Followup on shaving equipment

By glblguy

The following is a guest article from Elizabeth who blogs about how and where she spends her money, but includes thoughts on why she spends her money the way she does. if you enjoy what you read below, please head over and subscribe to her blog either via RSS feed or email.

In April of this year, I made a pretty hefty (and somewhat risky) investment in shaving equipment for The Son. A few days later, I dropped another chunk of change on shaving products. Then, about a week later, I followed up with a rather thorough post explaining my reasoning and research behind the purchases.

In addition (though never reported in my Daily $$ posts because it happened during my summer hiatus), I purchased all of the same equipment and product in mid-September as a special coming-of-age birthday present for Nephew #1 who was turning 16 in early October. The last I heard, Nephew #1 still hadn’t actually used his equipment though he had shown it to all of his friends and received many expressions of envy. ;-)

In April, The Son was a 13-year-old shaving novice. Now that he’s a 14-year-old veteran shaver, I thought it time to write a follow-up product review.

The Equipment

My hope when purchasing the shaving equipment was that, if The Son took to classic wet-shaving, his equipment would last his entire lifetime. Naturally it’s impossible to project from just six months of use whether or not the razor and brush will actually last a lifetime. The best I can do is report that both the razor and the brush appear to be very well made and thus far show every sign of being durable.

I steadfastly stand by my decision to purchase a high-quality brush at the outset. Because The Son has a history of being respectful of his possessions, I wasn’t too worried about him abusing it. Neglect was a possibility but The Son obviously took to heart my short but to-the-point cautions about taking very good care of his shaving equipment.

I’m also very glad that I decided to purchase the razor/brush stand at the outset. Forming the habit of rinsing and shaking his brush before hanging it carefully on the stand started with his very first shave. Likewise the habit of rinsing, shaking, and hanging his razor. And who doesn’t think that forming good habits from the very get-go is always the best policy?

My only regret in regard to The Son’s shaving equipment is my decision to not buy a shaving mug along with the rest of the equipment. The Son would clearly prefer to use a mug and we really should make finding a suitable mug a top priority — especially since he’s already shaving every week. Can daily shaving be too far behind?

The only product in my equipment order that has thus far proved to be overkill is the selection of different brands of razor blades. I suspect that The Son won’t be able to appreciate the difference between various manufacturers’ blades until he has a more substantial beard to deal with and is shaving on a daily basis.

The Product

Although he has nothing to compare them to, The Son has been quite happy with the shaving products we purchased. The pre-shave oil always gets used; likewise the after-shave lotion. Both products, by the way, have done an excellent job of preserving and protecting that soft baby face of his. If it weren’t for the quickly multiplying and increasingly dark and wiry hairs sprouting from his chin and the still mostly-soft and fuzzy caterpillar above his upper lip a few days after shaving, you’d never guess that the boy was regularly scraping his face with a (pardon the pun) razor sharp blade. Whether due to his genes or the shaving equipment/product he’s using (though I highly suspect the latter), The Son has blessedly thus far escaped the irritated, pimply shaving rash that I’m seeing on more and more of his peers’ faces.

Deciding to include The Son in the purchase of his own shaving products was, in retrospect, an excellent decision. The Daughter and I were able to fulfill our desire to purchase the manly man sandalwood scent by choosing it for Nephew #1; and it’s been reported that he, and his girlfriend, approve of our choice. But the lemon scent The Son chose for himself is equally pleasant. And, honestly, I’ve been a little disappointed at how little residual scent there is from his shaving products. I know that, in the long run, this lack of residual scent is a good thing. If The Son ever decides that he wants to wear a scent, he can choose to do that separately.

The one purchase that I’m glad I decided to make is that of the styptic pen. I included one with Nephew #1’s gift package as well and I highly recommend that all beginner shavers’ kits contain one. The Son has only used his styptic pen on one or two occasions but the simple presence of the item makes The Son a little more comfortable about the act of shaving.

The one purchase we might make differently next time: buying a bar of shaving soap instead of a tube (in the case of The Son) or a jar (in the case of Nephew #1) of shaving cream. The Son has expressed an interest in trying the shaving mug and cake-of-soap method once his cream is gone.

The Final Analysis

In the case of The Son, investing in wet-shaving has thus far proven to be a safe investment. And with each passing shave, as the habit of using a safety razor and shaving brush become more and more ingrained in him, the more the investment pays off. Although anything is possible, I can’t imagine the circumstances that would induce The Son to abandon his safety razor and quality product for a disposable razor and canned shaving cream.

I would venture to say that the only aspects of shaving that yet remain to be seen with The Son, are 1) whether he ends up preferring to use shaving cream (though not the canned type The Husband uses) or shaving soap; 2) what additional shaving products he experiments with and adopts, ie. a shaving mug or a scuttle; and 3) whether he’ll venture any further into the wet-shaving culture and experiment with different models of razors and/or different sizes and brands of brushes. Of course there’s always the possiblity that at some point he’ll experiment with growing a beard rendering the razor and brush unnecessary but he has many years and many shaves before his facial hair growth is substantial enough to give it a try.

Originally I tried to differentiate my long-term criteria for The Son’s shaving equipment purchased as an “investment” and Nephew #1’s equipment purchased as a “gift.” But the more I wrote and erased and pondered and wrote and erased, the more I realized that behind the outfitting of each boy was the same motivation — sentimental purchases of equipment that might, in the future, prove to be money-saving investments.

So here, in no particular order, is a list of the “statements” I was making or the “goals” I hoped to attain when I purchased both sets of equipment and both first-rounds of product:

  • to celebrate their move toward “manhood” with a special gift or token in lieu of some of the coming-of-age rituals and celebrations of bygone days;
  • with the possibility in mind that they will each pass down the tradition with their own sons or nephews;
  • as a sort of “vote-of-confidence” or demonstration that I believed them both to be mature enough to warrant such large up-front investments;
  • as a way of honoring each boy’s choice to walk lesser beaten paths in the form of clothing, hairstyles, interests, etc.;
  • in an effort to mold their choice of grooming equipment before they’d had a chance to form other, more mainstream habits and choices;
  • in response to the research I’ve done regarding other available products (ie. canned shaving cream and disposable razors);
  • in the hopes that it will create yet another (safe and appropriate) bond of love and trust between mother and son and aunt and nephew;
  • for the possible future savings each boy will reap.

If just one of these statements is made or one goal met in each case, I would consider the purchase of that boy’s shaving equipment and product to have been a successful and worthwhile investment.

Photo by: Dharion

8 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Followup on shaving equipment”

  1. The Debt Helper Says:

    Elizabeth, when I first saw the title of your article and the subject matter, my initial response was how can you write such a lengthy article on such a boring subject. But I admit that I was wrong to prejudge the post without reading it, because having read the content it is excellent. I remember how proud I felt when I received my first razor from my parents because as you rightly point out, it is a significant time and somehow as a 16 year old it seemed to be a defining moment, a moment that made me feel that I was at last a man and I had the world at my feet. I think that your conclusing remarks are very insightful and now at the age of 32, I will face a similar decision to yourself in the next few years as my children grow up. Thanks for a great post, it’s amazing how the small things mean so much…

  2. Jason Says:

    awesome post

    in depth and very well thought out

  3. Charlie Says:

    One recommendation: try the thrift stores around for a shaving mug. You can pay $20 – $30 for a mug from an online retailer. I paid 25 cents for a mug at the community thrift store. It makes a cool, comforting sound as I twirl the brush in the mug to make my lather.

    Another alternative is to search for Burma Shave shaving kits. They are about $5 from various online sources (such as Amazon) and include the mug, a puck of soap, and a brush.

    Congratulations on starting your son on shaving in a very thoughtful way.

  4. Elizabeth Says:

    @ The Debt Helper — Thanks so very much for sharing your thoughts. Your validation of my reasoning for such hefty investments means a great deal to me. As a woman, the best I could do was guess at how a 16- (or 14-yo) boy would react to a rite-of-passage gesture.

    @ Jason — thanks!

    @ Charlie — thanks for the suggestion. One of the reasons I haven’t picked up a mug is due to the price. Also, most of what I’ve seen so far have been “branded” mugs and The Son is definitely not into logos and such. Scuttles go for a whole heck of a lot more — though I have read recommendations to try an African Violet pot (a two-part pottery thing with water in the bottom half and basin on the top). Wouldn’t you know it, about 6 months before buying the shaving equipment, I got rid of the perfect stray mug I’d had around for years.