Are twin-blade razors better than single-blade ones?

This column was written in 1983.

Has there been an updated one?

Not so far as I am aware. However, I’ll put this in the queue for Cecil to consider, an update might be nice.

Alas, when I do that, I have no idea what or when I’ll hear back. If there’s no new info, he doesn’t tell me that he’s not going to re-visit because nothin’s changed. And even if he does decide to update, I may not hear about that decision for weeks or months or years. So, patience on this front.

Meanwhile, others of the Teeming M’s might have some thoughts.

Maybe with a nice graph of “betterness” Vs. blade count. :wink:

Now that we’re up to 4 or 5 blades, an update certainly seems in order… “no new info… nothin’s changed”??, my keister! :slight_smile:

My suspicion is that it’s shaving technique that really matters, not the implement that you choose to do it with.

Currently, I use my grandfather’s old 1959 Gillette Fat Boy double-edged razor, and before that, I used a Sensor Excel, and/or whatever multiblade disposable was cheaper at the grocery.

The only advantage to the old razor (other than blades costing about 50 cents), is that it forced me to learn how to shave right, or else I would give myself horrendous razor burn.

The flip side is that I can get every bit as good of a shave with the disposables or Sensor as with the double-edged one, if I shave the same way.

I just happen to think it’s cool to do my own personal “Mad Men” bit with the old razor, and it really is cheaper, as long as you don’t go overboard with brushes, creams, etc…
(In case you’re wondering, the “secrets” to better shaves are pretty lame. The first, and most important one is that you have to do more than one pass with the razor. The second, which follows from the first, is that you shouldn’t put any more pressure on your face with the blade than holding the razor itself against your face does.

Basically what you end up doing is taking one light pass that just sort of whacks down the whiskers, and then the second one (at a different angle relative to the hair growth than the first) gets rid of the remaining stubble.) )

Guess almost no one is going to read this but here you are: I have used the one single bladed disposable for months at a time. How? I do one drag across maybe an inch of soapy whiskers, then rinse the blade in a bowl of hot water. I do this little by little, always rinsing the blade clean so nothing gets stuck underneath it. When I have finished shaving, I do the most important part. I store the clean blade in the warmest and driest place in the house: on top of the dust filter of the gas ducted heating system.

I have a cleaning business and see so many fancy double bladed razors kept in special holders in shower cubicles, where the metal sits for hour after hour, every day, in the proximity of the natural enemy of metals: water. No wonder these blades lose their edge. Keep it clean, warm and dry and it’ll last for ages.

The Economist had an article on the 5 blade Fusion by Gillette a few years back: Moore’s Law for Razor Blades? (sub?)

Anyway, the first blade gives the whisker a hard look. The second delivers its Miranda Rights. The third gives it a poke to the ribs and the fourth pummels it into submission. Only the fifth chops off its head.

The Fusion also has a sixth blade on the flip-side for tricky areas.

I don’t know. I’ve used all kinds of blades, and I’ve found that my Gillette Mach 3 really does work better for me. **bump **says “The first, and most important one is that you have to do more than one pass with the razor.” Perhaps the extra blades have the effect of multiple passes? I find that with the Mach 3, only one pass is generally needed, except for a couple of difficult spots (I use Edge shaving gel, if that makes any difference). And it’s not like I’m one of those guys who really doesn’t have to shave every day. My beard is quite visible by the end of the day.

A single blade just doesn’t do it for me. And other razors don’t, either. Just a few weeks ago, I bought some Gillette triple-bladed disposable razors (not Mach 3), and found that they were quite painful to use, and did’t give me as good a shave anyway.

On the other hand, I did try one of those four (or maybe more) bladed razors a while back, and it didn’t do anything for me that the Mach 3 didn’t do.

Here’s a good thread on how to get a good shave.

My technique has evolved somewhat. I used to be a slave to the multiple blades, but once I got to the Fusion (18 blades plus nuclear power for $500 a week!), I decided that the madness needed to stop. I settled down to the Mach3 Turbo which seems to give me the best mix of cutting and comfort.

I’ve tried the double-edge razor, I have a nice German one at home. The only problem with that one is I just can’t do it by touch, I have to watch myself in a mirror shaving with one, for obviously bloody reasons (the technique is completely different from cartridge razors). Since I like shaving in the shower in under five minutes, that rules out the double-edge for anything other than special occasions when I like to make a ritual of it.

That said, the single most important thing I’ve done is convert to a badger brush with high end shave cream. Makes ALL the difference in the world. I’d just rub the ol’ Edge gel on my face and slice away; now, with the brush, it really works the moisture into the hair, and the fancier stuff smells much better.

Here’s my routine, YMMV:

  1. Step in shower
  2. Wet face
  3. Wash hair first-- this allows the water & steam to open up your pores
  4. Use brush to work in lather
  5. Shave down, lather, shave sideways, lather, shave up.
  6. Apply a little shave oil to the rough spots and then do an “oil pass”

Step #6 was a revelation. I’ve tried shaving oil before, never got anything out of it when I applied it before lathering up like usually directed. But I read somewhere about using it for the “spot shaving” after you’re done, and wow, it really works-- right when your face might be a little burned, the oil soothes the skin AND makes it a lot easier to get those last extra hairs in the hard-to-shave spots (for me, around my mouth and just behind the chinline on my neck. . . ouch!).

Anyway, the bottom line? The longer you take, the better your shave. It’s only 5-10 minutes out of your day, make the most of it.

What is shave oil? Different than shaving cream?

I used to use the Mach 3 and found it far superior to the single blade. Then I used an electric for awhile and that works as long as you keep it it oiled. Then the Mach 5 came out and holy moly I’m not sure I’ll ever use anything else. The battery power might be a bit much but I love this blade. As long as you keep it clean and dry between shaves it is awesome. Sometimes I’ll have to resort to a single or double throw away razor and I always, always, come away with cuts and knicks. Never with the Mach 5. YMMV and all that

Hijack: I remember reading somewhere that someone actually went to jail for industrial espionage and it involved stealing plans for the Mach 3 or something similar. Anyone have a link? I couldn’t find one.

Another vote for the Mach 3; I was dubious at first but it really provides a superior shave over single/twin blades (haven’t tried the 4- or 5-blade versions). Even my wife switched; after borrowing my razor once, she ditched the Bics for her own Mach 3.

Also a vote for brush and shaving mug with soap; on days when I rush and forget it (I shave in the shower), I will inevitably see the difference later in the day.

I love my Fusion (5 blades) Last week I had to buy new blades i got them for my quatro instead because i couldnt aford the ones I wanted. In my experience I like 5 blades more then 4 and 4 more then 3, Not because of the closeness per ce but I feel it glades better. The fusion has a handy razor on the other end to even out your side burns, nice touch. I never did try the AA powered one

I vote for the Fusion and/or Mach 3. Everything else just seems medieval by comparison. I seem to get a closer shave out of them and much less irritation. They also seem to last forever, I can use a cartridge for several weeks without changing it. There’s really no going back after you use them. I don’t know if it’s the number of blades necessarily, it might have something more to do with the way they’re positioned, material used, etc. because none of the other brand multi-blade razors work as well imo, though they’re all light years ahead of normal disposables. Whatever the deal is, it works.

Yes. See here at the Art of Shaving.

Again, they label it “pre-shave oil,” and you’ll see that as the most common description. The idea is to apply the oil to your face before you lather-- this helps get a closer shave AND helps the blade last longer.

Alas, I never had any luck with this, and frankly, it’s counter-intuitive given that every other shaving rule says your face has to be wet, wet, wet before you apply shaving cream or gel; applying oil to your face kind of contradicts this.

That said, like I wrote, I’ve had a lot of luck with using the oil AFTER I shaved and rinsed off the lather. A little dab of oil across the face, another pass or two with the razor, and I remove that last bit of hair that is always so frustrating to remove.

FYI, to folks raised on Mach3s and gels, the Art of Shaving stuff is pretty snobbish, but the real shaving purists think Art of Shaving offers a bunch of poseur stuff. I don’t know about that; I’ve found their stuff to be really great-- their sandalwood stuff smells great, too (to me, AND to the GF).

Also, it lasts a long time-- the 5 oz jar of shaving cream may seem steep at $22, but it easily lasts as long as the cost-equivalent amount of shaving gel.

Anyway, try out the starter kit if you’re interested, that’s how I got hooked.

I use the Fusion (IIRC 4 blades plus the trim blade?). Works great; yes, use multiple passes to get a good shave.

I used to use disposable 2 or 3’s on trips (or if I ran out of blades) and used to get a lot of cuts. I finally figured out the problem - you can push harder on the skin with the 4 blade than with a 3-blade or especially 2-blades. For a safe cut-and-burn-free result, pull the older razors lightly across the skin; just repeat the strokes several times to get everything.

Still nothing compares to the Fusion 4-blades.

Another point - all the advice says “shave with the direction of your hiar”, but I found shaving against (and across) picks up the hair and cuts it better than going with the grain.

I tried various twin-blade razors, injection razors, etc, but eventually went back to using the old-fashioned safety razor and double-edged blades with shaving soap, mug, and brush. Aside from the quality of the shave, there is a certain luxurious feeling in the whole hot washcloth/hot lather/shave/hot rinse process. I make two passes, shaving first with the grain and then against it, rinsing the razor frequently with hot water, and get a very smooth shave.

However, if I’m in a rush, I can get almost the same results just using the razor dry, so I strongly suspect I just have an easily shaved hair/skin combination.

(Disclaimer: I have a beard, so am only shaving my cheeks and neck, avoiding all the fiddly, hard to shave areas.)

I swear by my Gillette Good News Trac ll .When I was 18 just starting to shave the military would furnish Shicks single blades which would nick and pull. when it became necassary for me to purchase my own razors I went thru the gauntlet I would but the cheap handle then spend almost $10 bucks for the blades soon I found Gillette Good News disposables were the most consistant, fairly cheap always available style and model .Recently I tried a knock off and ended up giving the entire package away. I can squeeze 3 to 4 good shaves from each Good News blade.

Good lord, man. I think I paid ten bucks plus shipping for my first 100 double-edge blades, which I still haven’t gotten through. Check eBay. Currently I’m using an old Gillette double-edge I got off of eBay for less than a sawbuck – three solid pieces of stainless steel that screw together to make a shaver that will not die. I use a single blade maybe twice. I shave in the shower with no trouble. Rust is no trouble, only soap scum.

It’s no wonder they moved well away from this business model. There are still a million of these goddamned things out there, just as useful now as they were fifty years ago, and only pennies a shave even if you’re as quick to replace blades as I am. I’ve never invested in any of these foccacta multi-blade cartridge systems with the pivot heads, lubricant strips or the posable kung-fu action, but I’ve tried enough varieties of disposable that I don’t set any store by the claims of multi-blade systems. The double-edge system is cheap, reliable, comfortable and effective.

I don’t know how people can shave in the shower. Not only don’t you have a mirror (I guess you could put one in there), but its always been two separate activities for me.

I’m normally an old-school kinda guy, but I swear by my 5-blade Fusion.

The blades are expensive as hell, but I only make the switch on the first day of each month.