Here In My Home - Malaysian Artistes For Unity

Monday, 29 October 2007

Risking cutthroats for a shave.

I recently went for a shave at the nearby Indian barber shop after having been a caveman for a while since my wife forgot to pack my razors for the Eid Holidays. I usually go for such a shave when I have my bi-monthly haircut and this is usually at a Malay barber shop as they usually charge less, mainly because I am a cheapskate. The reason I go for such regular clean shaves at the barber shop despite having my own razors with the so called advances in razor blade technology is that a man really needs to be periodically shaved by another man to obtain a balanced smooth beard growth. You really cannot evenly shave your own face as there are areas and angles that you cannot easily get at, so there will be patches of uneven growth. Why do you think the rich guys get shaves at the salons then eh? Remember digital shaves, the close crop beard popularised by George Michael? Bet you he cannot get that effect on his own.

But I digress. What I wanted to write about is that this barber shop is usually manned by an old Indian man and since moving to KL, I feel that he is the best shaver that I have had. No nicks, no cuts with smoothness all the way. However this time there was a younger man in his place as the old man has gone back to India for his Deepavali holidays. Surprisingly the younger chap’s shave was just as smooth and after making some small talk it surfaced that he came from a family of barbers, so he was trained well despite making a later entry into his family business. So I remarked that he must have been trained to use the old style cutthroat razor, which was an excellent tool for shaving as the balanced heavy blade with its hair splitting edge sharpness allowed a barber to use the light touch when shaving while still getting an even cut. Its shape has also been optimised through the years, so only someone else using such a razor on you can actually do a proper job of shaving off your facial hairs.

Amazingly he replied that he has only experienced using the disposable razors now affixed to the cutthroat razors that they used nowadays during his ten years of experience. It seems that such by the time of his entry into the industry, such razors has become mandatory due to the HIV scare. So even though he was only two years younger than me, funnily enough he himself has not been shaved with the old school blades and experienced the smoothness. He admitted that he personally uses the cheapest disposable razors that he thinks is the norm in the business and in his early years has nicked many a customer with such blades. It appears that you need experience and a patient hand to come to a stage where you can do a smooth shave without a scratch, though many barbers do not seem to bother. It also transpired that you need time that is such a premium nowadays to do a really good shaving job after more shop talk. In fact since at the time I was the only customer left, he took time to shave my ears and other parts of the head that needed attention before cleaning up my face with a minty solution as an aftershave. Refreshing! What a rare treat to experience a full service shave that was common not that very long ago before barber shops started to transform into a pale imitation of hair saloons with hair colouring service and such.

Back to the old school cutthroat razors, I asked him if I kept one for my own personal use would he be willing to use it when I patronise him. He said that he personally has not seen such blades being sold anymore, but if I can find one he has no objection. Now to look for one and I hope some shops still has it. Jalan Pasar here I come.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How long does a double edge blade last? How good of a shave will a blade give?
As with a “cut-throat” razor it depends on the sharpness of the blade and the durability/hardness of the steel.
Has anyone looked at the edge of various maker’s double edge blades under a 10 power magnifying glass, or, better yet, a microscope, to see if they can see a difference in the blade edges?
I looked at a Schick, and a Merkur, under a 10X glass. The Merkur, even at only 10X, has a rough edge. The Schick has a much smoother edge.
I checked this out after using one of each blade. The Schick gave me 25 good shaves before it started pulling,
The Merkur blade gave me a worse (it pulled more) shave on the first shave than the Schick did after 25 shaves. (Was the Merkur a counterfeit??)
I used to get 60 good shaves out of the Gillette Blue Blade. Now I am doing good to get 30 out of stainless steel, platinum, etc.
Seems the blade makers are just not putting as good of an edge on their blades just so they will get duller faster.
I have not tried the Feather Blades yet, but have ordered some, as they have a reputation for sharpness.
A person should be able to tell just how long, comparatively, a blade will last just by looking at its edge under a microscope.
The whole thing seems to be a “sting” operation though, as sharp blades could go out for weeks and then start sending out less sharp ones.