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“Surviving” Wet Shaving Acquisition Disorders

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Are you a traditional Wet Shaver?  Have you felt the need to purchase everything you see posted?  Have you purchased more soap than you’ll ever be able to use in your lifetime?  Chances are you may suffer from Wet Shaving Acquisition Disorder (AD)

What Is A Wet Shaving Acquisition Disorder (AD)?

The definition in short, is compulsive buying or buying more than you need of a particular item without thinking of the consequences.  That may seem harsh when we talk about razors and soap but many of us (including myself) have suffered from it.  With social media at the tips of our fingertips it’s easy to be motivated by the posts of others to keep up with the crowd or just to try things you want to. This can lead to buying either too much, or items that you may not have purchased otherwise.  

Several weeks ago I featured a short segment in a recent Wet Shaving Talk podcast on my thoughts regarding Wet Shaving AD (Acquisition Disorder) and was surprised at the amount of emails I received regarding this subject. I figured this subject needed to be brought up and what better way than an article. 

Traditional Wet Shaving like all hobbies has its share of acquisition disorders.  It’s common to get really into something and want to truly experience everything about it.

I came up with Five Stages of Wet Shaving AD.  These stages describe the various forms of AD a wet shaver may or may not suffer while collecting. I also found that these stages can also be present in other hobbies, such as pens, watches and cars. 

There are two words that I find to be dangerous when it comes to Wet Shaving AD. They are: “why not?”

The Five Stages: 

Just in case you’re wondering,……. Yes, I have suffered from AD in multiple forms ( razors, soaps, brushes, etc), which is why I can relate to each of the stages mentioned.  

The 5 Stages are: 

  1. Wet Shaving Will Save Money
  2. Buying Lower priced Items 
  3. Buying Higher Priced Items
  4. Liquidation 
  5. Acceptance 

Let’s take a moment to go over each one in detail. 

1. Wet Shaving Will Save You Money

Many traditional wet shavers began their journey with traditional wet shaving because they were/are fed up with the price of modern shaving devices.  It could be the price of replacement cartridges, or canned goo, and/or even the cost of replacement blades for an electric shaver.  Many people heard of the cost savings, and decided to try it out.  

During this stage you may find yourself purchasing a single razor and brush (possibly from a brick and mortar location) or a basic soap and aftershave from a small vendor.  You think  about how much you’re  saving by ditching the modern cartridges and are proud you are learning a new skill.

During this time, wet shaving may become more of an interest to you.  Joining a wet shaving based Facebook group or a forum is common and soon after you’ll find yourself scrolling past multiple Acquisition and/or SOTD (shave of the day) posts of fellow wet shavers showing off their goods.  

If you end up saying to yourself this: “I’m saving so much…why not?” then you’ve entered stage two.  

2. Buying Lower Priced Items

At this point you start trying new items that are on the lower price spectrum.   For example, you may have started with a vintage Gillette Tech and now you want to try a vintage Merkur Futur or Vision. Or you purchased Williams or VDH soap and now you’re looking into some artisan products.  This is where the need to have variety comes to play. Personally, when I began wet shaving I was on a strict budget.  When I hit stage two I found myself scrolling through the forums more frequently and making more frequent orders for regularly available products with artisans.  I also found myself spending more time on Ebay purchasing different basic vintage razors and products.  Accumulating more that 20 soaps, razors, brushes and aftershaves are common and the need to try more and more items becomes more prevalent. 

Many traditional wet shavers began their journey with traditional wet shaving because they were/are fed up with the price of modern shaving devices.

There will come a time during this stage when you begin to look at higher end items in a different manner.  There were days  I would look at items such as A Gillette Bottom Dial, Toggle, Wolfman Razor, or Declaration Brush and say “I would never spend that type of money”.  Then one day I found myself saying those two words again:  “why not?”  Welcome to stage three! 

3. Buying High Priced Items

If you’ve made it this far in the wet shaving journey then you’re fully invested in the lifestyle. Wet Shaving is probably your number one hobby and you spend a lot of free time reading and conversing about it. At this point you make your first high end purchase, whether it be a razor, brush or piece of unobtanium, and you get a small rush waiting for that mail call and the Instagram post to show off your new acquired gear. You may receive some short term attention from others and messages about the item which is fun and makes you feel good.  

The attention quickly fades away and soon your post is at the bottom of the queue, with only the occasional like after the first day or so.  This is where it can get a little dangerous. The need to gain that small segment of attention leads to more mail calls, with similar results.   

I am personally a culprit of this behavior, and have had several acquaintances do the same.  I even knew someone that spent over $35,000 in one year buying and selling gear just to post mail calls. He would sell his new acquired gear shortly after just to keep the ball rolling. I’ll admit the attention is nice, but short lived. 

 I came up with the following to better map the social media behavior with high-end acquisitions.  

Acquisition  Post :  You pulled the trigger and now it’s time to post that you acquired a high-end wet shaving piece. You may receive several responses celebrating your success. 

Mail Call Post: You received your item and now it’s time to post a mail call.  You’ll receive the most amount of attention in this post, with lots of congratulations and envy from other wet shavers.  You may receive dozens in the first hour and then it will slowly fade.  By day 2 you may get the occasional “like” from those who haven’t been online for a day or so.  When you reach day three for the most part this post is irrelevant and you post it at the bottom of the page. 

Shave of the Day Post: By this point, everyone has seen you purchased this item and you may receive some attention, and questions on how it performs, but this post will quickly fade as something newly acquired will show up from someone else. 

What is the Six Month Wet Shaver?: 

It’s during this stage where we see the “six month wet shaver”.  This is someone who feels they are an expert in the field, in a relatively short amount of time because they have purchased a lot of gear. They offer advice on forums and become a major contributor, posting several dozen posts a day, and can even influence prices in the secondary market.  Vendors/artisans notice these influencers and begin to offer them free or unreleased products so it can be reviewed and posted.  

In short a 6 Month Wet Shaver becomes relevant for a short amount of time and then disappears.  They focus on all of the attention rather than actually learning the process of wet shaving and usually move on to something else.  You may see them pop up some time later with a justification post ( like “I know what I’m talking about“ or “many people can vouch for me”) but that is quickly dismissed for the new flavor of the month. 

There are two words that I find to be dangerous when it comes to Wet Shaving AD. They are: “why not?”

In stage 3 it’s very possible for a wet shaver to influence the niche market for high-end stuff. This person may become influential and may start a trend. We saw this back in 2015-2018 when prices for particular items (Wolfman razors, Wolf Whiskers Brushes, Mongoose, Tradere, Weber, Special edition Soaps)  were selling for up to ten times their retail value. 

It’s hard to keep up at this point.  Many guys will either try everything, or just realize how much work (and money) it takes just to keep posting those mail calls.  I found myself in this situation right after I purchased my final grail piece.  

After the thrill of Wet Shaving AD wears off then reality sets in.  Your collection can consist of many things you don’t use anymore and you realize if you sell something the world won’t end. You stop posting mail calls, and purchases become very infrequent. Congratulations, you’ve entered stage 4. 

4. Liquidation 

The Liquidation stage is where the wet shaver realizes he/she has accumulated a vast collection, and now starts selling some of it.  This can happen once the “newness” wears off, when the idea of being relevant in the wet shaving community becomes stale, or if another hobby has taken over.  

I’ve seen many wet shavers become almost as obsessed with selling items as they were purchasing them. You may receive a similar form of attention like in previous stages and this can lead to vulnerability and selling items at a loss. The wet shaver may utilize raffles, secondary sale sites such as ebay, the BST section of the major forums or Facebook marketplace to sell their stuff. 

Once your collection is at a level that you feel is acceptable, you have a one way ticket to the final stage: Acceptance. 

5. Acceptance

 At this point you accept your collection as is. You may rarely post SOTD posts or mail calls, and can be  very quiet in discussions. You may or may not make small purchases here or there, but not much.  The relevance of being a big shot in the wet shaving world dwindles and communication from other shavers may halt with the exception of a few.  

You’ve either accepted wet shaving and continue to utilize classic methods or simply go back to the electric or cartridge way you were subject to before entering this world. Personally, at this point I accepted wet shaving as a part of life and now find myself using a rotation of about 6 or 7 different razors, brushes and soaps.  Even though things have slowed down, this can be a very rewarding part of the wet shaving journey.  You finally get to use your items as intended and may capture a bond with them much like our predecessors did when wet shaving was just shaving. 

Resurrection Stage (Unofficial) 

There is an unofficial 6th stage that can happen after Acceptance, but I felt it wasn’t common enough to make an official stage.  I call this the “resurrection stage.”  

Remember the “Six Month Wet Shaver”? After being gone for some time, they may start posting SOTDs and have a little spurt of activity since all but disappearing some time ago.  They’ll act like they’ve been around forever and some of the more experienced guys will remember and converse with them.  The newer generation of six month shavers will treat them as irrelevant. 

A true story: I knew a former Six Month Shaver, who was extremely active, posting numerous mail calls, commenting on every post and was generally seen as a knowledgeable person.  He disappeared for six months or so, and came back posting.  He used the “people can vouch for me” verbiage as previously mentioned and did not gain the attention he was looking for. He even went as far as to call out other newer wet shavers for not knowing what they’re doing!

You can guess the outcome.  He disappeared after about a week, after not receiving the desired attention for his posts.

Final Thoughts

Traditional Wet Shaving like all hobbies has its share of acquisition disorders.  It’s common to get really into something and want to truly experience everything about it. With wet shaving being relatively cheap (compared to other hobbies such as watches, racing) it’s not too hard to get some of the most valuable and rare items. 

In my opinion, make the decisions based on your preference, rather than the influence of others.  Don’t struggle to keep up with “the other guy” , as there will always be someone with more, but work on building your collection for you. 

If you find yourself saying those two words “why not?” then you know the rest of the story. 

Joe Borrelli

Joe Borrelli

Joe Borrelli is a long-time wet shaving enthusiast and collector. He hosts the Wet Shaving News/Talk Podcast, runs his own self-funded website and operates a YouTube channel to help inform the community of new information involving the wet shaving world. Joe holds a BBA from Florida Atlantic University, and currently works for the nation’s largest wine/spirits/beer retailer. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his wife Linda & son Anthony, reading, writing, outdoor activities and collecting wet shaving apparel. Joe has also written several dozen articles for online publications such as Sharpologist and How to Grow a Mustache.View Author posts

6 thoughts on ““Surviving” Wet Shaving Acquisition Disorders”

  1. Sooo recognize able! My 6 months took several years. Now somewhere in between stage 5 and 7 where you simply appreciate your own journeys experience. And rarely read or post something about shaving.

  2. I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole too. I like the Kubler-Ross style stages. I think I’m at the end, although the liquidation stage will not happen.

  3. I’ve been guilty of buying way too many blades, just in case supplies run dry with the way the Western world is going with focus on emissions. I should be good till I’m 120!

  4. This is the same with most Hobbies or take up of new stuff while the passion is hot and I must say we all see our selves in what you’ve said on other pursuits we’ve all done.

  5. Fascinating article.
    I would like to humbly suggest another aspect of which I am most guilty of. That is, “I have to have the best”. This is especially true when it comes to soaps and creams. While the “best car” may cost $100,000. the “best ” shaving soap may cost $30. or less. Many of the ingredients are so exotic and the shaving experience is so fraught with discomfort and bloodletting that the temptation to have the “best” that will also benefit you on a personal level sometimes 5 – 7 times a week is overwhelming. I’ve tried all the major artisan bases and thought each one was better than the previous ones, that is, until the next one comes along promising to be even better.

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