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Hot Lather Machines

What a happy coincidence. The younger members of the Boomer generation began shaving at roughly the same time that a formerly familiar device began appearing in our bathrooms: the hot lather machine.

Shaving is a rite which few of us guys enjoy. I'm sure you ladies enjoy it even less. But if you could replace that ice-cold lather with deliciously warm stuff, that would certainly make things more bearable, right?

Well, for a stretch in the 70's, much of the world thought so. Thus, millions of hot lather machines, the most famous a model by Shick, were sold in drug stores and the like to those of us looking to make the daily shaving rite a bit less dreary.

My own first experience with hot lather started at the barber shop. The barber I used would finish up my haircut by getting hot lather from a big chrome machine and spreading it just over my ears, then taking a straight razor to remove all traces of hair about a quarter inch above them. That hot lather felt wonderful, but only for a moment. It quickly reached room temperature, but not before filling me with a feeling of temporary delight.

There were a variety of hot lather machines available during the Decade of Polyester, but Shick was by far the most popular and familiar to us. It used a lather manufactured especially to be heated up. It reached a higher temperature than the generic models which would accept almost any can of shaving cream. And it certainly received more advertising time than its competitors. I remember many a TV commercial extolling the benefits of using the Shick Hot Lather Machine.

But there certainly were others. One was a little ball that snapped on top of a standard can. I believe it was called the Shick Hot Top. There really isn't a whole lot of info out there about hot lather machines sold in the 70's.

GE made a machine that let you put almost any brand you preferred into it to be heated up for your pleasure. I believe that it was the machine that I once owned.

I enjoyed my hot lather machine, to be sure. But one day, I stopped using it. I'm really not sure why. Perhaps I had grown impatient with waiting for it to warm up. Eventually, it was relegated to the garage shelf, where it sat until sold at a yard sale, as were most of the other machines that were eagerly snatched up by us in the 70's.

A hot shave is still a delightful experience, well, it's better than a cold shave, let's put it that way. But the days of fierce competition among manufacturers of hot lather machines are definitely over.

One thing I DID discover in researching this piece is that some men are quite passionate about the shaving experience. One blog went into a lot of detail as to the proper technique to get a perfect shave, including using a genuine Badger brush to apply the hot lather and letting it set for a while before actually shaving.

Yes, you can still obtain a Conair hot lather machine. They make models that range from a spiffy chrome model that eats up the better part of a c-note to a more basic black version that goes for less than twenty bucks.

Hmm, I'm tempted. But then again, that would mean that this wired type A would have to wait around for that lather to get hot, all over again.

Maybe I need to cut back a bit on the coffee? ;-)

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