The chin and I

Do you look in the morning mirror and think to yourself: 'Truly, this is the best a man can get' or are you the experimental type - always looking for a new, better-groomed you?

The fact is that many of us are set our ways when it comes to grooming. Some might say: "Why change the way you’ve done things if they’ve worked for you for years - or even decades?"  But on the other hand, we all know the pitfalls of getting stuck in a rut in other areas of our life - and the same rule can apply to our appearance.

I rarely if ever read the instructions too closely, if at all. For anything.

I’ve been changing a few things with in my morning routine recently - through circumstance and happenstance - which has proved that both sides of the argument have some merit.

Anti-perspirant: Ball or aerosol?
My preference, since you ask, is for a stick - but the other day I found I’d run out and had to use a spray. Now I don’t know about you, but I rarely if ever read the instructions too closely, if at all. For anything. Recipes, phones, relationships, cans of anti-perspirant spray.

I’m a man, me, so I work it out as I go along. So I had a shower, rubbed myself down roughly and sprayed it on. Didn’t read the label, especially the bit about broken or irritated skin. Didn’t think too much more about it until a couple of days later. Agony in the armpits. Thought the worst. Then remembered and cleaned them and all was right again. Have since reverted to my preferred deodorant. So I was right all along - stick with what you know. 15-love to the tried and true.

Shaving soap
It must be that time of the season, chez Hughes, because about the same time that the anti-perspirant breathed it’s last, the shaving soap ran dry too.

Strangely, I’d been inundated with foam-in-a-can from various sources - at least one of them pointing out that this blog proudly advertises my aversion to such new-fangled notions. But in the spirit of discovery, I shelved my prejudices and tried them all - Elemis Ice-Cool Foaming Shave Gel, Natio for Men Maximum Easy Glide Shave Foam and Schick Anti-Irritant Shave Gel. And you know what? I didn’t like them any better than my shaving soap.

The gels come out like a minty toothpaste, then foam alarmingly - but do their thing; the Elemis is very bracing, the Schick very smooth, and the Natio glides across the skin as well as it claims but when, in the deepest recesses of the bathroom cupboard I found a cake of proper shaving soap I was, I must admit, relieved. That’s the right way to shave. Proper soap and a brush made from the whiskers of a recently slaughtered, medium-sized mammal. 30-love to the old ways.

Razors: Schick didn’t just send some shaving gel. They also threw in a you-beaut new razor. The Schick Hydro 5 Power Select ($14.99). It is, they told me, the “ultimate power tool of shaving”. It’s a wet-shave razor that vibrates. And it’s got five blades. Whoo-hoo!

I’d often wondered about this arms race with razor manufacturers. Time was when one blade did the trick. Then there had to be three. Now, it seems one needs five. Fair enough - but is it any better?

I remember seeing some animal documentary once which asserted that most mammals -  mice, elephants, us and the dead badger whose whiskers sop my soap - will all have the same number of heartbeats in a lifetime. By the same token, Schick claim that men - be they hairy, smooth or middling, will spend 3000 hours in their lifetime shaving. So if you’re going to dedicate that long - 17 weeks non-stop - to dragging sharpened metal across your chin you may as well get it right.

It’s obvious that the wet shave is the only way to shave - electric razors leave a Miami-Vice-Style stubble and depilatory cream is silly - so there really is no alternative (except beards, perhaps).

I’ve long been a three-blade kind of a guy and couldn’t really see the point of the five-blader. But gift horses and all that, so I gave it a go and got the best shave ever. No joke. It was superb.

The vibrating action is a bit of a silly gimmick, I suspect, but that five-blade device cuts the mustard, and the beard too. I’m sold. There are, by the way, other similar razors around - the Gillete Fusion ProGlide for one is priced about the same as the Schick, and could well do a similar job - but I have not, as yet tried any.

Replacement blades are a bit expensive - but that’s always the case. Once they’ve got you, they’ve got you. And they’ve got me. I’m out of the three-blade rut and - until we get seven, or nine, or 15-blades - a five-blade razor kind of a guy. Apart from one small quibble. It’s got a slightly bigger head to hold all that steel and it can’t get everywhere - I ended up with the world’s tiniest moustache just under my nose. So not quite match point but quite definitely DEUCE.

What products do you prefer when it comes to shaving and grooming, and are you a sticker or an experimenter?