The ah-ha, light bulb, “eureka!” moment that led to Matt Semple and Anderson Camp’s invention came when they grappled with a problem familiar to U.S. sailors: the general crappiness of shaving at sea.

Deployed aboard the destroyer Jason Dunham in 2022, the two former officers shaved daily and soon grew frustrated by the meager water pressure and whisker mess in the close confines of their warship bathroom.

“Everything about shaving is worse on a boat,” Semple told Navy Times, adding that the mess and bad water pressure are worse in enlisted berthing.

“Fifty guys to one sink, you can imagine the carnage that results,” he said.

But wherever you are, necessity remains the mother of invention, and from that cruise was born the “Razor Rinser,” an ashtray-sized, battery-free device developed by Semple and Camp that they are hoping will upend the military shaving world, or at least make shaving easier while underway.

The concept is simple: you put less than four ounces of water in the Razor Rinser, then when you need to rinse your razor, you stick the head into the top of the device and push down. This creates a jet of water that dislodges those hairs that so often get stuck in the blades.

The water can be reused over and over during a shave, because a filter catches all the hairs and shaving cream.

“This uses 90 to 99 percent less water” than standard shaving, Camp said. “This gets the crap out from between your razor blades without having to bang it against the sink. It makes the shaving process better.”

Now, Semple and Camp, who each left the Navy this spring, have completed an online fundraising campaign to sell the Razor Rinser, raising nearly $70,000 to bring their device to the masses.

Camp was an engineer at the U.S. Naval Academy and a self-avowed tinkerer who used computer-assisted design and his knowledge of hydraulics to map out an initial prototype.

With that in hand, and back on shore duty, the two used DIY workshop spaces available through the San Diego Public Library system to turn their good idea physical.

“It wasn’t a product to start,” Camp said. “It was something I wanted, and to see if I could make it.”

Through five rounds of prototypes, Semple and Camp constantly asked themselves whether this was an invention that anyone would want to use.

Their recently concluded Kickstarter campaign was proof of concept, they said.

“We’ve had doubts, is there an audience for this,” Semple said. “We have 1,300 people putting their credit card information down, saying they want this thing.”

Going forward, Semple and Camp are focused on fulfilling the Kickstarter orders they’ve received and ensuring the manufacturer perfects the design for mass production.

After that, the duo said they will likely sell direct-to-consumer through their website, and go from there.

“Our priorities are keeping our promises to the Kickstarter folks,” Semple said.

The two said they were inspired by a 2021 Navy Times article featuring then-Lt. Mitchell Kempisty and his invention that keeps uniform nametags from getting curled and wrinkled.

“I read that on deployment, and it genuinely for me was an ‘ah-ha’ moment,” Camp recalled.

It was “so cool” that someone on active duty was innovating like that, he said.

“[Surface warfare officers] are really masters of nothing, but are good at solving problems,” Semple said. “When you combine that problem-solving attitude with an engineering background, like Mitchell and Andy, they run across the problem and they think, how can I solve the problem.”

“Not surprising that came from the SWO community,” he added.

Kempisty was able to get his nametag invention stocked in Navy exchanges, another move that Camp and Semple said they hope to emulate in the future.

As an engineer, Camp said he saw firsthand the importance of water conservation on deployed ships.

“The drawdown of water every morning when people are waking up to shave is wild,” he said. “The water reduction [with the Razor Rinser] is in my mind one of the coolest features.”

Landlubbing troops could also benefit from the Razor Rinser, they added.

“I’ve got a lot of Marine Corps buddies from the Naval Academy,” Camp said. “The field shaving routines they describe are just disgusting, and it would be nice to equip them with a tool to make that experience nicer.”

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at geoffz@militarytimes.com.

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