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By now, it might be clear that I’m becoming a bit obsessive when it comes to picking up old safety razors. Every hobby has its compulsive¬†component, the one that sees you buying and collecting far more stuff than you really need in any realistic sense. Need has nothing to do with it. This is want, pure and simple. This is an example of grown people letting their inner kid out to play. Now, in shaving, it’s usually called RAD (Razor Acquisition Disorder), but it can more broadly be considered GAD (Gear Acquisition Disorder), which can strike and strike hard. Count yourself lucky if the objects you’re obsessed about are relatively inexpensive, and won’t put you in the poor house.

Like a lot of other people who started in on wet shaving, I initially had to buy all the equipment. When I went into that process, it seemed like the best course to start with all new equipment. Honestly, that’s probably the way to go, unless you have been fortunate enough to inherit some really suitable gear. Do your research, buy what seems like it would be right for you. I have some info in that regard here on the old Caveman Gym, for what it’s worth.

In terms of blades, soap, and brushes, today is a great day. There are so many good examples of all of these items. Likely better than ever.

But razors…hmm. Yes, there are some really great razors today. Some of them are reasonable in price. Most of the really high quality razors are quite expensive, in regard to the size and simplicity versus the price. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend a new wet shaver go out and get an expensive razor right off the start. Let yourself learn for a while. You’ll soon enough be able to decide if the hobby is really for you. Although the Feather AS-D2 would be a great razor for a lot of people, and certainly would do fine for a beginner, it’s a lot to spend on a first razor. Unless you’re driving a Bentley. Then, hey, swing for the fences.

I have suffered a digression. Back to razors. There is something to be said for any device that is put out at the time when it is the dominant technology in a burgeoning market. Not a stable market where businesses try everything to maintain market share, but one in which they are striding forward, confident and producing products without a thought to anything but making their best. There was a period of time in the middle of the 20th century when the safety razor market was enjoying a stratospheric success. The practice of shaving daily had become popular, if not expected. Gillette was the heavyweight champion at this time. They were selling razors as fast as they could make them, and all the blades they could stamp and grind. The safety razor idea was a hit, and all the other companies were playing catch-up.

Now, there is no overall golden age for the world. Anyone who tells you there was either never lived during that era or was somehow living a charmed life at that time that was not reflective of the world at large. Things are not at all fun for a percentage of the populace. Every year, this is the case. Right from the beginning…

Damn. I digress once more. To foreshorten the course, Gillete was making killer razors from the time of their inception, through into the 80’s when they stopped producing double edged safety razors. From the 40’s to the 60’s is often viewed as their greatest age. The razors were all metal, beautifully designed and engineered. Nearly indestructible, if you took care of them. No engineered obsolescence here.

There are always luxury versions of popular items. They’re a little more ostentatious. Flashier, maybe. Maybe quality control is a little more obsessive. The Gillette Aristocrat is one of those. The Aristocrat nameplate dates back well before the twist-to-open model I have. They typically have been plated in gold. The model that Gillette fans typically think of is the 1946-1951 era. It’s a thick handled, twist to open razor. The head is ¬†roughly the same as the 40’s era Superspeeds, while it is just slightly more massive than the later “low profile” models. Especially in the first few years, they are known as a somewhat aggressive razor, by vintage Gillette standards.

I found mine at a local antique store called Jitterbug Antiques. Actually, I’ve purchased all my vintage razors there. They are nice people, and allow me to twiddle about with their stock until I find one I like (or two). The model I walked away with was in excellent mechanical order, which was the primary concern for me. It shows signs of wear, as well it might at its age. If, at some point in the future, I feel that I need to get it put back to perfection, I can have it tuned up and re-plated. For now, it is a user, and any small battle scars in the gold electroplate serve to lend character.

Upon getting the razor home, I dropped it into my Kerr jar filled with alcohol and lemon oil and allowed it to stand for a good while. I scrubbed the razor with a toothbrush thoroughly, re-dunked it in the Kerr jar, and dried it off. This proved to get a good measure of the gunk out of the knurling, and, at least to my satisfaction, sterilized the razor. Any germs that can withstand 91% alcohol for an hour are welcome to jump onto my face and attempt to do me in.

Although it certainly wasn’t necessary, I then worked the razor over, every nook and cranny, with Nevr-Dull polishing wadding. This brought out every bit of sparkle to be had. Other than aforementioned battle scars, the razor looked pristine. Not a bit of gunk anywhere.

Forgive a further aside, as I seem constitutionally incapable of staying to the point. Nevr-Dull, or Magic Wadding as it sometimes is called, is one of the universe’s great wonders. A bit of it the size of a cotton ball can polish all the nearby metal in your environment. The stuff lasts forever. Everyone should have some. Seriously. Put your socks back on, go to Auto Zone, and get some. Now. Are you back? Good, let’s get on with the rambling nonsense of the article.

How does it shave, I suppose, is the logical question. After all, it isn’t a coin or a painting, a postage stamp or a flower arrangement. It’s a device with a functional purpose.

In brief, it shaves tremendously well. Staggeringly well.

I have a 1967 Superspeed with an anodized aluminum handle. It is a much lighter razor. All things being equal, a razor that is lighter will typically be a milder shaver. However, a light razor also tempts a shaver to apply pressure, in order to cut through the growth of hair efficiently. This can cause people to cut themselves worse with a mild razor than with one that has that feeling of “dude, I mean business” on your face.

The Superspeed is a very, very mild razor. It gives a great shave. It doesn’t cut off quite as much hair for each pass, but it does not want to bite you. It’s a golden retriever. It just wants you to be happy.

The Aristocrat is heavier. Its blade angle and head design are more aggressive. That being said, perhaps “aggressive” – the going term for a razor that get with the program and puts the razor on the face like it means it, is not very apt. Efficient is another term, and perhaps better. Really, efficiency and aggression are two different things. The dream, of course, is a smooth and comfortable shaver that cuts the hair off quickly. The Aristocrat comes damn close to that dream.

I used Proraso Red preshave and soap for my first shave with this beautiful razor. I loaded in my reference middle-of-the-road blade, the Personna Lab Blue, straight from the pack. I quickly noticed that the Aristocrat didn’t need as many strokes across the face to accomplish its task. It had a slightly more purposeful feel on the face, but still glided without any juddering, skating, or sense of “bite” against the skin. It still felt like a vintage Gillette, but one that was in no mood to fool around.

After each pass, as I rinsed off, I thought, “Well now, Livingston, it appears that you’re on your way to getting quite a shave this evening.” I sometimes refer to myself as Livingston, speaking from the perspective of a fellow named Chet Brunton. This typically only happens during a shave. And when I’ve gone off my meds. (Shrug. Yeah, who knows where this stuff comes from?)

At the end of the shave, when checking out the results, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “This might be the best shave you’ve ever had. Ever. That notion reverberated in my head while I splashed the Captain’s Choice Sandalwood aftershave on my face, feeling no irritation, no burning, no stinging. Best shave ever. At the very least, equal to a few other glorious efforts.

It is both a wonderful and terrifying realization that, with good, but perfectly common accouterments and a razor from the 1940’s, I could get a shave this great. It took no special effort, no obsessive cleanup passes, no overshaving. Just typical technique. The only special thing here was the Aristocrat. It was special enough to suffice for all the other parts.

Now, I don’t have every vintage Gillette. Not even close. I don’t have a Red Tip or an adjustable of any era. Yet. Still, the Aristocrat is, to my limited experience, a high water mark in classic era razors. They could well have stopped here. They could have sent the engineers home and called it a day. They’d found it. All these years later, all the hundreds of different razor designs that have come and gone, and nothing about the way the Gillette people designed the Aristocrat has been invalidated. The disconcerting thing for me in all of this is that this old veteran can, without any special provisions or squinting, shave as well as ANY razor I’ve ever used, regardless of the price or era. Better than all but one or two. Imagine if a ’51 Mercury was not only beautiful, but did everything as well as any car on offer in 2016. Wouldn’t that put everyone on their ears?

Yeah. The Aristocrat. What a machine.

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Escali Badger Brush

Does it grab up the soap?
Yes, it does. Not as well as the synthetic brushes as I’ve used. Not as well as the old Rex brush that I found kicking around from yesteryear. It smashes down and doesn’t dig into the surface of the soap as well as it could. This is not unusual with a badger brush, so shouldn’t be held too much against the Escali.

How’s it lather?
Hmm. Yeah…it does okay. In my experience, it takes more soap, and doesn’t produce quite the quality of lather that my synthetics do. It’s certainly capable of doing the job, but I have to go back to the soap more often, and find it takes longer to get the lather where I want it with the Escali than it does with the synthetics. It’s a bit “floppy”, or lacking in backbone, so that it’s harder to dig into the soap and to work the lather.

How’s it feel on the face?
The Escali Badger is a little pokey on the face. It feels more aggressive as you swirl it around than the synthetics. Seeing a trend here? If you like a bit more scrubbing action from the brush, this is fine, and possibly desired. That scrubby feeling is indicative of some exfoliation happening. I trust the vast part of that job to the razor itself, however.

Does it shed hairs?
Yes. Not in a really pernicious way, but like most natural fiber brushes, it does lose some hair here and there. I don’t find it to be that bad. You’ll find one in the soap or on your face, but I don’t find it destructive to the general experience. Guess what brushes don’t shed hairs? Synthetics. I’m harping on it now, I suppose.

What’s the break-in period?
I didn’t find that the break-in was too bad. It softened, it picked up the nice soap smells, and all was well. After a few weeks, things were about as good as they were going to get. This one never had much of an animal smell, as you sometimes encounter with shaving brushes. In that, your results may vary. Typically, after several shaves with a strong-scented soap, any lingering wet animal scent will pass.

Value for money?
This is a wicked cheap brush, for a badger. It looks nice enough, has a nice handle, but I think that its value-based approach probably made it to where you weren’t getting the best badger hair out there. I’m certain that the vastly more expensive brushes will perform better. That said, it’ll certainly get you going in the wet shaving game.

Further details:
This was my first brush, and played a part in a lot of my formative shaves. Would I recommend it to someone as their first brush? I would say, probably not. I think that the synthetic brushes are so good now, and so easy to work with, that going for a budget badger brush like this is probably a mistake. Not a big mistake, but a mistake. I don’t foresee myself going to this brush a lot in the future. It just doesn’t perform as well. In the future, will I try a natural bristle brush again? Yeah, probably, but I’ll likely do so when I want to go “upmarket”.

Shaving Soap Review: Cella

Posted: July 16, 2016 in Shaving Articles
Tags:

Cella

Ease of Lathering: Very Good
Protection: Very Good
Residual Slickness: Good

Scent: Oh, the scent! It’s like shaving with a cherry cordial! A candied confection event is happening on your face. You are shaving with a cake topping. It’s wonderful bliss for the sweet tooth! Top notes are cherry, almond, and coconut. Everything has the element of sweetness and candy about it. Scent doesn’t hang around for long, and shouldn’t seriously clash with subsequently-applied aftershave or cologne. I’m told that, so long as you don’t actually ingest any (it doesn’t actually taste good, being soap!), there are no calories. No accounting for the munchies it might bring on, however.
Production/Value: For a fairly soft Italian soap, this stuff has excellent production capacity. Shaves don’t seriously deteriorate the amount of soap, as you think they might. A bit more expensive than Proraso or Arko, but easily worth the money spent. Nothing about this soap comes off as workman-like or just functional. It smells and feels like a high quality shaving product.
Notes: Lathering is a snap, and getting that dreamy, protective layer requires no rocket science. Any type of brush should be fine, and the choice whether to bowl or face lather should not be an issue. Whatever you pleas. For an easily-available, reasonably priced soap, this stuff is aces. I have no real gripes about it. Unless you don’t like the scent profile, or have issues with the ingredients list, this soap is another classic product that I’d highly recommend. Keep in mind that this is a tallow soap, so it does have animal-based ingredients. In my experience, modern soap makers can make wonderful vegan soap bases. They give little or nothing away to tallow soaps at this point. I don’t have an idealogical axe to grind either way, but some do, so that is why I mention it. Cella, being an old, old formulation, carries on with the formulation they have always had success with. In terms of quality, that seems like a perfectly reasonable choice. In any case, provided you’re not vegetarian or vegan, I think the soap is well worth a try. It could easily be my day-to-day soap, as the smell of it brings a smile every time.

 

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The original safety razor was conceived of by King Gillette (King was the dude’s name. He wasn’t an actual royal, to my knowledge.) just as the 20th century began. It was first brought to market in 1903, though it is typically called the 1904 “Old” Gillette Open Comb. One of my other vintage razors is of this basic type, but not quite that old. The initial design persevered unchanged until after World War I. Razors of this kind are quite viable shaving tools, and provide a close shave to anyone willing to employ them with a bit of care and technique.

As the years went on, Gillette changed the design here and there, coming up with the “Improved” and the “New” open comb razors. All of the razors mentioned are comprised of three pieces. The cap (top), the baseplate (mates up to the cap, with the razor held firmly between), and finally the handle, which threads onto a spine that comes down from the cap, through the baseplate, and serves to hold the whole machine together.

The open comb style excels at mowing through thick stubble quickly, and they offer a fairly clear avenue for the razor blade itself to touch your face. They don’t necessarily suffer fools or hasty shavers kindly.

When Gillette wanted to create a new model, they went in the direction of a razor that was a bit milder, a bit less exacting in its requirement of technique on the shaver’s part. While retaining the three piece style, the “Tech” razor had a slightly more rounded, taller cap than the original design. It also featured a solid safety bar. The family resemblance is there, but the Tech razor veered toward a less aggressive, less perilous design.

The idea with the Gillette Tech was to create a good quality, no-frills razor for the average workingman. The three piece design is easy to produce, easy to care for, and would last forever, provided basic care were given to it. Other than damaging the razor with abuse, neglect, or accident, there was simply nothing to break.

Being inexpensive, functional, and robust, the Tech razor enjoyed a very long run, being sold from 1939 to 1973. Yeah. That’s a correct figure. One can infer that there may have been something to commend such an item.

One would be correct in that inference.

I found a Tech razor with the “Ball End” handle and a gold finish. Being a razor that has no date code, I can only narrow its production to the era between 1939 and 1951. I suppose it really doesn’t matter that much, but I wish I could be more specific, since I’ve been able to determine the year (or thereabouts) of production for all the other vintage Gillettes thus far.

In any case, I believe that the very slight changes that were made throughout the production run were not terribly impactful. There were several handle styles, a few differences in the blade location slots, and the like, but I haven’t read of any substantive differences in shaving dynamics. I’m sure that, as is often the case, the lighter handles may have been gentler shavers than the heavy ones. I suppose the “Ball End” handle was probably right in the middle of the road in that regard.

After cleaning the razor up and shining it to the best of my ability, I gave it a go. The first shave was utilizing a Personna Blue blade on its third shave. I was struck quickly by the fact that the razor was both smooth and effective. As with a lot of vintage Gillettes, it gets this right (for me, in any case). It does the job, giving you a close shave without any drama.

In fact, the Tech razor gave me a reference level shave, even with a middle-of-the-road sharpeness blade…that wasn’t new…on the first go ’round. Curious.

There was something…something oddly familiar about the razor. No, it wasn’t reminding me of the Open Comb Military model, though they have the same dimensions and handle type. It reminded me of the Feather AS-D2. A lot.

I held the two up next to each other. Boy, they were shaped a lot the same. Not perfectly the same, but not so far apart. Same basic design, similar arching forces against the blade. Hmm. They both had an effective but gentle feel against the face. Not a lot of “blade on skin” feel. The old Gillette was able to match the Feather razor in a lot of capacities. On the first shave, it felt like an old friend. In fact, I ended up getting a little irritation, simply because I became a bit cavalier, and overshaved a bit.

Closeness? Perhaps only behind the best shaves I’ve had by the smallest of margins. That, with a blade beginning to dull out, and in the hands of shaver that let his inner “excitable boy” come out a bit.

Second shave? I put in an Astra SP blade and went for a two pass shave. For a quite gentle shaver, it did a superb job after two passes. There was no hint that it was skating over the stubble. I think that the Astra blade, as it seems to do in a number of my razors, brought out the best in a mild razor, letting it do its task quickly and smoothly.

I would say that the Tech’s “aggression” is probably a little more than my lightweight Superspeed. Similar to the AS-D2 in feel, it might “feel” slightly less aggressive than the Merkur 34c, but not much.

Just as Gillette intended, this is all the razor you’d need. Even after all these years, it holds its own. It isn’t quite as mild as my Superspeed, nor is it as miraculous as the Aristocrat. I can’t look at my beloved Feather razor without seeing that they based the design upon a Tech.

If you’re getting into wet shaving, and you wonder what might be a good first razor, I can recommend an old Tech if you can find one in good shape. I suppose the only counter-indication would be if you have a really coarse and wiry beard. Even then, I think the Tech would acquit itself well, especially with a very sharp blade.

I’ve been wonderfully fortunate to be able to try all of these vintage razors. The more I use them, the more I come to the conclusion that anything they’re building today can only hope to match the prowess of these old designs. Out-dueling them? Good luck with that.

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Palmolive Classic Cream

Ease of Lathering: Face lathering is Good, bowl lathering Very Good
Protection: Very Good
Residual Slickness: Very Good

Scent: Very mild scent. Just a clean scent that probably will not bother or inspire. Perhaps will bring back some “old fashioned” feelings in some, especially those from the UK, where this soap has been much more prevalent.

Production/Value: Palmolive cream, in markets where it doesn’t have to be imported, is said to be dirt cheap. I had to get mine imported from Portugal, and the shipping was more than the soap. If paying a pittance, this makes it a great value. After paying what amounts to double or more, perhaps a bit less so. The primary issue is that the cream tends to require more product for each shave (simply because of water content – it’s a cream, after all.) The hard soap in a shave stick, however, is a killer deal, no matter where you live.

Notes: I have always been pretty impressed by the Palmolive classic. That said, I’d been trying to face lather the stuff, and that had been the issue. It’s simply not as at home with that methodology as it is using a shaving bowl/scuttle. Once I tried it with a bowl lather, everything changed. It’s performance kicked up a notch in every category. Unless otherwise noted, the grades I’ve handed out are for bowl lathering. Certainly worth a try, if you can get it for less than eight bucks American. The downfalls of this cream are availability and not being quite as efficient has a hard soap. That is not to say that it takes that much product to have a shave. It doesn’t. No more than you’d use of your standard toothpaste will be sufficient. Finally, if you like a stronger, more obvious scent, this one’s pretty mild and indistinct. Still, this is a must-try for a budget conscious shaver, especially if you live in an area where it is sold from brick and mortar drug stores.

Dorco ST-301 “New Platinum”

1) Sharpness: Good
2) Comfort: Great
3) Value: Amazing
4) Availability: Good
5) Country of Origin: South Korea
6) Passes “First Shave Test?: Yes
7) Longevity (# of shaves): 3
8) Notes:
Let’s get this out of the way first. The company name Dorco has been an object of juvenile humor on my part. I just have a hard time taking it seriously. It sounds like something that Biff would call Marty McFly in “Back to the Future”. I certainly don’t wish to demean the noble name of Dorco. I’m sure that it simply doesn’t translate well.

Before my “official” test of this blade, I used it for three consecutive shaves with my Gillette Aristocrat. Two two-pass shaves, and one three-pass. The blade worked well in the Aristocrat. There was no harshness or irritation, no cuts during that run. The Aristocrat is an efficient razor. I wouldn’t call it aggressive, but it is certianly a bit more potent in regards to cutting hair than a lot of twist-to-open vintage razors.

I would call the run in the Aristocrat good, but not one for the books. On the two pass shaves, it achieved perfectly acceptable results, and got nice and close on the three pass. When I say nice and close, the Aristocrat is known as a razor that can nullify stubble like crazy. It doesn’t appear to be a terribly fussy razor, however, so I all my bold generalizations will need to wait until I try it with some other razors. In terms of retaining sharpness, my feeling is, with the cost of the Dorco blades, I really can’t see why you would keep it more than three shaves. Pushing it with the least expensive part of the shave is a false economy, especially if you get a sub-par shave or irritate yourself as a result. I felt like the blade was just beginning to lose its sharpness. More to come on that later in the review.

With a new blade, I did a three pass shave with my Gillette Ball-End Tech razor (pre 1951). Proraso Red soap provided the slickness, and I had a very comfortable and close shave. No feeling of roughness or dullness in this, a mild to moderate razor. Again, impressed by the Dorco blade. Because the Tech is quite similar to the AS-D2, I’m calling the test valid because of its inclusion. It should be noted that the Tech didn’t yield quite as perfect or lingering smoothness as the Aristocrat, but that’s in line with what I expect of those two, regardless of the blade being employed.

For the second shave in the pseudo-official test, I used my Gillette “Old” open comb. Cella soap did its typical amazing job, and I got a very, very close shave with no blood or irritation. I’m quite happy with the smoothness of the Dorco blade. I think that its sharpeness could be termed moderate. It isn’t prone to tugging or juddering, but it seems to work better in more aggressive razors. If your razor of choice is very mild, it might not be a perfect fit (unless your beard is very light). I also went over the back of my neck, taking off the fuzz that grows between my hairline and the nape. Shaving blind with an aggressive razor verges on foolhardy, I suppose, but the razor and blade did a great job on these softer, longer hairs. My boldness resulted in no pain, blood, or injury. One shave to go…

The final shave (6 shaves considered!) was done with the Merkur 39c “Sledgehammer Slant” razor. I used Noxzema as a pre-shave, as has become my standard process. I bowl-lathered Palmolive Classic cream (I can’t seem to quite run out of that stuff) and performed a two pass “maintenance” shave. The blade continued to work well. I had an excellent shave (within the realm of two pass shaves, of course) with no irritation at all, no discomfort, and really nice closeness.

With the big Merkur, the primary quality that counts is smoothness. It doesn’t need the sharpest blade to do its work, as the dynamics of the slant is such that it has a mechanical advantage in that regard. I typically use a Personna Blue or a Derby Extra in this razor, or throw a blade that has two or three shaves already on the clock. A blade of vorpal sharpness, with this razor, might make it a bit perilous if you’re not really paying attention.

So, back to the shave. The Dorco retained plenty of sharpness into its third shave, even with switching razors between shaves, the whole nine. Plenty of sharpness for an aggressive razor to shine. More importantly, there was no incipient roughness or lack of smoothness that I could detect. I never felt anything resembling harshness from the Dorco blades.

In summation, I’m very impressed with this blade. Considering that the Dorco is one of the cheapest blades on the market, it is a quality product. I would call its sharpness very similar to the Personna Lab Blue. Its smoothness, though, has really impressed me. I would say that it may be nearly as smooth as the Derby. While I don’t find the Derby quite as dull as some people believe it to be, I will say that the Dorco 301 is sharper than that.

If you have a moderate to aggressive razor, this blade is worth a try. If your go-to razor is extremely mild, perhaps not. That is, unless you have a fine or soft beard. Really, at the price, you don’t have much to lose. My apologies to Dorco. They have a fine blade here.

With most hobbies, there’s an initial outlay of money to get started. There are perfectly useful bits and bobs that you need to get going. For the wet shaving game, you need the following:

-A Razor
-Some Blades
-Shave soap or cream
-A shaving brush
-Styptic Stick

Things that are nice to have:

-A stand for razor and brush
-Aftershave
-Lathering Bowl
-Preshave prep cream/oil
-Afterhsave balm or facial moisturizer

Things you’ll end up having:

-Every blade in the known universe
-Far too many razors
-More shaving soaps than there are stars in the sky
-Aftershaves for occasions you’ll never encounter, like being named Imperator Galactus, or taking a down-at-heels supermodel to a sumo wrestling match while undercover for the British Crown
-All manner of different objects like bowls, hats, t-shirts, bandannas, and shaving-themed armored personnel carriers

Now, they’ll market all sorts of things to you, and if the shave bug bites, you may well fall for their ruse. I certainly do, more often than not. On the other hand, you might find something in your daily travels that might be perfect. It’s likely, if it’s a general purpose item, it’ll be a small fraction of the price of a hobby-specific item of similar type. Because it has a logo, or something.

An example of this, for me, is a really keen lathering bowl I found recently. Or, rather, it’s a salsa bowl that happens to be nearly perfect to lather shaving cream. It cost less than two dollars. It has a textured outside that has great grip. It’s perfectly sized, and the little riser cleats on the bottom nestle right into your hand. It’s tough to find a purpose-built shaving scuttle for less than fifteen dollars. Some are well more than thirty. They’re prettier. They meet with His Lordship’s approval. They probably don’t work any better than the simple salsa bowl from the grocery store. Make of that what you will.

Other examples? I have a wire shelf in my bathroom. I can hang all my in-use razors through the shelve’s wires without any difficulty. If you have a soap puck and a flare-mouth mug, you have yourself soap container. With a handy handle. And possibly a logo or pithy comment like “Coffee makes me poop”.

Preshave? Noxzema will do it. Doing a light lather with your shave soap, rinsing, then doing your real lather will probably also do.

Aftershave? A little drug store Witch Hazel will do it. Shoot, a small splash of traditional Listerine will act admirably as an an astringent. The smell will surely bring the suitors from all quadrants.

Moisturizer? The drugstore equivalent to your favorite brand will do fine. For me, I’d say that if you can find the store brand copy of Aveeno, that stuff is the bee’s knees.

If you have a mishap – and you probably will – and get some irritation that won’t easily go away, a spot of hydrocortisone cream will help you out. If you’re going through life without some hydrocortisone cream around the house, you need to buckle down and rectify that situation, anyway. That stuff is gold.

So, then. Other than the specific tools of the trade for our odd little hobby, we really can find inexpensive, common items to round things out. Be on the lookout for these helpful objects as you go around doing whatever you typically do. Chances are, the items themselves have no idea of their true potential. This may be because they are inanimate, but you get the idea. Find the cheap and handy stuff, because that leaves more money for the items we’ll end up obsessively buying.