A Closer Look at the Mach3: Going Back After DE Shaving

I’ve said from the start that I didn’t switch to double-edge (DE) shaving from a cartridge razor because I was unhappy with the shaves I was getting.  For me, the switch was almost entirely about money, and a little bit about the “cool” factor.  This week I ordered six new brands of razor blades, sort of a do-it-yourself sampler pack I cobbled together, and though it’s most expensive to order them in small quantities rather than a bulk purchase of a single brand I still only paid $15 for about 30 weeks worth of razors.  Not too shabby.

Since it will take a few days for them to arrive, it seemed like a good opportunity to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a few months: try out the Mach3.

This seems a bit silly on it’s face because I’ve used one for over a decade (with a Fusion thrown in here or there).  What don’t I know?  The answer is that while, yes, I’ve got years of experience using one, I’ve never had anything to compare it to.  Things are different now, so this week I’m using a cartridge razor again (luckily I had one laying around for the last ten or eleven months).

There likely will not be an official review of it, though I may do so if I feel so inclined.  Rather the point has been to remind myself what it is like, so I can draw better comparisons when people ask me about the difference.  Thus far I’ve noticed several things:

It feels light and cheap.  I’ve grown used to a heavier, metal razor.  Going back to plastic just feels weird and flimsy.

It’s not  much of a time saver.  The prep time remains the same, the type of razor you’re using doesn’t change whether you’re using foam from a can or mixing your own lather.  Actually shaving is slightly quicker, but making two passes the time difference is probably only a few minutes at most.

It’s easier to miss spots.  The cartridge doesn’t seem as effective at removing lather, leaving a good amount of watery slop, which makes it difficult to see spots you’ve missed.  Consequently, I ended up missing spots that I normally (but not always) get with a DE blade.

The shave is less consistent than I remember.  Some spots get wonderfully smooth, primarily my cheeks and mustache area.  But my neck and chin, where there is more definition, are a toss up.  Parts are smooth, others have a fair amount of stubble remaining even after a two pass shave.  It’s not a bad shave, it’s perfectly suitable for a day, but it is by no means great.

Finally, it just doesn’t feel as good.  The shave itself is dull and simple, while the stubble that’s left and whiskers that grow back feel…weird.  Whereas DE shaving results in a scruff that feels like a good sandpaper, the Mach3 results in a pokey, inconsistent sharpness.  It’s not uncomfortable, but it’s noticeably different and not in a good way.

My thoughts thus far are decidedly “eh.”  While I didn’t switch to DE shaving because I was unhappy with the shave or the experience I was getting from a cartridge, those seeds have now been planted.  Having been where the grass is both greener and cheaper (though admittedly more difficult to get to, simply because few grocery or drug stores carry the items in any variety, if at all), I’m simply not impressed with the results I’m getting.  I’ll certainly use cartridges in the future, they do have some advantages and I don’t hate them.  Plus, there’s a heck of a lot of variety out there so maybe some other brands or models are better. 

But I now have another reason to keep using a DE razor, for me they simply shave better.

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4 comments

    1. I’ve been using an Edwin Jagger de89L, working through blades to see what brands I like.

      Ultimately, its just hard to feel satisfaction with the cartridge. There is so little effort or skill required, with so little difference in the shave it can give, that the result is just sorta what it is regardless of how attentive or good you are.

  1. I rotate between a high-end Panasonic electric used wet in the shower, a Parker DE, an injector and a number of cartridge razors. Before I started using electrics a few years ago, I had long used an American Safety Razor 3-blade store-brand cartridge on a Sensor handle. Less than a $1 per cartridge and good for 10 shaves on my face if treated right.

    I still have it in the rotation. I enjoy the old-school shave and ritual of the DE and injector, but they simply take too long much of the time. I can get a shave more consistent with the Panasonic if I follow it up with a disposable 2-blade razor to get everything blade close and any rough spots. It produces no irritation.

    Using a manual tool with an electric might seem stupid to some or demonstrate the failing of the electric, but the combo takes 5 minutes tops, and gives great results.

    I could skip the disposable and still look fine but it would not be BBS everywhere, especially the neck.

    The DE, which I am getting decent at, takes 15-20 minutes and is less consistent than the cartridge razor, whether that is an 1980s Atra, 1990s Sensor or 2000s Schick Quattro. The injector works pretty well, but is still slower than the cartridge.

    I enjoy the ritual, but just don’t want to take the time every day.

    1. I’ll usually skip at least one day a week, but the ritual has become as valued to me as the result. I like the way it starts the morning, a good transition between rest and active.

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