Regular readers of this blog probably know by now that I’m pretty sold on superlather – combining a shave soap with a shave cream to create a lather that builds on the advantages of each type of product. But as a confirmed and committed shower-shaver I also have a problem….water…too much water to be exact. The same benefit that water provides in softening the beard, is also its main disadvantage when it comes to building a good lather. All my lathers, whether from soap or cream alone, or in a superlather, inevitably thin out by the third pass….making for a less than perfect shave that risks razor skipping, nicks, and cuts. My diagnosis is that the water that runs off my head after rinsing between passes, is too much for the lather to handle, resulting in streaks and thinning out. So, today I tried a different approach to making the superlather and boy did it work!
Old Way: Rub shave stick on face. Wet brush. Insert shave cream into center of brush (the breach). Use brush with cream to lather up the soap on the face, blending the two together. Shave.
New Way: Rub shave stick on face. Wet brush and lather up soap on face. Shave first pass. Insert cream into center of soapy brush and re-lather for second pass. Shave second and third pass.
To handicap myself even more I used the same Israeli Crystal blade for a second day. The result was a terrific shave…the beard beautifully conditioned and prepared, offered no resistance to the two-day old blade. The lather was thick enough each time to absorb the excess “face-water”. I must say, the Crystal is a very easy and forgiving blade…a solid 8.0 so far.
We’ve been shopping at Costco since they came to our part of town some 15 years ago, and I’ve observed a psychological phenomenon that I think can be generalized to any of the big-box stores, not just Costco. I call this The Costco Effect, but it could just as easily be The Sam’s Club Effect, etc.
The basic premise of any big-box store is that by buying a larger quantity you save money. Often the packaging is larger than normal, saving the manufacturer some money, or they are simply willing to trade off volume for a lower price. Pretty simple right? But do you really save money in the long run? For durable goods such as tents, furniture, etc. that might very well be the case. But for consumables, I have some serious doubts. I first noticed the Costco Effect with my kids and jam.
In a “normal” grocery store my kids’ favorite jam cost about $5.00 for a 500 ml. jar, which usually lasted about one month in our house. Costco began selling the same product in a 2-liter configuration for $10.00. This means that in effect I was paying half-price for the jam at Costco (4 times the amount for only twice the price). But here’s the interesting part….the Costco product only lasted 2 months, not the four one would expect! So, in effect, we were now consuming the jam twice as fast by eating more of it…effectively canceling out any initial cost savings! I noticed the kids’ behavior in both situations – when they had a small jar in front of them they only put a thin layer of jam on their bread. But when they had the much larger Costco jar, they slathered on a much thicker layer (and wound up throwing half of it away)! Over the years I observed this same phenomenon with almost all the “consumables” from Costco, – cheese, meat, strawberries, cereal, batteries, toothpaste, etc. – and not just the kids BTW – we were all doing it.
I haven’t done the controlled research to prove this effect on a larger scale, but I suspect it to be true – products bought in large quantity may actually enable waste, and don’t really save you any money in the long run. We may speculate that this is part of human beings’ “famine and feast” hardwiring – when times are lean we conserve, and when they are good, we consume with abandon. Interesting research topic for some aspiring Ph.D. student in Psychology. Also interesting for the discussion of “frugality” – a topic that seems to be quite “hot” on the blog sites these days. Buying in bulk may not be as frugal as you think. And many thinner and healthier societies like the French and Italians for example, rarely buy in bulk, preferring to shop fresh daily. Hmmmm….maybe they’re onto something!