Guest Post: Shaving Lessons from Grandpa Money Mustache

Keeping our tradition of occasional words of wisdom from readers on the weekends, I thought I’d share this educational article my Dad sent me some time ago on the topic of shaving.

I covered my own take on the issue long ago when introducing what I like to call the Universal Men’s Grooming Device. But it seems that some of the Mustachian Men have situations in their life which do not allow the permanently prickly chin that I advocate myself. So they must find a way to get a smoother shave that the UMGD will provide.

This is where my Dad comes in – the man who inadvertently started the Money Mustache Movement by demonstrating a rational and efficient lifestyle to his own kids. He’s also a retired advertising writer and plays a mean jazz piano to boot. This is why he is effecively Grandpa Money Mustache to you – so shavers, listen up:

(a quick note on the tone of the article – this piece was originally written for a man-oriented magazine or newspaper, rather than specifically for me to post on this blog..  which is why it is a bit more sassy than you might expect from your grandpa)


Shaving lessons

I started with an electric shaver but at some point in my twenties, perhaps bewitched by the sexual promise of Gillette TV commercials, tried a safety razor. It left my skin as smooth as the ultimate I’d felt – a woman’s breast. Switcharooney time!

This was in the sixties, when “Gillette shaving technology” (quoting from their current labeling) was still in the lab. Guys wanting to “man up” had to settle for a decades-old device: a “safety” razor that held replacement blades (those thin, hard-to-handle, cut-your-fingers-to-shreds blades now made mainly for drug dealers, judging from all those TV scenes in which bad guys use razor blades to cut up cocaine on tabletops).

In 1971 the new shaving age cut loose with the disposable cartridge that boasted two built-in blades. Safer sure, but the ads didn’t talk about that (probably too unmanly – who’s afraid of a big bad cut or even a gash
spurting like a fire hose?). Instead, they hyped the shaving action: the first blade pulls the whisker into position; the second blade slices it off nearer the bottom for a closer shave (i.e., you’d be smoother – and sexier).

The multi-blade rationale evolved into a fuzzy “more is better” mantra as along came the three-bladed, the four-bladed and finally (no, temporarily), today’s five-bladed cartridge.

Prices have ratcheted up with the technology, natch. Which has made the mood at the store shelf highly intimidating.

Five-bladed cartridges are about twenty bucks for a package of four. My guess is they’re suggesting four is a month’s supply and, standing there beside the shelf, I imagine hearing a jingle over the store’s P.A. system:
Use one per week
Don’t buy less
Or “I’m a schmuck”
You will confess

And at my local drug store, the shelf signs add more pressure. ”Lift here,” it says on the clear plastic lid over the shelf with five-bladed cartridges. But another sign nearby says, “As a security precaution, an alarm rings when the lid is lifted.”

This is just an academic concern for me since I’ve never lifted that lid. I buy the cheap (and hence unalarmed) no-name brand twin-bladed cartridges. Thank you, fellow shaving Luddites, for supporting this antique technology.

I’ve been a twin-blader ever since they introduced three blades. I recognized instantly that this was not about my facial comfort but the financial comfort of the cartridge-makers.

There are ways to fight back. Aye, laddie, grow yer beard! I had one for quite a while, but not just to cut
costs. It’s one of the few things men can do that women can’t. (Or couldn’t. These days I admit to less and less certainty about gender differentiation).

My beard needed only a light trim a couple of times a week. One shaving cartridge lasted for months.

After my first marriage ended, I “disappeared” my beard to help me attract a new mate. This worked and I am still beardless, at her preference. This presents no financial problem thanks to my manly money-saving moxie.

For instance, I discovered that even with daily use, disposable blades work longer than the manufacturers want you to believe. Just keep using ’em until you don’t (or she doesn’t) like the feel of what’s left on your face. I’ve been doing this for years and have never been thrown out of bed.

Also, I switched from shaving foam (now $3-$5 a can) to shaving soap. You need a brush to lather up but a brush isn’t your typical repeat-purchase item. I’ve had mine, a very basic model, for over a decade.

The stores fought back by stocking less shaving soap. Eventually, the low-priced brand I was buying vanished.

I experimented with good old Ivory soap. Mirabile dictu, it works just fine.

No, it doesn’t come in a shaving mug, but that leads directly to my last discovery: no mug needed. Just swipe a wet brush a few times over the bar, transfer foam to face, lather up and voilà – shaving for the new age of
discerning the dollars (it used to be “pinching the pennies,” but you get the point).

The final word on the cost of shaving has to go to the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Ben’s beard is obviously a coded message that men don’t need to cut their whiskers. Just their whisker expenses.

P.S. My wife still strokes my cheek.

  • henrythedj October 6, 2017, 8:47 am

    heyo, finally found this one! a link to here from the UMGD article should help more folks who like me who unfortunately cannot rock the stubble every day. I used maybe 2 disposable razor blade heads all through college and have been slowly running out of the pack given to me upon entering the freshman dorm ever since….


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