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Shaving Is A Double-Edged

THE BASICS OF SHAVING WITH A DOUBLE-EDGE RAZOR

 

Double-edge or “safety razors” have been around since the early 1900s, but during the last couple decades, their usage has been mostly limited to a small contingent of shaving purists. That said, long-time dual-edged devotees have gained some bretheren of late, as more and more mainstream men have taken a liking to the retro razor’s regalness and results.

So whether you’re a long-time user, a recent convert or just a curious cat, here’s some skinny on the tool, its history and tips for how to use.

 

What Is A Double-Edge Razor?

Double-edge razors, often known and referred to as safety razors, utilize a single razor blade with two sharp sides – one on each end of the razor handle. The skin is protected from all but the edge of the razor with a guard, hence the name “safety razor” (clever… huh?). These tools, while once the mass standard, have been largely replaced as of late by the “easier-to-use” multi-bladed razor blades.

 

Why Use A Double-Edge Razor?

There are many reasons men elect to shave in this old-school style, including:

 

  • Affordability: Replacement blades are more affordable than current multi-blade razors and the thinking is that their two sides extend each unit’s lifespan.
  • Better Access: In many cases, the blade’s slimmer design enables improved access and removal of hair in tough-to-reach areas like under the nose and neck crevices.
  • Closeness: Many feel these blades provide a closer and smoother shave than multi-blade counterparts.

Of course, there are some drawbacks to such a razor. Chief amongst these concerns is the increased likelihood for cutting oneself, as well as the additional time it takes many non-experts to shave as they adjust to the dual-edged learning curve.

What's The Right Razor For Me?

The "right" double-edged razor for you is out there. Here's a quick chart to make selecting one a tad easier.

Razor Key Feature Good for...  
The Heavy Classics:
Merkur 34C/Parker 91R
Heavy for great balance.
Not as long as a typical razor.
Every guy. Classic design and heft makes it easy to balance.
Top seller.
The Newbie: Merkur 700/701 Adjustable blade depth makes learning and precise sharpenss easy. The cautious newbie. Guys who want precise length sharpness.
The Natural: Merkur 38C, 23C; Parker 90R Extended long handle. Same style as Merkur 34C/Parker 91R, but focus is length, not weight. The guy with big mitts or just wants that "nomal" length razor feel.
The High-Tech: Parker 99R "Butterfly" opening system, pole gril handle. The gent who wants something a little different. Easy blade switching.
The Elegant Classic: Merkur 42C "1904"   Laser-etched hexagonal handle The guy who wants a razor that looks as great as it performs. 
The Super Heavyweight: Parker 92R Super-heavy, compact design, textured grip handle and butterfly opening system  A guy who wants a high-tech, heavyweight shaver. 
 The Custom: Merkur 51C "Progress"  Adjustable blade angle, hexagonal handle  The more exeprienced wet shaver who wants to dial in his preferred level of closeness. 
The Detail-Oriented: Merkur 907 Triangular head and textured grip Perfect for touching up beards/moustaches, sideburns and even eyebrows

Instructions For Usage

The beginning and ending of a double edge shave should be conducted just as described in our Guide To “Getting The Greatest Shave Ever” article. However, change arrives when double edge hits skin – and here are some techniques and guidelines to make certain it’s an enjoyable experience.

No Pressure: These razors are not designed to be bullied into the beard or skin. In fact, doing such will undoubtedly lead to bleeding or irritation. Instead, double edges should gently glide across the face, and even with light pressure, will adeptly remove stubborn stubble.

Change The Angle: Double edge razors should move across the beard area at an angle of approximately 30 degrees. Shaving should commence slowly and carefully with short, light strokes in the direction of hair growth. Since hair grows in different directions on every man, make sure to take note of your specific hair direction prior to shaving. That said, obviously no slicing or side-to-side motion.

Stretch The Skin: More so than with multi-blade cartridges, double edge razors do their best work on skin that is held taut. So, when taking passes on the cheeks or neck, use that free hand to stretch these areas.

Rinse Often: Another benefit of this ilk of razor is that having two sides enables the user to flip the blade over before rinsing. That said, running the blade under water between major passes is recommended.

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Will I cut myself? 
A:  
There is a bit more of a degree of difficulty, but if you follow our instructions and keep your equipment in good working order, you aren't any more likely to cut yourself than you would be with a cartridge razor. 

Q: Will (these blades) fit on (this razor)? 
A: 
Safety razors and blades aren't like cartridge razors that have unique attachment mechanisms--they're more or less universal. In fact, part of the fun is finding your favorite combination of a razor and blades. 

Q: What kind of preshave and cream or soap do I need to use? 
A:  A lot of guys like to overhaul their entire shaving regimen when they get a safety razor and pick up the classic brush, soap and bowl setup, but really, you can shave with whatever shaving cream you're using now (unless it's canned foam--you should throw that crap out anyway).