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October 10, 2007

The Beard That Tamed America

Tom Lee, endorsing Gillette's new Mach Super-Fusion-Phantom-Hitler-Repelling-Ass-Kicker Razor, writes:

I can't help but note that both Ryan and certain other razor traditionalists can plausibly be described as Aryan Supermen. I'm sure it's very convenient to have the sort of blond, wispy facial hair that can be removed with gentle abrasion from, say, a disposable plastic dish scrubber. And I don't mean to disparage my own more problematic stubble — men like Kriston and myself find rough facial hair useful in a variety of situations, e.g. igniting a strike-anywhere match and using it, with cupped palms, to light a hand-rolled cigarette as we stare flintily at the loneliness of the great Western range. From horseback.

It's just that taming that sort of beard — some might call it the sort of beard that tamed America — requires more decisive, even violent measures. That's all.

He goes on to show a close-up picture of his beard. Scary stuff. And it's to the razor's credit that when I saw Tommy last night, the intimidating scruff was completely gone.

October 10, 2007 | Permalink


I don't like multi-blade razors because if I let the beard grow out over a weekend or something, the hairs grow just long enough to get stuck in between the layers of the blades, irritating the skin, and very annoying to get out.

Posted by: mad6798j | Oct 10, 2007 5:14:24 PM

My preference is to go to the barber shop and let them use the straight razor. After I've had a chance to sit and relax with hot towels on my face for a while.

Posted by: MikeJ | Oct 10, 2007 6:46:19 PM

Just the opposite for me, mad. I love letting it grow for a week or so when I'm on vacation, and I use the Mach 13 or whatever it is. In fact, if I shave every day, regardless of the razor, my face gets torn up. But if I let it go, even though the stubble is longer, it's a much smoother, easier shave, and my skin feels great. And it should. It's had a week to recover from the last time I dragged multiple blades across it.

The vibrating power thing is a must as well. I can't shave without it now.

Posted by: Seitz | Oct 10, 2007 6:48:49 PM

Forty years ago I wouldn't have given you 2 cents for the chances of a comeback of the razor and shaving cream. Now I just pray to god that I never have to use an electric shaver again.

Whatever else you say, the razor companies did not give up, and wound up with a product much better than anyone (other than them) could ever have imagined.

Now, if we could just extend that type of achievement to something a little larger than a razor....

Posted by: serial catowner | Oct 10, 2007 7:32:33 PM

All those blades...no thanks, I'll be Amish technologically and stop with two blades only.

Posted by: Texican | Oct 10, 2007 8:02:12 PM

'Tain't the N blades that really works, imo -- it's the disturbing vibrator in the handle.

My whiskers are.. difficult. Blame my 3/8th Slovenian heritage. Electric is the worst; old-style double safety only works for me at the end of an actual shower (warm water softens whiskers, and the longer it soaks in, the better), but the moment they stuck a vibrator in the handle, I could actually shave at the sink without bleeding all over.

The multi-blades have up- and downsides (good on cheeks, bad under the nose), but the silly buzzing really works.

More tricks:
- shave immediately after your shower; *immediately*
- re-wet your whiskers before shaving with something like Paul Mitchell's spray-on conditioner, or other cheap lubricant
- use something better than the craptastic, omnipresent soap-foam, like http://www.kissmyfacewebstore.com/detail/KMF+901F+11oz/Fragrance_Free_Moisture_Shave or (my favorite, despite the price) http://www.zirh.com/product.aspx?f=4
- use a real badger-hair shaving brush

Also, if shaving is easy for you, quitcher whining. The rest of us either have difficult or peppercorn whiskers. Both suck.

Posted by: wcw | Oct 10, 2007 10:45:31 PM

shave immediately after your shower; *immediately*

Screw that. Get a fog free mirror that you can hang up (preferably with suction cups) and shave *IN* the shower.

The thing I hate most about traveling for work is that I have to shave at the sink.

Posted by: Seitz | Oct 11, 2007 12:02:14 AM

"All those blades...no thanks, I'll be Amish technologically and stop with two blades only."

I know guys who still use the traditional single blade razor you can also cut throats with, if necessary, but TWO blades? Wow! I'm afraid I'm to right handed to even try using a razor blade with my left. I'm sure that after the first try my face would look like a cubistic painting...

Posted by: Gray | Oct 11, 2007 3:37:12 AM

However, imho it's reassuring that in these times of terroristic threats, global warming and rising healthcare costs the most urgent problem of some guys is the difficult choice of the right razor. Or maybe it isn't. Can we say, total denial?

Posted by: Gray | Oct 11, 2007 3:39:10 AM

Razor technology is one of the unadulterated successes of the free market!

Posted by: Rebecca | Oct 11, 2007 5:01:06 AM

"Razor technology is one of the unadulterated successes of the free market!"

Since I'm a fan of smooth, hairless female legs (not to speak of other parts of woman's body), I won't argue with you about this, Rebecca!

Posted by: Gray | Oct 11, 2007 5:23:38 AM

I tried all the new technology but still came away with terrible razor burn. Once I switched to a safety razor I got the closest shave of my life and the razor burn went away.

Posted by: eriks | Oct 11, 2007 9:31:17 AM

Many problems with shaving stem not from the razor or gel / soap / cream but from surface preparation.

Just like one has to thoroughly clean hard surfaces of dirt and grease before painting or similar, thoroughly lathering with soap and rinsing with warm or hot water until all grease and particles are removed will make any razor perform better.

Posted by: El Cid | Oct 11, 2007 9:38:29 AM

Back in my yoot', I got my first case of razor burn, and my friendly neighborhood pharmacist recommended a certain brand of Aftashave lotion (hint hint). I started using it just as I jetted off to a Caribbean vacation, the kind that I can't afford anymore...on said vay-kay, I met a *very* interesting New York chick.

For months afterwards, upon putting down the razor and smelling the aftershave, I would find myself magically transported to a land of gentle waves, fragrant blossoms, and a *very* interesting sense of wistfulness...

Posted by: Captain Goto | Oct 11, 2007 9:40:57 AM

certain other razor traditionalists can plausibly be described as Aryan Supermen. I'm sure it's very convenient to have the sort of blond, wispy facial hair that can be removed with gentle abrasion from, say, a disposable plastic dish scrubber

Speaking as one of those Aryan Supermen (well, I'm not so super ... and my religion might disqualify me from being identified as Aryan) with very whispy (red, not blond) facial hair (that grows quite quickly), I can say it presents its own problems in shaving.

Unless I have a good, sturdy and very sharp blade (most disposible razors won't do), the hair just bends rather than being cut by the blade: the only way I can get a good shave is with hard-core razor traditionalism: a straight blade, a mug of lather, etc. Nu? I don't shave: I have a beard. And thanks to the whispiness of my hair, it's mighty right soft.

Also, us (quasi-) blond types are unable to grow stubble in times when it's considered attractive: by the time our hair is noticeable, we pretty much have full (if scaggly) beards. This was good when I was a kid and couldn't get away with having a beard -- I didn't have to go through the torture of shaving every day even though my facial hair grows quickly enough that if it were any shade darker than it is or any coarser than it is, I would have 5 o'clock shadow at noon.

But anyhoo ... don't worry that the grass is so much greener on the other side. We light, whispey haired quasi-Nordic types have our own facial hair challenges.

Posted by: DAS | Oct 11, 2007 10:07:01 AM

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