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Does a DE really do anything special...?

I am writing this as a fairly new DE user. I have a Mercur Hefty Classic and I have only used it about ten times. But before I ask this question let me say that I have no intention of stopping use of a DE. They are beautiful to look at and they really do save you money. I have enough good blades to last me 4 years (if not more) of daily shaving (six times a week) and the total cost for me was less that $30.00. I like shaving with a DE for many reasons and I have no intention of changing my shaving routine in any significant way.

Okay, here's my question...

Does a DE really do anything that you can't get from a MACH3 or a Fusion or SCHICK Quatro?

Consider this. When a new shavephile is born he tends to buy either a DE or a straight razor. But I think most go the DE route. But at the same time he also purchases great, high quality creams, brushes, aftershaves, etc. All of these things conrtibute to getting a really good shave every day. Also, the newcomer is likely to do some research and find other techniques to getting the best shave possible. Which patterns to shave in? North to south, east to west? And then there's setting up your face. Shave AFTER a shower and spend a long time lathering. Maybe use a pre-shave gel.

There are many factors in getting your best shave. Is the use of a DE razor really that important? People who really get into shaving in a serious way have probably never used a truly high quality cream before. Nor did they ever think about shaving after showering and opening up all their pores.

Couldn't they get just as great a shave with a MACH3 and employing all of these techniques and using these products?

Or is there something speciual about a DE? Can it do things that a MACH3 can't? Is it gentler on your face? I would really like to know.

Personally, I think that DEs are, as I said before, beautiful. They're kind of like using a phonograph player today. They're romantic and they kind of put us in touch with a bygone era. But I am not convinced that it can be scientifically shown that they produce a better shave. I think it might be the use of all the other products that the DE shaver uses that are giving him great shaves. After all, no one buys a DE razor than and uses noname canned foam.

I DO think that I am seeing some benefit from my DE in terms of reducing irritation to my skin, but then the only true test for this would be to not use the DE for a while and use everything else that I am currently using - which is some great stuff that I have never used before.

Anyway, I would really love to hear what people here honestly have to say in response to this question.

Christoph, a conformed DE user with no thoughts of ever switching back.
Common arguments for the DE include:
  • Even though you might make more passes with a DE, it is a 'single' blade, versus anywhere from 2 to 5, and if ultimately figures to fewer times that you pull a blade across your skin.
  • Cartridge razors operate off of the "Lift and Cut" or "Pull and Cut" system. Essentially tugging the mess out of your beard hairs. Though I can't provide a study that backs this up, I have heard it said that this phenomenon encourages the hair follicle to recess further into the skin, which can lead to increased problems with ingrowns.
I don't know the validity of either statement, but they provide some interesting points for discussion.

I do know that my face looks and feels better than it ever has, and I now ENJOY shaving.
I have basically given up on DE shaving. I've found its more about the use of high quality creams and soaps, plus keeping my face properly cleaned and moisturized. In my case a Gillette Fusion provides a more consistent shave day in and day out, and I can't tell any difference in closeness between it and a DE. I use one blade for 5 to 6 shaves. Yes it cost more to use, but I'm willing to pay for the comfort and consistency. When I talk about consistency I'm mainly referring to the correct blade angle a modern cartridge razor can provide 95% of the time or more. I just can't get that with a DE.

In my opinion, DE's are much better. Why?

Basically, the multi-blades are designed to lift the hair up and then cut it so that it drops beneath the skin. For the majority of black males in the world, this is not a circumstance u want to end up in on purpose.

The main reason being that as a race, we are more susceptible to ingrown hairs (pseudofolliculitis barbae[face and neck]-caused by shaving) and folliculitis barbae ( caused by our curly hairs re-entering the skin after being cut[back of neck, hairline area]). I have suffered from both problems through the years and due to finally re-learning how to shave, both problems have been minimized( in the case of my face, I now rarely get an ingrown hair and in the nape of my neck , the problem has become so minute, I no longer need to see my dermatologist for injections :eek: into the bumps to reduce them.

The DE progressively cuts the hair down w/o cutting it beneath the skin. in this way, we(black males) can get a close shave that does not turn our face into a monstrosity over the next few days.

while a medic in "this man's army", i noticed that most of the 'brothas' who had problems had curlier hair. if someone has curlier, springy type hair, they too may have problems with the multi-blades-however, there are exceptions to every rule. plus, i am speaking from my experience and anecdotal observations only. :wink:

I don't doubt that the creams, soap, brushes, and other accoutrement help- having been through the multi, depilatory, and electric ways, I am just happy (thankful!) to have found a way that works for me 99.99% of the time.:biggrin:

Clearly, with so many improvements to your shaving routine you will never know which factor or a combination ,thereof, contributes most to getting a great irritation free shave.

You want to vary just one thing at a time and keep other things equal if you really want to determine which particular technique provides the highest benefit. Some people can add a good badger brush and shaving cream and be just fine with Excel or Mach3.

I was changing my shaving routine incrementally and I can tell you from personal experience that:

1. $30 to $40 aftershaves contribute little to eliminating the razor burn. They may be soothing or can make matters worse by aggravating the irritation and acne.

2. Hot shower before a shave is a must.

3. DE and Mach3 are different, attempting to use DE as if it were a Mach3 is a mistake that I made early on and the result was razor burn and irritation even with a DE razor. DE razor requires a different technique that needs to be learned.

4. I think that the design of Mach3,4,5... is such that it rips my skin no matter what technique I use or how gently I use it.

In my case, many things matter but the most important is using Fat Boy Gillette Adjustable at setting 2 and using short and slow strokes. Also, being in a hurry is a sure way to get a lousy shave no matter what you do.
I guess, the quick answer is there is no answer except for the answer that you have for your own situation. As far as I can tell from your post, you are getting good, comfortable shaves with a multi-blade razor and some nice shaving supplies. If you are happy with your shaves, and with the cost, then there is no debate.

For me, the DE absolutely changed my shaving. Actually, not so much that as how I approach the shaving. It no longer hurts, the ritual really allows me to clear my mind and think about things differently. And, more importantly, I actually think I do get a better quality shave from my DE.

So, maybe it's the Buddhist nature in me, but all I can say is this: shave the way you think it works best for you. If that means you use a nice brush, some excellent cream, and a Fusion, it's all good. Heck, it means if you slather you face in maple syrup and shave with an axe and you like it, then that's good too. It's no my place to judge what you should do in your life, or with you face.

But for me, B&B guidance showed me a really zen-like shaving experience, and I, personally, will not go back to multi blades.

It's just a choice.


For me a DE does do something; it gives me a better, closer and less irritating shave (as compared with a M3, or the 3-or-4-blade schicks). It is really that simple for me. If I use a cartridge razor I have to either apply a lot of pressure (while using multiple passes) in order to get a close shave but then have lots of irritation or apply little pressure (and use even more passes - like 5 or 6) have less irritation and end up with my face feeling like sandpaper after the shave. Some days I was even lucky enough to have both massive irritation and a sandpaper-face. To be fair I have tried a cartridge razor with my new set-up (brush, cream, etc) and it is still sub-par, but not as bad as before.
I haven't used any of the cartridge razors you mention, but I will add this about using a DE. It is locked into place. Since cartridge razors swivel (at least most of them), there are contours on your face that it may not shave as close as a DE. For me, using a multi-blade only contributed to irritation.

The main reason I tried wet shaving was to minimize ingrown hairs. I've always had them from time to time, but as my beard began to get some gray whiskers, the ingrowns became more and more frequent. (Anyone else experience that?)

After using the DE for 5-6 weeks, I went back to the Mach 3 for a few days to save a little time. Right away I got two more nasty ingrown hairs on my neck, so I ran right back to my trusy Merkur HD. Those multiple blades get me every time.

I keep the M3 around for the very occasional touch-up, but that's about it. Sorry King Gillette, there's no way I'm going back.:001_cool:
I have been using exclusively a DE for the past few months. Prior to that I used one of the same creams with my M3 (pre-shave oil, AOS unscented). The razor did clog up, frequently. I had to run my fingernail alone the "hairlifter" pieces just to clean out the debris. I could only shave every other day at the most. I did get a BBS smooth, usually, but again, could only shave every other day. As well I had to change blades every 3rd shave. Even at Costco prices, that is over a dollar a blade.

Now, with a Futur, I spend .50 a blade, shave every day and even when I do "get a bit rough" on my shave, I can recover in enough time to shave again the next morning! When I got razor bumps/burn with the M3, I had to skip more than one or two days to recover.

So, I find that the DE does help having had the experience of using the same creams/pre-shaves and balms and using the the same prep and finish as it were. I will not go back. And, the piece de restance (my french is not as good a Gueron), I have an HD that I can use, and will be good to give to my son, should I have one. Just think, an actual heirloom!

Ive been using a DE for a few years now and for me it has resulted in:
Closer shave
Much less irritation(i can go back in the sam spot)
Much cheaper
Very rarely i would get an ingrown hair nowdays
Also i can shave everyday with a double edge(even though i dont have a quick growth, and the results are far superior to the mach 3's etc.

You can say that a double edge blade is like a phonograph player, But a good phonograph player has a better and warmer sound than a cd player.

At the end of the day its what works for you.
I agree with many of the guys here: a DE shave eliminates ingrown hairs and does not tear up my face like the M3.

Another thing that I like is that when I walk by the new 5 bladed system in the stores selling for 20 bucks for "refill" cartridges, I can snicker and laugh knowing that I already have a better system and it is much cheaper.

At least until I met the world of creams, cakes and balms....

- joedy
This isn't to start a war by any means, but I will say this: One month is not enough time to develop proper technique with a DE razor. The main reason why so many people today use cartridge razors and not DE's is the laziness factor. No one really cares anymore to put the time into learning how to use a DE or a straight razor for that matter. Gilette/Schick have taken all the guess work out of blade angles and technique by building cartridges that make it damn near impossible to cut yourself, so as expected, the people flock to it en masse.

To me, it's the old classic risk vs. reward scenario. Are you going to cut yourself learning to use a DE? You bet. Is it easier to cut yourself shaving with a DE? You bet. However, anything worth having is worth working for. Once the proper technique has been developed, a DE will outshave a cartridge over & over, with much less effort. Most people in today's society want instant gratification and a DE does not provide that. It hearkens back to yesteryear when people weren't in so much of a damn hurry to do things and looking for the easy way out. Today, people are more apt to settle for mediocrity than to pursue perfection. Why? Because it's too hard and time consuming and mediocrity will get by.

For me, my personal opinion is that for my face, I used the Gillette Sensor, Mach 3 and toward the end, the Disposable Gillette blue double blade throwaways. My face was as raw and chewed up as it could be, but I didn't realize this until I got my technique down with the DE. My DE provides a closeness that my Cartridges couldn't DREAM of touching.

The bottom line here is that Gillette has made a mint off of gimmicks. Meanwhile, the DE razors continue to silently outperform the new "toys" over and over again.
I first wanted to examine your initial question closely before I launched into all of the anecdotal stuff.. It was
Does a DE really do anything that you can't get from a MACH3 or a Fusion or SCHICK Quatro?
The answer is most definitely yes. In keeping with one man's meat is another man's poison, the cartridge razor manufacturers designed a suspension system into most of their multiblade systems. Couple this feature with pivoting cartridges and the user's ability to control the blade is somewhat reduced. Issues of accessing tight spots, i.e. under the nose, with a drag behind cartridge such as the Mach arise and you create a living hell for the guy who demands excellence in shaving.
Here we come to the crux of the issue. Some will say this (suspension and pivoting) is fine and a true technological advancement resulting in superior shaves for them. Well, this may be true for some, many, or even most, though I doubt it. For gents such as myself, the loss of control over the blade's edge and its relationship to my facial topography resulted in less-than smooth shaves. It actually jeopardized my relationship with SWMBO.:eek6:
I found that the spring-loaded suspension did not permit me to get good shaves on my cheeks and chin (have a clef that is tough even with a DE). No matter how much I stretched my skin, puffed my cheeks, or what directions I stroked the razor, I had absolutely nasty stubble that at best would raise welts on SWMBO's cheek after my good morning smooch. At worst I actually drew blood on her cheek.
Needless to say, I returned to the old fashioned, unsprung blades of yore after she started refusing that buss I so relished every AM. Guess, what! I could once again remove the beard and get the smooch. (Doesn't get any better than that.)
So Christoph, that is what a DE does that a modern technological wonder can not do. Even though somewhere in the back of my mind I like to think that the "SIXTH" blade on the new FuzzOn is Gillette's response to my complaints of years ago, I shall not turn back. SWMBO would not stand for it.:ladysman:
Not much to add to Ron's fine post, other than to say if you can get away with a cartridge, go for it. Many, including myself, can't.
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