I’m a sucker for the idea of ritual. When I learn about a traditional, labor-intensive practice like shining shoes, oiling boots, or a complicated car washing regimen, I’m always drawn to try it myself. I imagine having the same meditative experience as the person convincing me to try their routine: feeling a connection to my ancestors, appreciating the finer things, tasting the rewards of patience, and such. So when I read an article about wet shaving a year ago, I could hardly wait to get started.
In practice, though, I hate ritual. I’ll pay a few bucks to have someone else shine my shoes. San Francisco Bay Area climate isn’t very hard on boots, whether I’ve diligently oiled them or not. Automatic car washes are popular for a reason. Basically, I run out of patience for things that take too long just for the sake of taking too long.
One recent morning, I found myself wondering if I actually enjoyed wet shaving or if I’d be better off going back to a can of foam and an 8-bladed disposable razor. Millions of guys do it the new way, after all - should I rejoin them?
No. For me, wet shaving is clearly better for two specific reasons:
- It’s way cheaper. It’s like the laser printer business model of charging more up front but offering dirt cheap supplies. After the initial purchase, consumables cost less than $10 a year.
- I haven’t had a single ingrown hair since I started. Modern razors always leave me with a few bumps on my neck and cheekbones, but that problem has completely disappeared.
Yes, it takes longer than I’d like and still carries more trappings of ritual than I care to think about. Still, it’s a little luxury that’s measurably nicer and I don’t think I’ll give it up.
I use and happily recommend:
- Merkur 34C heavy duty razor
- Tweezerman shaving brush
- Art of Shaving classic stand
- Astra Super Platinum blades
- Art of Shaving pre shave oil
Garrick Dee wrote another nice introduction to the subject at the Grooming Essentials blog.