15 November 2016

A Classic Shave

Edwin Jagger DE89 knurled-handle safety razor and a selection of double edge blades.

Synthetic hair Omega S-Brush and Proraso shaving soaps - sandalwood (red) and eucalyptus & menthol (green).

The EJ DE89 is a three piece razor, with the handle screwing into the top plate, sandwiching the safety bar and blade between. Shown here with a Personna Platinum blade.

Here you can see the amount of blade that shows between the curved top plate and safety bar. As a double edge razor, it is the same on both sides. The blade actually curves when the razor is tightened fully.

Growing a beard is easy - you stop shaving (give it three months so you know what sort of growth you have to work with). Keeping a beard is a little more complicated - washing, conditioning, trimming and grooming. I have never actually shaved my entire face...except for when all I could grow was a mousy moustache I guess, because that definitely had to go. I have always had some manner of facial hair, and for the past few years that has been a trimmed beard (with a curly moustached interlude). All the men in my family have beards, so it is something that I grew up with seeing as a natural part of grooming. I trim my beard down with clippers to a slight taper, I neaten the moustache with a comb and scissors, and I clean my upper cheeks and neckline with a razor. My facial hair is not particularly dense, but thanks to my genetics I grow hair from just under my eyes all the way down to my Adam's apple, so regular shaving is a necessity to keep me looking well groomed.

For years I used disposable razors with generic shaving foam. It is a costly endeavour and a process I never particularly enjoyed because of the frequency with which I would end up with razor burn and nicks. Indeed this was even more so the case with those fancy multi-bladed cartridge razors, which seemed to irritate the heck out of my skin. So I kept it simple with a disposable two blade razor with one of those moisturising strips. I would use it for a few shaves, then chuck it as it got dull and started nicking my skin. I started looking for a better alternative and that is when I discovered the world of safety razors and their benefits. Benefits not just for my wallet, but also for my skin, because safety razors give a smoother, less irritating, shave. There is only one blade in contact with the skin, which helps in preventing tugging and reduces the likelihood of ingrown hairs.

The safety razor is a pretty simple piece of kit. Instead of replacing the entire razor as you would with a disposable, or the head of the razor as you would with the cartridge, you simply replace the blade inside. The razor itself is usually a metal body that you twist open (most commonly into three pieces like mine, but you also get two piece or butterfly opening razors) in order to place the double edge safety razor blade inside. Unlike modern razors there are no proprietary fittings or sizes - you can use any brand of double edge blade inside your razor. There are an incredible number of blades to choose from and the blades are cheap as chips - you can get a pack of 100 blades of most brands for under £10 shipped. Bearing in mind that each blade usually lasts around three or four shaves, and you get some idea of the savings you can make.


I decided to buy the Edwin Jagger DE89, with a knurled handle for grip, which is widely recommended for beginners. The gently curved shape of the head, and the amount of blade it shows (referred to as the aggressiveness of the razor), are such that it makes for a mild and smooth experience. To go with the razor I also bought a synthetic brush, because I try to avoid animal products where possible, along with two different Proraso shaving cream bowls (again in order to avoid the animal-based tallow soaps). Where blades are concerned, I got some free with the razor, but also ordered a sampler pack of blades, just so that I can take my time to figure out which blade works best for my skin and hair. Thus far I have used three different blades, using each around three or four times, and replacing once they felt dull. I erred on the conservative side however, especially given that I do not shave my entire face, so I am sure that I could have gotten another shave or two out of each.

Derby Extra: This was the first blade I tried because it is reputed to be the mildest. I found it to be smooth, but not particularly sharp, so they were not the closest shaves. Having said that I thought this was a good blade for learning the basics with, or if you want a milder shave I suppose, but it was nothing special.

Personna Platinum: I did not enjoy this blade too much. It was sharp, but I found it rather rough to use. I actually got a little razor burn on my neck from this on two occasions because I found that it dragged slightly. Fine to use in a pinch, but not my first choice.

Astra Superior Platinum: This blade is incredibly popular and I can most certainly see why. Smooth and sharp, this gave me some very nice shaves. From my very limited experience so far it is my favourite. The only thing I did not like about these is that the wax paper that covers each blade is glued on, rather than simply folded on like the previous two, which left residue inside my razor that I had to clean up.

It has only been a short time that I have been using the safety razor, but I am already a convert. It actually makes shaving a far more enjoyable experience, and there really is something to be said about taking the time out of your day to have a nice shave (it is pretty much a mini pamper session). I was actually surprised at how easy I have found it getting adjusted to the safety razor. I had been fully expecting to cut or nick myself the first few times I shaved, but have actually not had any issues except for some razor burn with the Personna blade. I would definitely recommend anyone interested to take the plunge, it is quite fun.

(This post was not sponsored, endorsed, or affiliated with them in any way, but for anyone UK-based, I have had really good experiences with Shave Lounge - free postage, well packaged deliveries, and cheap prices).  


1 comment:

  1. To avoid irritation and ingrown hair you should shave with a safety razor. The safety razor also helps you to prevent razor burn and some skin disease. Best safety razor