After years of using a wet razor on my legs, armpits and other areas - with great success, I might say - in the spring of 2015 something changed, and the wet razor began to chafe my skin and make it feel raw. It was a Gillette Venus ladies' razor. Looking back, it may have been simply that I was pressing the thing too hard onto the skin, in an attempt to get the very best hair-removal possible. But at the time I thought my skin had become thin and easily-damaged. When a friend suggested, while I was in Scotland on holiday, that I buy an electric razor I acted without much hesitation. On 9th June 2015 I bought a Philips Ladyshave rechargeable electric razor from Boots in Dunfermaline. It cost me £22.49.
And it did seem gentler on my skin. It buzzed a lot - what would the other caravanners think? - but it got the job done without creating a rash - or the odd cut - although not noticeably faster than the wet razor. It was nice to think that I wouldn't be spending money on wet razor refills any more, as those weren't exactly cheap to buy. It was a minor bind having to clean the thing with a brush, and recharge it at intervals, but I got into a routine so that it was never clogged up nor out of power.
That Philips Ladyshave razor and myself did well together. Nevertheless, I preserved my wet-shaving stuff - the Venus razor, a box of refills, and a canister of gel (which foamed when spread over wet skin). A wise precaution, as it has turned out!
The honeymoon ended in May this year. One of the fragile-looking shaving heads (which vibrated beneath a perforated foil, to chop off hairs) fell apart. That was it. Game over. I felt disinclined to dig out the wet shaving equipment, so I decided to buy another electric razor.
A good long search on the internet didn't throw up any obvious choices in the women's shaver line. The user reviews weren't consistently terrific for any model. The nicest-looking was another Philips model, more expensive than the one that had just let me down. Remington had one that might be just as good.
I couldn't tell from the various websites which was the better buy. So rather than order online, I went off to a big, well-stocked Boots on the northern outskirts of Worthing, to see the stock and make up my mind there. This was on 10th May this year, about three months ago. They had the Philips razor I was considering at £46.66 - a big discount on the average online price of £70. It seemed a no-brainer. I bought it. At home, it struck me as quieter and gentler than the previous Philips electric razor, and gave a smoother result. It was kind to my skin. I was very pleased. It was no less of a fiddle to brush clean, but the better rechargeable battery lasted a lot longer on one charge. Not that it really mattered, but this new razor was nice to hold and elegantly styled. Here it is:
But it has all gone wrong. The thing has an Achilles' Heel. The two foils in the shaving head are thin - too thin - and damage easily. If you press too much, they might well kink along a line of perforations. Anticipating this, I haven't been pressing too much. But nevertheless in two places adjacent perforations have lost the tiny bridges of foil in between them, and have become a small hole in the foil, so that the vibrating head underneath gets a chance to nick the skin minutely. I began to notice this a few days ago. I got out a magnifying glass and saw clearly what was happening.
The unwanted holes were very small, but big enough to cause discomfort and some localised redness on the skin. And they would only get larger. So I stopped using the razor. What to do next?
Another foil? I went online. No obvious place to buy replacement foils for this particular razor. I sent an email to Philips UK, explaining the problem and asking where I could get new foils from, as they didn't sell them on their own website. A day or so later - this was yesterday now - they came back to me with the precise part number (422203631441) and said that all their accessories were obtainable through a third-party retailer called Olympic. Really? Why weren't you selling them direct? Oh well. I found Olympic's website, popped in the part number, and got this:
What? £20 for a new foil? And in any case, it was OUT OF STOCK. Brilliant. There was no other source. I was completely stymied.
So a second Philips electric ladies' razor had bit the dust. The second in two years.
The shaver itself was still quite new. Over lunch yesterday a friend said 'It'll be under guarantee! In any case, just take it back to Boots. They ought to say sorry, and give you a new one.' Yes, that was certainly an option. Back home, I looked for the purchase receipt. Surely I did keep it? But I couldn't find it. Well, that put paid to invoking the guarantee or making an approach to the retailer! But in any case, getting an exchange model wouldn't address the fatal defect. Even if I came away with a brand-new razor, I'd have a replay of all this three months down the line.
I could of course try another make. Remington, for instance.
Back home, I remembered that I still had my wet-shaving equipment. I dug it out. I found a spot that could do with a shave and gave it a trial, without using any pressure on the skin.
Hmmm. That was a good result. And with only one light pass over the skin - not going over it again and again as you might with an electric razor. And I had plenty of refills, so there was nothing to spend for some time ahead.
So I've gone back to wet shaving, at least for now. It isn't cheap. I shall run out of gel quite quickly, and those refills are a shocking price. But wet shaving, though a bit messy, is reliable. And doesn't assault the ears. And, done with care, can be OK even with sensitive skin.
I certainly haven't saved money in the last two years with my two electric shaver purchases. £63-odd down the drain! I am not amused.
Well, within a very few hours of writing the post above, I bought another electric razor. Not a Philips! Oh no. I won't be buying from them again. This time it's a Remington Smooth & Silky Cordless Ladyshaver. I just happened to be passing Boots in Uckfield, went in, and there it was. It wasn't on offer - but that might actually be a good sign. Worthwhile things never have to be sold off cheaply. The price was in fact £34.99.
Unpacked at home, I noticed that the build seemed more robust. A quick test established that it trimmed unwanted hairs very well; I could hardly feel it on my skin.
The Philips razor had a lithium-ion battery, which charged fast and lasted ages. This one has a battery of the older type, and will need longer and more frequent charging. The Philips went buzzzzz. The Remington goes BUZZZZZ. It's definitely louder. So I won't be able to hear my music over the drone, and goodness knows what anyone within earshot will make of the noise. On the other hand, if it is a more efficient shaver, it won't have to make a racket for long.
I still have my Gillette Venus wet-shaving equipment on hand as a standby. I'll take both kinds of shaving gear on holiday next month. I see an Armpit Challenge - and a post - coming up.
And this time I've preserved the purchase receipt carefully!