For many, the Double Edge (DE) razor, or safety razor evokes a sense of nostalgia. Many of us recall our fathers and grandfathers shaving with them, and often we emulated their ritual alongside them with an empty razor and a face full of lather. The origin of the DE razor dates back over a century, when King C. Gillette patented the first safety razor. The true emergence of the DE razor came when Gillette was contracted to supply American troops in World War I, and soon the shaving industry was set on its course.
Why use a safety razor? In recent years, more and more hardware has been added to the disposable blade, as relentless marketing posits that the perfect shave requires that maximum amount of technology, when in fact the opposite holds true. At its most basic level, shaving with a DE is better for the skin than a cartridge due to the fact that instead of running multiple blades against the skin, only one is used, generating a fraction of the friction. Multiple passes only compound the benefit of a single blade, as adding a cleanup pass with the latest cartridge would generate an amount of friction similar to ten passes with a DE! Added benefits are less waste, and cost savings on blades over the life of the razor, with the most expensive blade being just over a dollar apiece.
DE razors are also a great alternative to straight razors - they’re easier to travel with, and make a great choice for those who prefer a tool with less day-to-day maintenance. While your author will always be firmly in the straight-razor camp, he loves his slanted DE, and won’t be parting with it soon.
In the present day, there are myriad manufacturers of both DE razors and blades, so the user is spoiled for choice and truly able to tailor their shave to their own personal style and taste. The sheer volume of options can be overwhelming, so to cut through the cacophony, we present you with five of our favorite DE razors.
Undoubtedly the most popular razor for those making their first foray into shaving with a safety razor, it is a blend of timeless style, function and German craftsmanship. Pairing a mild geometry (bend of the blade) with a longer knurled handle, the weight and proportions appeal to many, as it has a similarity and comfort to vintage razors that makes this one of the most often chosen for a first safety razor.
A totally different take on the Merkur brand, the 37C features a shorter handle for greater dexterity, and a slanted opening for the blade. A slant means that more blade is exposed on one side than the other, which means that it cuts more like a slice of a knife - or a guillotine, if you’ll forgive a more accurate but morbid comparison - than a ‘chop’. This makes it ideal for men with coarse, wiry beard hair.
As mentioned above, your author’s safety razor of choice is a slant. It allows for a closer shave more easily, but for most people, this is a safety razor they pick up after having learned how to shave comfortably with a more standard design. The slant requires you to slow down, and use as little pressure as possible, as the change in blade exposure from what you’re used to can make nicking yourself a little more of a risk. Be patient on your first few shaves with a slant, and you’ll have nailed the technique in no time.
Adding a splash of rose gold to one’s shave ritual just makes things better. That elegant colouration from copper blended with gold makes my heart skip a beat - just like when I shake a drink in my rose gold cobbler shaker. Made in England by Edwin Jagger, and following in the fine British tradition of impeccable shaving implements, the rose gold DE86 is no exception. Hefty in the hand and pleasing to the eye, you’ll have a lifetime of elegant shaves ahead of you.
One of our favourites here at Kent of Inglewood, the Rockwell 6S is a modern take on the adjustable safety razor. Born on Kickstarter, the 6S is a full stainless steel razor with three double-sided plates that allow the user to choose between six levels of blade exposure, making it either more mild or aggressive, thereby allowing the shave to be customized to the skin of the individual. Grand for those who shave different types of hair on their bodies, or sometimes shave once a day and sometimes shave twice a month. The heft of the razor is great for those of you who like some extra weight sitting on their skin. Plus - Rockwell is a Canadian company! Need we say more?
A marvel of Japanese engineering, the Feather AS-D2 was created with a singular purpose: to give the person wielding this safety razor with the sharpest, closest shave possible. Specially engineered to be used with the legendarily sharp Feather blade, the razor shaves so mildly, you’ll have trouble believing you’re shaving at all - except there will be less hair, and baby-smooth skin where your stubble used to be. If you’ve got sensitive skin, and find that the straight razor isn’t for you, the stainless steel Feather razor is the be-all and end-all of the comfortable, gentle, safety razor shave.
I hope this whirlwind tour through some of our favourite razors in the shop helps break you into the world of wet shaving - any one of these razors will guide you closer to a better shave.