Thursday, 16 July 2015

Shaving that unwanted hair

I've finally abandoned wet shaving. I'd been using a Gillette Venus3 razor, but even with plenty of Boots Sensitive shaving gel (which creates lots of smooth foam when wetted), it didn't prevent some of the areas I was having to shave getting nicked or scraped.

No doubt from time immemorial both sexes have shaved the bits where unwanted hair might grow, subject to fashion of course. No doubt the best means of shaving has always been a moot point. Wet shaving with a cut-throat razor, the only effective method until the invention of throwaway razor blades (and a hand-held device to hold them), was never something one could do without a certain amount of skill and attendant personal risk, whether attempting the task oneself, trusting one's valet or maid, or leaving it to dashing and slashing professionals (such as Sweeney Todd).

I do wonder whether women ever did shave (their legs, say) using a cut-throat razor. It would be a delicate task, and, of course, one performed in private. The amount of body exposure entailed would offend certain notions of decency, making shaving for a woman a secret and possibly unmentionable performance. It was probably a lot easier for a lady with a Hair Problem to just discreetly pluck whatever patch of hair bothered her, however laborious and painful that might be. It must have helped that until the 1920s women were, on the whole, very well covered-up. No bikini-lines to worry about, for instance, because no woman ever wore a bikini nor anything resembling one. Only a lady's personal maid might know the true state of her armpits and other parts. The popularisation of the Safety-Razor may have been a godsend for both men and women. Especially as the more revealing clothing designs of the twentieth century laid bare ever more extensive areas of skin for critical inspection.

But whereas men may have chins like Desperate Dan's, and cowhide elsewhere, and can hack away forthrightly at their faces and necks, and wherever else they need to shave (their chests, apparently, in the case of film-screen Tarzans, Ben-Hurs, and Sioux warriors), the shapely outer envelope of girlies is made of thinner, more delicate stuff, and it marks easily. Hence the development of shaving requisites for female use.

To my mind, however, even the best wet-shave ladies' razor harms the skin if used often enough. The razor may be coloured pink, but at microscopic level it essentially scrapes, scythes and bumps over the skin surface like a careering bulldozer. And if any skin is damaged by this onslaught, then further shaving is just frank exfoliation. Certainly I felt in my case that repeated shaving in the same areas had in fact scraped the skin so much that it didn't have time to recover before the next session. So some areas looked permanently raw, as if I had a skin rash that never went away.

I had to find an alternative, because I still have a Hair Problem, meaning that I have stubborn and persistent unwanted hair growth on certain parts. Honestly, some of this hair is like a 1970s rock band, it's made so many come-backs. I keep it unnoticeable partly with my little scissors, but mostly with shaving. As a long-term win-the-war method, electrolysis is the answer, and every two weeks I have a session of that. And it's slowly succeeding. But I will remain paranoid about my unwanted hair for a long time yet.

While up in Scotland I discussed this with one of my friends, and she suggested using an electric razor, which would be a lot gentler on my skin and should allow the damaged areas to heal. So while in Dunfermline one sunny afternoon, this time with Brenda of the Seven Secrets and Morag of the Magic Mountains, I went into Boots there and perused their electric care shelves. Ah! A Philips Ladyshave razor! Just the thing. The cost was not excessive  - and it crossed my mind that a one-off purchase now would save a small fortune in Gillette razor refills and Boots shaving gel in the months to come. At some point I'd be into sheer profit. I queued up at the checkout. Soon my turn came.

Lucy: I am Princess Iona, Fairest Lady of the Sunset Seas.

Girl at the checkout: I am Seonaid, youngest daughter of Great King Ossian, and neophyte to the Sorceress of Endor.

Lucy: Hail, Seonaid, youngest daughter of of Great King Ossian, and neophyte to the Sorceress of Endor!

Girl at the checkout: Hail, Princess Iona, Fairest Lady of the Sunset Seas!

Lucy: I am a stranger from hot foreign lands to the far south, where the sea boils and never freezes, and where there be dragons. I crave a boon.

Girl at the checkout: Indeed, I had marked you for a stranger long before you spoke. Yet I see from your bearing that you are truly of dragon blood. I will serve you in this matter. What is your will, my lady?

Lucy: I wish to purchase this cunningly-wrought device.

Girl at the checkout: Your wish will be granted. Do you have in your purse a Boots Advantage Card?

Lucy: Truly...

And so on. You can imagine the rest. Transactions in Boots always take some time, and this is why. Well, what was this Ladyshave razor like? Here it is, back at the caravan:

This is the packaging. The thing had rested in that blue plastic moulding. It's suspiciously willy-shaped, but that's got to be a coincidence.

The razor itself is very curvaceous, mostly white, with a tasteful mauve blaze on the front. The only control is that purple oblong button. Pressing this switches the razor on, so that it goes buzzzzz fairly loudly, and vibrates in the hand. At one end are two gold foil shaving heads, detachable for cleaning. At the other end is a socket to plug the charging cable into. It's a very simple device.

It does strikes me - as no doubt it will strike you - that this is not very far removed in design from a regular vibrator! (Not that I possess one) What are Philips thinking of here?

As a razor, it performs very well. It is most certainly less palaver than spreading messy gel on (say) wet legs, letting it foam up, and then scraping it off with a wet razor. The wet method demands a bathroom, and then a shower afterwards. The Ladyshave is used dry, shaving can be done anywhere convenient (on the train, say), and it's faster. Brilliant. When I last tried using an electric razor, some time back - a Remington, I think - I found it couldn't cope with hair under the arms. The hairs there were the 'wrong' type or something, and I had to resort to wet shaving them, which always brought up a short-lived rash.

Not so with this new Ladyshave razor. Skin damage is now a thing of the past. As I hoped, it is very gentle.

If I had to nit-pick, I would say that in those parts where the hairs grow thicker than average - such as under my arms - the electric shave doesn't last as long as a wet shave would. But it's not an important difference.

Another nit-pick is that buzzing noise. It's not extreme, but I'm very aware of it. Nobody can hear it when I'm at home, but in the thin-walled caravan it's a different story. I don't want fellow caravanners to guess that I'm using a razor, or whatever. So I try to drown it out with music on my phone, or the noise of a kettle boiling. Aren't I silly to be so self-conscious about this?


  1. Don't be silly Lucy, nobody will think you are using an electric shaver. They will just assume that you are having some fun...

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I'm deeply suspicious. Seonaid, youngest daughter of Great King Ossian has clearly sold you a phallic symbol of her homeland.

  4. Possibly she was a Pictish handmaiden. Anything goes with them, I understand.



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