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Whether it be the steep cost of cartridge razors or the promise of a smoother shave, many guys today are making the switch to a double-edge (DE) razor. The problem is, there is so much new information about double-edge razors, blades, and accessories that it can leave you scratching your head with more questions than answers. No matter what the reason for jumping on this worthy bandwagon – cost savings, closer shaves or simply the experience – newbies to the double-edged razor game always have questions on where to start.
Since Grooming Lounge debuted in 1999, we’ve used, tested, and reviewed hundreds of the best double-edged and safety razors. So, if you’ve been using cartridge razors since whisker #1 (and there’s NOTHING wrong with that), and are looking to make a move, here’s a guide to where to stop, how to pick the proper tools, and how to keep your face safe from nicks.SHOP ALL SAFETY RAZORS
It’s tempting to get distracted by shiny-object syndrome. Every new iteration of the razor seems to pack more and more blades into a space-age looking handle. The implication is that more blades will equal a better shave.
Yet, world-renowned barbers (like those found at our Grooming Lounge barbershops) are still using classic double-edged razors and single-edged blades to give famously close shaves.
So, do more blades lead to a better shave? Not necessarily in our well-educated opinion.
There are many other 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 the two sides of a safety razor extend each unit’s lifespan. Saving money is always cool, but saving money while you also get a great product is even better.
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. A patchy shave is an amateur shave. A double-edged razor can turn you into a pro!
CLOSENESS: Many feel these blades provide a closer and smoother shave than multi-blade counterparts. This may be due to the fact that double-edged razors are set in the handle at a 30º angle. At the very least, this requires far less pressure than your average disposable multi-blade to cut the hair - meaning less irritation and toilet paper bandages.
REDUCED OVERALL IRRITATION: Multi-blade razors have a major caveat. With each additional blade that touches your skin, you may increase the chances of irritating your skin. After that first, second, or third blade cuts the hair, each additional blade may be scraping and pulling your bare skin. The first three blades basically clear out any lubricating lather that was protecting your skin before, and now the other blades are wreaking havoc on your very sensitive facial dermis.
Contrary to the belief that more blades get any extra little hairs on the face, all you’re really doing is increasing your chances of having razor burn or ingrown hairs. A safety razor eliminates this because you’re just using one very sharp, well-angled blade. You only need to pass over an area 2-3 times, in short, light-handed strokes. Naturally, this reduces your chances of skin irritation!
BETTER QUALITY BLADES: Some cartridge razors are made of inferior steel. This means that they may dull quickly, pick up more bacteria, and can cause more shaving mishaps. Which is crazy, considering how expensive replacement cartridge razors are! DE razors are made of superior, single-source stainless steel. This is what helps a DE razor maintain its sharp double edge and cut hair with minimal pressure.
It all sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Are you considering becoming a double-edge convert?
Hold your horses, compadre!
Before you throw out your multi-blade razor you need to know what to expect. Wet shaving with a double edge razor is different than using your favorite Mach8 Turbo.
If you jump into using a shaving razor too fast, you’ll increase your chance of cutting yourself. Read on to learn the best tips on using your new safety razor.
The double-edged (DE) or safety razor was made popular in the early 1900s by King Camp Gillette. Yes, the same Gillette that still makes razors today. There was a reason that men in power took up the double edge blade in the early 1900s — to the degree that it was considered the superior product for soldiers out in the field. Historically, the double edge shave was associated with discipline, self-care, and the confidence to do what is right (even if it’s hard).
What made the double-edged razor so popular and widely used, was that King Camp Gillette secured a contract with the government during World War II to supply all soldiers with a shaving kit.
(Unfortunately, these eventually turned into the franken-razors you buy from a drugstore today. You know what we’re talking about — the 12-blade disposable razor that somehow charges you double for replacement cartridges).
Today, double-edged safety razors are picking up in popularity for a simple fact: you can get an incredibly close shave without applying aggressive or repeated pressure to the face.
Why does that matter? Because when you apply pressure to the skin it increases your chances for shaving wounds (skin nicks), skin irritation (razor burn), and ingrown hairs.
Whether you’re a hipster trying to bring back a touch of the past to your present, or an executive who wants the most simultaneously comfortable and close shave of your life… a double-edged razor can give you the shave of a king.
Before you go and purchase a safety razor, make sure you finish this article. There are some key differences in how a safety razor is made and how you use it compared to the multi-blade razors you’re probably accustomed to.
While there’s no one “best” or “right” razor, individual shavers do tend to gravitate toward particular brands, grips, weights, and looks.
The first thing you need for your razor kit is, of course, the razor. There are quite a few options for you to think about. For instance, you will need to decide if you want a fixed blade or if an adjustable safety razor is more your speed.
Next, you have to consider the safety bar. You can get doubled-edged razors with a straight safety bar or an open-comb design. An open-comb razor will provide a more aggressive, closer shave, but that also comes with a higher likelihood of nicks and cuts.
There are also options for the length of your razor's handle and the weight of the razor overall. When deciding which length is best suited for you, the general rule is that the handle length and weight should be relative to your hand size – smaller hands mean a smaller handle. But really, the main idea behind this rule of thumb is to make sure the razor feels comfortable in your hand so that you can execute a smooth shave.
Finally, you'll need to consider the size of your safety razor. For instance, if you have finer features, you may need a safety razor with a smaller head.
Q: WILL I CUT MYSELF?
A: There is a bit more of a degree of difficulty with using a DE razor. However, if you follow our instructions and keep your equipment in good working order, you aren't any more likely to cut yourself with a double-edged than you would be with a conventional drug-store razor. And you’ll greatly reduce your chances of all types of shaving irritation!
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 PRE-SHAVE 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. Honestly, you can shave with whatever shaving cream you're using now (unless it's canned foam—you should throw that crap out anyway).
We personally like using our specially formulated Grooming Lounge shaving products, as they were designed in our barbershops with Grooming Lounge members’ (that includes you!) challenges as our top priority. And, as we mentioned before, everyone on the Grooming Lounge team tests our products before they’re sold to the public. (If you check out our Instagram page, you’ll notice our founder, Michael Gilman, frequenting our barbershops and using our beard oils in his own home.)
If your first double-edge experience isn't what you hoped for… don’t give up. Shaving with these tools certainly gets easier over time as both you and your skin will adjust to this new shaving platform. To make your double edge shaving a relaxing and enjoyable experience, use the following Grooming Lounge barbershop tips:
NO PRESSURE: These razors are not designed to be bullied into the beard or skin. In fact, doing so will undoubtedly lead to bleeding or irritation. Instead, double edges should gently glide across the face. Even with light pressure, these razors 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 (with the grain). 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.
FEWER PAUSES: Make it your goal to use no more than 2-3 passes over each area you shave. Because a double edge razor is sharper and at a specific angle, it’s very important you don’t over shave an area. By making smaller, steadier passes you’ll reduce the risk of irritation. This becomes easier over time, as you adapt to using the DE razor.
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.
STAY LUBRICATED: Shaving oils, soaps, and gels help the razor to glide over the skin evenly. It also helps protect your skin from the blade. Being well lubricated during your shave will ensure your skin is irritation and nick-free.
RINSE OFTEN:Another benefit of this type 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.
These simple tips can be the difference between an incredibly luxurious shave or your bathroom looking like a murder scene out of Dexter. Remember that how you’ve shaved before was fast and furious. If you do that with a double edge blade, you’re just going to hurt yourself. We recommend viewing this like you would a workout or meditation. Be mindful and make every movement count. It can be incredibly relaxing and give your day a nice boost of clarity when you make yourself a priority with an old school safety razor shave.
Developed in our DC Barbershop, our Master Shave Oil is loaded with botanicals that help men master their beards. It can be used solo or mixed with Beard Destroyer Shave Cream.
The 34C is our most popular. It is short and heavy, providing an unmatched balance for smooth, controlled strokes. The 99R has a butterfly head which makes it quick and simple to swap blades in and out. Our very own 1745 is a heavyweight, three-piece, closed-comb razor with superb balance - making it ideal for beginners and experts alike.
The Barbershop-grade Parker SR1 Cutthroat Straight Razor provides an amazingly close shave without having do any of the typically annoying sharpening maintenance. With a convenient snap-in system that uses half-blades instead of a traditional hollow-ground edge, tool is a great choice for the guy who has always wanted to use a straight razor without needing a sharpener or strop (if you even know what one is). The Parker SR1 is designed for barbershop use, the rounded edges minimize cuts and scrapes, while the stainless steel arm guarantees great shaves for years. Accepts any half-blade (or a double-edge blade snapped in half).
Block Of Alum is the original antiseptic aftershave block. Stops bleeding and closes nicks and cuts. Closes pores after shaving and will leave skin feeling smooth. Alum is a mineral stone that contains exceptional natural properties to soothe skin after shaving.