I’ve used electric shavers pretty much since I first had to shave, and have upgraded only a couple of times along the way – most recently when I got a shaver I could use in the shower, back in October 2004. Whether it’s due to using electric shavers or not, I don’t know, but I suffer from the occasional trapped hair and it causes no end of grief when it happens. So, back in early December I thought I’d try wet shaving with a razor for the first time in a good ten years.
Last time I tried I royally, and I mean royally, messed it up. Despite getting myself the awesome King of Shaves lotion, I made schoolboy errors, like going against the grain, and I just about skinned myself alive. Afterwards I had rinsed away the blood from multiple cuts, slapped on copious amounts of Givenchy Gentleman aftershave, which I then got in my mouth as I tried to stifle the screams, and woke the next day with a face like the elephant man suffering an allergic reaction to peanuts. Ouch.
Needless to say, as soon as my skin had recovered I was back using the electric shaver again.
The truth is, I had no idea how to have a wet shave. My original father was gone long before he could show me how, and my stepfather has a beard, so he wasn’t much help. It’s not the kind of thing you ask your mates about when you’re a teenager, either. I mean, everybody knows how to shave, right?
And so it was that me learning how to wet shave just kind of fell through the cracks of life. Using an electric shaver, which somewhat limits the harm I can inflict upon myself, seemed the safe and sensible option.
With hindsight, that ill fated attempt back in the 90’s was due, in part, to me copying those ridiculous adverts by razor blade companies. You know – the ones that would have you believe the very ownership of one of those things increases your manliness exponentially, such is the sheer machismo that they attach to testosterone injected products with names like Mach 15 Extreme Turbo Dragonslayer 4.
Just to make sure you question whether you’re even worthy enough to buy one, the guys in the adverts all have the sculpted physique thing going on, and they’re draped with some stunning woman who looks like she’d do just about anything and everything for him, regardless of the fact he seems more interested in how good he looks than how gagging for it she is. The men all have Baywatch pecs and chiselled jaws that they rake the razor over at ludicrous speeds, with perfect results.
In reality, pain lies that way, and lots of it.
With many more years of wisdom under my belt, I picked myself up the rather modestly named Wilkinson Sword Protector “starter pack”. I deliberately chose it due to the omission of any claims regarding the speed of sound, and the inclusion of the word “protector”. I didn’t want to set any jaw speed records, nor slay mythical creatures, I just wanted to have a good, clean shave without ending up in casualty with more stitches than the Bayeux Tapestry.
Upon inspection, each razor attachment had a modest four blades. Things hadn’t come on as much as I’d assumed since my last attempt – I could have sworn three was cutting edge back then (that pun was accidental, so I’ll leave it in), and I half expected six or more to be the standard. As an upper limit, four is fine by me. I reckon I could do plenty of harm with just the one blade, so I didn’t relish the thought of the potential butchery I could perform with four times that many.
Thus it was warily that I went about my first wet shave in the bath soon after acquiring my Protector. Armed once again with King of Shaves shaving oil, I went with the grain all the way, holding the razor like a renaissance artist painting a delicate scene. It went well, too; no cuts, and it didn’t sting all that much when I put on my aftershave, either. I was smooth to the touch, even, and later remembered to moisturise well before I went to bed that night, just to be on the safe side.
Sadly that was a bit of a false dawn, as I’ve managed to draw blood on more than one of my follow up attempts, mostly through lack of concentration. I had to replace the King of Shaves shaving oil with their equivalent shaving gel, too, to give me a bit more confidence.
Aside from those minor troubles, it is going quite well, and I’m getting quite swift at giving myself a quality wet shave every other morning. I think it would be hard to go back to the electric shaver now, as I don’t think it would feel as refreshing as the razor. Especially now that I’m over the self-inflicted injury hurdle.
The downside is, of course, the expense of the razor module thingies. They only give you two of them in the starter pack, despite the fact that the cheap and nasty plastic plinth can stow a good six of them. I’m a week into my second one and, at three shaves a week, I don’t think it’s going to last out until payday.
Still… even if it does prove to be a little more expensive than using the electric shaver, what price can you put on the fresh feeling of a good wet shave?
As it turns out, it’s over £7 for a pack of four blades. Ouch.