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When Did Wet Shaving Explode?

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That’s the thought that ran through my head as I checked out the list of wet shaving supply sites from a simple Google search after a couple of years of going “off the reservation.” Life had gotten busy and complicated (when does it not?) and I had dialed back my wet shaving addiction. I even found myself buying cheap throwaways from the store because I had to get just a quick shave in. No, I hadn’t started using goo from a can, but that was probably the next step, like a new level of Dante’s hell, but one that smelled like Gillette Gel.

The Start

I started down the path to wet shaving in 2011. A website called “Art of Manliness” had an article about shaving like your Grandpa. What kind of blew my mind was the article was dated 2008. This wet shaving stuff had been going on before I discovered it? What a shock I was in for. My shaving routine at the time was:

  • dread doing it
  • do it quickly
  • use a five platinum/titanium blade monstrosity that cost more than my first car to replace with blades
  • cans of crap

The goo was some ungodly and unnatural color and the shaving cream out of a can always reminded me of when I used it as a teen on car windows for Halloween. But I, being a cheap bastard, would shave for as long as I could stand the razor burn and then grumble as I went to pick out more uber-expensive blades.
I searched the internet after reading the article and found websites that not only talked about shaving, but how much money it would save! Yes, I swallowed that hook, line and sinker. I had been OCD about hobbies in the past, golf, cigars, guns, but it knew no depths when I started shaving.
And the websites! It was like a dream come true for this Kansas boy: “West Coast Shaving, Shoebox Shave Shop and Royal Shave, oh my!” As I clicked and searched and slowly gained knowledge, I gained shaving supplies even faster.
It was like using a drug for the first time. A Gillette Fat Handle Tech, some Derby blades, a tube of Proraso, and a boar brush was all it took for me to start buying products, new and used, left and right. “How about a Fat Tip?” “Maybe I would like an adjustable. Merkur Futur, Gillette Slim Adjustable or a Fatboy? Hell, get all three!” That was my attitude when it came to every aspect of shaving. From razors (had 5 at one time) to brushes (6 badger, 4 boar, 2 horse, 4 synthetic) to creams and soaps (more than 60 scents and makes) I had plowed so much money into the “saving money” of wet shaving that I could have bought 10 years worth of the 5-blade cartridges.
But the shave was much better and so was how I felt. But the cost! To quote my South Dakota friends: “Ooofta!” It wasn’t until my wife had to buy me a new bathroom rack to hold all my shaving gear that I took a deep breath and realized that while I hadn’t purchased every shaving item I wanted, I had way more than I needed.
So I stopped surfing the web every day to find out what was new and awesome and old and awesome in the world of shaving. And as I did, my enthusiasm slowly waned for the brush, the lather and the blade.

Fast forward to late 2014

Life hadn’t slowed down, but had gotten busier. Busy with the job, promotions and such. Busy with the family, kids growing and going to soccer and dance and softball and concerts and lessons. But definitely not busy with shaving. Yes, I shaved, but I started to see it as a chore again. “I have to LOAD the brush to get lather? What a waste of time!” Time to say goodbye to half my soaps! And since my job doesn’t require me to shave every day, I soon didn’t. Shave for church on Sunday, maybe on Wednesday and that’s it.
What spun me around one day is my wife bought me a new tube of C.O. Bigelow for Christmas 2014. Not my favorite, but a standard for me when I was shaving every day with my Fatboy. I saw that huge green tube every day in the bathroom and after a few months of staring at it, I decided to break out my scuttle (yes, I kept the scuttle. That’s one of those things you never get rid of) and really take the time to give myself a good shave. I don’t know why I made that decision, but thank the lord baby Jesus for muscle memory! I got a smooth as a baby’s butt shave, dug out some D.R. Harris Windsor aftershave  from under the sink and literally felt like a new man.
That’s when I decided to go to the internet and see what had happened to wet shaving while I was “away.” I had kept reading the Sharpologist but not with the intensity I had once only reserved  for the bra and panties section of the JC Penney catalog as a teen. (This was before the days of wall to wall cheesecake. You really had to use your imagination!).
Where once there were a dozen, maybe a dozen and a half sites, now there were so many more shops and companies and distributors offering products. Some, I had never heard of, like Caties Bubbles. This soap was being bought and sold with the intensity (don’t worry, not another porn reference) of Wall Street traders in the classic “Trading Places.” And that was just the tip of the iceberg. There were dozens of new website selling dozens and dozens of new products.
While I do feel like I missed a few years of seeing the wet shaving world grow by leaps and bounds, it looks like the rest of the world finally caught on that a good shave doesn’t take 5 blades, a vibrating handle and a can of goo.

All it takes is a good razor, good products and time.
Jay Harrell

Jay Harrell

7 thoughts on “When Did Wet Shaving Explode?”

  1. if you would have mentioned darts in one of your OCD obsessions along with the ones you mentioned, we’d have to become besties STAT, as I have dove in head first into those exact same ones you mentioned…

    1. Oh, Davin, I didn’t go back far enough in my OCD-ness! I did the whole “I need to have three or four complete dart sets.” I did that when I was stationed in Germany in the Army. I was on a team and had a set that cost as much as a Simpson Chubby 3!
      Now, by the laws of manhood and OCD, we are officially besties! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Chris! I’m making it a goal to try your products this year. I’ve heard nothing but good reviews!

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