Old Timey Grooming, aka How I learned to tolerate shaving


Sooo… I hate shaving. Like, a lot. So much. See, I have sensitive skin, and, shaving always hurts and takes forever. Plus it can be so expensive!  I just never have liked it. Since I live in a super hippie Central CA town and I am fair haired and skinned, I can get away with big chunks of time in between shaves. Not like other folks.

But! I figured out a while back a way to save money and to hate shaving a little bit less now… I went old timey with my shaving! This razor here in this photo is an antique double edged razor. It cost me 25 dollars at an antique store and still works great. For it, I buy a pack of double edged razors about oh, once every year and a half, two years or so, and they run around 7-15 a pack, depending on how fancy they are. The ones I am using right now were 10 for the pack of 15 razors, and are super nice German steel ones. I also invested in a razor sharpener, and razor oil, because everything runs better when the razor is in tip top shape.

So not only do I use an old fashioned razor (which you can totally buy brand new at places like Lehman’s Hardware online here ), I also use shaving soap and a shaving brush. The ones pictured are an Omega shaving brush (much recommended, available through places like here ) and Caswell-Massey shaving soap (a brand still around from the 1700s?! their site). The boar brush cost me $22 and the soap $17, and the soap has lasted me easily two years and still lathers up fantastically. I sometimes start with a coconut oil base and then lather the soap over it for an even closer, smoother shave.

Lathered soap swept on with a brush has long been known to help the hairs stand up better off the skin, which makes for a very, very close shave, and the smoothest skin I’ve ever had from a razor. Nicks do happen, of course … when do they not? The trick is being careful, careful, careful, and using a sharp razor. I have managed to keep nicks down to a bare minimum just from going slow and making sure my tools are sharp.

There is something so luxurious about lathering warmed, fluffed up soap onto my skin after having rubbed my legs down with coconut oil after a brisk shower. No shaving in the shower with this process: the lathered soap will slip right off your legs and into the drain. Shaving like this would be doable in a big, warm bubbly bath, though. I don’t have a bathtub (small apartment, I know, it’s the worst!) so I usually prop my legs up on my toilet in my tiny bathroom to shave, which does give me leverage to reach hard to touch spots. Once I’m finished I’ll follow with a quick rundown of a wet towel to remove any residue and help to further slough off dead skin. The result: super smooth, soft, skin, that cost me literally pennies!

Yes, this process does take a little more time, so it wouldn’t be a daily thing if you’re one of those folks who loves shaving, but if you’re like me, making it into an Experience with a capital E has made it so much more bearable than breaking out the cheap plastic razor and leftover conditioner in the shower. Plus I have definitely saved money using a reusable razor vs. disposable ones! Even things like the Dollar Shave Club add up… the thing is, disposable razors and razor heads are meant to be a few shaves at most, and consumers usually push them well over their limit, causing nicks and scrapes. So really, according to the manufacturers, you should be buying/ replacing your stock with a new razor or replacing your razor heads every week or so if you’re a regular shaver, or every few weeks if you’re like me. A Gillette Fusion razor set is about 10-15 dollars and you get two heads, so you’ll be able to maybe get a few weeks’, maybe a month’s, shaving out of it. That razor alone is going to cost you $120-175 a year, let alone shaving cream or anything else. I spent maybe 60-65 bucks three years ago and probably 10 bucks once a year for razors…. the savings are clear.

Most things are better now than they used to be, but once in a while, I think our forebears had a good idea. This is one of them: it doesn’t cost a ton, it feels really good, and it produces the closest shave this side of a straight razor, particularly for places other than the face (note: straight razors on legs and other places require intense precision and that’s another topic for another day!). It’s good enough to even get a hater of shaving to actually shave! 🙂

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