When it comes to using the double edge safety razor and suitable blade, there is one thing that you will discover sooner or later.
no best razor blade is universally good for everyone.
Which double edge razor blades are best? is a very common question I see and hear. And really who can we blame. We simply don’t want to make a decision that we would regret. I have written this post based on my experience and I will show you how to find the best safety razor blades, without wasting money and time, so you can make an informed decision as to what blades to buy.
What’s the issue with best of blade lists?
What led me to this post was seeing the advice given on search engines first pages and it was mostly in the form of ’Top X best razor blades’ articles. And I was thinking that, if any new wet shaver follows these top blade lists they will give up the fun of traditional shave too quickly.
When it comes to traditional wet shaving there is no one size fits all solution. I bet if you did a word count in any shaving related forum the abbreviation YMMV (your mileage might vary) is among the top frequently occurring terms. Some variables are unique to the shaver and his setup.
By setup I mean, safety razor of your choice, the blade in there, your shaving technique and finally the most important, your stubble. I deliberately left out the software, like shaving soap or cream. Even water plays a role in this equation.
Consider a double-edge razor as a professional tool, not in a sense of complexity, but rather a tool that allows flexibility and more control. Flexibility to use the tool in different circumstances. The same holds true with de razors, it allows us to adjust it to our specific needs – to our beard, making the shaving much smoother, enjoyable and skin friendlier.
Most mass-produced cartridge razors need to cater for a wide spectrum of men. Hence, they have an optimal setup where all the features meet in the middle ground. But have you ever met a person who, in statistical terms, is the average (optimal) person?
There are men with sensitive skin, coarse and thick beard, some who use Merkur razors with corresponding DE blades and others preferring the looks of the MÜHLE. Many factors make every one of us unique and in wet shaving, we use and often suggest – use what is best for you.
So asking someone the question, are Treet blades good, would be as pointless as to ask if strawberries are good.
I could go on and on, but I’m sure that you are already starting to see the issue with these best safety razor blades to buy lists.
For those who want to go even deeper, I highly recommend Michael Ham’s book – Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving the Double-Edge Way. He has dedicated a whole chapter to choosing a blade and there is a vast amount of practical advice for any novice shaver.
But how do you define the best blade?
In short, I would say based on my experience that in the end, we are all looking for a blade that our senses perceive as efficient. It is not important if the best blade is sharp or one coating is better in terms of durability or glide. The best in regards to razor blades can be split into the following three factors.
That is your skin, razor and your technique. Finding a balance between those three factors will result in an efficient, enjoyable shave. Change any factor within these three and you end up with a new palette. The shave should be effortless and the razor should glide smoothly without any irritating feel, like tugging, pulling or after shaving discomfort, like razor burn. So you will be looking for a blade that is smooth and efficient to you and you only.
I understand that it is hard to grasp for the novice or even for some seasoned wet shavers, that picking a double edge blade that is excellent in your eyes might be completely opposite for another shaver. Especially if you are used to a disposable razor.
Let’s take an example of blade sharpness. Many men assume that it is the sharpest blade that is the best. Therefore they start searching for the sharpest blade and land on Feather blades.
After a week of using the Feather, they tell their fellow peers at the shaving group, that they only got a few tiny weepers but otherwise the result was smooth as the skin of a baby. Without realising that these small nicks are in fact a result of a too sharp blade and/or sometimes a shaving technique that needs improvement.
Interestingly, our opinion of the same blade could change over time. I remember when I started using a double edge or DE razor, in short, I really liked Astra blades. And these were also considered somewhat universally efficient blades in different shaving forums and groups.
When I revisited the Astra’s about a year later they did not feel as efficient anymore, and I was using the same Rockwell razor, proving the importance of shaving technique. Which improves with time and practise.
Testing – The only viable way for find good razor blades
Proper advice the seasoned wet shaver and frequent user of double edge blades could give to anyone starting to explore different blade brands, is to test them. Yes, it’s that simple.
The best way to test different blades and to find the one that matches your expectations is to buy a blade sample set. The sample pack we have put together, includes 12 different brands, including blade brands like Astra, Derby, Feather, Wilkinson Sword, Gillette to name a few.
How to properly test safety razor blades?
Always buy a sample pack that includes several blades of the same brand, like the variety pack I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Otherwise, you will be testing the blade and not an actual brand. Give each brand a fair trial.
Test using the same razor, otherwise, you will add another variable to the mix and can’t draw any meaningful conclusions. Remember, it’s the best performing blade you are looking for and not the razor.
Something to know: double-edge blades are almost always sharper on a second shave.
To get the best and comparable results, follow these three steps for finding a suitable razor blade:
- Stick with one brand for a month. This way you really learn to know the blade, improve your shaving technique, and have a solid foundation for comparison. After a month you are ready to move on and see if the shave can be improved.
- If after switching to a new brand, it feels smoother and more efficient, stick with it another 4 weeks before trying a new one. If the shave is not improved, switch back to your old best and continue using that.
- Keep testing, even when you think that you have found the blade. To find the best, one needs to experience the best shave. And there are tons of different brands in the market
By following these steps you are only comparing two blades at the time – your current best and the new blade.
I found that, after my shaving technique improved, I could actually decrease the 4 week testing period into two weeks, so I could go through more blades quicker and ultimately find a favourite blade.
One more thing, don’t throw away the unused blades that you found inferior, it can very well be that they are perfect with your next safety razor.
But what if I still like to have some objective and comparable information before I decide what blade to go with?
I totally understand that. We as humans need proof before we purchase anything, so we like to compare things. But as you already know the subject of choosing the best safety razor blades is subjective and subject to personal preferences.
Luckily for all the science geeks, the refined shaves blog has set up their little home lab to actually test the blade sharpens using special equipment. He has developed his own system to adequately compare the different blades and documented all his observations. As you will undoubtedly discover when reading his blade reviews, the sharpness does not always correlate with the feel of the shave nor make it a good one.
I hope you found the article useful, so go out and spread the information to any fellow wet shaver who might be looking to buy the razor blades and point them in the right direction of getting a blade sample pack.
Feel free to contact me or connect via Instagram or Twitter. Or simply add your questions and thoughts into comments. Shared knowledge is what makes your shaves better.
Are all double edge razor blades the same?
There are two parts to this question. First, they are the same, when it comes to their physical dimensions. Meaning they fit all modern double edge razors and are not proprietary to any specific brand.
The second part of the answer is that they are not the same in the context of how individual shaver perceives them. To illustrate it, there can be two men using the same blade brand from the same pack even and with the same type of safety razor. Yet they could have a totally opposite opinion of the concrete razor blade brand as to how they perceived the shave and a blade.
How often do you change double edge razor blades?
The answer to this question is not a simple one, and it depends on a few factors.
If shaving every day, then I would recommend changing your blade after about 5 shaves or sooner if you notice tugging or any form of discomfort. A dull blade is a sure call for skin irritation, ingrown hair and razor burn.
The somewhat typical frequency is about 2-4 shaves and is dependent on your facial hair. Coarse hair will dull the blade faster.
Some shavers take it a step further by drying the blade after every use. I personally haven’t noticed any difference in longevity by doing that.