It is safe to say that anyone who has even glanced at this blog knows that I am no luddite. I use and extol technology for its own sake all the time. And yet, and yet. There comes a time when it is so clear that neither human necessity nor technological innovation are driving change that I find myself wondering if low tech might be better. I speak of course of the proliferation of multi-bladed razors.
True to form, I’d been thinking I needed more blades for some time. Why? More blades. I had been using the prehistoric, two-blade plus lube strip Sensor Excel for years and frankly I was jealous of the three-, four-, and five- bladed variants. When they added power to vibrate the whole rig I knew it was only a matter of time. I believe the equation, check me on this, is: (r + p)b = d, where r = the basic razor stem, p = power, b = number of blades, and d = desire for object.
So I forgot my old razor on my latest trip. I was staying with my in-laws and my brother-in-law had one of the newfangled Fusion 5+1 beasts. This is the razor that the Onion actually predicted back in 2004. As the chart below from the Economist shows, the parody wasn’t all that prophetic. Blade profusion is almost as guaranteed as Moore’s Law. We’ll be at 14 blades by 2100.
My experience was terrible. See, five blades does give a nice shave on the open fields of ones cheeks, but for actual styling or for navigating any kind of variance in facial topography it is simply too big. I have a goatee, so getting close in to the beard is key. If I don’t I look like a hick meth addict festooned with different lengths of hair around my mouth. Yes, the +1 on the Fusion is the extra blade on the back precisely for this purpose, but it really doesn’t work. The single blade is still part of a gigantic bladehead and you just can’t get close enough.
I was still without a decent razor so my father-in-law bought me a powered Mach 3, a razor he swears by. Same problem and this time without the styling blade. The power too is a problem. For one, I didn’t realize how much of shaving is actually aural. I’d grown accustomed to hearing the sound of the beard growth being severed or not — no shearing noise meaning I’d gotten that area fully. This is much harder to do with a vibrating shaft (ahem) in your hand. I found it taking me longer to shave. Maybe I was also more cautious since it felt like the razor would vibrate right out of my hand at any time. There’s enough metal on that baby to earn its place in a display case next to a cat-o’-nine-tails mace.
So, I’m going low-tech. Back to the Sensor Excel. Perhaps nanotech is the salvation here and I will return to the multibladed progress curve, but for now I’m bailing. Call me backwards. But also call me well-groomed.