safety razor

In my neverending quest to find the least irritating shave, I recently tried a safety razor. Safety razors are seriously old school. They are heavy metal contraptions into which you put an actual double edged razor blade. Since I read on a couple of shaving web sites that safety razors provide the least irritating shave, I decided to try one.

It was a horrible shave, and terribly irritating–one of the most irritating shaves I’ve ever experienced. I couldn’t even finish one shave with it. It felt like raking something sharp across my skin. Yuck.

People online say it takes some practice to achieve the skill needed to get the best shave possible with these things, but I felt quite clearly after my first shave that no amount of practice would change this frog into a prince.

I tried the Merkur brand because it was most highly recommended from people who use safety razors. It was quite expensive, but I figured if it worked out I’d save money on blades, since the regular double edged blades are so inexpensive. But alas, I’m just out the money I spent on this thing. I’d highly recommend saving your money and just sticking with the Gillette Trac II Plus or the Gillette Sensor Excel.


Leave a Reply

  • D

    From the day I started shaving at 16, I used electric shavers only. I used Panasonic foil shavers or Norelco. Past week, I tried to shave for the first time with a manual blade. I used Gillette Fusion and it gave me lots of cuts and burns the first week. I’m slowly starting to get use to this blade and my shaves are getting more perfect, with less cuts, and less burns.

    I think you have to give more time and follow all the steps from pre shave oils to post shave quality balm. Safety razors are for the pros and it takes time for the skin to get use to it and to build a skill in manipulating them.

  • Zach

    I would never use those old-fashioned razors. It’s probably gonna come back and haunt you with some bumps, Dan.

  • Marc

    I love my safety razor.

  • Brian

    You should not give up on the double edge blade just after only one shave.
    Most people neglect proper shaving preparation.Shave preparation is the most important step to a good shave. I recommend a good badger brush with a good shave cream such as Proraso. Lather the brush
    and use circular motions all over the bearded area to soften the hair. Even if you decide that a double edge
    safety blade is not for you, a good brush and shave cream will make your current shave much better.

    Try some feather blades they are the best I have found to use with my Merkur.
    Buy feather blades in bulk and they cost as low as 30 cents a blade compared to the $2 plus for all the
    Gillette stuff. I still use a Gillette sensor for the tricky parts around the neck and jaw line.

  • Mike

    Dan, you cannot use your foamy soap to shave with a DE razor. You will need something a little thicker. You really need good technique with a DE razor. You cannot do fast, firm sweeps like you do in your video with the 2-bladed razors. You would do better with shorter strokes.

    That being said, DE razors irritated my skin because they caused ingrowns. The blade actually can flex a bit too much as it is cutting and cause ingrowns. For those who have that problem, a SE razor is recommended. That still requires learning a whole new technique though.

    Like you mention, it is probably just best to stick with the Trac II, but your issues you mention in your post sound related to the soap/cream issue and your technique.

    As far as prepping with a badger brush, the people on this website (IMHO) get enough exfoliation with Dan’s regimen and the badger brush is actually going to be bad…

  • D

    I’m so upset because I went and bought Gillette Sensor Excel for $11 bucks and I opened the package to learn that it has 3 BLADES not 2. Gosh, I’m going to go broke trying to find a right razor because I tried Fusion and now this. I thought Sensor Excel was the 2 blade version and Mach3 is the next generation 3 blade and Fusion 4/5 blade…

  • gil

    it’s a rare person that can shave with a de razor with the first shave. the multiblade cartidges require pressure to get the job done. a safety razor requires no pressure. took me about 2 months before i really got used to it. now there’s no going back. you will need a good quality english soap or cream. the goo in cans ahs too much air and no lubrication. look at “mantic” videos on you tube to get a better understanding

  • PM

    That’s an adjustable Merkur you have there, and you picked about the sharpest blades known to mankind. Two not very good moves for a DE newbie. Plus, I take it you used canned goo. Three strikes. You’re out. Take heart though, I’ll be glad to take that razor off your hands for you. BTW, what setting did you use? That may have been your fourth strike. You might be lucky to have a face left at all.

  • PM

    “But alas, I’m just out the money I spent on this thing.”
    I was only half joking about taking it off your hands. Email me if you want to recoup some of it.

  • Raj

    I was a newbie till not too long ago, had a lot of irritation until I found the right combination of products. I use a merkur futur DE razor with Derby blades. I use geo trumper Rose shaving cream. I’ve tried many including palmolive and anthony logistics and this is by far the bext and most economically and smells great.

  • Jeremy

    I know you recommend using 2 blade razors but using them just feels irritating to my skin, it could be because of the brand I’m using but I’ve always found more success out of 3-4 blade.

  • Xav

    I dunno what razor you got there, but I highly recommend the Merkur Classic Safety Razor and the Merkur blades it looks like you already have.

    Also, using a safety razor without a really good cream and a good brush is going to be very bad. The safety razors are angled higher and are sharper, so a good lather is critical. The St. James from Taylor of Old Bond Street is the girlfriend’s favorite smelling one. A good cream and a badger brush can make a much better, denser lather than foam out of a can – the better the lather the better the shave.

    But, yea, you gotta be really careful with a safety razor. And it takes practice. There’s a couple videos online that show you how to shave (super-gentle strokes with a WET blade). I can’t shave with anything else anymore. The safety razor gives a much closer shave, too, and you can replace the blades often. is where I buy all my stuff. They have a 100 pack of merkur blades for super cheap, and all the other stuff, too.

  • Andrew James

    Whatever shaving tool of choice I recommend an all natural shaving soap applied by a shaving brush. The Goodfella Shaving Soap is made by hand from natural ingredients and contains harakeke extract to relieve shaving burn and heal your skin. The natural oils will moisturise your face and keep your skin feeling comfortable after you shave. Go by *link removed* to see the soap and read all about it’s benefits.

  • William Potter

    These razors are not made for canned foam “lather”.

    I shave with a Gillette Old Type from circa 1921 and it is a fantastic shaver.
    If you don’t have time to learn old school lathering tecniques etc I say you are correct about the Trac II razor being the best choice. If I didn’t shave Old School the Trac II would be my weapon of choice also.

  • Shaving Cream

    Quite sad that you had a horrible experience with the safety razor. What preparation did you do before using safety razor? A good preparation should be done prior on using the safety razor. I do not know what to say but it should be noted that skin products , like shaving soaps and *link edited out* shaving creams for specific skin types have been available for a number of years now. However, before choosing what products to use on your face and body, people should start with the basic issue and that is to know your specific skin type.

  • Jim

    This guy is a fool. I just started using a safety razor and if you learn how to use one, amazing skin. Use witch hazel after and a good art of shaving shave cream that you use with a brush. Take the time to LEARN how to use them, how to hold the razor etc and you will be in bliss. Kid you not. The perfect cure for anyone with ingrown hairs, acne, etc. WOW!

  • Ben

    I experienced a lot of irritation when I first started using a DE Safety Razor, too. My skin is super sensitive, and I was using a blade that didn’t work well for my face. The thing you need to know about DE blades is that not every type of blade works for every man. For example, I find that the LORD Platinum blade is the only one that doesn’t give me any irritation. Also, it looks like you have a Merkur Progress Adjustable razor there. You probably had the blade set on too high of an aggressive level. Like I told you before, my skin is very sensitive. I’ve been using a LORD razor since I started wet shaving, and it’s way too aggressive for me. So I just bought a 1957 Gillette Super Speed Blue Tip Safety Razor off of eBay. The Blue Tip was a razor that was made for people with sensitive skin and/or new to DE shaving. It offers a very mild shave. If I were you, I would try a different/more mild razor. Either that or set your razor to lower setting. Also, get a quality brush and cream. Face preparation is the key to a good shave.

  • Andrew

    The feather blades worked the best for me, I tried a sample pack most of them tore me up I was ready to toss the thing, then I saw a lot of people who sore by nothing but feather blades and I tired them and they worked far better than any other. My beard seems to grow in crazy directions all over.

  • Doug J

    I agree that safety razors are awful. BacK when I started shaving, that was all we had. I’m absolutely amazed that people are using them again. Sometimes nostalgia trumps reality.