In April of 2012, I shaved my beard for the first time in more than a decade. I don’t remember what I used. It was probably some sort of electric trimmer at first to get it down to a stubble, and then I imagine I used whatever plastic razor my wife had in the shower. I’m pretty sure there was blood.
During my time with a beard, I’d gone all in on beard products: oils, shampoos, tiny combs and conditioners. Everything you and/or the dopey new direct-to-consumer mens grooming brands could think of — I wanted all of it. I’d use a batch of new products for a few days or weeks and then systematically replace them with new ones, relegating the old ones to an increasingly jam-packed hallway closet. It was stupid, for sure, but it brought me an amount of joy that was not insignificant.
What then, as a newly clean shaven man, could I replace my expensive, time-consuming beard-care routine with? Well, an expensive, time-consuming shaving routine, of course.
I quickly turned my attention to the art of the wet shave, using a double-edged safety razor, which lived in a fancy little hanger contraption on my sink, alongside a badger hair shaving brush out of some horrible Don Draper fever dream. There were pre-shave oils, aftershave balms and splashes. And there was shaving cream, of course. So much shaving cream.
Shaving was an ordeal, to say the least. Even a fresh razor blade would require multiple passes to get anything resembling a close shave, which I convinced myself was totally fine because I enjoyed the ritual of it, ok?
I shaved in this way for years until a few months ago when I found myself having moved just a day earlier into a new house, surrounded by unpacked boxes and with a formal event to go to the next night. I could not, for the life of me, find the box (boxes?) that contained my stupid shaving products, so I went to the local chain pharmacy and purchased a Winston razor handle and blade combo by Harry’s, plus a tube of Harry’s shaving cream (and some Harry’s deodorant now that I think of it; I do still like some design continuity in my grooming products).
And, reader, it changed my life.
Perhaps this is common knowledge to regular people who don’t insist on constantly having annoying old-timey affectations and obsessions, but it turns out shaving does not have to take up your entire morning. The shaving cream, which has a nice soft scent of eucalyptus and mint, goes on easily and doesn’t foam up to the unnecessary and cartoonish degree some others do. The Winston handle is made of die-cast zinc with a rubberized grip. It feels substantial in the hand, but not like the murder weapons I’d gotten used to over the years. And the blade…while I won’t pretend to know what it means that it’s “German-engineered,” I will say that it effortlessly provides a closer shave than any I’ve experienced in pretty much my entire adult life. One pass, maybe two and a half minutes total, and I’m done. Smooth as could be. And as I alluded to earlier, the stuff looks great, too. Clean design, simple, coordinating color pallets and modern but familiar form factors. You can even get a fancy razor stand if you’re so inclined.
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