A while back I found an article on old style, double edge razors. You know, the kind your father had when we were kids. Remember how he’d take the blade out of the razor, hand it to us, lather up our 6 year old cheeks and let us pretend to shave. The article intrigued me. It talked about the smoothness of the shave and how to properly care for your skin pre and post shave to protect and prevent rashes and razor burn.
I probably stopped using a DE (double edge razor) close to forty years ago. Over that time I would say 95% of my shaves have been with disposable razors and the rest with electrics. As we all know the cost of today’s disposable blades is ridiculous so even the cost of switching back to DE interested me. I shave in the shower, and have been doing that for about 30 years. My beard is very tough and the hot water just adds that element of moist heat to help keep the stubble soft for the shave. For some reason, if I shave at a sink, it looks like Freddie Kruger tried to shave me with a rock.
As disposable blades progressed over the years, I kept buying the latest and greatest. First two blades, then a vibrating handle, on to four blades and now five. After reading more articles on DE shaving I became convinced that this might be the way to go once again. Disposable razors are mostly used for convenience, DE razors will make shaving an experience. After all, most of us do this every day so we might as well make it enjoyable and comfortable.
So I went to the Fendrihan website and purchased the following; a Merkur 33C Classic razor, Proraso Eucalyptus shaving soap, a sample pack of various blades (Feather, Merkur, Astra and Derby), a Fendrihan Classic Pure Badger brush and PREP Original pre-post cream. Remember, I’ve been using canned shaving cream and a five bladed Schick razor and throwing on some Nivea post shave balm (which is good stuff by the way). Two minutes the shave was done and out of the shower I jumped.
My order with Fendrihan was placed on a Saturday and I had it in my possession by Thursday. Because I had to work, I was a little leery about diving right in with a new style of shaving. I didn’t want to be going to work with dabs of kleenex all over my face! Let’s face it, everyone associates skin cuts and rashes with DE shaving and that may be in fact why many of us stop using that type of razor. So for the first couple of days I just practiced using the new brush and soap, working on building up a lather and shaving with my disposable. For those two shaves, it was pretty much business as usual. There was not a noticeable change in the shave results. I was able to get a good handle on how to lather up the brush and I used the post shave PREP cream. It has a nice smell to it, not overpowering but fragrant and it was soothing.
So this morning, despite the fact I had to work, I decided to give the razor a try with a Merkur blade (one came with the razor, and I also had my sample packs). Blades made by different manufacturers are different and they will react to different types of beards in a different way. That’s why I bought the sample pack, to find out which blade works best for my face. The initial passes of the razor seemed to pull on the beard more so than a disposable, almost feeling like a dull blade, but of course there is just one blade doing all the work instead of five, which I’m used to, that lifts, pulls and separates the beard. The trick with a DE razor is to let the razor do the work. They are much heavier and so the razor uses its own weight to create pressure on the face. Angles play an important part in maintaining blade contact on the skin. With a disposable, you have create your own pressure by pushing it into the skin, which is not really good for the face and the pivoting head takes care of any guess work for angles. My shave took a bit longer than normal, after all it had been 40 years and I really didn’t need to slice my face open. I did one pass over my face and then lathered up again and did a second pass (this is not unusual in DE shaving) and was pleased with the shave. After rinsing, and using cold water to close the pores, everything felt good. There were no nicks or cuts (surprising myself!) and my face felt pretty smooth. Afterwards I rubbed in a fair amount of the PREP to help soothe my skin.
In the end the results were much better than I expected for my first DE shave in 40 years. I have a couple of areas that could have been cleaned up better but my skin is soft and now, about 3 hours after my shave I still sense the PREP and there is no irritation at all anywhere on my face or neck. Like anything else, it will take a bit of practice to develop technique which in turn will lead to a better all around shave.