Double Edge Razors for Beginners
I haven’t shaved with a double-edged safety razor since college, about 40 years ago. That makes me a beginner. I’ve decided to explore non-cartridge shavers for various reasons, including the fact that I am curious.
There are reasons other men decide to go back to “old school” shaving methods. In my case, two of the reasons cited by others don’t apply to me. First, the cost isn’t a factor. Second, I don’t hate the shave I get with a Gillette Mach 3 or Fusion razor. They are OK.
Since high school, the razor I used was dictated by the availability of blades. This may seem odd if you’ve grown up in the internet age, with big box stores and chains dominating the brick-and-mortar landscape. But 40 years ago, I shopped at the local drug store or the grocery store for shaving supplies. Smaller stores had less shelf space to display products, and even large stores prioritized the products pushed (marketed heavily) by the manufacturer.
When my grandfather’s safety razor broke, I purchased and used a Schick injector razor. It was my favorite until Schick and Gillette began a race for who could have the most blades on a cartridge. Although double-edged and injector razor blades have been in continuous production for over a hundred years, you wouldn’t know it by shopping at my local stores. After a time, I couldn’t find replacement blades for my injector razor and was forced to move on to the next thing (probably the Gillette Sensor).
I’m ready to give wet shaving with non-cartridge razors another try.
I intend to go with the experts’ recommendation and will start with a razor that is mild in its aggressiveness rating. Aggressiveness is a subjective measure of how much the blade shows. More blade, more aggressive. More aggressive takes off thick and tough beards easier, but also is harsher on your skin and requires more skill to avoid nicks and razor burn. Efficiency is another parameter discussed by DE shavers. It is a measure of how easily the razor removes hair. A more aggressive razor will be more efficient, but it isn’t a one-to-one measure.
There are several places where you can find information about the aggressiveness and efficiency of different razors. Watching razor reviews on youtube channels is a good place to start. Another good source is from Badger&Blade which did a survey and lists results for many razors.
The factor which probably stops many from exploring safety razors is the initial cost of ownership. If you want to, you can easily spend more than $300 on a razor. But for most of us, a good first razor can be purchased for about $10 up to $80.
Based on my research, here is a selection of razors, from inexpensive to moderately so, suitable for beginners.
Clicking on some of the product images in this post will earn me commissions through an Amazon affiliate program.
The Baili BD176 is one of the least expensive double-edged razors available. The above image is linked to Amazon, where the current price is under $10. Elsewhere I’ve seen it for under $6.
The King Gillette shaver is named for the founder of Gillette and the inventor of the modern (1900) double-edged razor. It is currently priced under $30 on Amazon (September 2022). I have read that the design of this specific model is based on a Merkur razor.
Parker razors are from India. They have a good reputation and this, the 89R, is a popular model. It is currently priced under $32 on Amazon.
The Merkur 34C is one of the most highly recommended razors for beginners. It is low on the aggressiveness scale. This is the razor I purchased to become reacquainted with DE razor shaving. The current price on Amazon is about $40. It has a shorter handle than many, but it has some heft and feels good when I hold it.
Numerous other razors and companies would be good for a beginning DE shaver for anyone; I can’t list them all. Instead, I’ll give you some links to retailers specializing in shaving products. On these websites, you can find advice on shaving and products and, occasionally, better prices than Amazon.
Maggard Razors has a wide selection of razors and products. He also has some excellent youtube videos, including reviews of specific razor models where aggressiveness, efficiency, grip, and other features are described. Here Brad reviews the Baili listed above.
Another favorite razor source is the Razor Emporium, where the founder specializes in vintage razors, restored and as good (or better) than any recently made razor. He also has a youtube channel. Below is a review of the Merkur 34C, the model I just purchased.
There are many more DE razors you choose from instead of a cartridge razor, including adjustable razors and razors for a more aggressive shave. But wait! There’s more. Single-edged (SE), single-blade razors have been redesigned from the originals of the last century. There are even multi-blade razors that use standard DE blades instead of a cartridge. More on this in another post.