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Spending Money or Spending Time

I’ve been proper wet shaving for about 5 years now, and in that time I learned more about a lesson I’ve been learning my whole life that I never grasped until I was giving my own advice to other people in my life.

When I was just a boy, my father taught me baseball. He got me a cheap glove and a teeball bat from Walmart. I was disheartened at the quality of my new tools. My father was an engineer. We had a large house, nice cars, and went on family vacations every summer to different parts of the country. Why did my father spend as little money as possible on my budding baseball career? He got down on one knee, put his large hand on my shoulder and said “son, prove to me that you can use these, and I’ll get you better ones.”

Yet again later on in life when I began playing the drums my father spent the least amount money I believe possible to get me a little drum set to work on. He said the same thing “master them, and you can have a new one.” When I read some of the popular shaving forums, I see a lot of posts where someone who has virtually no idea what the Craft of shaving is all about pleading for help in his (or her) first shaving kit. One of the jokes on reddit is that the default “newb” kit almost always includes an Edwin Jagger DE89L razor, and a blade sampler kit. Is the Edwin Jagger DE89L a bad razor? Is this a poor choice in equipment? Absolutely not. Mine sits proudly next to my other Edwin Jaggers, Merkurs, Muhles, and Feathers as part of my rotation. It also sits next to my very first razor, an unnamed butterfly razor that was a gift from a friend.

The difference between this razor and my Edwin Jagger is not a whole lot compared to the quality of shave, but the real discernment between the two is the price. I purchased my Edwin Jagger for about 30 US dollars all said and done, while the unnamed model can be purchased for about 14 US dollars. On top of that, the brush and soap that is generally recommended on the forums will run you about 25 dollars. One of my best recommendations to new people joining the craft is the Omega brush and cream kit. It contains a boar’s brush, stand, and generous tube of cream for about 15 US dollars. If you were to pick that up with a 14 dollar razor, you’d be looking to spend about 30 dollars all said and done once you factor shipping, etc. Is the best money can buy? No. Is it going to give a good shave? Probably. Will the new shaver know the difference? I doubt it.

The point of this comparison is to show the reality that someone who is brand new to the idea of wet shaving can’t discern for themselves the aggressiveness between a Weishi razor and a Merkur Slant Bar. They don’t know the scratching of a cheap boar brush against the pillow-softness of a Vulfix Silvertip. Nor will they be able to know what some cheap brick and mortar razorblade feels like on their skin compared to the lustrous glide of a Feather Stainless. So to the new guys: get the best you can afford right now, but master your technique. The brand name won’t matter initially, but what will matter is the effort you put in to your shave every single morning. When you feel like you’ve mastered the craft, or at least have been doing it long enough to understand when you have good lather or bad lather, a good shave or a bad shave, then you can celebrate by getting that new Edwin Jagger. Pick up Vulfix Silvertip. Go nuts and get a big puck of Mitchell’s Wool Fat, but in the meantime spend less money, and spend more time!

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