After an evening of wandering a cavernous purple themed warehouse oddly punucuated as Babies “R” Us (if seen after dark, you might recognize it with the B and the U burned out) my beleaguered consumer mind turned viciously toward another industry that also lacks reason, heart, and design: the razor people.

Have you ever stood in the razor aisle, perhaps armed with the meaningless name of a razor you have at home, or the name of the blades you think you have at home, looking for its conterpart? And not found it? And thought, am I missing something here? What the hell is going on? Or perhaps, just how many Machs are there anyways?

Or you happened to glance at the price tag on the razors you were forced to buy in pink, coated with glitter, fished out of a timed-release lockbox at CVS, and thought—$12, really? Really?

Frank Sinatra in simpler times. Life Magazine Archive

If there is one industry that is cheerfully relying on our busyness, our inattention to detail, our disinterest in discussing personal hygiene-buying-habits: it’s those guys.

They tell us:

  • To be wowed by the innovation of one more blade added every six months (and therefore our previous model’s blades are no longer available/don’t fit the new handle).
  • Definitely don’t try sharing a razor with your partner, because his is blue for obvious reasons, and yours is pink. See the difference there? That’s because you are different genders.
  • It is the retailer’s fault that the handles kept in stock and the razors kept in stock don’t match, or only crossover for three months.
  • It makes sense for each edition’s packaging to match the last edition, to the point that you can’t tell them apart until you get it home.
  • The only packaging option is as much plastic as possible, and just to make sure, they include shitty plastic accessories with every purchase.
  • If you have a problem with the fast paced innovation happening above, you always have the option of reverting to disposable. That’s right: 20-pack bags of sticks of plastic designed to be used 3-5 times and then thrown away is the only idea that “competitors” Gillette, Bic, and Schick could think up.

They didn't know what hell was coming. Life Magazine Archive

Well I’ve had it. I’ve eyed Joe’s straight razor for awhile, but unfortunately I don’t think a long blade like that could manage the finer points of a lady’s leg. (but if any female has successfully done this I would love to hear about it.) And though I’ve never felt quite welcome in those ritzy shave shops you encounter in certain cities,I think the answer might be what they sell—a double-edged “safety razor” which takes one metal blade that you change every 3-5 uses. Joe and I could even buy the blades in bulk, and share the box.

Also: stainless steel is sexy.

The merits of these two safety razors are reviewed right here:

So am I missing something? Has anyone else sleuthed through this wreckage? I’d love to hear your ideas. And I’ll update you if the safety razor changes my life….or even if it doesn’t.

I think The tyranny of terrible design might become a regular Friday post, so if you dislike this type of rant, just catch us on Saturday. I promise to post something cheerful.