When I worked in advertising, I’d often hear the following tidbit recited to prospective clients: The average American encounters something like 3,000 marketing messages every single day. We were of course citing this statistic without the least hint of irony even as we were trying to worsen the problem.
However transparent our aim, the premise was true: We Americans are marketed to constantly. (“Marketed at” might be more a more apt way to put it.) And while everyone likes to flatter themselves by claiming immunity to the effects of these messages, we are wrong. Even if we don’t naively believe the promises of advertising, marketers manage to worm their way into our lives in more subtle, and often insidious ways.
One example is shaving. How many of us have been sucked into the arms race that shaving has become? Now, feast your eyes on this little beauty. It’s a Merkur Hefty Classic Safety Razor. Guess how many blades it has? Just one. Guess how much they cost? Less than $0.60 a piece.
But here’s the real point: this razor (and most similar ones) will give you the best shave of your life. You’ll realize that those multi-blade Gillette monstrosities have been the cause of the very problem they claim to solve. What they really offer is a slightly better sandpaper to abuse your face with when all you need is one simple, well-angled blade.
I’m not going to go into all the details here, but there’s a whole ritual to be discovered. It’s called “wet shaving.” Google it. My brother Jon told me about the whole thing initially, and even gave me this badger hair shave brush for Christmas a couple of years ago. Here it is next to some of Eliza’s makeup and a Frida Kahlo matchbox we picked up in Mexico (which probably deserves its own post).
For more reading and products, check out Classic Shaving and The Gentleman’s Refinery. You’ll see, especially at Classic Shaving, that there’s not a lot of sophisticated marketing going into selling these razors. But they work, and they’re beautiful to boot.