In true Little Bay Root style, I’ve decided to try shaving with a blade again. I used an electric for years. It was easy and fast, but I struggled with ingrown hairs and other skin irritations. I have a weakness for ritual and more and more lately, I have found myself drawn to the idea of shaving with a blade. This time however I would forsake the disposable razor and get a bit closer to tradition and use a safety razor.
One of the factors in the whole process was the desire to simplify. Though using an electric shaver is very simple, the device itself is hopelessly complex. A cordless electric contains batteries (toxic waste), electric motors and countless moving parts. Both the foil and blade need to be replaced from time to time as they grow dull or wear out. In addition to this, my shaver was self-cleaning, which required a cleaning solution that came in plastic cartridges (even more questionable trash). All in all, a lot of barely recyclable waste.
The allure of the safety razor is its elegance. A small, weighty device that can last the user’s lifetime. The blades are inexpensive and simple, just a very sharp sheet of metal (though sometimes they are interesting alloys or they are plated with other metals to improve their performance). The accoutrements are handsome and tactile too: A boar bristle brush and a cake of soap.
I bought a simple razor, no adjustable parts, three pieces that screw together. My lovely wife bought me a cake of goat milk shaving soap from a shop up the street and a boar bristle brush to apply it. I placed the single blade that came with the razor into its place and I was ready to shave.
I’d read a bit about how to shave with a safety razor, but there is a finesse that I wasn’t prepared for. That first shave was pretty brutal. I cut myself in numerous places. I had a lot of stubble left over. My skin was irritated and angry with me. I tried again the next day. It got easier.
I’ve been using my blade for a week now and I’m growing quite pleased with the results. I still find that I am nicking my face at least once during every shave, none of the cuts have really bled. As the days progress, the shave is getting smoother. Each day as I run the razor over the contours of my face, I understand their relationship a little better. There is a learning curve that I expected, but somehow assumed would be much shallower.
I’ll stick with it. Each day that I shave, the process becomes more of a ritual. It becomes easier to make sure that I do it every day and that I allow myself the time to do it with patience. Another lesson in the elegance of doing things simply.