I often find myself trying something new while on holiday, or introducing a permanent variation on long-established practice. Yesterday I overhauled a routine of donkey's years standing.
I mean of course shaving. Not just getting rid of the soft hair that grows half-heartedly on my arms and legs, and needs the touch of a razor every six weeks, but the still-necessary face-and-neck shave.
In most lights, you can't really see any excess hair on my face, but you can certainly feel it unless I tackle it daily. It's mostly blonde or white, which is why it doesn't show up too obviously. But that also means that laser treatment is useless. I'm stuck with slow-but-sure electrolysis as a long-term fix. It's gradually taming my hair problem, but I'm quite sure I'll need to fund another two years of it. And in the meantime - to keep up my appearance - I must resort to daily wet shaving with a razor and gel. I can't use chemical hair-removers: they irritate my skin.
Would you believe it, I've been using razor refills for a man's Gillette Mach 3 razor, and their gel for male skin. You know, the stuff used by those brutes with barbed-wire stubble and leather hides. I've been buying both simply because they are displayed together. Plus I'm too lazy to trek over to the women's display, and in any case too mean to invest in a proper wet shaving kit designed for women.
I have also considered that my facial hair problem requires a heavy-duty approach, and that a pink-and-fluffy kit for women won't be up to the job. But ever since my face was seared by icy salt-laden Cornish breezes in December 2010, the skin has been very sensitive; and although it got better after a while, my HRT (and the general effects of ageing) have since then made shaving something I must now do with care. Every session has been making the skin look a bit raw here and there. I have also begun to suspect that gel formulated for men is too corrosive for female skin.
So, when in Bridport yesterday - I'm now in Dorset - I popped into Boots, and at last took a serious look at their range of wet shaving items for women. A bewildering choice! Another woman shopper joined me, and I asked her what she used. She pointed me at a packet of Wilkinson Sword disposable razors. But they were in a lurid pink. I rather fancied the cooler, less frantic blue of Gillette's basic 'Venus' razor, and settled on that, plus a canister of Boots own gel for sensitive female skin.
This morning it was time to experiment with my purchases!
I can report success. The combination of a new razor and new gel was definitely kinder to the Melford visage. No livid après-shave blotches on the neck, for instance. Much less damage overall - and no cuts. I thought that the blades scraped and abraded my face and neck very much less, perhaps because they were set at a flatter angle. The worst patches of bristly hair needed a little more attention than I'd had to give them when wielding the men's equipment, but the end result was as good. I will definitely now stick with this new girly razor-and-gel combo, until one day electrolysis renders it all unnecessary.
I've been using men's cutting equipment for all my shaving needs since I don't know when. What a creature of habit I've been. Why on earth did I stick with it for so long? Now I can buy women's razor refills and gel, and not risk questioning looks at the checkout. I don't like giving the impression that I share my home with some man who baulks at doing his own shopping.