Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Classic Shaving: the Double-Edged Safety Razor

This is part two of Hugh's look at the elements of classic shaving.

The double-edged safety razor is the razor your father or grandfather probably learned to shave with.  It has been around since the early 20th century, and when we think about the kind of manly shaving we see in old movies, this is the kind of razor they all used.  It provides an exceptionally close shave with minimal irritation, and is convenient, earth-friendly and economical to boot.

The primary misconception about shaving in this era of multiple-blade disposable cartridges is that a single blade can't give you a close shave.  The is actually not true. The trick to using a safety razor is proper beard prep (see yesterday's post), maintaining the blade at a 30-degree angle against the skin, and using short strokes while letting the weight of the razor do the work. You don't want to apply any additional pressure or you'll end up with razor burn.

There's a little learning curve to using a safety razor, but there was a learning curve when you began shaving in the first place.  After a couple shaves your muscle memory takes over and it all becomes second nature.  There are many helpful tutorials on YouTube that go over the basics of the double-edged safety razor - I found this one gave a good overview.

Aside from getting a close shave and looking hot while doing it. using a double-sided safety razor has other benefits.  It is much more cost effective than using expensive proprietary shaving refills - a pack of ten premium blades costs $8.50 at Hugh, and you get to use both sides of the blade.  And because there are no plastic parts, disposing a razor blade is simply returning metal to the earth. Groovy, man.

At Hugh we have a couple options for those who want to make the switch.  The high-quality Merkur razor we sell is hand-made in Solingen, Germany (the cutlery capital of the world!). It has an extra-long handle for easy handling and is nicely-weighted.  It is $44.


If you are merely curious about trying the double-edged safety razor but don't want to make a big financial commitment, we also sell the Vie-Long safety razor, made in Spain.  It is a bit lighter and the quality isn't as obvious as the Merkur, but it is only $15 (including one blade) and a great way to test the waters.


Lastly, for those of you enjoying a complicated facial hair moment, we do offer the Merkur Detailing Safety Razor.  Each end of the blade is a different size for shaving with precision, and it is $33.


Of course, there are other options available, and accessories other than the ones we stock.  Ask about them, we can easily special items.

Next up: the Straight Razor

3 comments:

Double Edge razors said...


Thank you for this valuable information,
I hope it is okay that I bookmarked your website for further references.

GLewis, Detr. said...

Jumping back through time I made the switch purchasing a double edged razor and apothecary mug w soap and brush. The latter is aesthetically pleasing while dispensing with the ludicrous environmental tragedy of the gilette can, while still providing a rich cream. The razor provides the closest shave I've had and gives the nearest thing to a zen state this daily task can hope for. Cheers Hugh.

Kim Gibson said...

I have seen my father shaving with double edge razor and the older one's were always my toys to play with. I use disposable shaving razors for myself.

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