Acer rubrum To Zyzyphus jujuba
Essays, Stories, Adventures, Dreams
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
Change Your Razor Blade—On Demand
Sometimes finding a news story to comment on is not always an obvious topic of interest to everyone. An essay about razor blades is far from a general interest story, not only because potentially only about half of the world population shaves or will shave on a regular basis; and those numbers are further reduced by adult men who choose to wear beards or eschew the regular use of blades for electric razors. Yes, the use of blade razors does gets bumped up by women who surreptitiously shave their legs and underarms on an infrequent basis. But the overall market for razors and razor blades is a man’s domain, thus the resurgent interest in shaving technology is targeted toward men.
The current marketing pitches about shaving technology are a grand mix of the old and the new. Newcomers in razor technology and razor blades offer us déjà vu all over again with TV advertising campaigns that lead us back to the future. New market entries include a couple of butterfly razors that look exactly like the old Gillette razors from the past century, now that the Gillette patents on design have expired. They also take facsimiles of the old Gillette red blades, blue blades, stainless steel, chromium, and platium blades. It would seem that the Gillette Safety Razor Company of old has also given up manufacturing double edge blades of those descriptions, one reason for the resurgence in razor marketing. Not that Gillette is out of the shaving technology business; they have supplanted their razor+blade products with disposable razor models with 2 blades, 3 blades, and 5 blades. Can't say what happened to the 4 blade models, but perhaps the transitory wisdom is: if one blade is good, then two is twice as good, three is even better….and so on. Of course, the cost of such increasingly luxurious shaving satisfaction comes with a steep increase in price.
Enter the market newcomers who promise to take us back to the future with Gillette look-alikes of sturdy stainless steel construction with twist handles for inserting double edge replacement blades. The new-old styles come at a reduced amortised cost, but initial purchase price of some models can run over $100. A presumed lower amortised cost for replacement blades makes the proposition more palatable for those of us who have been shaving for so many years that we take overall cost, sturdy construction and shaving satisfaction into account. We get to evaluate the process of shaving thousands of times over the course of our adult lives. Hence, this recherché essay on the subject of shaving is told by someone who has an experienced face.
Among the newcomers, The Footloose Forester gives the Dollar Shave Club razor high marks for simplicity of concept; and he gives similar credit to the new razor marketed by TV personality Rick Harrison, of Pawn Stars fame. At first glance, both razors sport the same proven technology ala the previously patented Gillette concept. In all, there are over a dozen butterfly style razor manufacturers hoping to take us back to the future.
Where the Footloose Forester parts ways with the déjà vu concepts of modern shaving systems pertains to the presumption that a blade man needs to pop in a fresh blade every day or so. Just as a good gardener waters plants on demand; that is, only when the plants really need it; the Footloose Forester pops in a new blade only when the current one get dull. On average over the past 30 years or so, that is once every two months, thanks to changes in the metals used in modern razor blades. That is to say, stainless steel, chromium and platinum blades all keep their sharpness longer than the blades of the past century. If they were still available on the market, the old Gillette red blades would still be discarded after one day; and the blue blades would stay sharp up to three days of use. But times have changed and so has shaving technology. These days the Footloose Forester still shaves with a butterfly style safety razor that opens up by twisting the handle, but the stainless steel, chromium, or platinum blade inside is expected to stay sharp for two months under normal use. His face tells him when it is time to change blades. Of course the folks at Gilette are not going to just roll over with an extraneous personal example; their new April 2016 TV ad boasts that their latest razor gets up to one month of shaves on the same blade. As they say, individual results may vary. By the way, the Footloose Forester doesn't change motor oil after 3000 miles, like advertizing campaigns suggest we do. If the oil reservoir in his car is full and the oil is clean, that is his cue.