It all started when I decided to shave under my chin again. I have been just trimming closely for quite a while now. It feels much better than scraping a razor across my neck. However, it takes a while to do properly and needs to be done more often. Maybe I’m getting lazy.
I proceeded to the local store looking for a good old fashioned double edged safety razor. In amongst a multitude of plastic razors I could only find some generic double edged razor blades. No razors to hold the blades. Puzzled, I went to another big store. Same selection. Only cheap plastic thingies with clip in cartridge blades. I broke down and bought what was on offer.
I was underwhelmed. The cartridge had three blades imbedded and they did a lousy job and were impossible to clean; clogging with beard hairs. With much frustrated work, I managed to do the job.
Perhaps it was an unconsciously purposeful event, I left the cartridge razor handle behind when I went up to visit my sister. OK, start the hunt again. Same result! Big selection but only those crappy plastic things. I mentioned my dilemma to my sister. She went into her endless closet and came out with a small tin box covered in a very worn khaki cloth covering. Inside was an authentic chromed steel double edged safety razor and a small box for the blades, as well as a removable metal shaving mirror. Printed on the inside, “‘Property U. S. Army’, the Gillette Logo, ‘Known the World Over’, ‘Khaki Set’.” It had belonged to her father-in-law. He carried it through World War One. I did a little research. The Gillette safety razor was patented in 1903. During WWI, the US Army distributed these razors to all of their personnel. By the end of the war, 3.2 million razors had been distributed. This is one of those. (Gillette, now owned by Proctor and Gamble, no longer makes double edged razors. You have to import from Europe or China. Merkur, a German maker, one of the best today, makes “The Merkur 41”, a copy of the razor that I now own.)
Back to the store for blades. Cleaned up the old set. Loaded up. Hot wet towel to the neck. Lather. Slide the razor along. So smooth. Easily cut a through a two week old growth. Done in no time. Loosened the blade holder and rinsed the whole thing. Eazy-peazy! Now, that’s what a safety razor should be.
Ruminating that night, I remembered those displays of “safety razors” at the stores. Two brands have a monopoly of the market in the USA; Gillette and Schick. By only offering their crappy products with cartridges, they are limiting customers to only using their cartridges while also manufacturing a device so poorly that you will need to replace the whole unit on a regular basis. Over the years, their advertizing campaigns have convinced people that these cartridges are more efficient. What a load of shit. I have decided to call this “The Gillette Syndrome” and will comment further in my next post.