Stubble B GONE!
April 30, 2013 7:51 AM   Subscribe

So, I'm tired of scraping sharp metal over my face. Whats my best alternative?

I use bic razors... the classic 'sharp object on a stick' single blade thingy, either in a shower or with gel stuff. I'm tired of this. I am considering an electronic razor, but I want one that works well for just shaving the face, nothing fancy. OR, what are my other options? Do... creams and stuff actually work? (In a reasonably affordable budget)

So, something I haven't thought of, or an electric, or a better razor?
posted by Jacen to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
When I got tired of scraping sharp metal over my face, I let my beard grow. Every seven or ten days, I use a beard trimmer to maintain it at a long stubble length. So, nothing is scraping my skin and my facial hair maintenance time is reduced 90 percent.
posted by beagle at 7:56 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

Electric razors are fine. And the ones at the cheap end of the spectrum are often as good as the fancy ones.

But I do what beagle does. Beard trimmer (the one on my cheapo shaver) once a week. In my case this is to minimise irritation as much as to reduce shaving time to 5 minutes a week.
posted by pipeski at 8:02 AM on April 30, 2013

This may sound counterintuitive, but I think your problem is not that you're scraping sharp metal over your face, but that the metal you're scraping over your face isn't sharp enough. If you want to keep a clean shaven look, what you're looking for is a safety razor. This is what your grandfather used to use. It takes a little bit of practice, but once you've worked it out shaving with a safety razor is quicker, more effective, and less irritating than using a disposable 'bic' type razor (or any Mach-style multi-blade monstrosity for that matter).

Or just grow the beard and use a trimmer to maintain stubble.
posted by narcotizingdysfunction at 8:06 AM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

Yeah I've always used a fairly low-end electric razor (still a decent brand, e.g. Phillips, but no-where near the super-expensive water-proof-18-rotating-titanium-diamond-blades type) and they do the job fine. I still have a regular disposable razor around for if I forget to charge the electric one, and I feel like the regular razor gives me a slightly closer shave than the electric one, but the difference in the amount of effort and concentration required is enough that I don't really care.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:07 AM on April 30, 2013

Oh yeah, and safety razors are much cheaper than mach-type razors, and probably even than bics over the long-term. All you need is a razor, which will last your whole life, and then the blades cost pennies.
posted by narcotizingdysfunction at 8:08 AM on April 30, 2013

A while back I also got tired of the one, two, three or however many blade abominations that are out there. Ridiculously expensive garbage. Long story shortened, I got turned on to grandpa technology. The double edged safety razor. Blades are super cheap. Get a badger brush and a cake of Proraso or Tabac soap.

It takes some practice. You don't need to press hard at all. Let the weight of the razor do the work. I use a Merkur 34C. Have a styptic pencil or bar nearby because you will cut yourself in the beginning. But it is so worth it. The smoothest closest shave outside of a barber shop. For pennies a shave.
posted by Splunge at 8:08 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Art of Maniliness's "Shave like your grandpa": article and video.

(I do the grow-and-trim-to-stubble thing too, though. I have a safety razor but rarely use it.)
posted by supercres at 8:12 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you've been using a Bic forever (dang, I can't imagine), I think you'll be surprised how much better a Mach 3 is. I've been using one since pretty much they came out.
posted by General Malaise at 8:17 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Chemical hair removal creams might work, or you might just get a horrible rash. You can get them at any drugstore and they are not insanely expensive. If you try a tiny dab on the side of your face that would minimize the risk.
posted by steinwald at 8:18 AM on April 30, 2013

Just get a standard Gillette or Wilkinson Sword razor (General Malaise's suggestion of a Mach 3 is a good one). You won't believe the difference between one of these and a Bic. I can't believe you've been using a Bic as an everyday razor - I wouldn't even use one once.
posted by cincinnatus c at 8:26 AM on April 30, 2013

I currently use a multi-blade monstrosity (Gilette Mach 3), which works pretty well, and I think that will work better for you than the bic blades you've been using. However, I also recently got a safety razor. I haven't quite gotten the hang of it yet, but it would definitely break up the routine of simply scraping sharp metal over your face.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 8:28 AM on April 30, 2013

Another vote for a proper safety razor. I use a Merkur 23C long handle which I find more comfortable as a woman shaving legs, but the short traditional 34C is probably better suited in terms of comfort for shaving your face. The weight is lovely and it will last a lifetime- I hope. The bonus is that you can try out different brands of blades to use with it. I use Derby and find them gentle on my skin and effective. Someone with a thick beard might prefer a different blade. I have a friend who swears by a brand I hate. It's all about finding what you like, and sample packs are available from some retailers.

Anyone I know who has switched has no regrets. It's cheaper and more customizable. Once you find your brand of blades, you can get a pack of 100 and be laughing for a year or more. Your face will thank you. My husband insist he buy me my own (so I'd stop using his!) and I wasn't so sure I needed it, but now every shave is a nice experience. No regrets.
posted by sunshinesky at 8:29 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've been using a Phlilips Reflex Plus electric shaver for maybe eight years now. It probably cost me $30, so I've saved heaven knows much on disposable razors. I've never had a problem with it. It's less than optimal between the Adam's apple and chin, but if I really need to worry about that I can touch it up with a disposable.
posted by seemoreglass at 8:34 AM on April 30, 2013

Have a styptic pencil or bar nearby because you will cut yourself in the beginning.

Just chiming in to say that you won't necessarily cut yourself in the beginning. I put off trying the double-edged safety razor method for at least a year because I was worried about cutting myself. Now I've been doing it for about 6 months and have not cut myself yet. So it's not inevitable that you'll cut yourself in the beginning.

But it's not apparent from your question just exactly why you are tired of shaving with a blade. Therefore, I don't think those of us who would evangelize for the safety razor "grandpa" shave are actually answering the question, since you didn't ask us how to improve your shaving experience or whether there's some other blade you'll like more. After all, you didn't say you don't like the blade you're using, just that you're "tired" of shaving.

So I think the real alternative - the right answer to the question you actually asked - is that electric razors are a good choice for some people, but not for other people. I used various electrics for years and found that they universally irritate my skin and cause break-outs and ingrown hairs, and that my skin fares much better with a good blade shave. I now shave with a safety razor, badger brush, and good sandalwood shaving cream in a mug and my face has never felt better. So try an electric, but don't be surprised if, like many people, you hate it and it gives you skin problems. The other alternative is to either have maintained stubble or to grow a beard. Some people don't like having a beard. Some people do. Life's short - try it out!
posted by The World Famous at 8:34 AM on April 30, 2013

I'm a safety razor guy, and I think all cartridge razors are subpar. That said, Bic razors are shit even in the context of cartridge razors. If you're not willing to go all-out on a safety razor, at least try a Mach 3 or something similar. If you have coarse and/or curly facial hair, an electric razor is probably going to be unkind to your skin.
posted by mkultra at 8:39 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

I have used a Bic when I forgot my regular razor on a trip; They are awful. Just about any non-disposable razor beats them by a mile (well the blades are disposible, just not the handle). Electric razors never felt right to me, I like the slight exfoliation you get from an blade.
posted by TedW at 8:40 AM on April 30, 2013

I've been using a safety razor like those mentioned above for a good few years now, alternating between a Muhle R41 and a Merkur 34C depending on my mood (using Feather blades). I much prefer them but the initial investment of a good razor and brush may discourage you.

I do however use the single blade Bic Sensitive disposables when I go on holiday and I find them quite adequate. I'm wondering if it's your shaving technique that is causing you trouble? Do you press too hard? How do you prepare your skin for shaving?

We need more information on your routine and what you find tiresome about it to be able to help properly! I shave in the evening and turn it into 'me time' so it is something enjoyable, rather than a rushed chore in the morning.
posted by 999 at 8:44 AM on April 30, 2013

Not necessarily an answer to your question, but for the other cartridge users, I've recently switched from Mach III to Harry's (with a detour through Dollar Shave Club) and get the equivalent shave for less than half the price.
posted by Jacob G at 8:51 AM on April 30, 2013

I wouldn't put chemical hair removal cream on your face unless it is very specifically designed for it. There is a reason why darker-haired women tend to bleach their 'moustaches' rather than removing them with creams.
posted by mippy at 8:52 AM on April 30, 2013

I was given a Philips SensoTouch 3D electric razor as a gift. It's an expensive luxury that I would have never bought for myself, but after using it for a year, I can say that I like it so much I would buy another one if this were to break. It doesn't give me razor burn (as other electric razors have), it's a very fast shave that I can do dry-faced in the morning while surfing Metafilter, it's good at getting the curvy parts of the face, it's easy to clean, and its battery lasts for a few weeks without recharging. I'm not sure how long its blades will stay sharp, but so far it's fine, and the cost spread out over a year or more isn't so bad. TLDR: Expensive, but actually works really well.

Prior to that, I used a Merkur 25 safety razor. As others here have suggested, that is going to be a far superior experience to your Bics, and safety razor blades are cheap compared to proprietary cartridges. It also requires a bit of education about proper technique, so don't just start hacking at your face with one of these. I still use the safety razor on lazy Sundays when I want a special luxury.

And prior to that, I used a Mach3. A Mach3 with dull blades is a terrible shave, and a Mach3 with sharp blades is ridiculously expensive.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:15 AM on April 30, 2013

The smoothest closest shave outside of a barber shop. For pennies a shave.

I've been a safety-razor user for about twelve years now. If you are only going to shave with a single pass, I think a Mach 3 or similar multi-blade cartridge razor will actually give you a closer shave. With a safety razor, I have to re-lather and shave a second (or even third) time to get a truly close shave. And there's this one spot one my neck that I can never seem to get smooth no matter what direction I shave from. I enjoy shaving with the safety razor, but if this sounds like more work than you are willing to do, then you should probably grow a beard and use a trimmer.

The real advantage of a safety razor is in the price of blades. You can easily buy in bulk and change blades every couple days without thinking about the price. That is absolutely not true about cartridge razors — I'm always surprised by how expensive even the truly disposable models are when I'm traveling.
posted by stopgap at 9:51 AM on April 30, 2013

I don't particularly like shaving, but I like having a hairless face. If you can do the beard, that's certainly an acceptable option.

Otherwise, electric may be the way to go. I have the cheapest Panasonic wet/dry battery powered model. It was like $10-$12. Works perfectly adequately. Depending on how fast your beard grows, once or twice a day can keep you perfectly presentable.

If you demand a baby butt smooth face, there is no real option other than razor.

Safety razor advocates abound. I use one most of the time. Truthfully, I don't find them superior to cartridge or disposables. Cost savings can be a factor, but cost isn't an issue for me, and I doubt I'm saving much money over my previous preferred method, single or double blade disposables. The single edge Bic is a fine razor, comparable to my old Schick Injector safety razor. I find the twin blade Bic is more forgiving.

Cartridge razors can get pretty expensive, especially for the newest models. But they generally seem to work fine.

The key to shaving is to find a method that works well with your chosen tools. Shaving with an old fashioned double edge safety razor the same way as a modern five blade cartridge will likely lead to unsatisfactory and/or painful results. Ditto shaving with a old fashioned GEM/Injector/etc.

One thing to keep in mind about glowing testimonials regarding safety razors is they can be colored by novelty/nostalgia factor. Rediscovering Grampa's methods are very popular these days. Occasionally I visit a shaving forum, and it's not uncommon for people to revisit the old disposable after the effort and cost of savoring a more gourmet shaving experience, and see the disposable in a whole new light. The process of learning how to use exotic blades in vintage razors, along with the boutique accoutrements, often yields something even more important: valuable experience.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:00 AM on April 30, 2013

If you're tired of shaving, the most obvious thing to do would be to stop. If you're capable of growing a full beard, then just go ahead and do so. Barring that, I would try upgrading your razor (those Bic disposables are really nasty and scratchy) or going electric. The reason there are so many options is that there isn't really a single perfect one. Experiment until you find something that works for you. Me, I have a full beard and I just maintain the lines with a safety razor (Merkur 34c, Feather blades, and just some hot water) and occasionally trim it to my preferred length and shape with a buzzer. Works for me -- I like the look and I find it easy to maintain.

Be wary of creams though, they can get *seriously* irritating when used in places they're not meant to go. Ask me how I know.
posted by Scientist at 12:14 PM on April 30, 2013

I vote for a three to six-blade razor. It's amazingly better than the Bic you're using.

Electric razors don't work for me at all. I'm left with a face full of stubble. I used to shave with Gillettes, but they're a huge ripoff. I tried a safety razor, and it dragged across my beard, making me feel like I was about to slash my face or slit my throat. No thanks.

I switched to Dorco blades, which are the same blades the Dollar Shave Club uses. You can actually buy them for very little money from Dorco's US distributor. I like the four blade, 85 cent Dorco better than the $1.75 Gillette I was using previously.
posted by cnc at 1:13 PM on April 30, 2013

Pre-shave oil changed my life. Ok, not really, but it made shaving a lot easier and more pleasant when I oiled my face up before adding cream. Also, I use a safety razor, and because blades are so cheap, I'm never shy about using a brand new, fresh, sharp blade.
posted by deanc at 1:57 PM on April 30, 2013

If you are going to buy an electric razor look online for coupons. There are always coupons for about $15 off or rebate offers to be had. Then have a couple of beers - my treat.
posted by srboisvert at 2:22 PM on April 30, 2013

Well there is one other option. Magic Shave Shaving Powder. When I was younger I was turned on to this by a co-worker. While I didn't like it. It burns your skin if you leave it on too long. My black friends swore by it.
posted by Splunge at 2:41 PM on April 30, 2013

I've never had a quality shave with an electric, even back when I was a peach-fuzzed teen. Cartridges allow for decent outcomes with sloppy technique but, man, expensive. Safety razors allow for an equivalent shave as cartridges and I don't feel so bad about swapping out blades weekly. I'd give creams a base 75% chance of getting you to look like you suffer from some combination of herpes and Hansen's disease. My brother, bless his little heart, is one of the 25% who can pull this off.

Picking the right kind of facial hair can also lend itself to less frequent shaving. I've reduced my shaving to three days a week with a hybrid Zappa/Horseshoe look. The scruffy that happens on Tuesdays/Thursdays doesn't look out of place and since I left the service I shave for no man, woman, or child on the weekends.
posted by Fezboy! at 3:05 PM on April 30, 2013

Get a Mach 3 razor and shaving cream. Those cheap single blades are not going to do it. Also make sure you shave right out of a hot shower.
posted by humanfont at 5:24 PM on April 30, 2013

I also switched to a safety razor many years ago. It’s ridiculous how much better it works and how simple it is. Better than an electric for me.
posted by bongo_x at 9:37 PM on April 30, 2013

I hate shaving. When I used to use a Mach whatever and started using pre-shave oil it was absolutely worth it.

But a friend recommended this electric razor and it's amazing. I have really thick facial hair and never thought an electric razor could do the job, but this one does. I still have to use a single-blade to get some hard-to-reach areas like right under my nose, but otherwise my shave is fast and mindless.
posted by theuninvitedguest at 12:34 AM on May 1, 2013

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