One of my old friends is a jorno and had a piece on this in the Independent:
Blades of glory: a razor-sharp guide to shaving
Declan Cashin tried every brand of razor to find the best a man can get
Apologies in advance to all you female readers, but this one is just for the boys. After all, I wouldn’t expect you ladies to understand anything about punishing beauty regimes or excruciating hair removal procedures. I’m talking, of course, about shaving, the bane of every man’s – or at the very least my – life.
Shaving doesn’t just cause painful nicks on the neck or under the nose either – it bleeds your pockets too. The price of razors and blades varies enormously, depending on the brand and store you buy them in.
For the past few years, I’ve been a reluctant though loyal devotee of the Gillette Mach 3 Power brand (a battery-powered, vibrating triple blade cartridge wet razor … phew!). This is despite that fact that a packet of four replacement blades cost anything between 14 and 18, a price so extravagant that it accords them special security status to avoid shoplifting.
When I contacted Gillette’s owners, Procter & Gamble, about those prices, a spokesman passed the buck to the individual sellers, saying “the in-store prices of our products are at the discretion of the retailer, which is why there can be variation in the product pricing.”
He added that P&G decide on a wholesale price that covers their costs of development, research, packaging and other expenses. Unfortunately, the spokesman wasn’t at liberty to disclose their wholesale price of razors to help us gauge how much is being added at the counter.
Given the huge array of razors, I decided to try a few out over the past couple of weeks, ranging from the cheapest to the dearest, to see if the price really does have a bearing on the shave.
First, I should give a very quick potted history of my personal shaving. Being so manly, I started using razors at 13, and so over the past 15 years, I can honestly say I have tried every shaving product devised.
Over the past two years I’ve settled into a very precise routine. I shave twice a week to spare my face the torture, and therefore spend most of the week sporting what I delusionally label as “designer stubble”.
On my shaving days, I do it just before bedtime so as to give the skin time to heal overnight (and slather any grazes in tea tree oil and/or Sudocrem without having to venture out in public). I start by scrubbing the beard with an exfoliator and then massage a heavy dose of shaving oil into the hair.
Then I lather up and apply a specific alcohol-free shaving gel, and use my triple-blade razor to do the first run over my face, all while remaining conscious of not “shaving against the grain” (though I’ve yet to fully grasp that one).
Then I rinse my face, slap on more oil and shave gel, and go back over in quick strokes, hoping against hope to avoid a bloodbath. Then I rinse off my face with tepid water, followed by soaking a face towel in cold water and holding it over the shaved neck for a minute. After all that, I then use a light post-shave healer that claims to be “anti-imperfection”, but is yet to fully live up to that creed.
My father laughs at me, because, being an old schooler, he can shave with just a splash of water, some washing-up liquid and a butter-knife, and still have a peaches-and-cream complexion afterwards.
I wish I were a real modern man like the ones in the razor adverts on TV, where the likes of Brian O’Driscoll and David Beckham balletically and painlessly glide razors over their faces. Try to replicate that exact style at home and, instead of the Swan Lake of shaves, most men would end up with a face resembling the pepperoni house special from Dominos Pizza.
The cheapest blade I could find was a packet of 10 Tesco brand disposables for the cut-throat price of 89c. This is a very basic one-blade razor that would be very useful for removing lint from a sweater, but less adept at catching thick facial hair and left me with neck-rash and one nick.
Surprisingly, this wasn’t the worst performing razor that I sampled. That (dis)honour goes to the basic Bic disposable (1.20 for 10). This razor didn’t make any dent on my stubble, and I gave up in frustration.
I switched to the next razor, the double-edge blade Wilkinson Sword Classic (3.90). This one confused me for a minute because you have to twist off the top of the razor and insert the blade yourself (you get five blades in the packet).
This was quite a sharp blade, good for a quick, clean shave on a light beard. I still managed to give myself one nick on the neck, but this was the best new razor so far. Next up was a three-blade razor with moveable head from Lidl, costing 5.99.
It was certainly better than the basic disposables and it didn’t give me any nicks or scrapes, but overall it was an uneven, patchy shave. Lastly, I went up a grade from my usual Gillette Mach 3 Power razor and opted for the Gillette Fusion (17.99), the much-trumpeted five-blade cartridge with an extra blade for trimming sideburns.
This was similar to the Mach 3, but gave a much closer shave. Through my own fault I over-did it, and ended up with quite a few bloody spots and a pink neck rash.
In the end, I went back to the Mach 3. It gives me no pleasure to report that, in the final analysis, you might just very well get what you pay for.
All you can do is either settle for a bloody-tissue-speckled visage, or suck it up and shop around for the best price. Really, you ladies don’t know how easy you have it.