I went looking for replacement blades for my electric razor week before last.  My very first razor before I switched to disposable cartridges was an electric Norelco triple-header.  My parents gave it to me for Christmas and I used it through college but gave it up sometime after I joined the Air Force.  I returned to civilian life and an electric shaver at the same time and, being a creature of habit, I bought another Norelco.  Shaved with it for years and years until it finally got to the point that I had to replace the razor or replace the blades.  I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn I couldn’t buy new blades anywhere but through the god of retail sales, Amazon.

First, I went to Shopko, the store where I bought the electric razor in the first place.  They were selling newer models that didn’t look anything like the one I was using, except they all had the trademark of Norelco razors, three rotary cutting heads.  Shopko sold replacement blades for one of the newer models they were currently selling, but that was it.  I bought a set just to see if they would fit my razor. They fit, but the notches in the back of the blades didn’t fit the points on the posts that were supposed to turn them around.  Seemed to me like a bit of planned obsolescence.

Next, I went to Kohl’s, the store next door.  It’s mostly a clothing store, but they sell small kitchen appliances like coffee makers and blenders, so I figured why wouldn’t they sell razors, too?  Nope.  No razors.  Just socks and ties.

I also went to the local Walgreen’s, a drug store with a eye-widening selection of disposable razors and cartridge razors.  They sold a handful of electric razors, and even a brand of safety razor I never heard of, although, to be completely fair, the only brand of safety razor I’ve ever heard of is Gillette.  But even though Walgreen’s sold a wide variety of razors, there were no replacement blades for any electric razor in stock.

Out of sheer desperation, I went down the street to the Kwik-Trip, a gas station and convenience store.  They stocked disposable razors and some cartridges, but no blades for electric razors.  Unsurprisingly.

Disappointed, I headed home to search online for replacement razor blades.  Amazon sells the blades I need for my razor, but they cost two-thirds the price of a new razor.  So, really, I ought to have bought a new razor at Shopko to save myself all the time and gas I burned running around looking for replacement blades, to say nothing of the time I would have to wait for a package from Amazon.

I recalled a conversation I had with Tim some months ago, in which he told me he switched from a cartridge razor to a safety razor, so when he came over for dinner last weekend, I asked him if he was still using a safety razor.  He not only confirmed he was, he said it was the best shaving decision he ever made.  The safety razor gave him a better cut, he said, and was more comfortable than any cartridge razor he had ever used.  “I actually look forward to shaving,” he said.

Forearmed with a few tips from Tim, I went online to order some shaving supplies.  They arrived a couple days later and I gave myself the first wet shave of my life last Thursday morning.  After working up a thick lather across the lower half of my face, which I had only ever seen in the movies before, I gently took the razor to my skin, specifically my right cheek, gave it a couple pulls, and stopped to admire my work.  Smooth and pink and not a nick in sight.  In fact, I shaved my face from my neckline to my ears without a single nick anywhere, and felt pretty well chuffed about it.

The safety razor I bought is known as a twist-to-open: the top is split down the middle the long way, and the two halves clamshell open from the outer edges when you twist the handle.  Then you drop a razor blade in from the top and give the handle a twist in the other direction to close it up.

As you twist the handle, the clamshells are drawn down against the base, pushing the blade against the clamshells and bending it in a gentle arc.  I noticed this the first time I used the razor, turning the handle firmly but not aggressively until it stopped.  I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to bend the blade like that or not, even though I got a great shave from it, so the next morning I didn’t turn the handle all the way, bending the blade only slightly.  Still a good shave, although I did give myself a bit of a nick.  Backed it off a little more the next morning with similar results.

This morning, I turned the handle only as far as I needed to press the blade against the clamshells without bending it.  Huge mistake.  Not only did my face looked like a bloody piece of steak after I was finished, my face felt as if I’d sandpapered it.

When Tim came over a little later, I asked him if he had the same experience.  (Odd feeling, the dad asking the son for tips on shaving.)  He didn’t, but not because he was as careless as I was.  His razor doesn’t twist to open.  Instead, the top of his unscrews from the base.  He hasn’t noticed whether or not his bends the blade the way mine does.

But after this morning’s experiment, there’s no way I’m going to shave with that razor again without torquing the clamshells all the way down, bending the blade.  My guess, and it’s only a guess at this point, is that slight bend is critical to giving a close shave that won’t nick the skin.  If my face isn’t a bloody mess tomorrow morning, I’ll feel a little bit less like I’m guessing and more like I’m right.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s