Saturday, 5 July 2008

Normal programming will resume...

After this detour, although I guess it could be linked to my love of singlespeeds and fixies in its simplicity and efficiency.

I have been shaving for the last 15 years and despite trying most razors on the market I have struggled to find anything that fulfils my strict criteria:

a) Removes face fuzz
b) does not remove skin/blood/facial features

As I said I have tried everything from supermarket specials with one blade throw-aways to the fancy and heavily marketed / hyped cartridge units with an ever incereasing number of blades...they will end up with a "Mach 20" razor that resembles a cheese grater and is about the same size! Some of the supermarket specials were pretty good but the consistency was not there, one pack were super smooth and charp the next like shaving with a rusty bread knife. The multi blades all gummed up, dragged and removed lots of skin.

I needed a solution as shaving at night so my face could heal over night was wearing thin. I stumbled across "Badger and Blade" following on from a Wiki article and I discovered the world of Double Edged Safety Razors. They are what your Dad / Granddad used up until the 1980's. A thin double edged blade held in a solid metal handle (the Gillette are the most famous of this type) and used to carefully and with NO PRESSURE shave you face. Sure they need a little more thought than the numpty face rakes out there now but they do a better job and with much less irritation.

So a week after this revalation I bought a Murker HD razor, Taylors shaving soap, badger hair brush* and some Derby and Israeli blades. I also got 5 Merkur Palatinum blades free with the razor. So having read up on the "How to" on Badger and Blade I set to having my first "real" shave.

There is something very satisfying about using shaving soap, you get to whip up a lather in your old coffee mug and apply it while trying not to stuff the brush up your nostrils. Picking up the razor and applying it to my face the first time was slightly scary but once I had the correct angle the bristles never stood a chance. The trick is to shave with the grain of the hairs then lather up again and make a pass across the grain. Once you face is used to it (about a month) you can add an against the grain pass for a BBS** face.

While it does take longer than a regular wet shave and is best done after a hot shower / bath (unless you can wrap your face in a hot flannel for a few minutes) the whole job only takes about 15mins and the results are worth it.

The razors are pretty cheap for something that will last decades and probably be passed on to your children but the real clincher for me was the price of the blades. A pack of 10 Gillette platinum coated blades costs less than £5 and each blade is good for 5-8 shaves. When you have finished with it just pop the blade in a safe sharps-box (or a sweets tin with a slot in the top and lid taped on!) and you can always recycle them. Each blade is very different in character and you need to try several different types with your razor to find what works for you. The Murker Platinums were a bit "draggy" for me in the HD, the Derby a bit aggressive but the "cheap" Israeli blades were pretty sharp and smooth. The new Gillette Platinums are even better but require a little more care, esp on the first shave!

A good way to try them out is to get a sample pack from HERE and give them all a try and then buy in bulk the one that works best for you.

So it might seem a little antiquated compared to the fancy multi-blade cartridge razors out there but it is still about because it works, is cheap and gives better results. Things that have been forgotten in the race for the "next big thing"

OK, thats me done.


*Not UK / European Badger as they are protected, Asian ones that are eaten for food anyway and the pelts discarded.

**BBS = Baby Butt Smooth


Cellarrat said...

Mach 3 is what I've had the best luck with...

Have to do it in the shower though...

Thanks for the props on mtbr...

Seems I have a bulls eye on my forehead when I post on there or when buddies post on there...

I'll see about getting yah a copy at some point....

Alex said...

Hi Dave,

No worries about the props on MTBR, you deserve some recognition and some of those guys just sound like dweebs stuck behind a keyboard with internet-touretts!

I have tried the Mach3 and found the blades really incosistent and they clogged like mad even with shave oil.

Need to ditch the Gillette blades though, too many cuts even after 4 shaves with one blade :( Mind you at less than £1.50 for 5 its no great loss!