December 20, 2009

Occam's Razor

I like to follow the principle that less is more, and that what there is should be meaningful. People chaotically cope with their lives, doing everything, but doing it all half-hearted or going off half-cocked. How much better would life work if it were simplified? Meaninglessness is avoidable by having less in life to endow with meaning. Parsimony is only the first step, however. What one has left over has to be enriched.

I have become jaded by the way in which male-grooming is marketed to men; actually, it seems to be (ineffectively) marketed to women: all vanity and preening. I don’t aspire to be (or to look like) a footballer. I do not need to think that the only reason to shave is to have my visage stroked by the nearest nubile young thing. I cannot imagine wishing my deodorant to conjure the impression among women that I am made entirely from chocolate. Furthermore, all these magical effects are supposedly reached with minimal effort, a paucity of grace, and a superfluity of razor blades. As such, I am about to take an atavistic turn, for the better.

If one has to shave everyday, shouldn’t the experience be embraced rather than resented? How to make it an enjoyable enterprise? How to make it something to look forward to? I am throwing out the multi-bladed, light-weight, plastic, charge-you-a-fortune-for-the-refills appliance. It is over-blown, over-hyped and utterly joyless. With it goes the shaving gel/foam in a can, taking with it the indignity of having to rub it on with your own hand. Spare me your gadgetry, and your ‘precision trimming blades’; spare me your indicator strips and your second-blades-to-catch-the-whiskers-the-first-blade-missed nonsense; spare me your vibrating fripperies. Spare a thought instead for the styptic pencil, and time-honoured methods.

To save myself a fortune in the long run, and to re-introduce the sense of ritual into the day-to-day, I have acquired a good-quality safety razor. It is the kind that takes old-fashioned razor blades, feels weighty and substantial in the hand, and works best with a lather worked up from fragrant French shaving soap and a traditional shaving brush. I am saying goodbye to overwrought disposable technology (shaving gear, like computer technology, seems to become outmoded every six months) in favour of timeless quality and an indulgent manly experience. If you need me I’ll be in the bathroom.


  1. Here, here. I discovered traditional wetshaving as a way to embrace the more traditional manly tasks. Little did I know that I would be using blades that cost as little as 10 cents a piece.

  2. Traditions have unexpected virtues. What a pleasant thought.

  3. Would you mind divulging the model of safety razor and the brand of blade that you would prefer to use? I have taken your good advice and currently using a Merkur Progress and Merkur blades.

    Thank you,

  4. I can't actually remember the brand of razor (it is unmarked), but I bought it here and they seem mainly to stock Merkur stuff. It looks a bit like this one, but with a butterfly opening. Thanks for reminding me about blades. I was meaning to pick up a job lot of Wilkinson & Sword blades while I was in the UK and had forgotten until now. No real reason for the preference, save that my father used to use them. Incidentally, I can recommend L’òme selon durance en Provence soap. Great lather, gentle fragrance. You can probably find it online.

  5. In addtion, this is a great method that really works and feels great. The second shave against the grain with fresh lather is a treat. Also a good blog.
    bow-tie-guy on shaving

  6. My local Bed Bath & Beyond stocks Wilkinson Blades. However, I am not certain if they are of the same quality as would be available to you in the UK. Are you aware of the Badger & Blade blog?


  7. I am aware now, thanks to you.

    My guess is that the blades are going to be much the same anywhere, but if you have a specialist shop nearby I'd just ask them what the best thing they stock is. Just watch you don't overpay. These kinds of blades really ought to be ten a penny (or whatever the modern version of that saying happens to be).

  8. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me.
    I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles.

  9. Thanks SR. Nice to have you on board.

  10. I have gone from avoiding shaving when possible, spending a fortune on cartridges, to actually looking forward to my quiet time of grooming with my steamy hot towel, and grandfather's straight edge.

    I so very much like this blog.

    Peter Hyatt


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