September 21, 2011

Serendipity

In my attempts to save some money I have been willing to expand my horizons a bit when it came to certain long-held beliefs when it came to certain activities.  I've noticed that quite often the changes to a more frugal (sounds better than cheap) lifestyle aspect has benefits I did not expect, although sometimes the cost savings ends up not being there.

With my shower routine I ended up spending more money than what I used to originally, but less than I was when I decided to upgrade to better "natural" products.  Sure, I wasn't buying the bargain-basement stuff, but I wasn't needing to spend $10 a bottle for the "good stuff" I had gotten used to.  I'll write my current methodology off as a savings from the $10 instead of an increase from the $1 since I could go back to the $10 product, but the $1 isn't something I'm freely willing to do.

I've recently discovered another cost savings where I really liked the results better than what I was doing originally.  A great example of serendipity if I do say so myself.  In the recent past I have been a huge fan of the Gillette Fusion Razors.  A decent razor, but not cheap by any stretch of the imagination.  The best deal is usually on a 12 pack of blades for $35 to $40.  I was getting a week at best per cartridge.  Not counting the cost of the shaving gel or the razor itself that was about $3 a week.  That was $3 for four or five good shaves, skipping the weekend, knocking down the stubble on Monday and having to shave again with a fresh blade.  Someone had told me that if I strop the blade a bit by running it backwards against my forearm and then storing the blade in Mineral Oil I could keep the blade "fresh" much longer.  I found it worked out well easily doubling or tripling the life. The mineral oil leaves a little mess in the sink and you have to keep the fluid level just right or it will eat any rubbery plasticky (I know, not a real word) bits off the razor.  Any moisturizing strip will degrade in a week at best.  Still, for savings of $50 to $100 a year, not a bad trade off.

I've always been fascinated with wet shaving.  I've been to old-time barbers and shaving with a straight-razor seemed both "cool" and utterly horrifying.  I did manage to try a cheap shaving brush and soap set that Fred Meyer had.  It was around $10 and contained a nice porcelain bowl, a cake of Aloe Vera shaving soap, and a shaving brush.  The first couple times I tried using the brush a lot of bristles came out.  It was aggravating, but after a couple of uses the loose bristles weren't an issue and I was able to figure out what was the proper amount of water to use to get the right lather.  This thing was great!  So much better than using shaving gel.  It's been a couple months and I'm still using the same cake.  Now I don't shave everyday since I don't need to, so I'm not sure how long it lasts compared to my typical can of shaving gel, but just from a quality aspect this stuff is much better.

Now it is important to note all I've done at this point is switch from using shaving gel to shaving soap.  I'm still using the same Gillette Fusion razor and the mineral oil.

This ad gives me the creeps
My enjoyment, for lack of a better word, with the shaving brush and soap got me online to do a little research.  Evidently I'm using a boar bristle brush which is about the crappiest brush you can use.  Eventually I hope to move up to a quality Badger Bristle brush or even a Silver Tipped Badger Brush, but for now the boar bristle brush works.  There are a ton of special handcrafted soaps to try, but the one in the cup works fine and I have another cake of glycerin soap from the same manufacturer for when this one runs out.  I am intrigued by the prospect of trying a better razor.  A straight razor is right out.  I'm not going to get a strop and fiddle with the thing and frankly I'm concerned of cutting myself horribly.  A double-edged safety razor might be more my speed, but even it scares me quite a bit.

I remember cutting myself badly as a small child/toddler when someone left out a safety razor when I was taking my bath.  The details are fuzzy, but I remember the blood and I get a very uneasy feeling just trying to recall the event.  There is a source for this fear.  I'm not fearful of knives or sharp objects in general.

Poking around the interwebs a bit I settle on finding and purchasing a Merkur DE Razor.  A lot of them seem small and I'm a newb here so I'm looking for simple.  I end up choosing the Merkur Long Handle Safety Razor with Comb.  I'm a bit confused on the model because I see it listed as MK23C and MK25C.  There is a good shaving website that I find useful in comparing models and I'm thinking the 23C has the closed comb guard and the 25C has the open comb guard.  I want the open guard and this site it out, so I found another online.  It arrived yesterday and I "manned-up" and tried it out today.

WOW.  Even though I hadn't shaved in probably five days, the new razor worked like a charm.  It was comfortable to use, and seemed far more intuitive than I had expected.  I could have done a better job under the chin, but it didn't look bad and there wasn't a single cut or any razor burn.  Throw on top of this the fact that if I buy the "expensive" blades I should be looking at less than $1 a week for blades.

I think I'm going to enjoy saving some money shaving.....of course I won't be counting the cost of the razor or the brush, but those are long-term items anyway.

If you want to fins out more, clicking the first picture of this blog article takes you to a 2009 wet shave article from the Consumerist.  Another good website is Badger & Blade.






*Some of these links can/may/will take you to consumer websites.  You can tell them I said "hi", but they won't know who I am and I won't profit off of anything you choose to buy.  Tell them I said hi anyway.

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