I hate shaving. But I hate having a beard slightly more, so I shave.
The hair on my face is patchy and sparse, so a beard doesn’t look great on me anyway. It’s also thick and wiry, and it never. stops. itching. I know this because my first wife liked a man with a beard, and I tried to grow one for her a couple times. Here’s photographic evidence.
It was worse when I was younger. Here I’m 18 with about a month of growth. It was so sparse that it wouldn’t form a proper beard.
You’d think that would make shaving a breeze, but no. Something about the way my facial hair grows in under my chin and on my neck makes it very challenging to shave. I never figured out how to shave below my chin without a lot of bleeding. I went through styptic pencils like nobody’s business.
I started shaving at about 16. Despite my beard being sparse, it was jet black and very visible. (The stubble look that’s popular today was considered unkempt then.) Within a couple years I needed to shave every day, and given my difficulties I needed to get off the blade. Mom bought me an electric shaver. You can see it in the photo above: a Remington Micro Screen. “Shaves as close as a blade, or I’ll give you your money back,” said Victor Kiam, who liked the shaver so much, he bought the company. It didn’t actually shave as close as a blade, but it shaved well enough and put an end to my bleeding neck.
Every few years I try wet shaving again, only for my face to need a week to heal. So I’ve never gotten away from electric shavers. When the Remington wore out I replaced it with a Braun. It was so much better than the Remington that I stuck with Braun for years. But then Braun introduced their cleaning system, where you stick the head of your shaver in an alcohol-filled receptacle every day. I’m sure it worked great, but keeping the cleaning solution fresh was shockingly expensive. No thanks. You couldn’t get the shavers I wanted without the cleaning station, and that made them prohibitively expensive. Braun made lower-line shavers that didn’t come with a cleaning station, and I bought one, but it didn’t perform nearly as well as the higher-end shavers I had been buying from them.
I complained about this to my father, who had been a Norelco man since the 1970s. He bought me a Norelco shaver for Christmas — and it was terrible. It took three times as long to shave my face, and I still was left with noticeable stubble.
On the recommendation of a friend, I switched to Panasonic. It was terrific! And you could clean it by rinsing it under the faucet, something none of my Branus could tolerate. I liked the Panasonic so much that when it wore out, I bought another of the same model. I left that one in a hotel room by mistake, so I bought a third. And now that one has worn out, and that model is no longer available.
In the intervening years, electric shavers have done much the same thing that regular razors have done: if two blades are good, more must be better! My outgoing Panasonic had two blades, but new ones have five or six. The shaver heads are huge. I have enough trouble fitting the two-blade head into tight spots, such as under my nose. I can’t imagine doing it with a head more than two times as thick!
Other Panasonic shavers with the two-blade head are available on Amazon, but they look to be leftover stock. Buying one only postpones the inevitable.
So I went in a different direction and looked at barber tools. Wahl and Andis are the two main brands, and they both make shavers. I ordered an Andis and have been using it for a couple weeks now.
In one way, it’s like returning to that Remington Micro Screen in that both shavers are shaped like a small brick, and the cutting head is fixed. Most consumer shavers today have a head that can move and pivot as you move it around your face, and have a slender body that is supposed to be easier to hold.
But this Andis shaver is unlike any shaver I’ve ever owned in that this sucker gets close.
You’re not supposed to press any shaver into your face, but rather just glide it over your skin. But if you do press a consumer shaver into your face, it has no ill effect. If you do it with the Andis, you’re likely to rip the hairs right out!
This shaver slightly irritates my face. I guess that’s the tradeoff. I bought a bottle of soothing after-shave lotion. Problem solved.
The foil on the Andis is said to be prone to wrinkling. I guess modern consumer shavers have sturdier foils that last a long time. I’ll probably need to replace my Andis’s foil a lot more often than I’m used to! But perhaps its thinness is why it gets so close.
All in all, I wish I didn’t have facial hair. I wonder how expensive electrolysis would be?
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