Anyone use a classic safety razor?

I’m looking for a new razor since I can’t seem to find the blades for my old one any more, at least Target didn’t seem to have any. I don’t like the newer razors that have more then two blades; I’ve tried a couple of them and I think the blade prices are way too much.

Now I’m thinking about going with a classic safety razor, the ones where you replace the blades yourself, something like a Merkur that I’ve seen some of the online places sell. The problem is I know nothing about them. There seem to be four or five different types and I don’t know which one I should try. I’d also like to be able to hold one before I buy it, except I don’t know who sells something like this.

I guess I’d like to know:
How long do the blades last? I don’t shave every day, sometimes not for a couple of days. I can usually go for a couple of weeks before I switch.

Are there any places in the DC area that sell them? I’m in Maryland in Montgomery county. I’d perfer to check them out even if it means paying a bit more.

Are the razors single blades or are some double blades? It looks to me like most are single blades, but it’s hard to see from pictures.

What are the better brands? I’ve only seen a couple, I’m guessing they are not very popular any more.

What other things do I need to know? They seem to sell a lot of brushes and creams, but I’m sure I don’t need them do I?

My husband used one for a while in college (mostly as an affectation, but don’t tell him I said that.) It looked like a real pain to me, sometimes literally. Maybe there are versions that have the blades properly angled, like modern disposables, but his was just basically perpendicular to the handle, so learning to use it effectively took a while. Also, unless he took the whole thing apart and set it out to dry, the blade started to rust right away. Nowadays he uses the cheapest Bic disposables.

Shaving brushes are just a different way to get a lather to shave with, you don’t need them for any particular type of shaving, and you can use them regardless of the blade you prefer.

I’ve been using a shaving brush for maybe 5 years now, I like the process, I like that I get a warm lather, and I don’t feel it’s any more trouble than using foam/gel from a can. Also, a single disk of shaving soap lasts me pretty much an entire year.

Me too. This whole exotic razor thing is something I just don’t understand (this isn’t directed at the OP exactly. It is just a general observation). I have moderately think facial hair and I have to shave every day. However, I can literally do it in less than one minute with the cheapest disposables and they each last for a few days. I will never understand why some men head for a (dangerous) straight razor, others pay good money for five bladed monstrocities, and others obsess about the closest shave possible.

A single blade works just great and an ultra-close shave is pointless for someone like me because it will only stay that way for a couple of hours.

I use a Merkur and am very happy with it. I made the switch from multi-blade razors a couple of years ago and see no reason to ever go back. Yes, they take a little more work and you probably will nick yourself a few times before you get it down, but it’s hardly surgery: if you can write your name legibly, you have enough hand coordination to shave. This is the razor i use. My brother uses the more advanced version, which may or may not cause fewer nicks. The shave mine gives is considerably better than what i got from the overproduced marketing gimmicks: the five o’clock shadow is now at 5am, not 5pm, and the replacement blades are far cheaper.

For those nicks, you’re gonna want to use a styptic pencil. You should be able to pick one up at Caswell Massey or a similar place.

The site i link to above has a lot of good advice on shaving. Just click on “grooming guides” and explore.

Oy… i should probably try to actually answer your questions!

They last MUCH longer than cartridges on multi-blade razors. I shave every day and sometimes go several weeks between changes. One big benefit of the design is that they don’t get clogged, which makes a huge difference.

Can’t really help you there, but i bought mine at an old-fashioned tobacconist that looked like it’d been there since at least the 30s. I’m sure such places exist in DC, so if you can track one down they might be able to help you.

Every one i’ve ever seen has been single blade, albeit double-sided. You really don’t want double blades due to the aforementioned clogging.

Merkur’s really the only one i know.

No, you can shave with Barbasol just as well. I honestly can’t say if the brush and soap make the shave any better. My personal opinion, however, is that they add a certain flair to the experience. It’s like you’re treating yourself and doing it right, instead of just doing what needs to be done. YMMV.

I use that one, too.

Just do everything the same way as you would with a proprietary razor. There isn’t much to know. The only thing is that it’s easier to cut yourself if you do something stupid. It’s a bit like writing with a fountain pen. It’s less forgiving at first but you get used to it very soon and in the long run it’s not a problem at all.

I’ve flirted around with a variety of things. I have a Merkur Classic 1904, and an old razor that is identical to the current Merkur “slant bar” razors in every way, so far as I know. At the moment I’m using the slant bar with results that are as good as I manage to make them.

What you need to know, more than anything else, is that a safety razor is not the same as a modern multi-blade cartridge razor. You have a great deal of control over it, and you need to be aware of two things in particular: blade angle and pressure.

Blade angle, ideally, should be around 30 degrees. Most folks recommend starting out with the blade perpendicular to your face, parallel to the floor, and then rolling it down until the blade just touches your face. That should be about the right angle. This isn’t categorical–as you increase the angle, the razor will be more aggressive–but it will also tend to dig in more. So while there may be situations where you might stray from the 30 deg. angle, its a good rule of thumb.

Pressure, ideally, should be something like none at all. The weight of the razor should be sufficient; additional pressure will lead to razor burn. This is probably the most important thing to know, and the thing that gives folks starting out the most trouble.

I shave more or less every other day, and change my blade weekly. The blades are cheap; I’m willing to change them a bit more frequently than might be absolutely necessary to keep a comfortable shave. Speaking of blades: YOu should probably try several brands, if you do go down this route. Some blades are better than others, and some blades are sharper or more aggressive than others. You can buy a sampler pack of the most popular brands here.

There are a number of forums devoted to shaving; a couple of popular ones are and They go into all of the stuff–brushes, creams, soaps, aftershaves… the whole thing. But they’re good resources.

If you get into the whole shaving experience, here’s one last bit of info: Leisureguy’s Guide to the Gourmet Shaving Experience.

Oh! One last thing: Mantic’s YouTube shaving channel has lots of great info as well.

Hope this all helps!

I started out about 1980 with the old-fashioned Gillette safety razor, but I wouldn’t ever go back to one out of choice now (occasionally I have to during re-enactment camps). The difference in result is all too apparent. The Ford Model T was a pretty good car in its day but no one suggests we start using them again, either.
One can still get the blade in pharmacists here, but I doubt they sell very many.

Oh! I forgot to answer one of the questions:

A lot of folks seem to like the Merkur Heavy Duty (or Hefty Classic, or HD–I don’t believe Merkur actually gives their models anything other than numbers). I don’t know, because I don’t have one. I’d ask over on shavemyface or badgerandblade; the guys there are very helpful. :slight_smile:

Try the Spishak Mach20.

I don’t know. I seem to be able to clog my Merkur HD if I skip a day. :mad:

I changed because I was just fed up with paying $36 for a pack of the M3 cartages and have never had a comfortable shave with a disposable.

I had an OK start, but I think I’m starting to rush too much. I’m getting cut again and my shave isn’t nearly as close with a brand new razor. :frowning:

Thanks for all the info. I think I will try one since they seem to run around $30-40. I have come to dislike the newer type razors, I have a couple and they have never worked for me. The disposable ones seem to work once or twice and that’s about it. I did try looking at the local tabacco shop, but they didn’t have anything, nor did they know where I could look. I’ll look around at a couple of the sites and see what’s the best razor.

My husband doesn’t shave, but one of his “Things He Can’t Part With” is a shaving cup and brush. Go figure.