Double-edge safety razor.
What is it?
The preferred method of shaving from the 1880s until about the 1971, when the first cartridge razors came out. It's a shaving handle with a protective device between the skin and the edge of the blade and was seen as a step up from the straight razor when it was invented. The double edge safety razor is different from the single edge because both sides of the blade are exposed, doubling the acuteness of the surface doing the shave work.
How to use it:
"It's a good idea to start after a shower to relax the hair on your face, then apply shaving cream with a badger hair brush," says Baxter Finley barber Chris Ramos, who uses a safety razor regularly. "This will clean the skin of dead cells and lift the hair." Next, hold the blade at a 30 degree angle to your face. "Do not push into your face, let the weight of the handle do the work," he adds. As with other kinds of razors, you should always shave with the grain of your hair and never against, and use steady short strokes. "Shave the most troublesome parts of your face last to let the shave cream soak in longer."
How it works:
It works like a single blade cartridge, except it's easier to cut your face. That said, it turns out Grandpa's preferred method of shaving can be better for your skin than today's popular 2,3,4,5 and 6 blade cartridge razors. All those multi-glade razors can take off too much skin, according to board-certified dermatologist Peter D. Hino, who tells Mens Journal that he recommends safety razors to his patients, "especially for guys with ingrown hair issues and sensitivity issues."
Does it save?
Only if you commit to using a safety razor forever. The best models (include razor, brush and stand) can set you back about $250 right off the bat but they are durable and will be yours forever. We recommend the double edged safety razor from Baxter of California, which is made with rust resistant nickel plated brass and a 100% badger hair brush, and the new set from Jack Black, which has chrome base but a resin handle that will never fade as well as a ultra absorbent synthetic brush that doesn't use any animal hair. If those are too much to start with, try a classic chrome Merkur for just $48 and upgrade when you tire of cleaning it.
If you consider that replacement blades cost about one-fifth as much as cartridges, you should start seeing some ROI after one or two years (depending on how frequently you shave). And when it comes time to shop for blades, it's a good idea to start with a few different brands (Feather, Merkur, Astra, Derby) and see what works best for you. Not all are created equal, and since each person's skin and hair is a little different, it's tough to say which is the overall best. WestCoastShaving.com has a vast and varied selection of double-edge safety razors.
What we like:
Shaving with a sense of adventure and a connection to times of yore, but also the lack of ingrown hair and razor bumps afterwards.
What we don't like:
You have to use the badger shaving brush to apply the shave cream or the shave isn't as smooth. This means a little more time, not to mention pomp and circumstance, when all we want to do is get rid of our five-o'-clock shadow.