A short while back, I posted an ‘Ask Me Anything’ post. Some folks used that as a chance to ask for advice in advance of their upcoming travels to the area, and I tried to answer what I could of those in regular e-mail. Some of the remaining questions are really interesting, so I’ve decided to do a series of “You asked, I answer” posts. Let’s get started!
Here’s a question from Spring: How long did the beard experiment last? What do you do for your hair? What sort of soap? I’m interested in these things because it wasn’t until I went to Saudi Arabia that my toiletries horizons expanded, starting with sandalwood bath gel.
The beard experiment* only lasted about two weeks- that’s how long it took to both look more or less complete and itch so much that it bugged the living daylights out of me. I am not a beardy person, and I prefer to be clean-shaven.
This leads nicely into the rest of your question though, because I started to use a slower and more traditional shaving system when I got here. I had always wanted to try the old style of shaving with shaving soap and a brush for lather, as opposed to the chemical shaving creams that you can buy at any corner drug store. In the US, I always found starter kits to be prohibitively expensive to try something I wasn’t sure I would like. When I got to Germany, I found that both the shaving soap and a shaving brush were affordable, so I tried it. It turns out that I like it quite a lot. It gives me a close, smooth shave and the shaving soap lasts a hell of a lot longer than the shaving cream canisters I used to get. Also, I can pack the disk of shaving soap in carry-on luggage on a plane because it’s solid, so the TSA doesn’t get all panicky. I still use the disposable blade cartridges though, because I fear blood loss with the straight razor.
As for the soap and haircare, it’s not all that much different for me in Germany than it was in the US. Some of the brands are even the same. I’ve seen products from Head & Shoulders, Axe, Redken, and Nivea here. My body wash and deoderant are both Nivea products. My shampoos are brands that you can get in the US as well as here. My conditioner is a Swiss brand, but you could easily get something just like it in the US under another brand name.
*”the beard experiment” that Spring referred to was a two week stretch where I tried to grow a beard. It started with me being lazy and not wanting to shave, and then became “I wonder how this will look.” I do this once every few years, because shaving can be a pain in the ass.
Here’s a question from Rarasaur: Despite their exceptionally long vacations, do Germans still recognize the humor of the Monday Monkey?
While I do not claim to be an expert on Germans in general, my experience has been that German Monkeys also live for the weekend. I’ve written about this before, but Germans are very fond of taking time off properly, and they’re very good at it.
Do you have anything you’d like to ask? The Ask Me Anything post is still open!