Let me express a bit of heresy that is sure to get me banned from gourmet shaving circles: A Fusion razor and a can of “goo” will produce an excellent shave for the majority of men in a time and cost-effective manner. There, I’ve said it.
Replace the goo with a quality English-type shaving cream (J.M. Fraser is my favorite) and a reasonable shaving brush, and that shave will become as good if not better than what you can get with a traditional razor and the same lubricants.
Some re-born traditionalists will claim that gourmet shaving saves money. Let’s face it, there has never been any money saved through anything “gourmet”. Truth is, in my own modest experience, I’ve racked up about two grand’s worth of shaving stuff in the last couple of years; that’s one helluva-lot of Fusion razors and cans of goo baby! Of course, if you limit yourself to one brush, a tub of J.M. Fraser’s shave cream, one razor, and a Treet Blue Special blade at 15 cents, you will certainly save money in the long term vs. a Fusion and a can of goo. BUT, I don’t think that qualifies as gourmet shaving either! “Zen shaving” maybe, but certainly not “gourmet”. Another bit of heresy then: Gourmet shaving as practiced by most aficionados will not only NOT save you money…it will most likely cost you a lot more money, even in the long run…consistent with any passionate pursuit be it Leicas, Cuban cigars, Rolexes, fast cars, and even faster women.
So why do we do it? Why bother?
I think the answer lies in the word “passionate” as mentioned above. Gourmet shaving is about launching yourself into something with what the Spanish call “aficion” – translated not as “affection” but rather in its true sense of “devotion, commitment, passion, enthusiasm” (much like the original meaning of the word “amateur” – someone who loves what they do rather than just doing it for money. The best professional is the one who is still an amateur at heart).
Some of us justify our gourmet shaving by saying that its about turning a normally tedious necessity into a source of pleasure or “meditation”…and its true. But that is only a rationalization…a twisted attempt to deal with either a Protestant-Ethic need to justify things in a practical way, or perhaps the more Catholic desire to assuage the guilt that comes from pleasure.
In my opinion, gourmet shaving is about libido. Not the commonly used understanding of the word in its narrow sexual connotation, but rather the real Freudian or Jungian sense of the word as “life energy” (with sexuality being just one of its expressions). We gourmet shave, or buy Leicas, covet sports cars, chase women, or gamble at Vegas…as expressions of that life energy that compells us to engage passionately with something in order to feel constantly alive. Or as Ellenberger defined it: “It is the energy that manifests itself in the life process and is perceived subjectively as striving and desire.” (Ellenberger, 1970, p. 697).
Ellenberger F. Henri (1970). The discovery of the Unconscious: The history and evolution of dynamic psychiatry. New York: Basic Books.