Only the Hair-Brained Scrape Their Faces Away

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gillette. All opinions are 100% mine with my standard disclosure.

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I’m not aware of too many men who don’t shave at some point in their lives. Even when there’s a Hagrid-shaggy beard or ’70s-stylish Ron Burgundy ‘stache present, at times we must bust out the old razor and trim the hedges, so to speak. Being the Locker variety of Gnome, I don’t share my garden-loving cousins’ affinity for the proud display of a cascading bundle of whiskers that would only serve to tickle my pale, desk-shaded kneecaps and remind me of the need to shave more often. No, I’m a “once a day” shaver… sometimes even going for a second scrape if I have an evening function to attend. If I don’t do this, I end up looking like some sort of Stone Age, knuckle-dragging troglodyte. Remember Chaka from Land of the Lost? Kind of like that (though perhaps just a hair more hirsute).

I’ve heard from a few of you now that you don’t take your morning shave seriously. There are horror stories floating around online detailing the pain, bleeding, and cursing that some dudes put themselves through on a daily basis. Why are they using old, rusted blades? Why wouldn’t they simply buy a new one? Perhaps they’re clinging to tradition or an “old friend.” Maybe they just don’t like change. Whatever the reason, I personally think it’s crazy to torture your face. I can respect the idea of tradition, but even Tevya would take a pause in fiddling from yonder rooftop perch to ask what the heck is wrong with someone whose heartfelt attachment to a rustic, rusty antique outweighs an attachment to his own face.

As Mr. T would tell you: “A dull blade is a weapon – not a tool – fool!”

And sometimes people get crazy notions in their heads to circumvent the time-honored tradition of the blade, entirely. Scott from Chicago tells us that he once applied an Epilady to his face “just to see what would happen.” He’d heard women complaining about how painful it was, and his response was, “how painful could it possibly be?” As he soon discovered, having “even the shortest hairs” yanked out viciously “by the root” can reduce a burly, high school linebacker into a quivering lump of cranberry marmalade. “I’d be lying if I said I was crying like a little girl,” says Scott, “because I think a little girl would be able to tolerate that level of pain better than I could.”

Scott later joined the U.S. Marine Corps where boot camp was, he says, “a less harrowing ordeal in comparison.”

How do you shave? With the grain or against it (or both)? With an heirloom straight razor that was passed down from your great-great-great uncle (who used it during the Civil War), or will disposables from the 99 cent store do the trick? Do you buy a razor you love and then use it every day until it begs for mercy and falls apart in your hands, or do you slip the barber two bits to take care of business when you go in for a haircut every few months or so? Do you smear a burning chemical depilatory cream on your face, cross your fingers, and hope for the best, or do you maybe just take the most mundane (but sane) approach and replace your blades regularly?

I’m looking forward to trading horror stories. Let’s hear your worst shaving experience, and your views on how, when, and why you “trade up” to something different.

History of Shaving

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gillette. All opinions are 100% mine with my standard disclosure.

In considering a post on the History of Shaving, and wondering about the cultural insights that led to various developments of the facial blade, I used some fairly-anecdotal (read: fictional) sources to come up with the razor’s ancient history. This was done to keep post flow from feeling too dry… because, as we all know, dry shaves are insufferable.

100,046 BC

Neanderthal supermodel HgKf GfRRRg popularizes the smooth, lice-free look when she plucks every last hair from her chinny-chin-chin with two seashells fashioned into tweezing implements. However, when she succumbs to a moment of hubris and tries to indicate to her tribe that the sudden loss of whiskers is due to the divine blessing of the Great Mammoth Mother Goddess, she is mocked and exiled into the Land-Beyond-the-Mountains-Where-the-Sun-Takes-a-Power-Nap. This is where we get the expression “bald-faced liar.” 

Between 30,000 BC – 1700 AD

Clam shell, shark tooth, flint, obsidian, gold, copper, bronze, iron, and steel razors are developed with varying degrees of sophistication from Scandinavia to Greece to Rome to Mesopotamia to Egypt to Byzantium to Central America and beyond. The basic idea is simple: sharp, straight blades scrape hair — unwanted for whatever cultural reasons dictated by aesthetics of the time — from whatever part of the body it is deemed unfashionable. Usually, preening monarchs set the trend of beard popularity based upon how hideous or handsome their naked faces are found to be. 

It is said that Alexander the Great sported his clean-shaven look to avoid fatal beard-grabbing in combat, but the truth is actually much stranger than fiction in this case. An oracle counseled the conqueror against letting his stubble flow freely because his rivals, the Persians, were assembling the world’s first chia face as a way of mocking the vain leader and turning his countenance into a gag gift for the next few generations. Alex made sure to never go into public with even a five o’clock (or so — sundials aren’t an exact science) shadow, and took over Persia just to teach the people there a lesson.

1770 AD

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The millennia-old design of the straight razor reached its turning point when French barber Jean-Jacques Perret proposed the idea of a safety razor — a straight razor designed to be less bloodletting than its predecessors by featuring a wooden, L-shaped guard along the blade — in his treatise “La Pogonotomie” (The Art of Learning to Shave Oneself). Up until now, it was accepted that shaving could be a potentially deadly habit if not left to the care of steady-handed experts. Perret envisioned a world where the masses could become masters of their own facial grooming and serious barbers like himself could focus on more important issues (like sideburn sculpting and pompadour shaping). Not long after, a fellow Frenchman by the name of Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin would have other ideas about the use of a blade on the masses…

Nevertheless, the notion of a safer razor ignited the imagination of several inventive minds over the next couple of centuries.

1847 AD

English inventor William Samuel Henson finds the time between trying to fly in a steam-powered aeroplane, hypothesizing on the origins of the solar system, and making doilies for high-society teacup collectors to create the first T-shaped “hoe type” razor. (“If the aeroplane doesn’t work out,” he remarks to an assistant, “at least I can keep my blimp hand strong.”) Its blade runs perpendicular to its handle in a design that most modern shavers can appreciate, and this sets the stage for the further evolution of the safety razor.

1880 AD

American brothers Frederick, Richard, and Otto F. Kampfe file a patent for a cheap, compact safety razor that features a removable handle and a hollow “lather-catcher” meant to keep genteel hands free of whisker debris. Soon after, three other American brothers, Moe, Larry, and Curly, keep their facial hair at bay by various pranks and hijinx that should never be tried at home. They shun safety at every opportunity, and would probably invent a more dangerous razor if they had the smarts and weren’t such knuckleheads and wiseguys. These Three Stooges are the anti-Kampfes.

1904 AD 

The American (Gillette) acquires a patent for the first disposable safety razor. This type of blade was popularized when issued to hundreds of thousands of American G.I.s during World War I, thusly spreading its use to Europe by demonstration of practicality on the move. Trenches from Ypres to Gallipoli are cluttered ankle-deep with millions of discarded razor blades, which sell for big money as scrap metal in the post-war marketplace. 

1910 AD

It would have been pretty cool if Willis G. Shockey, with the word “shock” right there in his name, could have been the one to invent the electric razor, right? Alas, he only succeeds in creating a wind-up safety razor, which is at least a step in the right direction. A flywheel, wound by hand, drives this razor’s automation — making it about as high-tech as a jack-in-the-box cranked up to the maddening din of “Pop Goes the Weasel.” Shockey’s brother, when presented with the idea and delusions of how rich this jittery little gadget is going to make the family, can only shake his head and exclaim, “Where there’s a Willis, there’s a way!”

1910-1930 AD

There was an Iowa native (not me, and not a relative of mine) – a tough ol’ buzzard who once hacked apart a moose for food when injured and stranded in the Alaskan wilderness during a gold prospecting expedition in 1910. Strangely enough, his thoughts dwelt less on side dishes for the moose or mending enough to get out of the Alaskan wilderness than they did on finding an easier way to shave. (Hey, I’d probably have welcomed a beard for the extra warmth in this situation, but clearly Iowans were cut from a different cloth back in the day.) 

His idea for a dry shaver that would be powered by an electrical motor began to formulate around this time, but the plans he drew up featured a giant, unwieldy hunk of bits and pieces that no manufacturer approached with a proposal found marketable enough.

The idea would have to be put on hold, however. When World War I erupted, this guy joined the army and found himself living through plenty of death-defying ordeals; they continued to fuel his oddball obsession with shaving during inappropriate times of crisis. By the time peace broke out and he left the army in 1919, he was ready to resume his dry electric shaver dream. He drummed up capital toward this pursuit by applying weapon technology he’d experienced during the war to create the magazine repeating razor; this allowed people to easily load disposable blades into their razors without the risk of cutting themselves. 

Enjoying commercial success with this innovation, it was only a matter of time before the long-imagined dry electric shaver became reality. It hit the market in 1929 and continues to evolve to this day.

2010+ AD

What’s next? Quantum shavers? Laser razors? The possibilities are only limited by the human capacity to expand on our species’ collective imagination. Why, if I had a laser razor right now… I could combine my long-overdue LASIK surgery with grooming needs all in one fell swoop. Whatever the case, innovation contoured to consumer insights will forever be key. 

A man must always put his best face forward… and before you tell me it’s supposed to be his “best foot,” which body part would you notice on him first? First impressions can last a lifetime; spending a little more time and money on a “perfect” shave could spell all the difference.



Everyday Tech

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Gillette. All opinions are 100% mine with my disclosure.

Thinking about the influence of technology on our changing world blows my mind daily. After typing these words on a wireless keyboard, I tapped the publish button in my personal content management system and within seconds, the world had a chance to get a piece of my (blown) mind. This was possible to do when I was in college, but it wasn’t practical or probable. The world didn’t have the Web back then, and – as our grandparents with Milton Berle – few of us can now imagine a world without it.

Like Justin Bieber, technology is becoming increasingly pervasive. Nobody can escape its power. You’re already soaking in it!

As I tap-type this, tech is taking over every area of our lives. It doesn’t matter that we’re not thinking about technology in form and function, as it’s already doing the “thinking” for us.

Transportation: Gas Pumps – Like most Americans, I put my pedal to the metal as a proto-gnome at the tender age of 16. This was back in the ’80s, when you could buy a gallon of gas for about a buck – less than the price of a Juice Newton cassette single. I’d pull up to the pump, guess how much I’d need to fill the tank, walk inside to fork over a portion of my allowance to the wild-haired, grease-besmirched mechanic/cashier behind the counter, return to my car, realize the tank is on the wrong side, shake my head and curse, turn the damned thing around, then finally fill my vehicle with its daily dose of Texas tea. These days, if I pull up to a pump that doesn’t accept a credit/charge/ATM card, I drive away and find a more “convenient” station. It’s the 21st century – why should I conduct business like some Neolithic moss farmer?

Sports: Virtual Lines – I never made it past the line of scrimmage when I played football in junior high. I barely knew what that was (I erroneously figured it had something to do with sailors carving whale bones); it didn’t make much sense to me. I couldn’t see anything, and it moved around more erratically than the borders of Eastern Europe. Now, when I tune in to a big game (say, the Super Bowl), that same line of scrimmage is clearly visible to the viewer. We don’t have to divert our attention to the sideline flags to figure out where players need to be. Of course, my interest in sports is just as weak as my scrawny, scraped-up legs were in the 7th grade, but… at least I can follow the plays with a greater degree of ease thanks to virtual lines.

Cooking: The Perfect Cup of Coffee – Some of you are content with bean-flavored dishwater, however, I’m a self-proclaimed coffee snob. If it doesn’t make my toes curl with ecstatic delight, I’ll go without. I’ve taken to using a digital thermometer at home to ensure that the water temperature is spot-on before I apply it to the grounds. Yeah, didn’t you know there’s an optimal temperature for brewing? If you hit the boiling point, you’ve gone too far. Instead of stumbling through guesswork, my process is precise – and my coffee, they say, is always perfect. Strong, just like my personality.

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Health: Shaving – I still remember the first time I tried to shave. Oh, I definitely completed the task – but the first razor blade nicked and scraped my face until it looked like the hull of the Millennium Falcon; I switched to a new razor halfway through the ordeal. And cologne, as it turns out, was not a liquid equivalent to aftershave lotion. It was a far cry from the perfect shave. Over the years, I’ve recognized that not every razor blade was created equal – and that the less I paid for an instrument, the more I wanted to stop shaving altogether. When it comes to my health, I’ve spared virtually no expense. Does a different blade typically spell all the difference? A-B-S-O-L-U-T-E-L-Y. There are “faceless” shaving geeks figuring out how to refine the process for mankind. Womankind, too – so long as they don’t borrow my razor to shave their legs (or eat crackers in bed).

Lifestyle: Remote Controls – My brothers and I were remote controls. Dad would tell us which station to flip the dial to, we’d stand up, walk to the television set, turn a knob, and he’d tell us when to stop. Some years later, my grandparents got something called “cable” – and they had this mechanical device tethered to their TV that would allow them to flip between channels without leaving the couch. Genius! Anymore, you’ll find wireless remote controls accompany any gadget – all the way down to “light switches” for lamps. How many of your appliances have been rendered useless due to their remote controls being lost? And the “universal” remote control? Yeah, it really doesn’t exist… until you have your own kids to command.

Education: Note taking – I’m not really a packrat, but I am nostalgic. There are countless folders and notebooks sitting in storage at the moment. I have no idea what I’ll do with ’em eventually – maybe digitize them for posterity? It would have been easier to manage had “digital” pens and notebooks been around when I was still a student. Some record and sync audio with the text you’re scribbling, while other tools act as virtual scanners to better facilitate the electronic processing of manual labor. I didn’t even have a tape recorder at my disposal when I would have needed it most. Nowadays, a single set of instruments enhances any note taking process – especially online, with the more collaborative services. Physical-limited media? How 2002 of you.

Communication: Text Messages – When you needed to get a hold of me in high school, you picked up your rotary dial phone and circled a sequence of numbers. With any luck, nobody else was on the line. With more luck, I was actually around. Strange to see that some people still use outmoded forms of communication – pushing spoken messages into voicemail, where they’ll be routinely ignored. Got something to say to a friend or relative? Eliminate the gaps and text it to them. Question? Answer.

Bottom line? life can be made to feel less “short” if we keep cumbersome routines shorter. As technology continues to advance, we’ll continue to adapt to the changes… or face being labeled Luddites.

What “everyday tech” did I miss?

Gillette Geek

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Gillette. All opinions are 100% mine with my disclosure.

I’m a guy. 

As such, I get facial hair – and it’s not all that much fun to deal with on a daily basis. I also have two nosehairs which are plucked fortnightly – but that’s not of any consequence (nor do I believe this factoid will ever show up in a game of Trivial Pursuit).

I’m a geek, too.

Over the years, I’ve amassed quite a collection of hardware I like to refer to as “man gadgets.” These are largely comprised of shiny objects, many of which are now obsolete or relatively functionless (but my, do they shine).

I’m partnering with Gillette to bring to light some of their shiny objects for men now. 

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Yes, I happen to accept advertising in a variety of ways (often pushing the envelope with it) – but instead of running simple banners or doing something tricky with text), I’m working with Gillette in a sponsored conversation format to think around the blade. They’ve given me the rather comfortable title of “spokesblogger” for one of their new products online.

I’m being transparent.

Don’t worry; I’m not going to shave myself in public. At least, that’s not what I signed up to do. I’m more interested in how it seems that larger corporations are starting to understand that the future of their brand rests in the hands of of the community. In this case, it’s the community of guys who shave. There are quite a few of us out there, I believe.

I’m putting my face on the line, though – literally. 

I suppose my question to you at this juncture is simple: does shaving matter to you?

Look for my first post in the series on Tuesday.

Sideburns Tutorial: A “How To” Cosmetics Beauty Tip

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In case you haven’t noticed, I’m in the process of starting a new trend! There are so many GIRLS all over the Internet (and specifically the YouTube Guru area) who are gorgeous – and helping other women get gorgeous, as well. You know what and who I mean… those women who are giving all the beauty tips. Where the hell are the ones for us DUDES?? I decided it’s high time we had some of our own, and I think I’m just the man to help you. Therefore, stay tuned for more from the Geek Eye for the Sloppy Guy!

It’s okay to have sideburns, so long as they’re kept in check (and you’re a dude – because sideburns on a chick is NOT HOT). It’s possible for those suckers to get away from you if you don’t take regular care of them. And then – you’re stuck looking like you live in the 70s. Dude, let’s not go back there, mkay?

The biggest part of sideburn management is to make sure they’re even. It’s easy to tell if they’re even or not at any time. Take two fingers – one from each hand. Place them alongside (underneath) the level at which your sideburn starts. They should be completely even… imagine an invisible line drawn between them if you have to.

If your sideburns are bushy and “loud”, get rid of them. Or at the very least, keep them trimmed. Sideburns like those worked back in the 1800s – not so much now. Seriously, it’s just scary dude.

So how long should the sideburns be? Simple – have them come just below your eye level. If they’re even with your eyes, then they really aren’t even sideburns. If they’re too long, you just look unkempt or weird to the ladies.

Show the girls you take good care of yourself. Us guys have to work just as hard as the ladies do in order to look our best – we just don’t usually care to tell them so. My assistant Kat has seven older brothers, so she has a tad bit of experience at dealing with guys and their grooming habits. She swears that boys take just as long as girls in the bathroom primping – and sometimes take longer! I’m not so sure she’s correct, but who am I to argue? We all know arguing with a woman doesn’t do us much good, right guys?

On that note, I should just wrap this up by reminding you that it’s important to look your best. It doesn’t matter if you have a girl, or are trying to get a girl. It doesn’t matter if you work from home in your pajamas or boxers. It’s all about feeling your best. That’s what will make you more productive, and more content with who you are. Once you are content and happy with yourself – others will be happier with you. See where I’m going with this?

Keep an eye out for more of these tips. I have a feeling we’ve hit upon something new and great with this! What do you think?

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