It is no secret that the vast majority of us in the traditional wet shaving world found ourselves as a member of this group primarily because we rebelled against the discomfort and expense of mass marketed cartridge razors and the garbage products passed off by Proctor and Gamble as quality shaving software. Somewhere along the way a change occurred for many of us and a daily chore turned into something more...something life changing.
I'm probably a little unique in that even though I didn't have any real horror stories about shaving with cartridge razors or electric shavers, it wasn't an enjoyable daily activity. I shaved because I needed to shave. I used blades much longer than I should have used them because quite simply I'm a cheapskate and had better things to do with my hard earned dollar than pay for razor blades or replacement heads for my Norelco triple head shaver. Buying food for my family and gasoline for my vehicle seemed a little higher on my priority list.
Being a history buff the initial attraction to traditional wet shaving was one of nostalgia. Every day I kept opening my bathroom cabinet drawer and seeing my father's Gillette Slim Adjustable Razor and the urge to use it kept gnawing at my soul until one day I finally bought some Wilkinson Sword Classic blades from Walmart, did some basic Google searches, watched some videos, pulled out my ancient badger hair shave brush and 35 year old Mennen shave cream and started traditional wet shaving in earnest. For me the rest was history and I never turned back.
In time I pulled out the box of razors passed down to me from my uncle and grandfather and the $.50 Schick Hydro-magic Injector I had purchased at a yard sale while in college and started learning about the total spectrum of traditional wet shaving methods. I polished and cleaned, buffed and sanitized with barbicide. Single edge razors, shavettes, and straight razors all followed as my skills and interests broadened. I joined online shaving groups and forums and discovered the wide range of products still available for the traditional wet shaver.
In time my shave den expanded and grew. I endured the "stink eye" looks and acerbic comments from my wife as more packages arrived at the door and I gradually encroached upon the traditionally sacred bathroom counter-top space previously monopolized by her and the usual female primping paraphernalia. I posted my first shave video over one year ago on February 13, 2013 and today I have posted over 70 videos and written a couple dozen blog articles and reviews. How and why did this progression take place? What turned a simple daily grooming practice into a major past-time and hobby?
There are probably thousands of men that engage in traditional wet shaving every day using single edge, double edge, and straight razors that have never read a single Shave Of The Day posting on a group or forum or watched one minute of a shave video. Shaving the traditional way was the only way they have ever shaved. It's the way their father, brothers, uncles and grandfather shaved. That's how they learned and miraculously they never "converted" to multi-blade cartridge shaving. Of course we know there are still millions using the "new modern ways" of shaving and generally suffering and enduring that plight.
Each person has their own unique pathway that has gotten them to the world of traditional wet shaving. Those that aren't involved in the shaving groups and forums we have no knowledge of or insight into their frame of mind or perspective. The only people we are exposed to are those like ourselves...the shaving addicts. My wife shakes her head and declaring, "You and you're crazy shaving buddies, I just don't understand the things you do." Many of us receive similar slings and arrows because of our wet shaving activities. I think we may be somewhat like a religious cult or secret society. There's a part of us that is somewhat shy and semi-fearful of sharing this part of our lives with others for fear of how they will view our unique pastime and interests. Because of this we sometimes feel ashamed and question ourselves for doing it. There's another part of us that just wants to evangelize the razor burned, bumped and cartridge oppressed throughout the world. When we "convert" a lost soul we feel vindicated and relieved that we aren't crazy after all. We have good news to share but are fearful of the potential rejection or ridicule.
But is traditional wet shaving and collecting vintage and modern razors any different than a number of other more common hobbies? I think not. In fact, the hobby of traditional wet shaving is actually far more practical than many hobbies. We shave every day or two and can use those items we collect in our shaves. Traditional wet shaving is an active hobby versus a stagnant one like collecting coins or postage stamps, cars, motorcycles, comic books or first edition books that are squirreled away in glass cases or dusty shelves and never touched or used. Granted many of the things we collect are consumable and it is only the razors that have any true "collecting value" that could potentially increase in monetary value over time. Nevertheless, we have gotten to where we are as traditional wet shavers because it meets a need in our lives, be it obtaining a good comfortable shave each day or the banter and comradeship by chatting in the shave groups or "connecting" with someone by watching one of their shave videos and putting a voice and face to the Facebook icon and name we chat with on the forums and groups every day.
Like I have said before, the modern male no longer has the benefit of being able to tinker under a shade tree in the back yard on the engine of their automobile or truck. Traditional wet shaving can replace that itch to "tinker". Computerized systems has taken us beyond being able to adjust carburetors and timing belts to improve the performance of our vehicles. But we can still "tinker" with our shave gear and combinations. Some guys still play shade tree mechanic with classic cars and other more "traditional" male past times like hunting, fishing, trap and skeet shooting, bowling, billiards, motorcycles, etc., etc. Many do those types of things in addition to their wet shaving hobby and interests.
Like anything else, traditional wet shaving presents a challenge to conquer and there will be the novice and the more experienced shaver standing side by side so to speak at the shaving mirrors of the world learning from one another. For those just getting started, take it slow and don't rush to do everything at once. Shaving is a skill and somewhat of an art form, particularly if you consider straight razor shaving. It takes time to learn how to use a DE, SE or straight razor. It takes study and experimentation to learn about how all the products all work together and what works better for you versus what works for the other guy.
Traditional wet shaving is grooming and it can be much more depending upon your needs and interests. Listen, I'm a social worker. I see certifiably insane people quite often in my day to day profession. Wanting to achieve a good shave, collecting razors and personal care products does not constitute any form of insanity or even neurosis in and of itself. Now addictive shopping may be another subject that we won't get into right now, but take my word for it. Loving traditional wet shaving, as long as it doesn't dominate your life or take food from your children's mouths isn't something to be worried about. You are normal, probably far more normal than most because you have seen the nugget of truth that the mass market world has been hiding from you for probably decades: traditional wet shaving methods are healthy and productive, and to be brutally honest, pretty darn fun, too.
Good Shaves, Be Happy, Be Safe