Log in

No account? Create an account



« previous entry | next entry »
27th Mar 2012 | 19:27

I've been shaving with a traditional double-edge safety razor for about 20 months now. It's good. There are a couple of reasons I switched.

The main one is the insultingly exploitative business model of the shaving gear manufacturers. Since the late 1960s they have been ratcheting up the complexity and cost of razors in order to extract more profit from their customers. It's a classic example of patent-driven innovation: they have to keep coming up with new gimmicks that they can monopolize, and use bulshytt to convince people to buy these "better" razors instead of choosing on the basis of objective value or quality. This process has been obviously ridiculous practically since the introduction of cartridge razors, and has long since passed the stage of blatant self-parody.

When Gillette introduced the Mach 3, I stayed with the Sensor; a few years later I decided to see if a Boots own-brand Contour clone was any good despite being a lot cheaper. It turned out than any difference in the razors was dwarfed by variance in my shaving technique, so I switched to the cheaper one. There are now other options in the "less eye-watering than Gillette" segment of the market, such as the King of Shaves Azor or the Dollar Shave Club, but they still buy into the Trac LXXVI bulshytt.

The secondary reason was that although Boots own-brand razors do the job, they are a bit crappy and ugly. I had a vague desire for something more elegant which involved chucking less plastic in the bin. Partly based on satisfied reports from Tom, I invested £40 in a new old-fashioned razor and some consumables.

The Edwin Jagger DE89L is a lovely object. It is made in Sheffield from chrome-plated brass, and has a nice heft: it weighs 76g which is more than four times as much as my old plastic razor. It has a wonderful economy of design (Occam would approve) with only three parts each of which serves multiple functions. The handle is threaded to screw the blade clamp together; the bottom of the clamp includes a safety guard; and the top of the clamp acts as a guide to the angle of the blade against the skin. It's just the right shape for safely shaving under my nose.

ETA: For blades I'm currently using Feather Japanese blades, mainly on the basis of hearsay and prejudice, er, I mean their reputation for quality and sharpness. I don't think it's possible to make a meaningful comparison without fitting different blades to identical razors and using them both during the same shave, repeatedly. (See above about variability of technique.) And I only have one DE razor at the moment.

I've also switched from using a shaving oil to a shaving cream and badger brush. Taylor of Old Bond St, Court Hairdressers are awfully posh but a 150ml bowl of their shaving cream costs less than £7 and you only need one or two ml for a shave. More fun to use and easier than oil to clean up afterwards.

So now my morning shaves are still inexpensive but much more luxurious. Very satisfying :-)

| Leave a comment |

Comments {9}


from: hairyears
date: 27th Mar 2012 20:10 (UTC)

All this, and I learned a new word!

Reply | Thread


from: emperor
date: 27th Mar 2012 21:29 (UTC)

How easy is it to use? I mean in terms of not-cutting-yourself

Reply | Thread

Tony Finch

from: fanf
date: 27th Mar 2012 23:18 (UTC)

I haven't found it noticeably more cutty than my previous razor. There was a short period of getting used to the different weight and angle when I had a few more nicks than usual. The DE89 razors are generally regarded as pretty forgiving - I haven't tried any others.

Reply | Parent | Thread


from: ptc24
date: 27th Mar 2012 21:35 (UTC)

I gave those a go, and did some reading up, and I never seemed to be able to get the knack. On the other hand, I can be a bit of klutz with my hands, and they do say they need a bit more skill than cartridge razors, so milages evidently vary.

Reply | Thread

Tony Finch

from: fanf
date: 28th Mar 2012 11:03 (UTC)

There are a few key things with shaving, I have found.

Firstly, you want a really sharp blade so you only need to glide the razor over the skin to cut the beard: you should hot have to press or repeatedly scrape. The multi-blade razors are supposed to reduce the pressure on your skin, but you could just not press so hard...

Secondly you need to get the angle of the blade right. Cartridges make this easier, except where the face curves sharply, so they don't actually make the tricky bits much easier.

The strangest thing about DE razors compared to cartridges is the very different angle between the blade and the handle. With my razor the right angle is when the top clamp is against the skin and the blade is only just touching. The lower guard doesn't often come into play - under the nose is the main one.

And finally I don't aim for baby-bottom smooth (beard too heavy for that, I think) and I only shave with the grain or across it - never against it, because that's a recipe for rash and ingrown hairs.

Reply | Parent | Thread


from: autopope
date: 28th Mar 2012 09:36 (UTC)

I have had a similar headache with electric shavers.

You can spend up to £300 on a shaver these days, with all sorts of bells and whistles. I've never gone quite that far, but over the past decade I've tried a couple in the nearly-£100 bracket.

And you know what?

They're nearly indistinguishable in the quality of the shave from a special cheap Philips travel model that runs on two AA cells, has two circular foils, and sells for between £12 and £18, depending on whether you buy the unbranded "travel shaver" version from a travel shop or the Philips-branded one in Boots. (Oh, and it's smaller and lighter.) The reason I'm on #3 of the Philips travel shavers is that Feorag swiped #1 for her own purposes, and #2 took an unscheduled dive in a hotel toilet. Otherwise, I'd still be running on the same cheap generic shaver after ten years.

The only exception is the Philips system that gives you a wet electric shave by running on proprietary cartridges of shaving foam that, when you do the sums, cost around £100/year. (To which I say: fuck that shit.)

Edited at 2012-03-28 09:38 am (UTC)

Reply | Thread


from: mathew
date: 28th Mar 2012 15:25 (UTC)

I loved electric shavers until my face suddenly decided it didn't like them and would break out in a rash whenever I used one. I was literally forced to go back to blades.

But before that, yeah, the Philips rotary head models were the ones to go for. The Braun metal film style just means you have to buy an expensive sheet of metal every couple of months because it wears out so fast on tough stubble.

Reply | Parent | Thread

(Deleted comment)


from: mathew
date: 28th Mar 2012 15:22 (UTC)

I've tried Derby and Merkur blades, and can tell you neither are a patch on Feather.

I still keep a Gillette multiblade thing for shaving around my nose, as I find it really tough to get in there with a double-edge without causing nicks. On the plus side, using it for just my nose means the insanely overpriced cartridges last for about 6 months each.

For lather I'm using Proraso / Bigelow shave cream, and a brush. Thinking of trying something else with a lavender scent though.

Razor is a Merkur Futur, because I'm a sucker for design.

Reply | Thread