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Does Anyone Use a Safety Razor?

Even when I had a full beard I would shave along its edges almost every day. Now that I’m sporting the Walt Mossberg look, I have more acreage to scrape than ever. I have been using a Trac-II style razor for a long time until I left it in a hotel last week.

I had flagged a post on Snarkmarket about a successful switch to a safety razor (a Merkur “Hefty Classic”) that intrigued me at the time, but now I am seriously in the market for a new razor. Question: Does anyone use an old-fashioned safety razor and would you recommend it?

Comments

I've been shaved by one once in a New York City barber shop. The experience was pretty cool, but I didn't think the shave was anything exceptional. I didn't tun out to be George Clooney.

I'm still loving the Gillette Fusion. The blades are expensive, but worth it. First, they last a long time. And second, that razor gives the best shave I've ever had. Even better, it has a revere side to do beard edge trimming. It might be worth checking out (even though super cool people use straight razors...my dad always used one, and I remember those barbers sharpening those razors on a leather strop when I was a kid).

Frank, shaving is just a chore so I don't think I would ever have the patience to use a straight razor, cool as that would be. I am drawn to vintage shiny metal objects, hence the Merkur, but I will check out the Fusion. Thanks for the recommendation!

I've often thought about it as modern disposable razor blades are the ink jet cartridges of men's hygiene products. I did switch to the badger hair brush, mug and tube of shaving cream years ago and will never go back to the stuff in cans. I think I'm going to try this. Gauge my success by the amount of bandages on my face when you see me in the office.

My dad is a big fan of the safety razor. It can be tough to find the blades sometimes (although they sometimes have them at the hardware store, for use in box cutters or something). I've used them on my legs sometimes, and they're super-sharp, so be careful until the blade blunts a little.

It's worth noting that I've given these types of razors to 2 different boyfriends in the past, and they were hooked!

If Jim wants to go really old school, he can switch to the bay rum shaving soap that comes in a cake - that works best with the badger hair brush.

Jim and Mrs. Harridan, thanks for the advice and encouragement. I was planning to get just a razor, but got sucked in and bought the whole kit and kaboodle. From the overwhelming number of choices, I selected a razor and brush that I understood to be both popular and appropriate choices for a "beginner," a Merkur "Hefty Classic" and Vulfix #2233 brush. There didn't seem to be the same consensus in the category of shaving soap; I chose Truefitt & Hill Ultimate Comfort Shaving Cream. Probably the most critical component is the blade, so I postponed the final decision by ordering an assortment of five brands of blades from West Coast Shaving.

I expect a full photo exposition of the findings. I've always wanted to go the straight razor route, but fearful of the slipup.

The photo of the safety razor reminds me of the Cosby Show episode when Cliff gives Theo the family razor to use for the first time and Clair is horrified and thinks Theo will cut himself horribly.

Albert, I ordered the blades from a different place, and they didn't come until today. So tomorrow's the day!

I began using a safety razor about 6 months ago and have really enjoyed it. I was getting a good shave from my Fusion razor but wanted to shave with a more classic method. No real need simply a desire and it has been great. I use a silvertip badger brush and various soaps and creams, (depending on my mood), a Merkur HD long handle and the blade that works best for me is a Crystal. Check out Badger & Blade.com if you haven't already. They'll answer every possible question about wet shaving you could have.

Thanks for the link; I haven’t been to Badger & Blade yet. Of the five blades in the sample pack from West Coast Shaving, the only one I didn’t like was the Merkur. I would have to say my favorite is the Derby; it doesn’t shave any closer than the others, but it just seems to glide across my skin, and it’s the only blade I’ve never cut myself with. I ran out of Truefitt & Hill Ultimate Soap and am contemplating what to try next. Decisions, decisions...

I recently became interested in using a safety razor (I've only heard good things) and came across these very enlightening YouTube videos...


http://www.youtube.com/user/mantic59


Matt, I found those videos, too, and mentioned them in a follow-up post a couple weeks later when I actually started wet shaving. Thanks for pointing them out; they are excellent! I’ve been shaving about six months now with a Merkur Hefty Classic and Derby Extra blades.

I must say to each his own. An old style double-edge razor, won’t pull the hairs and cut them below the skin level as is the case with multi-blade catridges, taking better care of your skin and your beard. Also, with an old style razor you have the luxury of choosing the sharpness of the blade; so you can find the one that fits you best.
As for me, I am using a double edge Merkur razor and I love it.

Tony--

I recently moved from a multi-blade cartridge to a double-edge safety blade.

The result is a smoother shave and less skin irritation. Significantly less.

I don't know why, but it might likely have to do with needing much less pressure to achieve a close shave.

All in all, the quality of the shave and whole experience is quite a bit more satisfying.

Bill, Cool, another double-edge convert! I’ve been wet shaving for two years now and would never go back to disposable blades. It’s true that I never have any post-shave skin burn anymore. Besides the lighter pressure you mention, the sharpness of the blades and the better lubrication from high-quality shaving cream (I am using Nancy Boy) all make their contribution. Whiskers just don’t have a chance.

Just converted last night!! Closest shave I've ever had in my 24 years of shaving!! I'll never go back to cartridges!!

Aaron, Welcome to the cult!

I have been introduced to this last year by a friend who got me a gift of shaving soap and a parker razor tto..........So i tried it aND NEVER LOOKED BACK.....The parker was a little rough at first but I listened to the forums and got better.
Picked up a 1955 gillette super speed and now Im really digging it , Its been a year plus since i used can cream, My face feels so much better( very heavey beard up to my eyes). I also Purchased a Vulfix fusion Ivory handle and use the fusion once and a while when in a hurry. The soap is the big difference for me! I have experimented with different brushes and soaps.
Im hooked . Right now using a cheap brush from wal-mart. Van der hagen and select shaving soap,
Or Col Conks amber. good results here Happy shaving Dudes!.........Ragu

Ragu, Sounds like you have a nice collection of vintage razors going there! For soap, I am extremely happy with Nancy Boy Signature Shave Cream (it's not a cake, but a luxurious cream). I never liked cake soaps, but I admit I have never tried either Van der Hagen or Col Conks. Thanks for the recommendations!

Folks, my wife discovered the best "software" to shave with: any good quality hair conditioner. I get a better shave using a hair conditioner than with any cream/gel/soap I have ever tried.

Any opinion on that? I shave equally with fusion cardridges or with a safety razor but I am not sure the hardware makes any difference.

Cristian, I gave it a try this morning with my wife's conditioner (I have no hair to speak of, hence no need for conditioner ;-) ). It worked well enough, but the biggest drawback I noticed was that the conditioner was a little hard to rinse off, because it's kind of slimy. I think the sliminess is why it works as well as it does for shaving. Good idea, but I think I'll stick with Nancy Boy and a brush.

Hi Tony, yes, it's true, it does not rinse off easily and it is sort of unmanly. The stickiness problem is also worse with the 5-blades shavers like the fusion, where it is hard to get it off the razors. It works much better with a safety razor (I guess with a straight razor too but I don't use one). I have never gotten a closer shave with anything else though - so it's kind of tempting. In any case, if you're ever on the road and stuck without your nancy boy cream, you can just take the bottle of conditioner the hotel gives you and still shave ...

I was just surprised the conditioner works - I found that pretty interesting.

Cristian, Definitely an interesting find. Conditioner works way better than a plain bar of soap, which is what I would turn to in a pinch before your discovery. Thanks!

I do, and love it. The trick is all the preperation. A good shave soap, brush, and a sharp razor is the best shave you can get these days.

My father used to talk about his barber like an old war buddy, but where I live there are zero. Those days are gone.

I use a safety razor. The trouble is on the road though. TSA allows the razor in a carry on but not the blade so my shaves are safety razor at home and fusion on the road ... I don't want to think about carrying a cut-throat razor in your carry-on.

I don't understand much of the controversy on technique - i never thought it is hard to use a safety razor .... do not know much about cut-throats though.

Cristian, My solution is to pack my razor in my checked baggage, although I bet most people would prefer not to check a bag if they don't have to. As for technique, you are right—you don't need much. If shaving was hard, I would have slit my throat by now for sure.

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