What's new

My Return to DE Shaving (somewhat long)

After many years of wet shaving, I recently decided to move back to the double edge (DE) razors that I originally learned with. I’m in my mid-50’s and, after a hustle-and-bustle life in which I balanced two careers, I’m ready to settle back into the simple pleasures of life that I have valued in the past.

Since my first shaves with a DE razor as a teenager, I gradually moved to modern razors, but never left the use of a brush and soap. As I recall, the razor was a venerable Gillette clam shell variant that my father had cast off. For years I used the Old Spice brand of soap, only leaving it when I could no longer find it. When the Old Spice brand of soap disappeared, I set out on a search for a replacement, but haven’t found anything that I like as well so far (I’m sure I will though). I’ve used various creams like Barbisol and the miscellaneous ‘jels’ when I went on travel, but always used a brush and soap when at home. Following the absurdities of modern air travel I found myself resorting to just working up a good lather with quality hand soap instead of using the overly thin or overly thick goop in the cans. For several years now I’ve use the Gillette Sensor brand of two-bladed razors, the basis for my comparison with DE’s.

Having recently decided to venture back to the double edge razor for my daily shaves I ordered two razors. Eager to compare the ‘mild’ razors to the ‘aggressive’ razors I ordered a Muehle R89 straight bar and a Mercur 11C open comb. The Mercur seems like a no-nonsense piece of gear, but its plating and general quality pale compared to the Muehle. The Muehle is simply a gorgeous instrument. That being said, I find that the Mercur’s stippling on the handle is deeper and is less likely to slip when wet.

I started with the Muehle straight bar loaded with a German made Wilkinson blade. General reviews seemed to imply this blade as a medium quality blade. After a few shaves with this razor, I moved to the Mercur open comb, first with a Mercur blade then a Feather. I chose the latter as posts on this board indicated that the open comb combined with a Feather was the most aggressive shave.

Maybe it’s because of my technique, but I have found little difference in the two configurations. After a half-dozen shaves with each, I find that I can complete the process with both razors without cuts and get a shave that compares with the modern multi-blade safety razors, but it takes more time. I tend to take more time with the DE’s, use a moisturizer before lathering, make shorter strokes, and re-lather for a second pass which I don’t do with the multi’s. The only difference that I perceive between the two razors is that I feel like I am using a straight razor on a T bar with the Merkur. The Muehle feels more like a modern multi-bladed safety razor only with a much bulkier shaving head. At the end of the process with both I end up with a shave that I would say is as good or slightly better than that with the modern blades.

With the modern razors, I’ve always shaved with long strokes with the grain of my beard, then shaved against the grain without re-lathering. With the DE’s I’ve done the same, but re-lathered for the second ‘against the grain’ shave. I know common wisdom indicates that one should not shave against the grain, but I find that I get a closer shave that way and have never experienced the maladies attributed to ‘against the grain’ shaving.

Anyway, I probably have a lot to learn about wet shaving with DE razors and a few bad habits to 'un-learn', but so far I just find them a bit more tedious to use. That being said, I really enjoy using that open comb razor. There’s something rewarding about using a really sharp blade that I can feel on my face as it cuts through the beard. Maybe I need to try going ‘straight!’
By the way, I have to chuckle about that 'wet shaver wannabee' label below my icon. I've probably been wet shaving longer than most of the posters here have been alive!

Well, ManxGuy, we are about the same age, and started shaving with the same DE gear. I had a brief period of retro shaving in the 1970s when I got my first straight razor, but since then have been following the crowd. Until recently.

I got a couple of straight razors, brush, mug, soap. I started this, then realized that I had little time in the mornings for a full-tilt straight razor shave. I picked up a couple of Gillette Super Speed Flare Red Tip razors, and bought blades from the drug store. I now swing both ways, straight and DE. Mostly straight on the week-ends.

Welcome to B&B. Let us know how you progress with shaving as a hobby. If enough of us jump off the M3 train, maybe we can swing the industry. It will be fun to try.
Welcome back to DE and welcome to B&B.

What soaps have you used after the Old Spice?

The first substitutes that I tried were William's shaving soap that I bought at a drug store. Very inferior to the Old Spice in my opinion. Over the years I've bought a number of different soaps including some from some French store (Le Occitane?) nearby. I've had the best luck with Crabtree and Evelyn offerings and most recently bought a "Taylor of Old Bond Street" soap described as a 'traditional luxury soap refill.' I've yet to try the Taylor but will give it a go when my current load of soap in my venerable Old Spice shaving mug depletes.

For years I carried a square cake of shaving soap when I was on travel from L'Occitane. It came in a neat little square aluminum box that packed well. That with a little travel brush served me well.
Top Bottom