Shaving Sense/Cents: Double Edge Safety Razors

By GreenUp! Community Blogger – Tice

The first safety razor was invented in the late 18th century, but to spare you from the complete history of them, we’re going to jump forward to the most popular safety razor created by King Camp Gillette.  Gillette saw the money making value in selling products that could be used a few times and disposed of, so he refined the safety razor design at the turn of the 20th century.  In addition to his razor design, he created thin, inexpensive, disposable blades of stamped steel.  Originally produced of carbon steel, the razors rusted rather quickly, so consumers went through them just as fast.  When an English company produced stainless blades of the same design, they could be used until they were dull, so Gillette was forced to follow suit to remain competitive.

Throughout the years, there have been various razor producers, however the two most popular in the United States are Gillette and Schick, who both continue to dominate the razor market.  As I mentioned in my prior introduction, consumers are spending upwards of $3 to $4 each for the current disposable cartridges!  Here is the exciting part.  Double Edge, or DE safety razor blades are still being produced, and you can buy a hundred of them for the cost of a 4 pack of Gillette Fusion blades!  Now I’ve gotten a little bit ahead of myself by spilling the beans on the razor blade cost, so let’s take a step back and look at what razor options you have to use with these inexpensive blades.

For many years, I have been using Gillette branded products, starting with the complimentary Excel I received in the mail when I turned 18.  Of course, that eventually evolved into the Mach 3, followed by the Fusion, with each cartridge becoming more expensive than the other.  After I discovered my father’s safety razor, instead of selling it that day on Ebay, I bought 10 DE blades to give it a try.  While I was a tad intimidated at first not knowing what to expect, I ended up getting a super close shave equally as good as what I was getting from the 3 and 4 blade siblings.  Impressed with the shave, I started doing research on razors and blades, and I discovered how using a shave brush with non aerosol soaps or creams was better than using the popular canned creams and gels, but I will cover that later.  I also discovered the various brands and styles of DE safety razors that are currently being produced, and some are really impressive pieces!

Before I get in to my recommendations, I want it to be clear that both men and women can use safety razors.  I also am not asking any of you to go out and spend a fortune on a razor, because it isn’t necessary.  It’s a very personal purchase, because you should buy what suits your taste and budget, and it may take a little bit of trial and error to find the right razor.  You will find two popular styles of DE safety razors, the 3 piece, and the TTO (twist to open).  Some TTO’s are adjustable as well, so those with sensitive skin or even moles may want to be able to adjust the aggressiveness of your shave.

If you want to be green and re-love an old razor, check out antique stores, Ebay, Etsy, or the classifieds on Badger & Blade.  I’ve seen vintage 3 piece razors and TTO’s go for less than $10.  If you want to go with a vintage adjustable (which is my current preference), they can run anywhere between $10 and $40 for a Gillette Slim Adjustable (pictured above right).  The Gillette Fatboy Adjustable can get up to $75+.  Ladies, there are vintage Kewtie razors as well as a very chic Gillette TTO with a cool 60’s design.  Note:  If you do buy a vintage razor, be sure it is shave ready (cleaned and sanitized).  If it is not, then you can learn how to do it yourself here or here.  If you want to purchase new, there are some super nice razors being made by Merkur, Muehle, Parker, Edwin Jagger, Goodfella, and Classic Shaving.  Please contact me if you would like store recommendations, because I have too many to list.

Once you pick your weapon of choice, you will need blades.  Please DO NOT purchase a 100 count box of any single brand!  It is important that you try different blades to see which ones you like.  If you are trying this out with friends, chip in and get a sampler pack together to save a few bucks, then buy bulk blades of your liking.  The beauty of the DE blades is that not only are they inexpensive, they are recyclable and bio-degradable.   From the blogs and posts I’ve been reading on blades, most people claim to get 3-5 shaves o
ut of each blade, some longer.  Use them until they are no longer sharp and comfortable.  I advise you to look at Youtube videos, as well as forums on Badger & Blade for more info on how to shave with a DE safety razor.

Let’s get to the cents part of this and work some numbers.  For the sake of making this simple, let’s assume you get 5 days of shaving out of your blade, regardless of type.  That’s about 72 blades annually.  Multi-blade cartridges at $3 each will cost you $216 and DE blades at .15 cents will cost less than $11!  Okay, so what’s the catch?  Honestly, there isn’t really a catch to this at all.  There is a learning curve, and it may take you a little more time to shave, but it is so enjoyable!  When I lather up my face with a badger brush and use the wonderful scented soaps and creams I have now, shaving is a much more pleasurable experience.  I get a baby butt smooth shave and there’s no way I’m going back to the multi blade cartridges!   I hope this helps you understand your options for shaving and that you can see the value in saving money on something you do frequently.  In my next post, we will cover shaving creams, soaps, gels, brushes, and mugs.  Again, don’t hesitate to contact me directly with any questions at tice75@yahoo.com.

Happy Shaving! – Tice

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