How (razor) pass arounds work

Summary

In more detail

Disclaimer: This is a long article about a very simple concept. I tried to cover all the angles.
Don't be scared, just dive in. There's a lot of fun to be had.

So, you’ve heard about ‘pass arounds’ and have no idea what that crazy idea is all about, but it sounds interesting and intriguing. I’ve been involved in quite a few pass arounds, both on the giving and the receiving end and here are my thoughts on this crazy concept…
A lot of new members ask:

“How do those pass arounds work?”

Well, here’s how razor pass arounds work (other pass arounds work roughly the same way):

Find a razor you want to try

First, you have a look at the 'lending pool' of your favourite forum. Here are links to the lending pools of the UK based forums Against The Grain and The Shaving Room. They are places where members of the forum loan out their precious razors and other stuff to other people. That’s very generous. There will be razors that you fancy and others you don’t. Choose one that you fancy trying out.

To start with you read the initial post in the thread really carefully and decide if you agree with the rules/conditions/demands set out in that post by the person generous enough to lend their stuff to other members. If you can live with the rules of the pass around (and if you qualify) you do the following:

Say “Yes, please.”

You post a message on that thread saying something like:

“Gosh! That is a very nice razor. I’d really like to try it. Can I get on the list, please.”

Please note the use of the word “please”. Forum members can be a rowdy bunch, but a little bit of courtesy goes a long way.

Wait for the razor

Most likely you’ll be added to the list of people on the pass around. Now you might have to do a bit of waiting until the razor is with the person just ahead of you on the list. When that person is done with the razor you’ll be contacted to supply your address. You give them your address in a private message (not in a public posting) and a few days later the postman will deliver the razor you’re keen to try. You are now responsible for that razor until the next person on the list receives it. Please let the person who sent you the razor know that it has arrived. The person organising the pass around might like to know as well.

Clean the razor

Now here you are, with a razor that has been used by other people. That might sound a bit gross. It might have been in contact with their blood. Don’t worry. You can get that razor perfectly safe and shave ready with very little effort. First of all, you can give it a good scrub with washing up liquid and an old toothbrush. Personally, I like to use an ultrasonic cleaner as well, but I think that’s optional. You might be happy with that treatment, but I wouldn’t be. I recommend disinfecting the razor. Get yourself a bottle of a product called Barbicide. It’s available on Amazon, eBay or you could ask your local barber. It’s well worth the little investment if you want to participate in pass arounds or plan to buy second hand or vintage razors on eBay, at a car boot sale or from an antiques shop. Read the instructions on the bottle and make a ‘hospital strength’ solution of Barbicide and water, (60ml Barbicide per 1 litre of water makes a hospital strength disinfectant solution) then soak the razor in that solution for 10 minutes to get it sterile. Give the razor a final rinse under the tap and wipe it dry. Now the razor is ready to be used.
DO NOT use products like “Milton sterilising tablets or fluid”. They are used to sterilise baby bottles made from plastic or glass, but they can corrode metal, even stainless steel. The owner of the razor doesn't want this to happen. Use something else—use Barbicide. Please.

Use the razor

The fun starts here. Start exploring the razor. Find the correct angle. Try different blades, different soaps. If it is an adjustable razor, try different settings. Have fun.

Give feedback. Let us all know how you get along. Do you like it? How does it compare to other razors? Things you like, things you don’t like. Maybe you have questions. There is no need to write a full-blown essay about each shave if you don’t want to, maybe just a summary when you’re done with the razor. No pressure. But please give feedback.
Some pass arounds are made possible by the manufacturer of the razor, so they can get feedback on their new razor. Please, do the polite thing and give them the feedback they crave.

How long should you keep the razor for? Have a look at the initial post of the pass around. Maybe the owner has mentioned a reasonable period. As a general rule: don’t hog the razor. Other people are keen to try it as well. If no period is specified, use common sense. A week worth of shaves should be enough to find the right blade for you and tell you what the razor is like. An adjustable razor might take a bit longer to be explored.

Clean the razor

Before you pass the razor on, give it a good clean again. Don’t rely on the next person to do that job for you. That’s bad manners. A good scrub, maybe the ultrasonic cleaner if you have one and a soak in Barbicide (see above) followed by a rinse and wiping the razor dry are good practice. If it arrived nice and shiny it should leave nice and shiny.

Pass the razor on

Once you’re done with the razor, contact the next person on the list and ask them for their address. If you’re not sure who that person is or you fail to make contact, send a message to the person running the pass around.
You should then package the razor securely. Use bubble wrap, newspaper, whatever. The package should not rattle. You can reuse the box it arrived in if it is still in good shape.
If you’re in the UK, you’ll normally use Royal Mail to send the razor to the next person on the pass around. Check the initial post in the pass around thread to see what service is recommended. If no particular mail service is mentioned used a ‘signed for’ delivery method. Remember, the razor is your responsibility until it arrives with the next person on the list. If the razor is worth more than £50, I recommend using ‘Special Delivery Guaranteed by 1 pm’. This is covered up to £500 for loss or damage. Choose a cheaper delivery method if you wish — at your own risk.

Say “Thank you.”

Finally, you post a message saying 'thank you' to the person who was generous enough to lend you their precious razor.

Now you’re ready for your next pass around. Maybe you even want to give something back by offering one of your razors for a pass around?