Done with cartridge razors. Tell me about DE Safety Razors for beginners

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by cometazzi, Jul 31, 2020.

  1. cometazzi

    cometazzi Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I've been using a Gillette Mach 3 since the late 1990s. I've also been having bad post-shave irritation since about that time. Every time I shave, the day or two after I get this red, itchy rash on my neck. I don't think it's razor burn, I think it's ingrown hairs. I shave in the shower every Sunday morning, and it takes almost a week until the irritation is gone and I can shave again. Some believe that multi-blade razors are the culprit with this irritation, and that a double-edged safety razor is the cure. My last Mach3 cartridge is approaching the end of its usefulness, and I'm ready to re-evaluate my life's choices.

    I've read some stuff on the Internet about safety razors, but a lot of the blogs and sites are a bit over-the-top hipster stuff. Most of them are thinly-veiled advertisements for this brand or that. I'm also irrationally annoyed by the term "wet shaving" applied to safety razors or straight razors because I've been doing that with cartridge razors for 22-effin' years. Maybe I'm both wrong and a bad person.

    Okay!

    I'm looking at the Merkur 33c and the 23c. Only difference I can see is the latter has another inch of handle. I saw some blog that mentioned short handles are better for beginners, another said longer handles are better.
    Another site said some model of Edwin Jagger is actually better than any Merkur, but I can't find that one again. (It was also the most pretentious site I had read).

    I've actually been safety-razor-curious for several years, but I'm nervous about cutting myself. Back in the 90s I worked with a Nice Young Lady(tm) who would use her husband's safety razor to shave her legs. It was a regular occurrence where she'd lift up her dress or skirt and show me how bad she flayed herself open with it. So I want to do this right, with the right 'starter' razor for those who are new and impressionable.

    I'll buy a variety pack of blades to try out. Lots of them on Amazon. Sounds like blades are akin to guitar strings- different brands/styles/etc work for different people.

    I'm not 100% ready to buy a brush and shaving soap just yet. Here's why:

    1) I still have a bunch of barbasol shaving cream left. Will it work?

    2) I have sensitive skin regarding fragrances. Every time I use a new soap, shampoo, bodywash, etc it's a dice roll. If I use the wrong thing, I'll break out in hives for two weeks. It looks like most shaving soaps are on the end of adding fragrance. Maybe there are some that are completely fragrance-free, but I don't know.

    3) Does it have to be "shaving soap"? What if I lathered up regular old Dove Sensitive Skin bar soap and used that as a lubricant?

    4) I'm not looking to start using a safety razor to brag about my manliness or make some sort of fashion statement. I'm just looking to get the weak scrubble off my face with ease and lack of irritation. The cost savings and lesser environmental impact are a bonus.


    Any advice or tips from those in the trenches who use a safety razor is most appreciated.
     
  2. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    I struggled with a DE for years. Worst razor I ever owned. A DE will leave me bleeding like crazy. I've never cut myself once with a straight razor. These days I use a Shick Hydro...has something like 5 blades.

    I think fundamentally, the shaving cream makes the shave. Years ago I tried "Cremo Cream" and never went back to anything else. Works with electrics too.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
  3. jondanger

    jondanger Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    You can use the Barbasol you have. I’ve been using a Merkur for years. The Edwin Jagger that I had didn’t last as long as the Merkur that I have now. It’s a short handle with the regular head that most of the Merkurs have. Feather blades have been the best for me. After your Barbasol runs out, it might be worth it to try Mitchell’s Wool Fat shaving soap. It’s light on fragrance and good for sensitive skin.

    Get the razor nice and hot before you put it on your face!
     
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  4. stnmtthw

    stnmtthw Friend of Leo's

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    I use a Parker 96R and Astra blades. I have a pretty coarse beard and its the only way that I don't get the same irritation the OP described.

    You can try different types of blades pretty inexpensively on Amazon. They sell variety packs so you can decide which type of blade you like.

    Best advice I have is take it slow- don't do it when you are rushing to get ready for work- pay attention to the angle you are holding the razor, and don't push. Let the weight of the razor do the work.

    You will cut yourself at first. Don't freak out. Buy a styptic pencil to stop the bleeding quickly. Figure out how it happened, and correct it next time. You will be an expert before long.

    Oh, and any shaving cream will work. It's just lubrication for the razor.
     
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  5. Rustbucket

    Rustbucket Poster Extraordinaire

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    I’ve used one for about 5 years and I only nicked myself a handful of times at the beginning. You get used to it. I use the same cheap 3 piece razor I had since the beginning. I like a shaving soap and brush, one tub of soap last’s me almost a year. It’s better for both the environment and my pocketbook than cream in a can or tube.
     
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  6. mtglick

    mtglick TDPRI Member

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    Went full on single blade & brush about five years ago, always struggled with the cartridges ripping up my face. Agree with above, GO SLOW. Especially when you start out--whatever speed you think "slow" is, go slower.

    Current weapon of choice is a Vikings Blade Godfather three-piece. Not as easy to change blades as some, but the chroming is top notch. I load with Feathers, and whatever tallow-based soap caught my eye, most recent is the Sir Hare Barbershop, but I've gone with many over the years, and really only struggled with non-tallow varieties.

    Shower first, especially if you've got a thicker or coarser beard to get through--my Feathers last about four uses, and I cork strop them. Cuts will happen. Be prepared and don't panic. With a single blade, digging in has consequences--keep to the surface and let the blade do the work. First couple of times you won't get quite as close a cut as you probably are with the cartridges, but you'll get there.

    Ultimately, what I like about the single blades is the level of control--it's like the difference between a fifties-style single-ended tube amp and a modern modeler. Technique makes all the difference in the world and it's a lot easier to customize your results.
     
  7. Stanford Guitar

    Stanford Guitar Tele-Meister

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    I've been shaving with straight razors and safety razors for a long time. I have NEVER cut myself with a safety razor, ever. The key to a good shave, beyond good razor technique, is knowing how to use a shaving soap and a brush for a good beard prep. I'd recommend a safety razor with a non-aggressive comb like a Merkur 34C with Feather blades. Buy a cheap boar bristle brush and some Proraso or Cella soap. You can make your cream right in the container and face lather. If you stick with it you can upgrade to a badger brush etc. _DSC6977.jpg
     
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  8. koolaide

    koolaide Tele-Holic

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    Switched about 5 years ago. Have never looked back. Bought a vintage Gelette on flea bay. (cleaned and sterilized.) Like new. Best blades for the money (IMHO) Feather. If you clean and dry the blade you can get 5-10 uses per blade.
    I like Cremo -available at local drug store.

    Buy Blades in bulk and save much $$$$.
     
  9. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    Has anyone (besides me) used a styptic pencil and not thrown it away afterward, never to use them again? I used one and it felt like flaming napalm into an open wound.
     
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  10. Sequimite

    Sequimite Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    I used Feathers in an old Gillette safety razor for a while. Then I started using a Rolls Razor, which is a third of a safety razor perpendicular on a handle. It has a safety strip to limit the depth of a cut. It worked, and I didn't cut myself, but I never got the hang of my chin corners and put it aside. I'm actually back to triple blade Gillette disposables, they are cheaper than the Mach 3 cartridges and I pick them up when on sale at Costco.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
  11. Slap Axe

    Slap Axe Tele-Meister

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    Piece o’ cake, nothing to be afraid of. They work great and make so much more sense than disposable plastic razor heads.

    I started using one about 5 years ago or so. I remember my dad using one when I was a kid, so there’s a bit of throw back nostalgia for sure, but the main thing is that as long as you don’t let the blade get too dull before changing, they give a nice close shave.
     
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  12. Stanford Guitar

    Stanford Guitar Tele-Meister

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    Styptic pencil is pretty essential for straight razor shaving. About once a year I nick myself pretty good and have to use one. Yes, they burn a bit.

    Another thing you can use that's not so aggressive is Bloc d'Alum.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
  13. TheOtherNeill

    TheOtherNeill TDPRI Member

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    I use an old Gillette DE loaded with Personna blades. Feathers are great, but expensive and extraordinarily sharp. You'll be fine, but remember that you do not need to--and should not--use the kind of pressure or number of strokes you have been with a safety razor. Use light, almost brush-like strokes, and do one round with the grain first, before you reapply cream and go against as a clean-up (if needed).

    Also, consider switching from canned creams, as others provide a better experience. I really like Nancy Boy (yes, really, out of Berkeley), Proraso, and Trumper. NB does not require a brush; the others are much better with one.
     
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  14. Ron R

    Ron R Friend of Leo's

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    I have no idea about DE. I hear Merkur is good. My safety razor is the one my Dad had for probably 40+ years, and I have no idea the brand. I started using it around 4 years ago. So far, Astra blades have been the best, IMO. I also used to love Creamo mint & menthol, but have settled in on Art of Shaving Sandalwood as my preferred cream.
     
  15. Stanford Guitar

    Stanford Guitar Tele-Meister

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    That's a good point. Just imagine lightly wiping off the shaving cream with the razor. You need no pressure at all with a DE razor.

    Also, your first 10 shaves won't be great. You'll miss spots etc. But if you stick with it you will get the best shaves ever with a good DE.
     
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  16. HotRodSteve

    HotRodSteve Friend of Leo's

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    I stopped shaving every day a few years ago, now I let my beard grow and use an electric trimmer every three or four weeks. But, when I did shave every day I used a Merkur double-edge with Feather blades, Edwin Jagger Sandalwood shaving soap in an Old Spice Cup, Vulfix Super Badger brush, Ogallala Bay Rum and almost always had to tend the wounds with an alum block. To be honest the best shaves I had were with Gillette disposable double-edge razors. A minimum of blood and gore.
     
  17. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I'm an old fashion kinda guy and have been using shaving soap in a dish with a brush for ages, but I switched to the cartridge Mach 3 back in the 90s and wish I could use a single edge razor, but the thought of cutting my head off with it keeps me from trying.
     
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  18. Stanford Guitar

    Stanford Guitar Tele-Meister

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    This is a guy who REALLY knows how to shave with a straight razor. His soap and brush technique are applicable to shaving with DE as well. He's using a shaving scuttle....a double chambered dish that uses hot water to keep the shaving cream hot. You don't need one of these, but they are nice. Once you learn how to use soap and a brush, you'll never go back to the crap that is in a can!

    Note how he uses his non-shaving hand to pull the skin tight to get good blade contact. That is one of the keys to a great shave, no matter what razor you use.

     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
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  19. Fretting out

    Fretting out Friend of Leo's

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    I think I’ve actually cut myself less than when I used the Gillette 5 razor thing

    Like everyone else went safety razor about 5 years ago

    And like what everyone else says about going slow is pretty accurate or more so that it’s a slower process
    You’re gonna want to make a couple passes
    Lathering up and repeating the whole process a couple times
    Takes me 2 passes for complete smooth

    Safety razors aren’t a one pass shave in 5 minutes type device

    I use the same cheap mug and brush and razor set I’ve had since the beginning

    I like the Israel made Gillette blades but they recently got discontinued so looks like I’m gonna have to try the nicer blades

    I hear good things about astra and feather blades

    Good luck
     
  20. Brian J.

    Brian J. Tele-Afflicted

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    i use a Gillette World War 1 soldiers service set been in my family since 1917 or so, it is a two piece razor with a open comb and gives a pretty aggressive shave. I think for the money the Gillette blue box is one of the best deals going blade wise almost as fine as a Japanese made feather blade but for less coin, everyone has a blade preference if you get yourself a razor buy a sampler pack of blades on amazon or the bay and see what works for best for your beard and skin, also to start you may wish to get a razor with a closed comb till you get used to it, they are easier on the skin irritation and you will get fewer nicks.
     
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