I have trouble shaving, and it seemed to be getting worse with age. It seemed that no matter what I did, I’d end up with a red bumpy neck and hairy spots I had missed. In the last eighteen years, I’ve tried every normal razor and electric razor I could find, and none of them ever made me look like the guys in the commercials.
Some of this just comes down to genetics: some men don’t grow a lot of hair, other men do, some men don’t have stubborn hair, some men do. I have the unfortunate combination of tricky, light-colored hair and more than a couple acne scars, which means that even if I went with a beard, it’d take about four months to grow out and it’d look patchy anyway. So, shaving it is. But none of the razors or shavers worked.
The Problem Part 1: Pores
A few weeks ago I even sought out an old grizzly barber with a straight razor, and he acknowledged that there was something abnormal about my facial hair. It just doesn’t respond easily to blades.
However, he did something before the razor that I’d never heard of before: he pre-treated my face with a hot towel a couple of times. I knew that skin was supposed to be humid before shaving, but I always thought that simply wetting it with a shower or a washcloth would be good enough. Not. At. All. This was the missing link! It got me halfway toward solving my problem. Here’s what I have to do these days:
- Drench a small towel, squeeze out most of the water
- Fold it in half (twice if it’s big enough) and roll it from both ends so the rolled-up bits meet in the middle
- Put it on a plate that won’t get hot in the microwave
- Put it in the microwave for two minutes
The towel will be quite hot when you unroll it, but don’t let it get too cool before you put it on your face. Use your best judgment; we at Consumerism Commentary certainly don’t want you scalding yourself. Lay back and smush it against all the hairy parts of your face and, I don’t know, ponder the nature of the Universe. Over time, the towel will grow cold. When that happens, follow the drench / squeeze / heat / roll / face process once more. Your face should now be ready for shaving.
The Problem Part 2: Blades
I like the expensive razors. They work well. The problem is that they only work well maybe three or four times before they’re used up. In my research I even saw recommendations to use the same blade only once. When you’re talking about something like a Mach 3 blade, those are over $8 for three cartridges. Nobody should have to spend that much merely to appear civilized.
Thankfully, my wife is awesome, and she found this video which solved the other half of my problem. All you need to make your blade new again is your forearm:
I’ve tried this and can vouch that it works. If your face responds well to electric razors, you’re blessed and can ignore all this, but if you have trouble, give this a try. It works for me.
Updated June 23, 2016 and originally published April 6, 2010.