Change Your Razor Blade--On Demand

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 get 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 on facsimiles of the old Gillette red blades, blue blades, stainless steel, chromium, and platinum 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 amortized cost, but the initial purchase price of some models can run over $100. A presumed lower amortized 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.



Bic plastic disposable razor


Among the newcomers in razor manufacture, 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 gets dull.  On average over the past 30 years or so, that is once every two months or more, 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, on occasion, with a butterfly-style safety razor that opens up by twisting the handle, but with the expectation that the stainless steel, chromium, or platinum blade inside is presumed to stay sharp for at least 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. 

Lo and behold, the very inexpensive plastic handle blades made by Bic last every bit as long as those in the more durable metal handles.  That fact, repeatedly verified by a skeptical Footloose Forester is a conclusion he is willing to make after many months of testing and comparisons. Maybe it is something that other razor manufacturers do not want you to find out.  When he personally adds up all the factors: cost, length of service, and most importantly; the smoothness of shave--  the humble, disposable, and inexpensive Bic is hands-down the best razor he ever used.  As a sop to Gilette, their recent introduction of a shaving gel is a real winner.  A dab the size of a pea will cover your whole face and stay moist, as it was intended to do.

By the way, the Footloose Forester doesn't change motor oil after 3000 miles, like advertising campaigns suggest we do.  If the oil reservoir in his car is full and the oil is clean, that is his cue.  These days, he schedules oil changes every 20,000 miles.

Stupid Coconut!
Arland LeRoy and Ilean Hazel


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