The Great Safety Razor Experiment

Yes, the highlight of my weekend was shaving. It’s come to this.

After 20 years of hacking away my hirsute Middle European whiskers using Gillete Mach-Turbo-Exel-etc, I have decided to try something different. Over the weekend I made the change to an old fashioned double edge safety razor.


Why not?

I needed a new hobby, and running across the wet shaving subculture, I thought what the heck. So last weekend I did some online research, and went out onto Amazon and ordered a double edge safety razor, some shaving soap, and a shaving brush. It cost me about $40, or roughly the price of 6 months worth of Gillete Mach-Turbo-Exel blades. One of the great attractions to safety razors is the frugality. Also the aesthetics.

Behold, the Edwin Jagger DE89.

As an engineer, I love good, clean, simple design. The razor itself is three pieces, about as simple as could be. But hold it in your hand, and it feels solid. A smooth, chrome, nicely balanced piece of metal that will outlive me. There’s something reassuring about buying something that could be passed on for generations and never wear out.

I spent a few hours doing research on the proper technique to using the thing, lest I end up having a Frank Pentangeli / Godfather moment. And after three days I have to say, it is definitely an art. Not the sort of thing you want to do with your eyes half closed.

But I also have to say, I can totally understand the fascination with it. Lathering up with a badger hair brush, and bay rum scented soap makes me feel like a character out of a Sherlock Holmes story. But it’s not just the Steampunk aesthetic, it’s also the luxuriant indulgence of it all. A ritual complete with it’s own tools. It doesn’t get anymore satisfying than that.

Genuine Badger Hair Shaving Brush

Yes, I’m getting old. Next I’ll wax poetic about oil changes.

I figure if I dress like a Grandpa, I might as well shave like one. Did I mention that the blades are 10% of the price of the Gillete-Mach-Turbo-Exels? Nothing is more “manly” than being frugal.

Even though there are a lot of websites out there catering to this hobby, the tools are impossible to find anywhere in town. It’s ironic that to shave like a Victorian you need to have internet access to order your supplies.

1940 - Truck drivers shaving at truck stop on U.S. 1 - photo by Jack Delano - LOC

So the great Double Edge Safety Razor shaving experiment has begun. Please try to contain your excitement.

Stay tuned, later in the week I’ll be writing blog posts on the price of gas at the various stations around town.

19 thoughts on “The Great Safety Razor Experiment

  1. Little did you know that good old Frankie Five Angels is one of my all time favorite Godfather characters. Although Hymen Roth and Tom Hayden aren’t running too far behind.
    Anyway, your razor is most impressive but have you ever considered giving it a two week break to realize your bearded potential? No one appreciates facial hair anymore.

    • Beards seem to be having something of a Renaissance, I see more of them around these days. I’ve thought about it, but never really given it a try beyond the one week mark. I never quite make it past the terrorist look to reach the fuzzy muppet face. Maybe someday.

  2. You had me at “frugality.” That’s definitely a bedroom word in this household. I think you’ve just given me an idea for the husb for Valentine’s Day. But I shall stay tuned to see how your face feels about the change . . .

    • 4-days in and I’m getting the hang of it. Only cut myself once, and didn’t even need a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.

      If you do decide to get him one for Valentine’s, some of the shaving sites sell starter gift sets, but they are kinda overpriced.

      The basics he’d need can be found for a lot less $ via Amazon.

      Double Edge Razor w/set of blades – $30 – $35 (Go with Parker, Merkur, or Edwin Jagger. All reasonably priced, and good quality)

      Badger Hair Shaving Brush – $12 (Make sure you get Badger, and not Boar’s hair)

      Shaving soap – $4-15 (There’s a bazillion different creams, and soaps for shaving, Pick something cool and “manly” looking. Also something you like the smell of)

      Alum block antiseptic – $8

      They also sell bowls, and mugs for the soap, but honestly, I just use one of my coffee mugs.

      • Wow, thanks for the info! And the badger hair . . . it’s killing me you know. You’re so tough, you shave with badger hair and don’t give a shit. I still love the honey badger video.

        • I don’t actually use a brush. Instead I keep a live honey badger around, and pick it up, dip it in the sop, and rub it on my face. Nothing better than struggling with a vicious weasel to wake you up in the morning. Bracing!

    • I got an electric razor for Christmas when I was 16. It worked great until I started actually having facial hair to shave.

      Think of the safety razor as vintage Campy components. They may not be the most efficient technology, but they are definitely the most beautiful, and there is more to life than efficiency.

  3. Wait — there’s a wet shaving subculture?!


    My husband shaves, wetly. But now that I think of it, my son uses the electric…

    Hmmm. Yet another thing I’ve never really thought about…


    • On the interwebs, there’s a subculture for everything except transgender-elephant-pron. I think. At least I never googled it.

      (resisting urge to google it.)

  4. One of my favorite memories of my dad was his shaving routine and tools. He had the badger brush and the round soap and I’ll bet he would have loved that classy chromie piece of engineering.


  5. At this juncture I would Ike to point out that even though a badger is dangerously close to another brown woodland creature I have YET to make a bad joke about that shaving brush.
    I’d like some recognition of this fact because my insides are SCREAMING for me to type it out.

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