The first two questions I usually get when someone finds out I’m trying out traditional wet shaving are usually some form of “what is a double edge razor” and “why would you use one?” There are a lot of lists out there giving reasons to do it (less irritation, less ingrown hairs, etc). Here’s my story:
I knew about straight razor shaving, but aside from that I was neither aware nor concerned about other types of shaving out there until around the last year or so. My first hint was when a shooting buddy of mine mentioned on an internet forum that he used a double edge safety razor, which I’d never heard of before. So, like any inquisitive person my age, I googled it.
While safety razors (called such because it offered some protection from the blade unlike open straight razors) date back to the mid 1800’s, the double edge safety razor originated in 1903 when King (name, not title) Gillette patented the first design for one. Selling just a few dozen his first year, within three years his company would be selling more than 300,ooo.
The advantages were simple: it was harder to cut yourself, the blades were easy to replace and had no need of sharpening, and the double edge meant that you could shave twice as often between changing blades. Less work, more safety, more bang for your buck.
Shaving was cool for me right up until the time that I actually had to start doing it seriously, and then it got lame quick. It was time consuming, expensive, and generally annoying. When I found out about DE shaving though my interest was peaked for a simple reason, cost. While the start up cost would be more, the idea of not having to spend a ton of money on razor cartridges anymore was incredibly appealing. Buying my razor was justified to myself through reasoning that if it worked out I’d save a lot of money in the long run.
Since I’ve started though, cost has become a minor issue to me (though I still think it will be cheaper, which I’m quite happy about). Now, the two main reasons I’m doing it are that it gives me a much better shave, and it’s a lot of fun. The better shave part is simple: my shaves are closer, with less irritation (not that I had much before, but noticeable on cold days), and the shave last longer. With cartridges, by the afternoon my face was getting scruffy and by dinner if I wanted to look nice when going out I almost needed to shave again. A good shave now will almost last me until the next morning.
And, as I said, it’s just more fun. Why do people build computers rather than just buying one from the store, change their own oil, make workshops in their garage, or buy sewing machines? Among the reasons, because there’s satisfaction and enjoyment to be had from doing a job yourself. Watching something go from start to finish, building skills and talents so that the next time is better than the last, seeing a result and feeling personally connected to the result because of the effort and attention you put into it. Those are feelings you can’t buy, only earn, and they are worth having.
Shaving this way allows me to have those feelings every morning, and feel the results throughout the day. Shaving with a cartridge now just seems like bowling with the bumpers up.
So that’s why I’m doing this. Is it cheaper? Yes, for me I think it will be. Is it a better shave? Yes, for me I know that it is. Is it enjoyable? For me, absolutely. It’s turned a chore into an enjoyable ritual, what more could I ask for?