My wet shaving story is pretty typical… I never really learned how to properly shave, which is a common problem for many men. I have a vivid memory of watching my dad shaving thinking how awesome and manly it was. I remember him telling me “Be careful what you wish for,” in a frustrated tone. It was only later that I realized that part of it was because shaving was a chore and also because the men in my family have no shortage of body hair (too much information, I know).
I remember getting my first Gillette cartridge razor at about 13 years old, and I had pretty good success with it. You are probably thinking 13 years old, Really? Bear in mind, that some Middle Eastern men are born with moustaches, so as you can see, I was a late bloomer. I continued to shave with my cartridge razor, but what got me was the tremendous cost of the cartridges. Like many 13 year olds, I had other financial priorities such as collecting baseball and hockey cards, so I would reuse them and reuse them until I almost needed a tetanus shot. Totally disgusting.
Fast forward a few years. Being the frugal guy that I am (just ask my lovely wife), I purchased a Braun electric razor. This was a cost cutting measure and also a much quicker shaving solution. It was quicker not because it didn’t require water and a bunch of extra process, but because it gave me extreme razor burn. To combat this I would keep a light beard and only shave my neck area, thus saving time on my shave routine.
My wife and I were travelling and we stayed at a fancier hotel that came with a disposal shaving kit that included a Bic type razor. I tossed it in my dopp kit and forgot about it. When we got home I found the disposable razor and though why not give it a go. To my surprise I forgot how special that clean shaven feeling was. (Insert Angelic music). That cool tingle and the stimulating feeling from the air hitting your face as you walk was absolutely amazing.
Fun Fact: If you ever want to hide a dead body, they say to do it on page 2 of Google search results… Let me explain. Chasing the feeling of a great shave, I started my internet research, determined to find a cheaper way to wet shave. I found knock off Gillette blades… thought about it for a minute and then scrapped that idea. On about page 8 or 9 of Google, I stumbled across an article on how shaving with a DE Razor or Double Edge Safety Razor can save you money… see how determined I was!
This article instantly brought back memories of two DE razors my dad had in the vanity drawer in the upstairs bathroom. One was a turn-to-open (butterfly) safety razor which was the coolest thing ever and the other was a two piece razor. I really wanted one now, so I started looking for local retailers in Saskatoon (good luck, not happening), then expanded to Saskatchewan (nope, not a chance) and finally Canadian retailers until I found a few.
My professional background is in kitchen design, marketing and sales, which means I’m a visually orientated touchy feely sort of guy. Knowing who I am, I wasn’t convinced that I would be satisfied if I ordered online. In 2013 my wife and were in Toronto and I was dead set on finding a brick and mortar store to buy my first DE Razor. On about page 2 or 3 of Google on those days, I found MenEssentials (queue the angels again).
My wife and I made our way to Danforth Ave and walked down the staircase of glory into MenEssentials or as I defined it at the time, “Shave Mecca”. I spent several hours selecting the perfect DE Razor and I ended up with a Merkur 38C Extra Long Handle to be exact, which I still love and use to this day. A huge shout out to my wife for her patience as I went through my “process”. The customer experience was superb and this was exactly the purchase situation I was looking for.
I watched some of the famous Mantic59 videos to help me with my process and technique and voila, I got an irritation free shave my first go at it! I couldn’t believe it. I was hooked and was completely obsessed and it was awesome. From there I spent many hours testing, honing my skills, trying different creams/soaps, blades and acquiring lots of gear. Many gents connect with traditional wet shaving because they are missing that Zen moment and I would agree. For me, wet shaving was that personal “me time” where I could be intentional about something, as well as get a good shave. As I dug deeper, I discovered what it really boiled down to for me was that sense of Mastery that I had been missing in my personal life.
The path to Mastery is defined as:
“It’s the mysterious process during which what is first difficult becomes progressively easier and more pleasurable through practice.” – George Leonard author of the book Mastery.
So call it obsession, call it mastery, call it what you want. I get an irritation free shave every day and I love it.