I love using a double edged safety razor. I actually ditched my old Gillette Mach razor over 3 years ago and never looked back.
Somehow, over time we have been duped into believing that these plastic, multi-bladed razors are better than a single bladed, stainless steel one that can last multiple lifetimes.
My experince with traditional shaving started when I was given a badger hair shaving brush as a birthday present along with some Taylors of bond street Sandalwood shaving cream. Even though the shaving brush was entry level, the quality and luxury of my first shave greatly surpassed any experience with a can of compressed shaving foam.
This set me on the journey to rediscover wet shaving. I soon discovered the double edged safety razor. My preconceived notions of these razors were that they were crude, rusty devices that waited to shred your skin at the slightest wrong move.
Boy was I wrong. These are simple, yet elegant devices from a more civilized era. A time when things were made to last and shaving considered an art form and something to be enjoyed.
The double edged safety razor is a thing of beauty and once equipped with the blade of your choice will give you as close a shave as you will ever need.
Shaving Principles Of A Double Edged Safety Razor
If like me you suffer from acne and sensitive skin, you are at risk of inflammation from razor burn. Therefore it is important when starting out to learn the correct techniques and principles. Once mastered, a double edged razor will provide smooth, refreshing and irritation free shave.
Using a double edged safety razor differs from their modern counterparts. Before the 5+ blades would all work at once, meaning one pass of the razor would be the equivalent of 5 passes with a single bladed razor. On paper this sounds great, but the problem lies with the fact the only the first blade has adequate lubrication. The other 4 are scraping across your skin without any lubrication.
With a safety razor, the technique differs in that you do just one pass with the razor, re-lather, then go again.
These passes will usually be:
- With the grain
- Across the grain
- Against the grain
The final pass is optional, but it will give you the closest shave. The benefits of this single pass is that the blade is only ever in contact with your skin when the lubricating shaving cream is present.
The strokes are also different. The fixed head of the safety razor must be held lightly and at around a 450 angle to the surface of your skin. Instead of pressing, you gently allow the weight of the razor to rest against your skin. The razor is then guided in short, downward motions, changing the angle as needed.
The Benefits of A Traditional Shave
Here are some of the benefits I receive from using a double edged razor.
- Skin care – The gentle action of a single pass and a well lucubrated beard and skin reduces the chances of irritation.
- Cost – After the initial outlay for the razor, the costs are minimal. Razor blades can be purchased cheaply online.
- Quality – The shaving experience is completely different. You are in control of the process and you get to understand your skin better.
- Luxury – The feel of a solid metal razor gently gliding over your skin gently slicing through hairs has to be experienced.
- Blades -You have an almost infinite choice of blades to find the one that suits you the best.
Does It Take Longer?
Yes it does. However the whole process is far more enjoyable and once you become used to the shaving this way, the difference in time is minimal but the benefits completely outweigh the extra time needed.
What Are The Best Double Edged Safety Razors?
This is easy. For the man looking to start out in the traditional double edged safety razor journey, there are only two choices he has to consider. This is either the Merkur HD 34c Safety Razor or the Edwin Jagger DE89 Double Edged Razor.
Although there are many more on the market, these are the two models you should be looking at starting with.
Both are very similar razors made to extremely high standards and are available on Amazon for about $40. They offer the forgiveness needed to learn this new style of shaving as well as provide an excellent razor to provide a top-notch shave for more experienced shavers.
There are variants on both of these models such as longer handles, different finishes, etc. However I would strongly recommend that to begin with you use the classic version of each and take it from there.
Merkur HD 34c Safety Razor
The German company, Merkur of Solingen have been making razors for over 70 years. This is their classic razor that will be the only razor you ever need buy again. This is a short handled, heavy razor that looks and feels amazing. It is the first safety razor I ever purchased and the one I still use the most. It is perfect to learn on and will get you hooked into traditional shaving.
Edwin Jagger DE89 Double Edged Razor
The Edwin Jagger is very similar to the Merkur. It has a closed comb head and offers very similar specifications in all areas including the build quality and weight. The only real difference is that the Edwin Jagger offers a smooth handle as opposed to the Merkur’s bezeled one. It also very highly rated by it’s owners.
Choosing Razor Blades
This is something that is not quite as simple as choosing a razor. There are a myriad of blades to choose from and no one blade is the best. Everybody has different skin and differed beard hair and experiences each blade differently. Part of the fun is experimenting and exploring different blades from around the world.
It is widely recommended to buy a starter pack of different blades so you can discover what works best for you.
You can buy starter packs in different amounts on Amazon
That said, there are a number of blades that are widely agreed upon to be good starting points for reference. These are:
The Mildest Razor Blades – Derby
This is widely agreed to be the mildest blade as well as one of the cheapest. It is a Turkish brand that is an excellent starting point for everyone as the razor blade is extremely forgiving.
It is the first blade I used and still one I return to, especially when I want a quick shave. It is almost impossible to cut yourself with this blade.
You can buy a bulk packet of 100 blades for around $10. This will last you a lifetime!
The Sharpest Razor Blades – Feather
These Japanese blades are easily considered the sharpest available. There is also an argument for starting with these blades even though the likelihood of nicks and cuts is higher. It will train you to perfect your technique from the start, rather than pick up bad habits with the milder, more forgiving blades like the Derby’s.
For me I find them too sharp and they tend to irritate my skin too much. That said, many people swear by these blades and you should check them out.
These are more expensive and cost around $25 for 100
My Favorite Blades – Astra
These are one of my favorites. A medium sharp blade that lasts a long time and is the perfect balance between forgiving and gives a close shave. These Russian blades are cheap and can be purchased at $11 for a 100.
Wrapping It Up
That just about concludes this post. I hope you have got some good information and a starting point to go out and try traditional doubled edged razors for yourself.
Switching to this style of shaving has completely changed the way I see shaving and had turned it into a joy to do, rather than a chore. My skin is also in much better shape now that I use good quality shaving creams coupled with a single blade that is properly lubricated at all times.