Double Edged Safety Razors
Are they right for you?
To safety razor or not? Not everything benefits from the advancement of technology. Ask any set of parents about the once sacred family dinner, and they will tell you that it has evolved into a phone gazing, texting marathon. One could argue that shaving equipment fits into this category as well. Shaving has always been a tedious endeavor, and there is a reason that in the past a man would gladly pay the barber for a shave. Done wrong, shaving hurts!
One of the things that makes us human is our inherent need to improve our tools. Shaving is a prime example of this. Walk down any grooming aisle and you will see a vast array of three and four blade razors that promise to make your daily shave as effortless as possible. The problem is they don't really work all that well. The peak of razor technology ended with the double-edged safety razor.
Would switching to a double-edged safety razor benefit your shaving routine?
To answer that question you must examine your shaving ritual. How many times a week do you shave? If you're blonde and have all of three hairs on your chin, stick with the three blade disposable, you won't appreciate the difference. If however you have a dark, thick beard and your five o'clock shadow comes in at noon, you might want to give it a try.
Where to start?
If you do a search online for double-edged safety razors, you will be bombarded with various makes and models. It is important to remember that there is a pretty steep learning curve to shaving with a DE razor and some razors are more forgiving than others. One thing you will hear over and over in shaving forums is the terms mild and aggressive. These terms describe how the angle of the razor blade and the weight of the razor itself affects the closeness of the shave.
An aggressive razor with have a steep angle and a larger portion of the blade exposed to the skin. Depending on which blade you choose you might succeed in reenacting a scene from a splatter horror movie.
A mild razor will have a gentle angle and very little blade exposed. This is where you should start as a newbie DE shaver. There are many brands and models out there, but I have found that the manufacturers in England produce well made razors with mild characteristics.
What about the cost?
Purchasing a quality double-edged safety razor will set you back about $30-$50, but considering a five pack of triple blade cartridges cost nearly fifteen dollars, and double edge blades average about ten cents per blade, it won't take long to break even and begin to save money.
What makes a DE shave so much better than a cartridge?
Cartridge blades are made of very thin strips of cheap metal that are easily clogged and dulled by coarse facial hair. A DE blade is thicker and therefore able to hold a sharper edge for a longer period of time. With the proper technique (which I will get into in another article) a DE shave will not only be smoother, but will last longer and result in less razor burn. A sharper blade cuts through the individual hair at the surface of the skin, a dull blade pulls the hair up resulting in it being cut off below the skin. The skin quickly grows over the hair follicle causing painful red bumps that are actually ingrown hairs.
Are you ready to take the plunge?
In summary, switching to a double-edged razor will cost you more up front, but will save you money on blades in the long run. After some practice, you will experience less skin irritation and a closer, longer lasting shave. Be warned though, once you enter the world of DE razors, you will find yourself wanting to explore all the other aspects of high-end shaving. The various creams and soaps, oils and after shaves. The possibilities are endless.
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(price as of Jan 20, 2015)