Aaron is asked a question about razor blade positioning & alignment on a slant bar razor
Roy Bichan, from the UK, asks:
“Hi Arron, I’ve submitted a few questions already asking about the position of razor blades in my DE Merkur 34c where one side seems to shave well but the other side hardly at all. I am unsure if the blades are a ‘duff’ batch with holes in the wrong place or if this is a common problem and care must be taken to centralise the blade.
Anyway I have recently bought the Merkur slant as an experiment and with supplied Merkur razor blade I am getting the same issue, and generally poor shave (1st time). I repeated the shave the following morning with a feather razor blade and although better, still the initial issue. So 2 questions I guess, 1 – blade positioning on the razor and 2 – is there any different technique to using the Merkur slant? Thanks, Roy”
Thanks again for submitting some more great questions! There are definitely some good techniques out there for using a slant razor. They are a bit complicated to explain in words, so I suggest you go to my friend Mark’s YouTube channel, Shave Tutor, where you can find all kinds of helpful videos. For using the slant I suggest looking at his advanced techniques video, and this video on using a slant razor. http://youtu.be/mfb22jUXLLs
As for blade exposure balance, a trick that might help is to turn the head upside down, place the blade and the base plate on and gently shake the pieces to get them to distribute the blade evenly. I would not rule out that you might have received an off batch, but in my experience it is generally only one or two blades that are off, and not the whole pack. Please let us know how things progress and if you are still having difficulty with your blades balancing out!
Do you have any burning questions you would like ask our wet shaving expert Aaron Wolfenbarger?
Two products stocked by The Shaving Shack have been shortlisted for coveted FHM male grooming awards.
Both products were selected from hundreds of entries by a group of leading men’s grooming experts, the magazine said.
FHM is a mainstream men’s lifestyle magazine and because of this generally only shortlists products that are stocked in supermarkets or Boots.
This makes the Scimitar’s achievement even more impressive, and hopefully represents a change in attitudes in the wet shaving market. Many men we talk to are fed up to the back teeth with the rising cost of cartridge razor blades and the fact they give a pretty poor shave.
The ‘Scimitar’ is up against the Gilette Fusion ProGlide, Superdrug Triple Blade Razor and Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5 Power Select razor.
You can vote for our products online at: http://www.fhm.com/site/pages/grooming/voting.aspx
Here at Shaving Shack, our mailbox is flooded with gents often complaining, and rightly so, about the high costs of cartridges and asking advice about how to get started traditionally shaving. It is undisputable that shaving with a double edge razor is less expensive than using modern cartridges. Just a simple cost comparison shows that for the same price of a pack of 4 replacement cartridges, you can buy 50-100 double edge blades. We love hearing from you our loyal customers and would like to offer you some practical points on how to get started!
The first place to start would be the equipment: razor, blades, brush, soap/cream, and aftershave. It seems like a lot, but once you get these main purchases down they will last you for many years, decades, or life. As with many purchases start with what you can afford, and as you get used to traditional shaving explore and find which items suit your needs best.
Double Edge Safety Razors
Your razor should be one with good reviews and from a reputable company such as Merkur, Muhle, Edwin Jagger, or The Bluebeards Revenge. I personally recommend The Bluebeards Scimitar, Merkur 34C, and Edwin Jagger DE89 as great beginner razors.
Shaving Soaps & Creams
Soaps and creams can be found in a huge variety of scents and flavours. If you know your water type, creams tend to work better in hard water and soaps better in soft water. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, and good technique can overcome most water quality issues. Many of the most popular companies to produce soaps and creams are Bluebeards, Taylor of Old Bond Street, Cyril Salter, Mitchell’s Wool Fat, and Proraso amoung many others.
Double Edge Razor Blades
Blades are the most subjective of the wet-shaving experience, but it is best to start with a good standard blade and as your technique improves, then find a blade that more suits your face. Some of the most popular blades are Derby, Feather, Personna, Shark, and Wilkinson-Sword.
An overwhelming variety of choices can be found for the shaving brush, with the hair type being the most obvious. Choices of boar bristle, badger hair, and a variety of synthetics are available on the market. If your convictions lead you to stay away from animal products, you are in luck as many advancements in recent years have led to great strides in synthetic fibers being able to function as natural hair. The Men-U brushes have received rave reviews in their ability to hold water and produce good lather. The Bluebeards Vanguard brush should also be a good bet to try as well. For a natural hair brush, boar bristle brushes tend to be less expensive, but perform well. The Semogue 830 and 1305 are quite popular, as is the Vulfix Grosvenor, and the Bluebeards Revenge Dubloon. The badger hair brush has been used for many many years, and is the most desirable. It has a superior water retaining quality, softness on the face, and a superior lathering ability. There are many to choose from and a few recommended would be the Bluebeard Privateer, the Kent BK4, Simpsons Duke, with Plisson being the cream of the crop. As mentioned above buy the best you can afford, the quality will reward you with a better feel, and longevity.
The Perfect Shaving Routine
To perform the shave, first shower or hold a hot wet towel to the face; this softens the outer layer of hair allowing for an easier cut. Prepare the brush by soaking it in water, then gently shaking the majority of the water out. Gently press the tips of the brush into the cream or soap gathering enough material to shave with. Lather your soap in a bowl or on your face using a whipping motion and adding water as needed to create a thick lather that resembles whipped cream or meringue. Holding your razor against the face an an approximate 30 degree angle, shave with as little pressure as possible in the direction of hair growth. Remember to use short strokes and rinse the razor often. After you have completed the first pass, re-lather and shave across the direction of hair growth, then rinse the lather from your face. After rinsing apply your choice of aftershave, whether a balm or alcohol based splash.
A few tips as you improve your technique: keep your wrist locked and use a whole arm motion, a pre-shave oil will help those gents with tougher beards to retain moisture and provide glide, leaving 2-3 days between shaves gives the skin rest and leaves longer hair to shave. With these general gear guides and tips we hope you will have the information to choice your equipment well and have a fabulous shave!
If you have any questions for Aaron please submit them here.
As you will probably be aware of the UK men’s shaving market is dominated by three big players -Gillete (owned by US giant Proctor and Gamble) and British brands Wilkinson Sword and King of Shaves (the brainchild of likeable entrepreneur Will King).
All three of these companies specialise in providing men with easy to use multi bladed cartridge razor systems, and in Gillette’s case, these products are backed and promoted with billionaire dollar marketing campaigns.
Thankfully there is still a market for traditional double edge safety razors, and its growing as more men get fed up with the increasing cost of cartridge razor blades. A recent study has found the annual cost of shaving with a Gillette Power Fusion, new cartridges and all, is an eye-watering £85.37.
But getting the message to the masses that double edge shaving is not only cheaper in the long run, but also much better for the skin, is a difficult one as the mainstream press favour the Gillette Power Fusion over the Merkur 34C and the Hydro 5 over the Edwin Jagger DE89.
Well that was until we contacted The Sun Newspaper journalist David Firth, who runs the highly popular Tried and Test section on The Sun website. David had previously tested out wet razors from the “big three” brands to see which was the best.
To our delight and slight surprise, he agreed to test three of our top selling safety razors – the Merkur 38c Barberpole, Parker 94R and The Bluebeards Revenge ‘Scimitar’ (which has graced the likes of the Daily Mail, Loaded and GQ).
So what did David think to the razors we sent him?
“My favourite of the three,” he said. David praised its balance, control and grip. “The diagonal thread design on the pole helps you keep a solid grip and I also like that you change the blade by simply unscrewing the base, rather than having to disassemble the whole thing. A great piece of kit,” he added. Price: £39.99. Buy here.
“The big plus-point with the Parker is the grip – thick, diamond-shaped ridges help keep this lodged in your hand no matter how much cream or water is knocking about,” explained David. He added that he liked the light weight of the razor; but found the short pole a little fiddly during the shave. Price £19.99. Buy here.
The Bluebeards Revenge ‘Scimitar’
David loved the look of the Scimitar. “It does look lovely, particularly with the laser-etched Bluebeards Revenge skull and cross bones logo on the razor head. As with the other two – it does give a great shave,” he said. Price £34.99. Buy here.
Overall, David loved the theatre of double edge shaving. “You splash your face with warm water, apply a pre-shave cream to help the blade glide, then apply the shaving cream all frothed up with an old-school brush to exfoliate a bit and lift up your bristles. And then you can shave. It takes time but it’s a lot of fun,” he explained.
In conclusion, David said: “If you follow all the appropriate hints and tips on how to use double-edged blade razors properly – you can find loads of videos on YouTube – you will get the best shave of your life.”
Thanks for taking the double edge shaving test David, and for helping to bring such as a cool method shaving back in to the media spotlight. You can follow David on Twitter at @davefirth.
Read his full review by clicking here.
What do you think think to David’s comments? Let us know by commenting below.
Aaron is asked a question about double edge razor blade harshness
Grant Letham, from the UK, asks:
“Hi, I’m enjoying my double edge shaving experience with my Edwin Jagger D89. Currently using routine of shower, King of Shaves shaving oil, lather – proraso or arko, 2 pass shave – 1 with and 1 across grain, cold water rinse and then moisturiser. I’m finding the first shave with a fresh blade can be risky in terms of nicks and cuts. Any clues as to how I can minimise / avoid this?”
I too experience new blade harshness occasionally. I have heard this can be due to tiny burrs left over from the manufacturing process. There are two methods I would recommend trying: corking and palm stropping.
For corking, take a natural cork stopper from a wine bottle, and run the blade edge into the cor gently two or three times.
For palm stopping, grasp the blade in the middle and rub the blade away from the edge on the thick of your palm. This can be a little bit tricky, so watch the following video tutorial to see exactly what I mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ogq4wfpT7hc. This should help with those new blade blues!
Do you have any burning questions you would like ask our wet shaving expert Aaron Wolfenbarger?
Aaron is asked a question about shaving under the chin
Nigel Watford, from the UK, asks:
“Currently using an Edwin Jagger DE89, with Gillette 7 o clock razor blades which I find are the best blades for me. Looking to change the razor. The size is fine but I’m struggling under the chin area. Thinking about a adjustable razor like a Merkur. Can you advise on a razor please? The blades and cream are fine.”
I’m glad you have a good set that works well for you. Under the chin is a common problem for many men and requires some good care and attention. An adjustable razor is a good place to start, and I highly recommend the Merkur Progress and the Merkur Futur.
Another product I would suggest is the Merkur 37c/ Slant razor. Using these razors can definitely help on your quest! Thanks for your question!!
Do you have any burning questions you would like ask our wet shaving expert Aaron Wolfenbarger?
The increasing cost of cartridge razor blades has been a grave concern for millions of men all over the globe.
And now Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have expressed their concern over the cost of shaving. So much so that three of their MPs have backed a Commons call for the pricing to be looked at.
The Early Day Motion notes “the exorbitant increase in the retail price of men’s razor blade cartridges where in three years the price has increased in some cases by almost 100%”.
The three MPs, East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell, South Antrim MP Willie McCrea and David Simpson, have called on the Office of Fair Trading and consumer bodies to investigate why prices so are so high.
They said “it has been reported that the production costs per cartridge are in pence, while marketing, packaging and profiteering are resulting in margins of around a 1,000%, with an eight-cartridge pack currently retailing at many outlets at approximately £22″.
Here at The Shaving Shack we agree that the cost of cartridge blades is something that needs to be addressed, but there is an easy solution guys – change your shaving habits and ditch the overpriced cartridge razor. Opt instead for a double edge safety razor and if you’re feeling really adventurous, a straight or cut throat razor (as it’s more commonly referred to).
Not only will both types of razor give you a better quality of shave, they are also much cheaper in the long run.
A lot of men are simply unaware over the financial benefits of using a DE razor instead of a cartridge, so I thought it would be interesting to commission a new report and treat the exercise as an investment decision.
I spoke to leading business author and wet shaving enthusiast Andrew Wilson, who took time out of his busy schedule to look at the subject in detail.
And this is what he found:
“If you assume you buy a reasonable DE razor for £50 and a shaving brush for £35, shaving soap for £9 and just buy one blade for 20 pence, your upfront costs are about £94.20. To buy a “typical” cartridge razor, some foam and 1 blade costs you £17.86. So in upfront costs you need to spend £76.34 more on a DE razor.
“Now if you look at the annual renewal costs of each of these types of shaving you find that the DE method costs about £20.10 a year if you shave 6 times a week and change your blade after 4 shaves, and use half a shaving soap a year. The “typical” cartridge razor comes in at £100.22 a year. This assumes you get 10 shaves per blade and you shave 6 times a week. It assumes you have to buy a new razor every three years and that you buy 4 cans of foam a year. (Altogether not unrealistic)
“This means that each year that you shave with DE, you save £80.12. So is this a worthwhile investment. If you assume inflation at 3% and discount the cash flow over 20 years, that £76.34 investment is worth over £1,000 (Net present value) to you in today’s money! Or an Internal rate of return (IRR) of over 105%.
“Basically if you were a private equity business and this was an investment deal, the project would be a go.”
So guys please, please bin the multi-bladed cartridge razor and invest in some decent shaving equipment that is not just going to give you a closer and more comfortable shave (here is why), but also save you hundreds of pounds.
Change your shaving habits today….
The RazorPit Blade Sharpener has made a “6 of the best men’s bathroom gadgets” feature on The Sun website.
Sun journalist David Firth was full of praise for the wonder product that is now available to buy on The Shaving Shack.
The RazorPit, which uses a unique and patented friction technology to clean and sharpen your razor blades, was described as a “neat addition to your bathroom”.
“Even the very best, most expensive blades tend to dull dramatically after just a handful of uses, mainly due to a build-up of gunk and other bits of your face in between the thin strips of metal. No matter how much you rinse your razor, you just can’t shift it,” said David.
He added: “But this gizmo does a great job. Stick a bit foam on the surface, push your razor across it four times and then rinse both clean. And it really does make a difference – a new blade I put on is now a good ten shaves in and is still cutting beautifully.”
So what are you waiting for? If you want to make your razor blades last longer and save lots of pennies in the process, then the RazorPit is the product for you.
The RazorPit retails on The Shaving Shack for just £14.99 – £25% off the RRP.
The Shaving Shack is delighted to announce that we are now stocking the RazorPit Blade Sharpener.
RazorPit uses a unique and patented friction technology to clean and sharpen your razor blades. After every shave microscopical residue, like skincells, water, and keratin is left on the blades. That causes them to feel dull.
RazorPit uses friction to clean off the residue and thereby leaving you with a clean and sharp razor blade, meaning you could get up to 150 great shaves from a single blade!
You will thereby save money, spare the environment and give yourself a better, sharper shave, every day.
RazorPit will not damage your blades in any way and once you have purchased one, it will last you a long time. Furthermore it is small and can be used as a resting place for your razor.
How to use the RazorPit:
To clean your razor, apply a layer of shaving foam on the horizontal surface. Then press the blade of the razor itself down onto the soft surface. This must be done with a constant pressure onto the silicone-surface. Then you push the razor against the conventional shaving direction while maintaining the pressure on the silicone-surface. This will ensure contact between the ‘mat’ and the blades, thereby cleansing the dirt and residue of the surface. Push the razor over the mat 3 to 4 times. Rinse both Razorpit and razor under running water, and place the razor in the Razorpit, blade-side up.
This quick and easy procedure will with ease and elegantly remove the dirt, residue and particles left on the blade after a shave, and all without damaging the blade itself.
The RazorPit is not only a hit with millions of wet shavers around the globe; it’s also popular amongst members of the media.
The Daily Mail described the product as a “brilliant device to make razor blades last longer”, while FHM magazine said: “This ingenious wonder makes mornings of frustrated nicks a thing of the past.”
Men’s Health Magazine was also full of praise for the blade sharpening wonder. “Sharp blades are crucial for a comfortable shave. The Razorpit will help prolong the sharpness of your blades,” it said.
Is my razor compatible with the RazorPit?
According to the manufacturer, RazorPit is compatible with 95% of all the razors on the market today. This includes the Gillette Mach 3, Gillette Mach 3 Turbo, Gillette Mach 3 Power, Gillette Mach 3 Power Turbo, Gillette Fusion, Gillette Fusion Power, Gillette Fusion Stealth, Gillette Venus, Gillette Venus Devine, Gillette Vibrance, All Wilkinson and a long list of other brands and models.
Watch the Razorpit in action
In January 2011, I blogged about why a double edge razor is technically better than a cartridge based razor system. Now there is yet another reason for men to ditch the horrid multi-bladed cartridge razor in favour of the single bladed razor.
“Replacement cartridges for Gillette’s Fusion ProGlide can be as much as £3.49 each,” the newspaper said.
It went on to say that blades for Gillette’s top-of-the-range Fusion ProGlide cost less than 10p to manufacturer, which in my book is a fairly decent profit margin.
The paper also blames Gillette, the world’s largest shaving company by quite a distance, for imposing a stealth price rise by cutting the number of replacement cartridges in its Mach3 Turbo packs from five to four.
“The smaller pack did not bring a corresponding cut in the price, leaving men paying at least 20 per cent more,” the article says.
It went on to blame the increasing cost of cartridge blades for men’s poor shaving habits.
“At the same time, men worried about making ends meet are either trying to make their razor blades last longer, with the resulting scrapes and cuts – or ditching their shaving regime and opting for designer stubble.”
A better quality shave with a long term saving
This all makes me rather angry as there is an easy solution – change your shaving habits and ditch the overpriced cartridge razor. Opt instead for a double edge safety razor and if you’re feeling really adventurous, a straight or cut throat razor (as its more commonly referred to).
Not only will both types of razor give you a better quality of shave, they are also much cheaper in the long run, as a number of the comments on the Daily Mail article point out.
“I switched from cartridge razors to a straight razor and have never looked back. True your initial investment is a little higher but the payback on these cartridge blades is 6 months or so. Have not had to buy a single razor blade in 18 months now,” commented Derrick Young, Wasaga Beach, Ontario.
Roy, from York, also pointed out the massive cost savings men could experience from switching to a DE razor: “I have used an old fashioned Double Edge safety razor for years and blades for that can cost as little as 10p. As they are cheap you can afford to change them regularly and get a good shave. With multi bladed cartridges because of the price people carry on using them when they are going blunt. With DE razors, OK the razor is more expensive but it lasts for many years, but one sharp blade every couple of shaves is better than a dull multi blade being stretched out over a week. People have had good shaves with single blades for centuries. Multi blades are a marketing gimmick.”
Roy’s last sentence is a very accurate one, “Multi blades are a marketing gimmick”. Let’s face it Gillette are excellent at marketing their products, they have pretty much convinced men that 3 blades are better than 1 and 5 blades are better than 3. They also spend millions of pounds on celebrity endorsements, with sports stars like Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, and Thierry Henry (who now wears a beard) fronting lavish TV and newspaper campaigns.
It was Gillete who first worked out that men would indeed fork out for overpriced cartridges as long as the initial cost, i.e. the handle, was affordable. It’s pretty much the same business model adopted by ink jet printer companies. Sell a cheap printer, then sell really expensive “cartridges” that run out quickly. It’s simple, but very effective.
Dollar Shave Club
It will be interesting to see how successful the much-hyped Dollar Shave Club will turn out to be. Dollar Shave Club’s business model is similar to LoveFilm, which sends subscribers movies in the post for a small monthly fee. Dollar Shave Club will send customers a monthly supply of disposable razor blades starting at $1 a month (however, when you add in delivery costs it’s more like the 4-Dollar Shave Club). A catchy brand name and I must say a pretty cool launch commercial, which has picked up nearly 5 million views on YouTube. And according to widespread media reports, more than 12,000 people have signed up for the service.
There is no question that the Dollar Shave Club YouTube video is hilarious. But aside from the online hype, can the Dollar Shave Club compete against the likes of Gillette in the long term? I’m guessing not…
Looking ahead, I really hope men will start to see through all this cleaver marketing and take a stand against the rising cost of cartridges. For those switching to the affordable yet luxurious world of double edged shaving, all I can do is welcome you to the real men’s club. And I will finish this article by saying; shaving should be regarded as a pleasure, not a chore.