Mises Daily Articles
The Shaving Cream Racket
Look, I'm the last guy to trash a consumer product. I'm disinclined to blast the manufacturers of a beloved bathroom gel as deceivers who make money off people's ignorance and perpetuate the problem they are supposedly solving, or charlatans who deliberately hook people on some chemically produced gunk solely for the sake of profiting from repeated uses.
But someone has to say it: shaving cream is a racket.
Why don't people know this? It's just part of the lost knowledge of our time. Wean yourself from it for a week, and you will find that your shaves will be closer, unbloody, and quick. Imagine a full shave in less than a minute, with no cuts, gashes, or discomfort. It is within your grasp.
You won't have the face of a tenderized chicken breast. Your skin will be solid and robust. You will feel the same revulsion I do as you encounter that long row of shaving products at the drug store. You too will feel pity on the seventh eights of the human race that does not understand this simple point.
Why is the world hooked on this stuff? Here's what happens. Early on in a person's life, when whiskers and stubble begin to appear on the skin, the young teen is presented a razor and a can — a can with a squirting top that releases a foam. It is a charming little foam. The child is taught to rub it on and then shave it off.
Oh how funny looking it is when the foam is on us! And how fun to zap it off. We are left with clean and smooth skin. Pure magic. But the magic doesn't last.
It never occurs to this child — so innocent, so naïve, so trusting — that he or she has been hooked into a lifetime of shaving hell. That foam, that sweet looking puff of magic, is in fact the great enemy of a good shave — black magic that relies on perpetuating dependency and ignorance.
The problem is this. Shaving cream does something evil to the skin. It somehow weakens the pores and makes the top layer mushy and unresponsive. The kid comes to believe that somehow the foam is essential to the experience. Without it, surely the razor would leave a trail of blood.
But then strange things start to happen. Red lumps appear. The shaved skin comes to feel sort of strange, oddly sensitive to temperature changes and ever more vulnerable to being sliced and diced.
People think: oh I need a new razor! So they go out and buy ever more fancy brands, with multiple blades, pivoting heads, strange lubricants, and push-out tools to deposit the hair remains in the sink.
They don't consider that it might be the shaving cream that is the source of the trouble.
Why don't people imagine this possibility? Because shaving cream seems so frothy and innocent, the glorious barrier that stands as a guard or shield between your skin and the sharp blade. The cream is our valiant protector, so surely that is not the source of the problem!
In fact, it is not our protector. Shaving cream is destroying your skin, turning it into a whining, pathetic, dependent, beaten, insipid layer of pasty pulp. Your skin has become the fatted calf that has been killed, the lamb slain on the altar, the virgin sacrificed in some ancient cannibalistic ritual of an uncivilized people.
Of course the problems persist — and get worse.
There are many attempts to avoid them along the way. People try aftershave, more and more and more of it. Pretty soon, they are tossing handfuls of the stuff on their skin, putting alcohol all over tenderized and sliced up skin. Then they become attached to that too. But it is not enough. The redness and pain are still there.
There are those who believe in hot lather. They buy fancy machines and rise extra early to warm them up. There are those who make the leap toward electric razors that swirl and buzz around in a creepy sort of way. There are those who believe the key to shaving is time: this site, linked from LRC, actually makes the preposterous claim that a good shave should take 12 minutes.
Stop the insanity!
The core problem is shaving cream itself, and the solution is a radical one: throw it out and never buy it again. It is destroying you and making your skin weak and sickly.
But you say: surely if this were true, it would be common knowledge. Not sure. There are many thing that are true — the state is a parasite on society, private property would solve most social problems, rock music is tedious and stupid — but are nonetheless not generally known or applied. The truth that shaving cream is a racket should be added to this.
Many problems in the world cannot be solved by one person. But this one can. You can begin the process of letting your skin become normal again. You can restore your skin's health. It won't take longer than a week or so. Stick with it and you will see what I mean.
The first stage of freedom uses only a razor (double blade is fine) and a bit of baby oil or mineral oil. While in the shower or soon after you get out, put some oil on the skin area you want to shave. Then shave it. The end.
At first, it won't feel right. You might cut yourself. It will be scary. Your skin might hurt a bit. It might swell up. Why? Because you have turned your skin to mush for decades of shaving cream use. It needs time to recover from this. You need to do this for days.
This is your first day of relief from shaving cream hell. Your skin is recovering. Do the same the next day. And the next. And the next. After 5 days, normalcy will be almost returned.
After a week, you can even give up the oil and use only warm water. You will find that you will be able to shave ever more swiftly and with ever more abandon. A man can shave his whole face in 20 seconds without a single abrasion.
My freedom from shaving cream began twenty years ago after a friend uttered to me the great truth that shaving cream is a racket. Ever since I have exulted in my knowledge and felt deep pity on the rest of the world for languishing in unknowingness.
To my knowledge, this is the first and only time that this great truth has been revealed. May this short article serve as a hinge of history.