaving cuts. Not huge gaping wounds, just normal shaving cuts, and they’re completely avoidable once you’ve got the hang of it, but even then shaving is going to be a more methodical process (though not necessarily slower – I find that with a modern razor I have to make more passes in order to get a viable shave).

I wouldn’t go as far as to say to switch to a safety razor has made me not hate shaving, but it’s definitely gone a long way towards it.


  • I also strongly prefer shaving oil to shaving foam or gel. However I think this is less an unambiguous win and more of a personal choice, so my advocacy for it isn’t as strong.
  • It’s worth looking up some guides on shaving (though I can’t recommend any good ones as I did this a while ago and don’t remember what I used). Chances are you’re doing it wrong
  • Sorry, I have no idea whether this is good advice for shaving legs or other parts of your body. It might be. It works well for armpits. Try it and see if you want, but apologies if it turns out to be awful.
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3 thoughts on “And now for something completely different

  1. @ndy

    Yes! Shaving is awful! I find every 2-3 days is good as that’s when it’s a the right length to stand up and be chopped off closely without being painful. Any longer and it jams in the blade, any sooner and it’s just not long enough to get into *any* of my 5 blades.
    How long do your safety razor blades last? I find the 5 blade ones that I use (whilst disgusting on principle and also expensive) last *forever*: typically 4 or 5 months.

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