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The DE Buyers Guide....

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DE, DE, which one for me?

This is the tune nearly all of us have hummed at one point… so many options, so little information, and such a price difference! Who wants to buy a well built implement that will last generations, only to find out they over/under bought, or just plumb purchased the wrong razor for their wants, needs, and desired effect? Well – I aim to clear up some confusion, and give you the knowledge to venture forward with the purchase of the RIGHT double edge razor for your wants and needs.

First off – What are your wants, desires, and end goals? Some of you may be fighting a horrid ingrown hair problem, where as others might be getting severe irritation from conventional products/methods, or the last group… wanting the closest possible shave. Before you read any further – stop and truly think about what your desired goal is. ANYONE can get a perfectly baby butt smooth face, the distinction is how long it will take them to do so, and how torn up their face will be. There must be a balance between closeness and comfort/irritation. Also, keep the size of the razor in mind… if you are a very large individual, a tiny razor is not going to be as effective, as it will be hard to hold and control and you will inadvertently apply too much pressure, and have miserable shaves. Conversely, if you are a smaller individual, a large razor will be a bit too unwieldy, be too large for you hands/face and be a bit laborious.

Adjustable or Fixed head?
There is no real NEED for an adjustable razor, however with an adjustable razor – you are armed with the ability to essentially make the razor “mimic” other razors. If you wish for an incredibly close, aggressive shave, you can dial the razor in accordingly; just as you can dial it down and have an incredibly comfortable, smooth (yet not baby’s butt smooth) shave. Many of us do not want to fumble with adjustments, and typically end up sticking to one “medium” not so aggressive setting on an adjustable anyways – so adjustable, at least for me is not a major selling point in my eyes. Fixed head razors, in my opinion tend to be a bit more rigid, and provide a more consistent shave, are far less prone to break or “loosen up” and are far less expensive. It boils down to the type of person you are… if you truly feel you would get so involved as to change settings on different passes, etc – then the adjustable razor might be your ticket! Remember – the best is NOT always the most expensive.

Razor by Razor “review/comparison”
So you know you want a DE, but are still not sure which one? Here are several examples of DE’s that are currently in production, and can be readily purchased at specialty stores on via the internet.

FIXED HEADED RAZORS….

Merkur Classic HD
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I would recommend this razor for EVERYONE. Aggressive enough to get a superb shave, but delicate enough to make it difficult to really make hamburger out of your face. A wonderfully comfortable, balanced and easy to use tool. This razor is perfect for those who have normal to sensitive skin, and a light to moderate beard. It can and will work well for those with tougher beards, but there are better solutions out there for you tougher bearded fellas, so keep reading. This razor is also quite reasonably priced, and will provide you with generations of use. Only complaint? The razor is a bit small. The long handle might be a better option for some of us bigger guys….
Razor Stats
Handle Length: 2.65in
Beard: Light to Medium
Skin Type: Sensitive to Normal
Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced
Level of aggression (1-5): 2

Merkur Slant Bar
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If the HD or Classic won’t cut it, this ugly beast is your ticket. This is in my opinion the most effective shaving device (save for a straight razor) and happens to be my favorite DE razor. Baby butt smooth shaves with zero irritation – but it does come at a cost. This razor has quite an aggressive stance, and if used improperly, or by an unskilled hand, will cause TREMENDOUS damage to your face. So long as you keep it slow, steady and apply ZERO pressure, you should be fine. If you do NOT have an incredibly thick, tough beard, this is not needed, and a Merkur classic/HD should do the trick just fine. If used correctly this is an incredibly effective tool, and CAN be incredibly easy on the skin. Great size and weight, but a bit small for those of us with large hands.
Razor Stats
Handle Length: 2.65in
Beard: Heavy to Werewolf
Skin Type: Normal to Leather Tough
Skill Level: Advanced
Level of aggression (1-5): 5


ADJUSTABLE RAZORS…

Merkur Progress
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The Progress is just one of those all around fantastic tools, and I highly recommend it to beginners. Good size, weight, adjustments, built well, bulletproof. This is the “Honda” of razors, just gets the job done, does not make any lofty claims or excuses. It isn’t the closest shaving razor, it isn’t the best looking razor, and it isn’t the most comfortable or luxurious, but it is superb, and it is a fantastic deal. This razor can be dialed down to work wonders for those with a light to medium-tough beard, and sensitive to normal skin. The handle is a touch on the short side, but it is large enough to work acceptably for those with large hands.
Razor Stats
Handle Length: 3in
Beard: Light to Medium/heavy
Skin Type: Sensitive to Normal
Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced
Level of aggression (1-5): 2-4

Merkur Futur
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The futur is an interesting tool. It has an incredibly heavy handle, with a light head. Very awkward and prone to slip when gripped with a wet hand. This razor sports an impressive range of adjustments and is highly effective – but it is strange to use, and not much entertainment or elegance to it. The blade loading and unloading mechanism is TERRIBLE, as it is cheap, and quite dangerous. Some are quite fond of the Merkur futur, but it is my opinion the Merkur Progress is a much better razor, and is less costly, so I do NOT recommend the futur.
Razor Stats
Handle Length: 3.5in
Beard: Light to Heavy
Skin Type: Sensitive to Tough as leather
Skill Level: Advanced
Level of aggression (1-5): 3-4

Merkur Vision
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The “bad boy” of the Merkur adjustable line. This thing is a monster, and provides the widest array of adjustments, the greatest handle size, the best weight distribution and the coolest “look.” Although it is quite pricey, I feel it is a superb razor, and with its lifetime warranty, it is more of an “investment” compared to the aforementioned razors. This razor is superb for both the beginner (with the ability to REALLY dial it down) and for the advanced “baby face” junkie as this thing can be opened up to REALLY and I mean REALLY get serious. A vision opened to its widest setting is an incredibly fearsome force. This is a fantastic razor as it give you “growing room” so a beginner never has to worry about needing more firepower.
Razor Stats
Handle Length: 4in
Beard: Light to werewolf
Skin Type: Sensitive to Tough As Leather
Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced
Level of aggression (1-5): 1-5

OVERALL
No one razor is truly perfect for everyone…. Choose wisely, but my suggestion is to start with a Merkur Classic HD, and if you ever feel the need for a closer, more aggressive shave, upgrade to a Merkur Slant Bar.

Just remeber... take your time and buy the right razor.... just look at the size difference of the two "bad boys"
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Big difference from razor to razor... if you have any questions feel free to tack them onto this thread!
 
Joel, great post! Always learn alot from your write-ups. Really appreciate all of the info you provide on this forum. :thumbup1:
 
rtaylor61 said:
Joel,

Great job. Any plans to do a review of Gillette and/or injectors?

Randy


Gotta be honest with you.... I am not a fan of Gillette razors - I find them medeocre at best, and I have only used one injector - and was not over impressed either. Dunno what it is, but can't get a superb shave with a Gillette DE.
 
Great post Joel. I feel the same way about the Gillettes. I think they're just too tame. That might be OK for a newbie, but it loses its appeal after a while, and it becomes frustrating to get close.

I've had my Futur for 40 years and I have always thought it was too harsh. I didn't have the benefit of this kind of site when I first started with it, and it took a long time before I could get past a 3. I think it should go up to 5 in aggressiveness.

One thing that might be of interest is that the slant and Futur are transformed by Feather blades. They both become much smoother, and even closer shavers. The slant becomes unbelievably smooth and can (must) be used with the lightest touch. They are only for those with advanced shaving technique. On repeated tests, both of them shave closer than a str8 for me. Chris Moss has found the same thing.

People are also experimenting with cutoff Feather blades in injector razors. This proves to be an amazing combination, shaving incredibly close with the lightest touch. I use it as a touch up razor and it can improve on a str8, because it is so maneuverable.
 
guenron said:
Hi Joel,
:em2300: Well done, but where are the toothed comb razors and the long handle? Come on Joel! No review is complete without these two. RAD must be radical!

Ron,
I have used a few open combs, and don't think they are too notable... nothing all that special. I haven't actually used a long handle, but I wouldn't mind having one. Care to donate? :biggrin:
 
Joel,

Just to add to your excellent review of the Merkur HD Classis. The HD stands for "Heavy Duty", and it does have some "heft" to it. If for no other reason, I believe that alone makes this an ideal razor for beginners. It was my first DE, and is my "go to" razor. With it's weight, it makes using "no pressure" easy. The weight of this razor alone will aid in a great shave. And as far as the handle length, at first I felt like a longer handle would be better, but now feel that it is fine the way it is, and I am definitely a bigger guy!

Great description of this fine product!

Randy
 
I no longer recommend the HD to newbies. I recommend the Progress, because it makes it possible to turn the exposure way down, making it easier for them to get started. I think they need to maximize their chances of success, don't you?

rtaylor61 said:
Joel,

Just to add to your excellent review of the Merkur HD Classis. The HD stands for "Heavy Duty", and it does have some "heft" to it. If for no other reason, I believe that alone makes this an ideal razor for beginners. It was my first DE, and is my "go to" razor. With it's weight, it makes using "no pressure" easy. The weight of this razor alone will aid in a great shave. And as far as the handle length, at first I felt like a longer handle would be better, but now feel that it is fine the way it is, and I am definitely a bigger guy!

Great description of this fine product!

Randy
 
Joe,

As much as I always value your input and opinion, this time I would disagree. Only for one reason. When learning wet shaving, technique is key. Keeping things the same is important. And if given the option, someone new, who experiences 2-3 improved shaves in a row, will immediately start tampering with the settings. So, if they start at 2 and get good shaves, will they then turn the setting up to it's maximum? My guess is that they will! It's like aspirin. If 2 help with a headache, 10 will eliminate it! Although I don't have a Progress (yet), I believe it offers too many variables. I have come to the opinion, based on my experience, that someone new should start with one razor, one cream or soap, and stay with it for at least a month. This will allow for learning. Experimentation can come later. Definitely just my opinion, and no disrepect to you for your opinion.

Randy
 
I agree with what you say, but I have more confidence in users. Although they might do what you say, when they run into trouble, they'll know why, hopefully by reading posts like this. If not, whe they come asking for help, we can tell them why, but at least they will have experienced some success.

In the mean time, I've found that too many newbies fail because the HD is too aggressive, and they give up in frustration. Having the option to start at a 1 or 2 instead of 3.5 can often make the difference between failure and success in learnng the right technique. We're each an experiment of one. I can only tell you that you're one of the lucky ones.

What turned me around on this is all the reading and e-mail on method shaving. They put a newbie right on a Progress with Feather blades! And they have a pretty good success rate with difficult problems. So, my thinking is that just on a statistical basis, I can help a lot more people by suggesting a Progress with a tamer blade like a Merkur and a starting setting of 2 for a month. They still have the option of dialing down if necessary.

rtaylor61 said:
Joe,

As much as I always value your input and opinion, this time I would disagree. Only for one reason. When learning wet shaving, technique is key. Keeping things the same is important. And if given the option, someone new, who experiences 2-3 improved shaves in a row, will immediately start tampering with the settings. So, if they start at 2 and get good shaves, will they then turn the setting up to it's maximum? My guess is that they will! It's like aspirin. If 2 help with a headache, 10 will eliminate it! Although I don't have a Progress (yet), I believe it offers too many variables. I have come to the opinion, based on my experience, that someone new should start with one razor, one cream or soap, and stay with it for at least a month. This will allow for learning. Experimentation can come later. Definitely just my opinion, and no disrepect to you for your opinion.

Randy
 
Been doing this for a couple months. Bought an HD from Charles.....

It has been easy to learn thanks to this forum and SMF too. I have very sensative skin and a beard made of steel cables....I find the HD is easy for me to get the baby butt smoooooth shave in two passes.

Also, I am 6'4" and 210 pounds. The size of the handle was hard at first, but I am used to it now and find it perfect. Makes it easier to get under the nose and around the jaw line.I think the shorter handle gives excellent feedback and makes a more precise shave due to better "feel."

At any rate, I am very pleased with the HD. More than I thought. If I ever go for anything else in the razor world, it would be a slant bar. But until then, SCAD is here to stay!
 
After reading it, I was glad that I purchased the HD as my first (and to this point, only) DE razor. I am also new to DE shaving and the Merkur HD was my first experience. I certainly had a few false starts, but no visible scars and within 1 week felt very comfortable with it. If I had bought the Progress, there is no doubt I would have been one of those that pushed the razor to it's max before I knew how. The fact that I was careful and read the suggestions on this site seemed to be very helpful to me. I would also not shy away from recommending the HD to a newbie.
 
I have to admit that when I got my Merkur I was a young wippersnapper and tried to dial it up the first time, just like you think you might have done. But anyone with sense backs off pretty quickly. It's not a pleasant sensation when you don't know what you're doing, and you do know why it's not working for you.

EcoRick said:
After reading it, I was glad that I purchased the HD as my first (and to this point, only) DE razor. I am also new to DE shaving and the Merkur HD was my first experience. I certainly had a few false starts, but no visible scars and within 1 week felt very comfortable with it. If I had bought the Progress, there is no doubt I would have been one of those that pushed the razor to it's max before I knew how. The fact that I was careful and read the suggestions on this site seemed to be very helpful to me. I would also not shy away from recommending the HD to a newbie.
 
Joel:
Thanks for the informative guide. Also, i never did get a chance to thank you and Bernd for the SMF brush, which i am very happy with.
Regards,
Mahesh
 
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