by Chris Bodenner
A reader sends the above image:
In anticipation of Burning Man’s philosophy of gifting, I’m combining my pogonophilia with a free service to all the bearded Burners. I’m sure your beard will be well cared for, but if you or anyone you know is suffering from “Playa Beard”, feel free to pass along the attached card. I’ll be setting up a part-time operation at Center camp, opening my own camp to beards of all types and even operating a mobile service while passing out cards and performing “house” calls.
Another counters Andrew’s call for letting your facial hair grow:
Why do you get haircuts? Why not just let it grow? Maybe folks shave the same reasons some people get haircuts. To them, it looks more presentable.
And along those lines, why trim a beard? Another reader:
Oh, the horror of a guy shaving everything – including the pubic area. Do those same male hair lovers (the hetero kind) like women hairy as well? Or do they pride the “hairiness” for males, but females need to shave? Could you delve into that some more? I don’t know – I’m just a curious hairy lesbian …
There’s another possible reason why Gillette’s Mach-3 sales are falling. It may well be that the shaving public is getting tired of paying a premium price for their product.
I’m going to be buying razor blades whether I grow a beard or not, since I also shave my head. For years, I was a loyal Gillette customer. The design of the Mach-3 and its follow-on, Fusion, is brilliant. The placement of the hinge is key. It allows you to follow the contours of your face, head, whatever with minimal applied force to the skin.
But that comes at a cost. The cartridges are damned expensive. While they were the only game in town, we paid up. But …
What’s happening now is that the down-market manufacturers are beginning to catch up. Recently, I’ve switched to Wilkinson razors. They’re about as good and the blades are half as expensive. For me that’s an easy choice, beard or no beard.
Some have succumbed to the lure of the old, aided by Reddit. My 22-year-old son bought an old-fashioned razor off the internets, followed the reddited instructions for sanitizing it, and now he shaves with Italian tube shaving cream and a brush. While he has nothing against beards, his would still be a bit scraggly and sparse. But he’s also not supporting the mainstream razor market.
Eighteen months ago I bought a Merkur safety razor, a badger hair brush, shave soap, an alum block, and 100 blades, all for around $80. I’ve replaced the soap only, and only once, in that time. The razor and the brush will last indefinitely. At my current rate of shaving (roughly twice a week), it costs me maybe $15 a year to shave. Once one learns how to properly use them, the blades are as comfortable as any multi-bladed contraption. They’re easy to clean and worth several reuses. A straight razor is even more economical, though I found in my own experiment with a straight that I don’t have the patience to learn it.
One more reader:
I pray every day that we have yet to reach peak beard. This video from a few years back featuring Gavin McInnes (of Vice fame) perfectly captures my predicament (NSFW):
My dear friend and I both suffer from the tragedy of the weak chin. The era of stubble and bears being acceptable in the workplace was a godsend. Finally, we could conduct business in the office without looking like Kenneth the Page. I have not bought a razor in years and I hope society never compels me to do so again.