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Blade dodgers

Date

Man Scape

A journalist for 20 years and a man for longer, Richard Hughes would never, ever use canned shaving foam.

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A daily ritual no longer?

A daily ritual no longer?

I'm blaming the hipsters, the baristas and a whole team's worth of footballers.

Everyone's noticed the burgeoning of beardiness and a mass of moustaches in Australia in recent years.

Time was when the only beards you'd see were worn by bushrangers in the movies, tramps on the ramble, sailors on shore leave, Albanians and Santa.

Time was when all men were "well shaved, helped by the efficiency of modern razors, electric or otherwise".

Time was when a man's grooming expenditure went on razor blades, some shaving soap, razor blades, anti-perspirant, aftershave and more razor blades.

Now the beard is as ubiquitous as the footballer's tattooed forearm and if a recent report is to be believed, the fuzzy fad is also having a big impact on some companies' bottom lines.

In a fascinating analysis of global fashion trends, Nicole Tyrimou of the market analyst Euromonitor International says shaving products – which have always had the highest market share in the men's grooming sector – are in danger of losing their crown.

"The 'men's toiletries' category has been catching up (to the shaving category)," Tyrimou writes. "In 2013 the two categories will be equal in size, with men's shaving expected to lose its dominance in men's grooming for the first time ever."

Gillette has been the boss of the shaving products game ever since the fantastically monikered King Camp Gillette put the safety razor into mass production 110 years ago.

In previous Man Scape blogs we've looked at the multi-blade razors made by Gillette and the other big razor names – Schick especially. They give a great close shave, but replacement blades are fiendishly expensive.

According to Tyrimou, men's realisation that shaving is costing far too much has seen cheaper brands such as Bic and subscription services such as the Dollar Shave Club take a slice of the big boys' money.

But a greater impact, she says, has come from the growth in the acceptability of unshavedness – whether general scruffiness, or a full beard.

"The desire for an unshaven look is expected to continue, especially in Western Europe where increasing unemployment coupled with stubble being in vogue will continue to damage growth of razors and blades," Tyrimou says.

She also warns of more danger for the razor companies if the trend spreads to Latin America. But, she predicts, before you know it beards will go the way of the 1970s moustache.

"Over the very long term, as with every trend, the wheel will turn and suddenly the fashion will be passé." But maybe even before then, there's a glimmer of light for shaving in this world of full-face fluff.

According to the Esquire Handbook of Style, beards can't just be left to fend for themselves. If you must grow yourself a beard, the handbook recommends that you keep it in check.

To ensure "as good a grip on machismo and gravitas as you do on an employable future", it advises the bearded men to keep everything south of a 2cm band just above the Adam's Apple cleanly shaven.

As the book says: "Stay in control of your beard and you stay in the fight."

Are you reducing your spending on razor blades or shaving products? What grooming products are you buying?

63 comments

  • Maybe if the blademakers weren't trying to sell you 5-6 blade razors these days they would be better off. 20 years ago a single blade razor would do an excellent job, now the twin blades are crap, and you are pushed upwards in price and number of blades to get the same result of the older razors.

    Commenter
    Red Juliar
    Date and time
    August 13, 2013, 10:21AM
    • I've had a beard for 2 years now. I've saved 3 full night's worth of sleep and around $250 in razors.

      If Gillette insist on $32 for four razors (which get blunt quicker than ever), they don't get my business.

      Commenter
      bugwan
      Date and time
      August 14, 2013, 2:45PM
    • Crap! It is all about technique. I'm still using the same twin blade disposable razor that I moved into my new house with (in March). Always shower first, use moisturiser next, then high quality soap lather, shave over basin of warm water to regularly rinse clear razor - easy, and very low cost. And my stubble is tough!

      Commenter
      OpenWindow
      Date and time
      August 14, 2013, 3:19PM
    • You don't have to buy those multiple bladed razors.

      Go buy yourself a Merkur double edged safety razor and some Feather blades for it (get a 100 pack which will last forever). Then get some Proraso or Truefitt & Hill shaving soaps or cream and you are done. Follow it up with some post-shave lotion. Best shave you'll ever get.

      Those are much faster to use as well.

      Commenter
      don't buy them
      Date and time
      August 14, 2013, 3:24PM
  • Multi-blade razors give a decidedly average shave. As the end of the article notes as well, many men keep their beard under control. Shaving is still a regular occurrence. The difference is, I'm not buying overpriced blades any more. I spent a decent amount on a double edged razor, badger brush and soap and now blades cost on the order of dollars a year, rather than tens to hundreds.

    Commenter
    Tim the Toolman
    Date and time
    August 13, 2013, 10:29AM
    • Same here, spent $80 on a double edged razor, a brush and some lather. Blades now cost me $2 for 10 and I get to enjoy the daily ritual of lathering up the soap and applying it to my face. Takes the same amount of time as the foam in tins but I get a much cleaner shave, no it=irritation and I'm saving money. One of the best thing I've ever done and I enjoy my morning shave. Highly recommend it.

      Commenter
      Warren
      Date and time
      August 13, 2013, 12:25PM
    • Yup, second this. Gobsmacked by the price of cartridges some 5 years ago I spent up on a double edge razor kit, badger brush and a veritable wagon load of shaving creams and apres-shaves... and blades at $19 for 200. Each blade lasts a week, so, lemme see... $19 for 4 years worth of blades.

      Now that I've spent the money on the kit, my annual costs are about $60 for creams and apres' and I enjoy the whole manly shave thing each morning. And the shave? BBS. Baby butt smooth.

      Commenter
      Chairman Miaow
      Date and time
      August 13, 2013, 12:47PM
  • I agree with the comments that blades and their matching razors are too expensive. And seriously ... who needs 5 or 6 or whatever is the latest number of blades they are advertising
    to get a close shave each day.

    As one who cannot use an electric shaver (they pulled my facial and neck hairs out when I tried one) I have used bladed razor since my youth. I use a twin blade razor (they are cheap) but for the past few years have not been able to buy these in the supermarkets any more. They have been superseded by 5 or 7 bladed jobs that cost a BOMB!

    So, I import my old style twin blade cartridges from a supplier in the USA. Even with postage (I buy 5 or 10 packs at a time) they are about half the price of what is available here. And they do a great job!

    ps ... I also sport a moustache. I grew that at uni and despite all the changes in the fashions of facial hair over the years, I still have my mo'

    Commenter
    Les
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    August 13, 2013, 10:40AM
    • A few laser treatments for areas below the Adams apple keep you shave free for years. I keep my stubble in check with a trimmer. Haven't purchased blades in about 5 years. They are a total rip off, in there ever was an industry that deserved it - this is the one.

      Commenter
      Dr Evil's Cat
      Location
      SOUTHBANK
      Date and time
      August 13, 2013, 10:42AM
      • It could be because they are so utterly ridiculously expensive. I saw a pack of 8 Gillette Mach 3 for sale at $32 yesterday. That is just insane.

        Commenter
        PeterH
        Location
        Burleigh Heads
        Date and time
        August 13, 2013, 10:46AM

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