Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Shaving Update

Eight months ago I bought a 5 pack blade sampler from West Coast Shaving and I have barely made a dent in the 40 blades. I haven't even been sharpening them with the cool sharpener that Phoenix gave me. Originally I thought I would go through all of the blades once without sharpening to see how many shaves I got out of each and then run through the pack again to see how many times I could resharpen each type. Somewhere along the way I lost count and the rigors of my research went down the drain.

Here's a count of the blades I've used so far:
4 Derby ($0.20 ea. made in Turkey)
3 Dorco ($0.08 ea. - Korea)
2 Merker ($0.45 - Germany, note: these weren't in my sample pack but I had 3 left from my original gift and still have one left now)
Crystal Super + ($0.18 - Israel, note: I don't see on WCS anymore but I got the price from Amazon)
1 Gillette 7 o'clock blades ($0.34 - Russia)
1 Feather ($0.40 - Japan)

That's $3.00 for 13 blades used over 8 months. Gillette double blade cartridges are $1.37 each. The Fusion cartridges are $2.47 each and I don't think they'd give as many shaves. At this pace I won't have to buy blades again until April 2011.

I have learned a few things from these 8 months:
  1. My favorite blades are the Crystal Super +. They last a long time, are sharp but not too sharp like the Feathers. I also like the Derby blades and the Gillette 7 o'clocks. Merkers aren't worth the price and the Dorcos - well, see number two.
  2. I may throw away the rest of the Dorcos rather than suffer through another shave with them. They seem to start out dull and get duller quickly. Dull blades tend to nick more because they don't cut cleanly through the whiskers and deflect into the skin. They also tend to cause a rash more often. After a break I'll give them another chance, or keep them around for a year as a backup when I run out of everything else.
  3. Rinsing blades with alcohol after a shave can extend the life of the blade considerably. I guess one of the things that dulls blades as much or more than use is oxidation. The rubbing alcohol gets rid of the water and stops the oxidation that happens along the edge of the blade. Some people soak their razors in caster oil or in rubbing alcohol but I just give it a little squirt from a bottle I keep in the medicine cabinet.
  4. You don't have to buy an expensive razor handle get into wet shaving. The other day I used one of the old handles that Julia had collected in her travels and although it looks a little beat up and has a lighter feel than my Merker, it shaves just as well if not better. I think you can get these on Ebay pretty cheap. Or the RetroRazor could be a good option.

All told, I could not be happier having made the switch to the traditional double edge safety razor/wet shaving set up. I can't imagine ever going back to the over priced, over plastic, and at times hard to find cartridge type razors no matter how many blades they can glue to 'em.


  1. My husband couldn't agree with you more. I was inspired Christmas 2008 (by your blog) to get him a safety razor set up. And he adores it. We now live in rural Romania as Peace Corps volunteers. Those Gilette razors replacements are crazy expensive on our meager living allowance. But the Turkish safety blades are right in our budget. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. My husband and I both switched to safety razors many years ago when it dawned on me what an ecological disaster modern shaving is.

    He saved a heavy plastic, fancy-schmancy English shaving cream container from a Christmas gift and uses that with a natural soap and his brush for foam.

    For blades, I purchased a bulk pack of 250 Personna blades for around fifty-five dollars, with shipping sixty dollars, from a place called bestgroomingtools.com last year. That works out to twenty-four cents a piece. We've hardly made a dent in them.

    The good thing about the Personnas is that they're made in the US, so there is less carbon involved with shipping them to the US. They are also wrapped in paper, and are in a cardboard box- no plastic anywhere. I think with the number we've ordered, they may last for the rest of our natural lives.

    At any rate, we're not going back either, and the best advice I have for anyone contemplating wet shaving with a safety razor is take your time- the blades are "unforgiving", as my husband puts it. But every time I very carefully shave my legs, I still feel pretty good about contributing next to nothing in the landfill just to keep groomed. I'm considering the baking soda and vinegar shampoo method next.

  3. Before each use, if you strop the blade -- in the direction of least resistance only -- on a piece of denim, or on your jeans leg while you're wearing them, it will sharpen the blade noticeably and it will extend the life almost indefinitely. I saw this first on instructables.com and it really works! Recently, I've been stropping my razor on the towel around my waist after showering -- by just making a few long downward strokes before I shave and it is almost as good as using the jeans.

  4. Thanks for the tip Paula,

    I didn't know that there were any blades made in the USA anymore. I'll look into those in a year or so. As for taking a little extra time, yes that is important but I have to say that my speed has picked up quite a bit from when I started out.

    And daveronica I am glad your husband is enjoying his wet shave experience as much as I am! Peace Corps in Romainia sounds fascinating!

  5. Hey bruc33ef,

    I have heard of that and tried it too (although not consistently). I was actually going to post about it separately because I felt I was going on and on in this one. Yes, stropping on denim does work and it even works for the cartridge type blades. It's a great way to get more for your dollar and put less in the landfill.

    thanks for the tip!

  6. The Dorcos are TERRIBLE. I have sent them to my shop for what ever use they might be good for.... Love the blog......

  7. Amen to that Cosh! and thanks!

    Maybe I should make a post just about those worthless blades. I'd hate to think that someone new to wet shaving would try those first and think it was all like that.


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