This is the first in a series of posts about cool things with interchangeable parts. What?
The first time I shaved, I used a cheap disposable razor that I happened to find in the bathroom. I was 15.
|These were dreadful, by the way.|
I didn’t know any better at the time, and I didn’t learn any better for a while. It was easy to just keep using progressively bladier multi-blade cartridge models. Two blades to start, then four after a couple of years. I stuck with four long after the world had moved ahead, but I soon caught up with the whole five blade deal.
Clearly my razor wasn’t the only tool in the bathroom.
I’d hear mumblings from other men about better ways to shave, but the thought of my mother scolding me because I cut my throat open because I was using a dangerous razor still loomed large in my otherwise-independent adult brain. I was in my mid-20s by that point, but I’ll never outgrow that sort of thing because she’ll never outgrow not letting me hear the end of it if something goes wrong.
It’s a good thing I didn’t listen to hypothetical-her (sorry, mom) because if I had, I wouldn’t have picked up my first double-edge razor a couple of years ago.
Double-edge razors are also known as “safety razors” because they were a heck of a lot safer than those big, scary straight razors that were common before them.
It may seem ironic today, because it’s definitely easier to cut yourself with a double-edge than with a cartridge razor, but you know what else is easier to cut with a double-edge? The hair on your face. Which is what matters.
Shaving with one of these sharp thingies requires you to take it slow, but that’s alright.
Seriously though, they’re actually good
I use a double-edge razor because1 I find them to be more effective, lead to less skin irritation and fewer ingrown hairs, and over the long run, actually be cheaper. It’s also nice that shaving this way leads to a lot less waste to be thrown away.
It was only after I began shaving with one for the reasons above, that I realized another benefit: I’m shaving with an open system of interchangeable parts.
Fuck yeah, interchangeable parts
Since safety razors have been around since the very early 1900s, any patents on the system have long-since expired. That means that anyone can create handles or blades that are compatible with everything else available for the system, which leads to a wealth of choice for both handles and blades… which of course means low prices.
What excites me much more than the potential for saving money (sorry again, mom) is the potential for customization that such an open system allows. Basically, I can pair any razor designed for this standard—fat handles, skinny handles, short handles, shiny ones, douchebag ones, ones from the future, uh, this one—with any blade that I want. This means I can separate the style from the substance; I can pair my favorite handle with my favorite blade and have what is, to me, the ultimate shaving machine.
Ever heard someone complain about how expensive it is to shave, or more specifically, to buy refills for a cartridge razor? I probably don’t need to explain the razor and blades business model that cartridge razors follow. (If you like paying a lot of money for the rest of forever, you’ll love it.)
If you perused those Amazon links above, you’re probably wondering what’s wrong with my idea of “cheap.” Well, the double-edge razor turns the razor and blades model on its head; in this world, the handle is the more expensive item, with $30 US not being unusual for the more common brands. However, this buys a quality metal instrument that will likely outlive you… and you definitely make up for it with the blades — 10¢ or 20¢ blades are common!
The double-edge shaving system isn’t going anywhere.
While it’s obviously less popular now than it was in its heyday (but so were fedoras, and cool guys still wear those), we know how the Internet changes things; retailers can use it to sell obscure products to weirdos everywhere, the kind of things mass-market brick-and-mortar locations would never bother stocking on their shelves. I don’t mind buying online and waiting a few days, so I can have any blade I want delivered to my door.
Cheaper, better and ultimately, more interchangeable. That’s why I shave like this.
- I don’t use them for the same reasons these strange shaving gear fetishists do.[↩]
One thought on “Interchangeable Parts: Double-edge safety razors”
I had no idea an interchangeable parts market for shavers even existed. Interesting stuff.
I’m loving this series so far and looking forward to the next entry!