Double Edge Razor & Shaving Guide

Double Edge Razor Guide – How to Shave with a DE Razor

The other day, we received an envelope in the mail from Gentleman’s Gazette reader Tucker Garrett that contained a short cover letter, a print of an article and a CD with a word file. First, I was a speechless and wondering what exactly he wanted, though once I read the piece, it seemed like he wanted to share his double edge safety razor experiences with you, because they are helpful to all men who still rely on cartridge razor systems. In the past, I already had a contest between Gillette and a Double Edge Safety Razor and we reviewed electric shavers but this rather personal guide to the double edge safety razor had a number of tips that were valuable, and after a few additions, we would like to present to you our Double Edge shaving guide. Click here for the Straight Razor Shaving Guide.

Shaving Series

This is part of a series about traditional wet shaving. Make sure to read the others as well:

  1. Straight Razor Guide

  2. Shaving Brush Guide

  3. Shaving Soap Guide

  4. Shaving Cream Guide

Double Edge razor blade compartment

Double Edge razor blade compartment

Grandpa’s razor was simpler than yours: One razor. A bristled brush.  Some shave soap. In my opinion, a man’s shave in this day and age should be simple as well.

However, technology is moving so quickly that tablets will soon sprout gills and occupy coral reefs. Communication is technology’s blue ribbon. Shaving didn’t even get a consolation prize. Space-aged shaving goo, copious blades, and batteries have adulterated the morning shave. Fortunately, a friend of mine introduced me to the best shave technology that has ever been produced – and it predates sliced bread: the straight edge razor

My first real shaving experience

I remember wanting to shave as a kid – my father put bath soap on my face and handed me a plastic butter knife. As I joined the puberty club in high school, a pseudo-beard sprouted.  My watchful mother bought me a Gillette Mach 3, which was supposedly “the best a man can get”. 

“How do I do this? Should I wait to ask Dad? Maybe Mom can help me. Ugh, that’s embarrassing… I can just put those little toilet paper spots on my face if I mess up and hide out down here until it stops bleeding.” I slopped shaving cream all over my face. Then I took a deep breath. I slowly pulled the razor across my face like I was petting a tiger for the first time. The tiger didn’t seem to mind. After several strokes, I gained confidence. At the end of my first shave, I became a man. And I didn’t have to apply toilet paper specs. I must be a natural – even grown men cut themselves shaving! (Growing up, it seemed every man on TV finalized his shave with a smattering of bloody paper spots.)

Pleased with the ease the Mach3 provided, I used that razor like a bad habit for the next decade. It’s true – I never replaced my original razor handle. Every five weeks, I pitched out $25 for new cartridges. At first, shaving was exciting. Eventually, it began to feel like a waste of time, which ripped the excitement away. I hated shaving, but without full facial hair, I felt doomed to a life of unsatisfying hygiene chores (does anyone out there really enjoy brushing teeth?).

After years of drive-through windows, pizza delivery, and scraping gum off gym floors, I landed a job selling suits – and I’m not talking department store suits –  I’ve helped design a collar sold in several stores. As a haberdasher, appearance is my profession.

Shaving Brush, Lather & DE Razor

Shaving Brush, Lather & DE Razor

Stepping Up the Game – Double Edge Safety Razor

Next door to my business is a photography studio owned by a man named Ryan. Between sessions, Ryan comes over to shoot the breeze. One day, while discussing my love of pomade and vintage suits, Ryan asked if I had ever shaved with a double-edged razor. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about, but the context was enough to hook me. Ryan said he shaves with straight-up razor blades, which give him the closest shave he’s ever had; he wagered these single razor blades would shave better than whatever else I could use. I wanted to believe him, but how could a simple razor blade beat my cartridge with three blades, lubricating strips, Aloe, and Vitamin E? It was like comparing Kool-Aid to bottled Coke.

Double-edged razors are also known as DE or safety razors. Today’s cartridge razors are actually an evolution of safety razors, but most “avid shavers” (men who find satisfaction in shaving) will make the terms mutually exclusive to distinguish between the two. Years ago, barbers were the shavers. Not willing to take a straight-edged blade to their own necks, men paid professionals to prep them for hot dates and interviews.  With the advent of double-edged razors, men could shave at home – it was safer and easier than the straight edge. Hence, the moniker “safety razor.”

To be honest, I was less interested in the quality of shave and more interested in the novelty of razor blades and shaving brushes. Ryan suggested checking eBay for vintage safety razors. At the dinner table that night, my wife was skeptical of such an out-dated practice. After enough online research and personal salesmanship, she realized I wouldn’t stop bugging her until I had one in my hands.  I scoured eBay until I scored a pristine Gillette razor handle for $10. It’s older than I am. Talk about appeal.

Ryan gave me a pack of DE blades to get started. Cartridge shaving requires no special training, but mishandling double-edged razors may earn stitches.

Remember how nervous I was to shave for the first time? I was terrified to use my safety razor for the first time – to me, calling it a safety razor was like having a foaming, gnashing Doberman named “Snuggles.”

I studied articles, visited online forums, and even watched YouTube videos to prepare myself.

How to Shave with a DE Razor

  • Soak your brush in steaming water; this softens the bristles. Using a brush will enhance any man’s shaving experience (badger hair is the way to go – Best Badger will do but Silver Tip is superior). Brushes help lift hairs, which means a closer shave.
  • Shake some of the water out of the brush. Using the damp brush, lather your shave soap. Let the bristles massage your face as you apply the lather in circular motions. If your soap turns into a Santa beard, you’re on the right path.
  • Make the first pass with your razor. Keep it angled at about 30 degrees.
  • Pull straight down. Don’t apply pressure – let the handle’s weight take care of that.
  • Flex or do something else you consider manly. Maybe chop down a tree with an axe.
  • Repeat.

I recommend doing 1-2 passes with the grain of your beard and one light pass against the grain for perfect smoothness. Be careful when going against the grain – it’s ingrown hair territory (the first two passes lessen those chances).

Shaving Mug

Shaving Mug

My Shaving Experience

Having memorized those steps, and preparing for sudden death, I picked up the miniature weapon disguised as a personal grooming tool. I rested the razor on my cheek and cautiously pulled down.

“What’s the big deal? This isn’t so bad.”

I finished my shave, realizing I wasn’t going to cut my face off. The safety razor earned its name. (I later learned that safety razors have a “safety bar,” part of DE anatomy I had overlooked, which help reduce cleaving.) I smirked and puffed my chest like a parading peacock. I looked in the mirror to examine the manliest shave in town.

My face looked like I had just spent the better part of a hot date making out with a blender.

And after 10 years of shaving, I finally understood why men leave the bathroom with bloody toilet paper flags all over. The shave wasn’t even that good! Rough patches and uneven whiskers remained. Everything I read said DE razors were amazing; I must have missed something.

Back to the grindstone – what else was there to know? Sometimes there isn’t anything else to know – you’ve just got to practice. For the next month, every time I shaved, my wife used her hand to grade my progress.  She said each shave got better than the last. If a woman caresses your face and approves, you’re on track.

At one point, I’m fairly certain I reached shaving nirvana. No nicks. Very little razor burn. No more ingrown hairs. And of course, the ultimate test: my cheeks felt like Dean Martin sounds – in case you’re not familiar, imagine riding a tube down a calm stream of melted honey butter. Now turn that into a voice.

I said I’m a haberdasher – oddly enough, I hated suits until I had one properly tailored. The safety razor is your well-tailored suit. Every time I use my DE, it’s an experience. Having a real shave has turned my chore into a ritual: I anticipate lathering my soap and I love the frictionless second pass.

Potential applicants to the brotherhood of safety razors should know: using a double-edge blade does take more time; especially at first. Once you get it down, DE shaving is hardly slower than using the ol’ hack-and-slash cartridges. However, in a rush one day and curious to see if my DE blades were actually better for shaving (or if I’d only converted myself out of novelty), I pulled out my old Mach3 Turbo.

New technology and classic style were about to duke it out.

The venue? My face.

The referee? My wife.

That morning’s shave felt and sounded gritty, like trying to polish sandpaper with itself. My shave was indeed quick and easy, but the ref called a foul on terms of rough play:

“Tucker, what happened?”

She didn’t know I’d used my old razor – but her tone accused me of betrayal.

The next time I whipped up a lather in my shave cup, I felt like I’d been There and Back Again.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Double Edges Razors

I must admit – cartridge razors are not worthless. They are quick, though not as quick as electric razors. I’ll still use one if I’m racing to work and can’t possibly wait for a quality shave. They are easy and safe. I consistently struck out in Little League – as a teenager, if I could swing cartridge razors around my face without killing myself, anyone can.

In my opinion, the most redeeming quality of cartridge razors is that long beards are no matter. This is the one place DE razors fail – if I haven’t shaved in four days, it pulls. It tugs. It’s painful. If I have vacation beard, my first shave is with a cartridge. Once the overgrowth is trimmed, it’s back to a real shave.

Cartridges may require no skill, but they come with a price: For  eight Mach3 Turbo cartridges you’ll pay $25. For a third of that price, a mere $7.50, you can buy 100 Derby Extra razors.

I’m not kidding. A third of the price, four times the razors, and a shave your special lady friend won’t forget.

Double Edge Safety Razor

Double Edge Safety Razor

Let’s not forget batteries. Does your comb need batteries? No, it needs quality pomade (I recommend Murray’s).  Likewise, your razor does not need batteries. End of story.

Typically, people shaving with cartridges use shaving cream out of the can – gross – that stuff can clog your pores and it hardly lubricates.  Plus – what is that stuff? Shaving soaps or creams to lather yourself lubricate better, can be much cheaper, and can be better for your skin.

Safety razors provoke less ingrown hairs. How? Imagine peeling a potato: one blade gets the top layer off. What if your potato peeler had two blades? As the second blade peels a little more after the first, you’re now wasting good food! What if your potato peeler had – no joke – six blades?

Now imagine that potato is your face. One blade is enough for me.

You know what makes me feel tough? Increasing weight at the gym. Want to know what makes me feel really tough?  Applying shave soap with a brush in the gym’s bathroom. It’s like tripling whatever you lift.

Who knew satisfaction lurked behind my morning chore?

Safety razors often stow away in dark corners of beauty stores, but I recommend shopping online. My entire shaving outfit cost $25 – the same price as my replacement Mach3 blades. The next investment, new DE blades, was less than $3.

Brush, Mug and Safety Razor

Brush, Mug and Safety Razor

As with all things, if you want the best of the best, you can pay as much as you’d like: Handles alone can cost $160, and I’ve seen $55 shave soaps. Some men prefer bespoke suits, but I’m more of a well-tailored off-the-rack kind of guy. The results are similar, but a canyon separates the final costs. I’m content supplying myself for the next 6 months under $15.

DE Shaving Gear – What to Buy for a Great Double Edge Shave

Handles:

Blades:

Brushes:

Soaps:

After trying several blades, I prefer the Bic Chrome Platinums. You’ll find that different blades have different “aggressiveness” – the Bic blades are not as “safe” (aka dull) as some blades, but they also aren’t as sharp as others (such as Feather blades, which many men prefer).  And my favorite soap is currently Col. Conk’s Bay Rum: not only does it lubricate and create a foamy lather, but it quickly became a favorite scent of mine.

Research shaving forums – you’ll find a wealth of information. I recommend Badger and Blade, The Shave Den, The Shave Nook, and this subReddit.

The DE community is tight-knit and shavers are usually more than willing to give advice. I’ve literally had a random stranger call me to ask about safety razors because his wife’s boss told him I use one.

People respect the double-edged shaver.

Safety razors are not for everyone: just like how a hard day’s work, standing your ground, hauling wood, and opening doors for beautiful women aren’t for everyone. To each his own, I suppose.

Shaving with a double-edged razor does take more time and effort, but the returns pay in spades. If you can’t put a little extra effort into your appearance, don’t expect any edge on the man who can. If you have any questions, I’ll be listening to Johnny Cash and working a firm pomade into my hair.

What are your experiences with double edge razors? What gear to you use? Let us know in the comments below.

Shaving Series

This is part of a series about traditional wet shaving. Make sure to read the others as well:

  1. Straight Razor Guide

  2. Shaving Brush Guide

  3. Shaving Soap Guide

  4. Shaving Cream Guide

41 replies
  1. Merlin
    Merlin says:

    Hi,

    Yes, that’s the only way to shave the face. I got a complete set “Mond Extra” from Rotbart in a nice leather case, including two cylindrical container, one for the brush (included, made of horn) and one for the soap, and there are two little packs which are containing the new and the used blades. All, the complete package, is located in the 30th if the last century, fully chrome plated and in very well working condition. As soap I’m using the brand “ARKO” made inTurkye.

    Best regards!

  2. Peter M
    Peter M says:

    Great article, and well written with a great turn of phrase and humour as well. I have been a DE shaver for about 6 years now, and like the author, I used to consider shaving a chore that had to be accomplished in the quickest time and the most efficient manner utilising chain store disposables and tinned goop.

    What an experience I have missed! My daily shave is now a luxurious and indulgent ritual that every gentleman should experience.

    There are many options as to blades, razors, soaps, aftershaves, lotions and balms etc, and every man will be different in their preferences, but a golden rule is “do not skip on quality”. Long after the cost is forgotten the sheer sensuous pleasure of shaving with top quality razors, brushes and after shave lotions will linger.

    BTW, I share the author’s love of Col Conk’s Bay Rum shave soap. A manly and unobtrusive scent, and has many favourable comments from the ladies.

  3. Frederic
    Frederic says:

    Great article! I must say I’ve gone through the same steps, but with an extra difficulty: I have a cowlick in my beard. I made the move to the DE as a personal interest in traditional man grooming (I studied menswear design and fashion). The move was also a financial one: I figured it was an investment, but as with all good things, you pay once for better stuff, and you pay less in the long run. This has proved to be very true.

    I visited fendrihan.com (not involved with them, just a good address for us canadian men to know!), and purchased a Merkur 33C handle (pretty much the cheapest I could find), a pack of Derby blades and a Taylor of Old Bond Street shaving soap. I already had an older Wilkinson brush, but I very quickly changed that to a Vulfix badger brush. It makes a world of a difference.

    After a few tries, I got to a satisfactory shave with little, if any, burn and cuts. Highly recommended!

  4. Anthony
    Anthony says:

    Truly one of the only two ways to shave anymore in my opinion. I switched to wet shaving (using a bush and soap) about 7 years ago and in the past year switched over to DE shaving almost exclusively. The only time I am not is when I am learning to use my straight edge. This method of shaving gives me a daily perfect shave. Yes it took a while, like the article said, but I would encourage all to investigate this further. In case anyone is interested, I use a Merkur Razor, Feather blades and Taylor of Old Bond Street for shaving cream. Cheers.

    • Sven Raphael Schneider
      Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      I use a simlar setup but I also use the electric razor sometimes, especially when I travel or when I am in a rush. Of course the result is not as good though it just takes 2 minutes and for DE I need at least 15 for two runs and a perfect result and then I am rushed. With a hot towel etc, it just takes longer, including time to soak the brush in warm water etc.

  5. McBindle
    McBindle says:

    My experience has been quite different. In the past I used gillette two blade, non-pivoting disposable razors and Kiss My Face shaving cream, non-aerosol. Two passes with the grain, one cross-wise and an extremely smooth and close shave with no cuts or burn resulted. I could neglect to shave my heavy beard for 4 days and had no issues when I finally did.

    In an effort to save money and waste I bought a ca. 1957 refurbished Gillette DE and have tried about 5 blades. I persisted for a month and consider myself as having great technique and a feel for fine and controlled work. There have been many cons: the blade clogs up with one pass and is more difficult to clear (I can’t tap it against the side of the sink as I could previously). Although the cream I use has great non-animal lubricants the metal guard of the DE still caught my skin increasing drag – this led to the need for more passes and increased cuts and burn. Animal hair brushes smelled when wet and had the potential for an allergic reaction, synthetic were better. The weight of the razor hinders the control of the shave. Prior I had developed a very deft and dexterous touch and I had great control as though the razor was a light extension of my hand and fingers. The weight of the DE just feels clumsy, non-responsive steering if you will.

    I now try the DE about once a week hoping against hope that it will finally work but the problems persist. The biggest issues are the clogging and weight. Since these are integral to the design of the DE I am disappointed that it is not for me. I hate being wasteful with the plastic razors and their expense (while they are the cheapest disposable they pale in comparison to the DE blades).

    I wish everyone else great luck and that my problems are an outlier.

    • Sven Raphael Schneider
      Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Thank you for sharing your differing experience. I am surprised to hear that, though I know that the beginning can be tough. Try a Merkur instead of the Gillette and get a set of different blades – they are really different in quality. A lot of grooming shops will sell blade test sets so you can try them.
      I would include Gillette (terrible), Personna Red, Derby and Feather. All of them are very different and you have to figure out what you like.

  6. Simon
    Simon says:

    Great article, now the only article needed is for a shavette, still trying to figure which ones have their own blades or uses the DE blades.

  7. Michael
    Michael says:

    I’ve been shaving with a DE razor for a year now, and I’ve never looked back.

    The only downside to shaving with a DE is that you can’t take the damn things on an airline. Or rather, you can’t take the blades on an airline, because they’re removable. That’s the only time I ever resort to packing my old cartridge razor. But I still bring along the brush and cream.

  8. J. Bennick
    J. Bennick says:

    Basic Military Training, 1953. Part of our military training. The entire flight was marched to the PX and every boot was instructed to buy a double edged razor and blades, there was no fancy throw away shaving razors in those days. The entire flight of 40 young Airmen in Basic Training learned about hygiene , personal appearance, and how to shower ,shave and properly dress.
    I have been using the double edge ever since and always get a fine close shave and never experience a scratch or nick. I see young Marines and Civilians buying throw away razors in a pack of ten that have 5 blades imbedded in plastic for about 28 dollars! I can buy a pack of 10, good sharp double edge blades for 1.50. The double edge blades can be used for up to 10 shaves before dulling. For 1.50 this works out to 100 shaves for about 6 cents a shave. It takes practice , skill and a sense of pride knowing not every man can master a double edge. Every shave with the double edge is a daily pleasureable ritual of manhood.

  9. Teeritz
    Teeritz says:

    I’ve been using my Dad’s early ’60s Gillette (G3, I think) for the last fifteen years and I get a great shave every time. There’s a reassuring weight to a DE razor, provided you get yourself a decent one. I’m thinking of getting a Parker or Merkur so that I’ll have a modern equivalent to my Dad’s Gillette, but something tells me that I’ll probably keep using the Gillette no matter what I buy. Great post! Loved the humor in it.

  10. Andy
    Andy says:

    I have to say, this article was such a good read! Just like you, I have been hiding behind the ease of the Mach 3 like just about every man I know! Problem is as you say it starts to become a chore, and for me I get lazy about replacing the cartridge, and I just end up shaving with a blunt blade. I think you have turned me, like your mate Ryan did to you!

  11. Charles
    Charles says:

    It has been years since I used a safety razor. I first learned to shave using my dad’s Gillette. As time progressed and my beard became fuller, I switched to a straight razor. For me, a straight razor gives the best shave but it requires a slower process. Great article, now I am seriously thinking of breaking out the old Gillette again.

  12. Cody
    Cody says:

    I have three razors that I use. An electric for when I am biking to work; I have to shower when I get there so I find it easier to take care of it before I go. However, once my cleaning refill is empty, I won’t get any new ones, because it is too expensive.

    I have a DE that I use instead of my electric. I have been using it for less than a year but greatly enjoy it. I have never got a cut that I recall; the shave is much better than the cartridge razors I used to use.

    My main choice, when I have to time, is my straight razor. It took me about a month to get proficient with it (from one hour down to seven minutes), and I still cut myself every so often, but I much prefer it because it is a dying art and I just feel so manly by doing it. Plus, I never have to buy another blade again. I have also turn on a coworker to straight razors and he loves it too.

    One thing I like to do is use the Shave Secret oil as an after-shave moisturizer. After I shave (DE or straight), I use witch hazel as an astringent, then put Shave Secret on to moisturize my face. The experience is probably better than commercial after-shaves and significantly cheaper. Plus, I like the smell of the oil compared to normal after-shaves.

  13. Denis
    Denis says:

    I’ve actually been considering getting a DE for about a month now. I use a straight razor, but I currently only shave once a week because to not cut myself I need to be fully awake and not distracted at all. Luckily my beard grows slowly (and is blond) and so my “5 o’clock shadow” doesn’t show up for a couple of days.

  14. Jay
    Jay says:

    I recently purchased a DE after talking about it with a buddy since Christmas. He’s been using a blade for a couple years now.

    Anyway, I finally purchased one and am really looking forward to using it for the first time! After using a general blade (and water!) or an electric I am looking for something that simply does not produce the razor burn. It’s itchy, uncomfortably and produces a fair amount of ingrown hairs. I’m hoping that using a DE will eliminate all of that.

    Regarding aftershave, what do you guys recommend for post shave balm?

  15. Chuck
    Chuck says:

    Great article. I recently went from the Gillette Mach Turbo Blaster 5000 blade (sarcasm) and went to Double Edge Safety razors. It does take time. I went a step further and am now doing straight razors. Bottom line – stay off ebay, they are pretty, but buy one from a reputable dealer such as Big Easy Tools. Talk to Al 504-733-4138. Tell him what you are thinking about and go from there. Since, I have bought razors from everyone, but my favorites are restored ones from Al and the custom job I bought from Max Sprecher – 702-982-1322. Max can make a blade that could shave Freddy Kreuggers face to baby bottom smooth. Anyway, Big Al is all Louisianaian and Max – well lets just say – I hate him. Former Armani model, diamond polisher, internet web designer and european. Max website is Madaspenhome. He also does pillows and other things, but this guy is no sissy. Just look at those sticks he restores and custom makes. All my best, and remember start slow – I am still taking hints from Obi Wan and Yoda.

  16. Joe
    Joe says:

    I’ve been debating a DE for a while, but my hold up is that I also shave my head every time I shave my face. I have concerns about the usability of a DE on the back of my head where I can’t see.

  17. W. Asher
    W. Asher says:

    Still using the DE .. love it.. much better than the electric shaver in terms of smoothness. One glide takes out from the roots given the razors are sharp enough!.. Not so easy to clean though!

  18. Fred C
    Fred C says:

    Truthfully I use a cartridge razor the majority of the time, I like to shave in the shower and I’m good enough with the cartridge to do it without a mirror. Something I would never try with a DE. However once in awhile when I’m taking the time to get ready for a special event I will pull out the old safety razor and get a really close and good shave. Makes the event feel special when I do that.

    The other thing I have to tell on myself about is that I don’t use a shaving soap, I just use my regular bar soap, but that’s what I do with the cartridges too. I have never used shaving cream always just soap and water. I just lather up my face, leave it for a few moments, rinse with hot water and re-lather and shave. There’s just too many competing scents for me otherwise, the scent of your bath soap, the scent of your shaving soap, the aftershave, the deodorant, just too much so I keep it simple.

  19. Carl Malo Schneider
    Carl Malo Schneider says:

    I use a DE about once a week; and one of my seven straight razors the other days. I love the manoeuvrability of the DE, and love the whole soaps, creams, brushes,after shaves etc experience of a ‘proper’ wet shave. I feel it’s the special little things like this in one’s day that adds so much to it.

    If one can start the day with a nice DE or straight razor shave, hand ground coffee brewed in a stove top mocca pot drunk from a vintage French coffee bowl, vintage cufflinks and beautifully polished hand made leather boots then one is a lucky man…

  20. Denis Zdanovsky
    Denis Zdanovsky says:

    I just want to add that if you are buying a used razor off of ebay you should sterilize it just in case before you use it. If you boil the metal razor in water for ~30 minutes that is enough to inactivate Hepatitis B and HIV according to information available on the WHO website.

      • Denis Zdanovsky
        Denis Zdanovsky says:

        Alcohol works only on bacteria, not on viruses. Health standards for sterilizing reusable tools such as needles and scalpels is to autoclave for 20 minutes, or baking in an oven at 170 c (340 f) for 2 hours after the temperature has been reached. Boiling for 20 minutes will provide high level disinfection (will not destroy spores, but will denature Hepatitis and HIV both of which are viruses).

        As the safety razors are all metal construction they will not be damaged in any way if you boil them for half an hour.

  21. Bob
    Bob says:

    GREAT article! The best I have ever read about this topic, and I have read a LOT!

    I should have read this when I first switched to a DE.

    I shaved over 40 years with cartridge razors. For an extra close shave, I would shave twice, I got great shaves in the Army, for my wedding, for being up close and personal with my wife, for special occasions, you name it. I was happy with my shaves. I thought they were very close, smooth and safe. So did my wife. I went to West Point where for the first few months after I shaved my squad leader (among other things I will not mention) would feel my face with his fingertips and rub a playing card against my cheeks to determine if I had shaved well enough. – It wasn’t just me. of course, he did it to the others, also! If I did not pass, I had to shave again – and endure punishment not fit for humans. A new cartridge, foam from and can, two careful passes and a shower after the shave got me through all of this easily time after time. I never thought of shaving any other way, and saw no need to try.

    I have used a synthetic brush and soap for over 20 years as a money saving technique. I was completely happy with shaving and the results of my cartridge razor, but the recent price increases for cartridges did it for me. I was also interested in the novelty of shaving like my grandfather and John Wayne did. The idea of grooming my face more than a disgruntled pass with a cartridge just to get a dirty job done quickly was appealing to me. I switched to a Merkur 34 DE and then a Merkur slant with a badger blade and a hard soap. I bought a sampler of 16 different blades and some soaps. I read a lot and did a lot of web searching. I discovered that I really had not used very good shaving techniques with my cartridges – even though the shaves were pretty good. After starting with a DE razor last year, I would NEVER go back (I haven’t had to go through TSA security yet!). It took some patience, practice and experimenting, but I get a closer shave now than ever before. I have had to adjust the type of shaving stroke and angle of the blade to my face a few times (I initially tended to pull too hard and keep the handle too close to my face in the jawbone and neck areas). I endured some extra cuts and frustration (with poor results) for a month or so, but I was determined to keep at it. I have tried different soaps. I keep experimenting with different angles and techniques because I am determined to master this. I have experimented with over a dozen different kinds of blades.

    After reading the posts here, I experimented with a new DE blade and a new cartridge razor. I prepped with steaming hot towels and a good lather on my brush. I shaved one side with the cartridge and the other with the DE. I made 3 passes. A little more hot water on the tip of the brush for each lathering. Rinse with hot water between passes. Different direction each pass. I can go against the grain on the third pass without any problems at all. Finished with cold water rinse and a non-alcoholic aftershave balm. Man does all of that feel great! I did this three days in a row. Well, I think the cartridge side was the best cartridge shave ever – and it was really good! Very close & smooth. Very safe, quick and easy. Paid no attention to angle of blade or almost anything else. I would recommend this to anyone – IF I had not felt the other side of my face. The parts of my beard that are light and grow slowly (about 10% of my face by the upper cheekbone) were not much different that the same areas on the cartridge side. But, 90% of my face on the DE side was – as I expected it to be – even smoother. Much smoother. The DE is slower, and on a 3-day beard is a bit riskier. I have been using the DE about a year, and I am still developing my techniques. I keep experimenting with the blade, angle of attack, and everything else I can. Whenever I am in a hurry or get careless, I get cut. I have never has a very bad cut, however. This is an acquired skill, and I am getting better and better at it. My shaves are getting even closer. For a hundred reasons others have stated here, the DE has been the best shaving experience of my life.
    When I went into the Army in the 60′s (I enlisted and served before I went to West Point), in Basic Training we all had to buy a DE and a shaving soap stick for display ( a holdover from the 50′s), but everyone used cartridges to actually shave. I didn’t know what I was missing.

    I only wish I had seen this article when I first started with the DE last year. Hats off to the author.

    If I ever try a straight razor, I’ll report back on the results.

    • Sven Raphael Schneider
      Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Dear Bob, Thank you so much for your detailed comment. I am surprised to see that you use warm water in between because I think it makes little cuts bleed more heavily. In any case, I feel honored that you think you should have read it when you started. That certainly says you like the quality of our posts and that’s what we are all about.

  22. JC
    JC says:

    I have been buying from classicshaving.com for years now and highly recommend them. I am in no way affiliated with this company. I’ve started rubbing an alum block over my face after I shave. I keep wetting the block under running cold water and it helps close up any nicks and cuts. I find Feather blades to work better than Merkur.

  23. Evan Everhart
    Evan Everhart says:

    I am also a fan of double edged safety razors. I however learned on one from my grandfather. They’re a real treat. And yes, shaving soap makes all the difference when used in conjunction with a boar bristle brush. One thing though, I would recommend Sweet Georgia Brown pomade over Murray’s. It washes out easier, smells better, and has the same hold. They just started producing it again, and I still have my grandfather’s tin of it. They also now have a water soluble variety in a blue tin. Straight razors are also Great! Try using a steamed or boiling hot water moistened towel on your face prior to the shave, or shave immediately after a shower or bath for best effects, then splash with cold water and then after-shave and lotion.

  24. Juan Ramon Novelo
    Juan Ramon Novelo says:

    I remember as a little kid standing next to my grandfather as he shaved. He had a rather large collection of handles and he would let me use them without the razors. It was possibly one of the happiest memories I have and while reading this flashes of that came by. Going to go hunt for some of these now!!

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