Reviews

Edwin Jagger De89bl Safety Razor

An affordable DE razor, the Edwin Jagger De89bl gives a great shave and is a good choice for those just starting to learn to shave the old-fashioned way (which happens to also be the best way). By the way, if you’d like to learn how to use a safety razor, this is a good place to start.

This traditional double edge safety razor is fitted with the latest precision manufactured Edwin Jagger DE razor blade head creating great interest among experienced wet shavers requiring a close and accurate wet shave with finished results comparable to the original straight cut throat razor. The classic closed comb head, expertly engineered caps the highly polished chrome plated solid brass tubular handle with the Edwin Jagger name embossed around the collar. With an Edwin Jagger traditional double edge safety razor you can achieve a very close shave helping to reduce ingrowing hairs. Each DE razor is supplied with 5 Derby safety blades so the razor is shave ready.

Buy it here: Edwin Jagger De89bl Double Edge Safety Razor Chrome Plated

Edwin Jagger De89bl Safety Razor

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A Guide To A Good Life

Shaving: art versus design versus profit

Where’s the art?

When I think of shaving razors currently on the market, I think of cartoon fights where everyone pulls out a bigger gun. Razor companies are constantly trying to outdo each other with more blades. If it’s not the blades, then it’s a “microcomb”, or a vibrating handle… which brings all sorts of other imagery to mind, the kind that has nothing to do with shaving, unless you’re into weird fetishes.

It’s the same kind of approach that software companies use these days. Their code gets so bloated, because they never take the time to clean it up, that all they can hope for is that hardware manufacturers can throw more RAM and MHz at the problem so they don’t have to optimize their code. Apple took a different approach with the Snow Leopard operating system: they took almost a year to clean it up, throwing out the junk. That’s why I admire Apple.

Made better through improved design? Not really.

On the other hand, companies like Gillette and their competitors lost sight of the art of shaving and figured everyone was a nitwit who couldn’t learn to shave properly and couldn’t take care of their razor, so they overdesigned their razors for the lowest common denominator. In the process, the razor became a plastic toy, not a tool, a crappy little thing you throw away instead of something you respect and maintain, because it keeps you looking civilized.

Designed for profit? Thank you sir, may I have another?

Because it became a throw-away toy, their profit margins increased. Because the razors no longer lasted a lifetime, they could sell more of them. You just look down the line of razor models from the Gillette over the years, and you’ll see they get more and more plasticky, with less metal parts. If they have metal in them, it’s not in the head (certainly not where the cartridges attach to the handle); that part needs to be plastic so it breaks after a while.

Don't let its flashy looks fool you. It just can't compare to a good safety razor.

The cartridges have started to cost more as well. A pack of eight cartridges for the Gillette Fusion ProGlide razor (the latest flashy gimmick from Gillette) runs about $30 at Amazon. That’s $3.75 per cartridge, and from my experience, they last about 3-4 shaves. By contrast, a pack of 60 assorted safety razor blades costs $18. That’s 30 cents per blade, and they last about 6-7 shaves. (By the way, I’d recommend that pack for those learning to shave with a safety razor, because it’ll let you try different brands to see which blades work best for your face.)

The real deal.

Wait, it gets worse

They also polluted the environment with all that disposable plastic crap. Now you throw away the razor, not just the blades. And the blades aren’t just steel, which is perfectly recyclable, but they’re plastic and metal, which is annoyingly difficult to recycle, because you need to separate the two materials from each other, and it’s just not worth the trouble.

It’s such a shame. I used to admire Gillette about 10 years ago, before I got disappointed with all the stuff they’re doing these days. I still shave with a classic Gillette Safety Razor, pictured below. I still keep my grandfather’s Gillette Heavy Duty Safety Razor, and plan to use that when my own breaks down. Things used to be simple and beautiful. Where did they go wrong?

The classic Gillette safety razor.

If you’d like to learn how to shave properly, check out my wet shaving guide. And there’s also a video, embedded below.

Image of ProGlide Razor courtesy of Gillette. Image of Merkur Heavy Duty Safety Razor courtesy of Wikipedia.

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A Guide To A Good Life, How To

How to shave with a safety razor – the video

In December of 2005, I wrote an article on wet shaving. Back then, there wasn’t a lot of shaving advice on the internet — at least none I could find. So I wrote the article with the sincere desire to help others like me, who were having a tough time with disposable razors and electric razors, and with constantly irritated faces and necks. For me, it got so bad at times that my whole face and neck would just bleed from every pore, every time I took a razor to my face. It was crazy.

What worked for me then was using a Gillette Mach 3 Razor, because I didn’t know better. I would use a safety razor from time to time, just to troubleshoot where my shaving techniques needed improving. Since then, I graduated to using the safety razor all the time. What helped me improve my shaving technique was watching mantic59‘s videos on YouTube about three years ago. I was really glad to find him again today so I could link to his videos. I haven’t seen them since, and I wasn’t sure if he was still around.

Now that it’s been more than a few years since I wrote the original article, I thought I’d update it with a how-to video on wet shaving with a safety razor, where I show how a typical shave goes for me. I shot the video in 720p HD, with the wonderful Olympus PEN E-P2. My wife acted as my trusty camera-woman.

Shaving is an art, and it has to be learned. It doesn’t come naturally to us. One’s shaving form must by necessity differ, depending on the type of shaving utensil used: straight blade, safety razor, disposable razor, electric razor, etc. For me, a safety razor is the perfect balance between sustainability and shave quality, and that’s what I’m going to talk about here and in the video.

A straight blade is too scary for me. There’s that potential of slitting one’s throat. A safety razor still gives you the benefit of shaving with a sharp blade, but this time it’s contained within an apparatus that won’t let it cut your throat. A disposable razor, whether it has one, two, three, four or five (who cares!) blades, doesn’t offer as good a shave, because it’s less maneuverable, it’s made to be even safer — or in this case, useless — and creates non-recyclable waste, thus polluting the environment.

Just think how many blades and handles you use every year — all of those end up in a landfill. They can’t be recycled, because the plastic can’t be separated from the steel. It’s waste that can be easily avoided. On the other hand, all you throw away from a safety razor is a thin steel blade, which is perfectly recyclable. The razor itself lasts practically forever, which is why the companies that make shaving products would rather you get the disposable stuff. I say consequences have to trump profits sometimes, even in a capitalist society.

And, as Cary Grant says in “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House”, I like a safety razor because “I prefer the clean sweep of tempered steel as it glides across my face.” Yes indeed, Cary, yes indeed.

I hope you enjoy the video and come away from it with a better appreciation for the art of shaving, and with a few tips that will help you get a better shave!

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