Skin Job

8.14.2008

By Sam Pritchard

How magical shaving seems as an adolescent, willing the light downy hairs on our cheeks to turn coarse and stubbly. How grown-up and how masculine. A late developer, I recall swiping my mother's mascara brush and dabbing it over my invisible moustache in a desperate effort to join the ranks of man-boys whose bodies were ahead of mine. Such chicanery has long proved unnecessary, but who knew how quickly I'd come to resent that morning ritual. It's easy in these days of manufactured authenticity and artisanal everything to be lured by the romance of the traditional shave, with its brushes of authentic badger hair and ornate ceramic razors, but years of experimentation have taught me a valuable lesson: The $10 drugstore razor with a can of foam is faster and more efficient than anything our grandparents dreamed of. It leaves fewer nicks, and it's backed up with the kind of engineering more often reserved for military weapons. I know. I've seen Gillette's R&D facility in England, and it's fierce. The latest Gillette razor, the five-blade Fusion, is the result of years of laboratory testing (yes, they do actually have men in white coats watching volunteers shave through double-sided mirrors), and it really does give a smoother shave. The blades are closer together to reduce friction, and there's a nifty trimmer for that cleft above and below your lips. So put all nonsense of traditional barbers out of your head -- they leave you red, raw, and sorry -- and keep your faith with science.

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