Manly Men and Safety Razors

Grooming Lounge.  All photos © Jamie Koslow 2010

Grooming Lounge. All photos © Jamie Koslow 2010

I just saw another article extolling the virtues of being a manly man and using a safety razor. There are a lot of them. all kinds of sites claiming to teach you how to be a manly man. You’ve seen them. They have names like “Manly Men Vikings and Operators”. Okay I made that one up, I hope. I didn’t google it and it probably exists, along with a lot of other sites run by those who wish they were men.

First thing to realize is that most sites that want to tell you how to be a manly man are clickbait and want to sell you something. Notice how all of them conveniently have links to buy overpriced merchandise that will allow you to be a “Real Man”. In other words, they think you are a sucker. If you fall for that hogwash you are a sucker.

I’ll start by deconstructing the safety razor thing as an example and move on from there. Safety razors were a great innovation back in the day. The day being the 19th century. Most things have been improved since the days of muzzle loading weapons. Since the first safety razor patent application was just after the Mexican-American war it definitely falls into muzzle loader days. Admittedly, even though the first granted patent for what we recognize as the safety razor didn’t come along until the 1880s, the idea was still a half century old at the time.

Now I don’t know about you, but I find that there are very few ideas that old that haven’t been improved since then. Even the bow and arrow have seen miraculous improvements in design despite being prehistoric tech. Ask any archer and they will tell you that the compound bow is far better than the longbow. Unless of course they are purists who are truly arguing on aesthetic grounds (Okay, I’m one of the purists).

The same is certainly true of such recent tech as the safety razor. The reason the safety razor took off was simple, it was much more difficult to accidentally cut your own throat with one. Oh you could still cut yourself by accident but doing so badly enough to bleed out was much more difficult. I started off with what all of you would recognize as a safety razor. I also was very familiar with styptic pencils and little bits of TP all over my face to help stop the bleeding. Minor cuts but still painful. Also the bits of TP were not particularly attractive.

The safety razor also had dangers from the blades themselves. Handling a sharp small blade while still half asleep led to lots of relatively minor cuts, minor meaning few required stitches. Safely disposing of the blades was also a problem. If your blade dispenser had a container for used blades it wasn’t very big and tended to be problematic when trying to shove a used blade in. Not to mention the fact that the used blade tended to be a growth medium for the bacteria that love your blood and bits of skin and hair that clung to it. Blades that weren’t carefully put into a metal holder tended to cut themselves out of wherever they were disposed of and became a serious hazard for children, sanitation workers, and anyone else in the area.

The first real innovation was the injector razor, it dates back to the 1920s and had the advantage of less blade handling, it still cut you a lot. Still having an easy way to dispose of the old blades relatively safely, and to insert the new ones was a great improvement. Unfortunately it didn’t really take off until sometime in the middle of the century.

Cartridge razors came about in 1970 and soon came to dominate the market. There were reasons for this. One, they tended to be much safer in terms of cutting yourself accidentally while shaving. Another was the fact that the used blade was relatively safe. You still don’t want the baby to get hold of one, but it can be disposed of in a normal trash bag with little danger.

Now that we have covered a lot of history that is boring you to tears while adding to my word count (What? I didn’t do it for the word count but it is a nice bonus), We will talk about why falling for the Manly Man thing makes you a sucker. You see, nothing about the safety razor is a benefit to the user. Other than some fake macho bull that is. OH, I need to add this, a safety razor does not do a better job of shaving anyone. Though some people may think so, a razor edge will cut hair just fine whether it sticks out far enough to damage you or not.

Well now, if modern cartridge razors are much safer than old fashioned safety razors, why are they being pushed as manly? Well there are a couple of reasons. One is the simple fact that people look back and see the older generation as tougher “real men”. I find that odd as it makes me one of those older tougher men. I don’t remember killing a panther at age three or whatever legend you want to bring up. We did the same thing when I was young you see. There was always a bit of discussion going about on the subject of getting a “real” razor. In our case it was, the straight razor, a very stupid idea.

The other reason is similar but a bit different. You have people who aren’t all that manly themselves, but who want to be seen that way. Doing the safety razor thing allows them to thump their chests and pretend to have testosterone. In fact it is closely related to mall ninja culture, for similar reasons. These people set themselves up and proclaim that they do this that or the other thing because they are Real Manly Men. What they mostly are is posers. By dictating what is Manly they can claim manhood themselves. Most of them are so far from being men they can barely see manhood from where they sit. Since they are not really manly they look for trappings of manliness. Sort of like the three year old in daddy’s boot and hat playing grown up.

I don’t know if I’m a manly man or not, I’m mostly just a man. You want to be a real man? Easy enough. Stand up to your responsibilities. Make your choices based on principle and common sense. And always do what you think is right. The other Macho Manly Man crap? Think of the three year old in daddy’s boots.


28 comments on “Manly Men and Safety Razors

  1. I’ve considered going to a safety razor. Mainly because due to my genetic heritage (my ancestors were apparently werewolves) even shaving daily, I jam up the multi-blade razors in two or three uses. So buying the latest 15 blade face massaging technology is for me a waste of time and money.

    As for the “Manly Man” aspect. Hell, I’ve been in the most manly situation anyone can be in. I used to fight fires. I quit worrying about my manhood a long time ago.


  2. A real man does what he wishes and feels is right. Neither more nor less. He certainly does not need other people to tell him how to act. He may, from time to time solicit or accept advice from others when in his judgement it is good advice. But that’s the key “in his judgement”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it was C.S.Lewis who said that the desire to avoid childish things to appear mature is, itself, childish. Grownups just do what needs to be done, and to hell with perceptions of people whose opinions are irrelevant.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I use a safety razor. At this point in my life, I prefer the paltry sum I pay for blades compared the the Mach 3 I used to use.

    Frankly, I don’t have anything to prove to anyone at this point in my life. I just do it because I like it and it doesn’t hurt another soul if I do it. What more do I need?

    Liked by 3 people

    • I have no problem with safety razors. I have even considered going back to one myself. I have a problem with them being pushed as “The only manly way to shave”. I would feel the same about straight razors or what have you. What you use to shave makes you neither more nor less of a man. Unless your reason for using it is to be more of a man

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I agree. I like using it. What makes me a man are the decisions I’ve made, both right and wrong, and how I’ve dealt with those. Nothing more, nothing less.

        If how I shave were to make me a REAL man, then I’d shave with a rock I sharpened myself and call it a day.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. *shrug* the only time the “real men” tag line leaves my fingertip[while typing online] or my lips in real life is when someone is ooooing and ahhhing about naturally nakkid men or men who wax their body hair; and ewwwing at someone like myself who is a wee bit furry as it were. At which point along with a profound snort of disdain the phrase “Real me wear fur…THEIR OWN!” will fly from my lips or fingertips.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always remember that a sign of manhood is a hairy chest, boys are hairless because they aren’t man enough to grow any


  6. I’ve found the 6 blade Dollar General paintbrush style works best for me. The thing does not have the typical “lubrication” strip that dissapears and changes the blade angle, causing nicks, and I get many weeks of use from each one (A 3 pack lasts nearly a year, and at the end of life the things still shave better than the third shave with a Gillet Mach razor). It likely helps what hair I have was rather fine, so ymmv. I’m told the ones from Dollar Shave Club are made by the same company (Pace) Korean blades assembled in Taiwan. I shave my whole head about every other day. ASR, Gillet, and Schick only really work for me 2 times, and after that I either take longer to get everything, or get cut up.


    • I’ve never tried that. I bought my Atra in the 70s and have been using generic cartridges since the 80s. a fine beard isn’t the only qualification for blade longevity though. I have what my mother always referred to as hide instead of skin. I can tolerate a relatively dull razor. OTOH my ex’s oldest son never gets more than 3 shaves out of a blade, his skin is so delicate that it gets very painful


      • my skin can’t handle an electric at all, and likely my hairs being fine allows the blades to stay sharp a longer while, but they are good steel.


        • I can use an electric, i have one I use when in a hurry. My biggest problem with electrics is five o’clock shadow. If I shave with an electric at 7:00 Am I need to redo it by 3:00 PM. A blade shave will cover me until bedtime.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. If I had the time I’d invest in a straight razor. Not because I want to be a manly man, but because I get tired of spending so much for replacement razor blades.


    • You might find that the costs associated with straight razors are higher than the price of blades. keeping one sharp enough being part of it, stitches being another cost 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  8. “Unless of course they are purists who are truly arguing on aesthetic grounds (Okay, I’m one of the purists).”

    My reason? “Because, elves.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. History on disposing of the used blade. Growing up in Ambler PA, the medicine cabinet had a slot in the back you could just put the used blade in. I bet after about 20 years, the space between the studs was full of old, dangerous blades, but that was somebody else’s problem.


    • Twenty years of hair, skin, and blood traces mixed with soap could make an interesting breeding ground for whatever bugs the men had over those years too.


  10. Hell, just use the dirk you carry in your boot 🙂


  11. Used to use a safety razor till the post broke and the other one is a lil loose on holding the blade close. Will never use a straight razor no matter how MANLY it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I won’t say there are no reasons to use a cut-throat razor. I will say growing a full neckbeard is much more likely for me 😀


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