I know that a few of my readers may thumb their nose at me for the sentiments expressed above, but the Merkur 34C is, in my opinion, is not the best safety razor that Merkur makes. for a newbie. I have never liked mine, although I have tried, and I cannot see what all the fuss is about.
In fact there are two other Merkur models that I find bring much more satisfaction to a newbie. There are also still others in their line up that will also do better than the 34C as a first razor, but right now let’s focus on just two.
A blog is a great place for debate, and the free expression of ideas. So let me present to you what I think are Merkur’s two best beginner razors…….
In Second Place – The Merkur 33C – AKA “The Classic.”
I have several reasons to support my claim. Let’s take a look at the two razors side by side.
34C HD (Heavy Duty)
2.5 / 5 virtually identical blade gap between models.
2.5 / 5 virtually identical blade gap between models.
4 / 5
2.5 / 5
25% down the handle from the head
40% down the handle from the head.
The first comparison that comes to light is the marked efficiency between the two razors. Although the rating is subjective, simply put, efficiency refers to the ability of the razor to cut your whiskers at various different angles to your face. What it implies is that the 34C is in fact more difficult to use than the 33C. Also the 34C will use a lot more effort to shave with.
Ctually the blade gap between the two razors, though slighly different, with the 34C being infinitesmally more aggressive, you would never notice the small difference when shaving.
As far as balance is concerned, a balance point about 1/3 of the way down the handle is considered by many to be ideal. To its advantage for a newbie, the 33C Classic is head heavy in comparison to the 34C HD. Why this makes a difference is because we have found as a manufacturer, through a controlled study, that both experienced and newbie shavers will have less of a desire to press down on the head (the biggest sin of wet shaving….) on a head heavy razor.
As far as comfort goes, both razors have great knurling and won’t slide oiut of wet, soapy hands.
I have proven it to myself time and again, the Merkur 33C Classic, is a damn fine first razor. If you like to get your arms tired by shaving your face off, then choose the 34C, which incidentally is a razor that I never could get into.
But there is one that is better than the 42C.
The Merkur 42C is Perhaps Merkur’s Best and Most Affordable Beginner Razor.
34C HD (Heavy Duty)
2.25 / 5 very slightly milder than the 34C
2.5 / 5 slightly more aggressive.
5 / 5
2.5 / 5
33% down the handle from the head. (Ideal.)
40% down the handle from the head.
The Merkur 42C (and its open comb brother the 41C) are super efficient. The “angle” just sort of happens. Although the blade gap is even narrower than its two brothers, the 42C’s efficiency more than makes up for it. The 42C is perhaps the easiest razor for a beginner to use, and the fact that it is only a touch milder than the 34C, but so much more efficient, will mean better shaves, less nicks, cuts, and weepers.
Simply put, although Merkur’s 34C is perhaps Merkur’s best seller, a new shaver will have to put in a lot more effort to use it.
The 42C’s balance point is spot on! Yet it is still head heavy, which I maintain is a very good thing in the quest for a great, close shave, by a newbie wet shaver.
When it comes to ergonomics, the 42C’s handle is hexagonal, providing a flat surface to grip. The handle is cross hatched to further aid the grip, and has a faux “ball end.” Some people prefer the handle, some people do not. I do. The handle is actually a copy of a vintage Gillette razor of the 1930’s. Now everyone has different tastes, skin types, beard types, prep habits etc., but for me if you asked the question which Merkur razor is best for beginners, I would have to say the Merkur 1904 AKA the 42C!
We sell the Merkur 42C near cost. Only $38.00, shipping included. (For a limited time….)
Tip 1 – Apply Your Shave Balm AFTER Your Afterashave.
The purpose of shave balm is two fold. It’s primary purpose is to add moisture to the epidermal skin layer because it has been scraped by a blade. Your skin also needs repair after a shave. That is also accomplished by adding moisture, but also additional additives such as vitamin e, menthol, etc.
Now think of what an aftershave or witch hazel do. They dry out the skin because they are primarily astringents. Their real purpose is to treat cuts, abrasions, and weepers. But that is at cross purposes to what shave balm is supposed to do.
Does it make any sense to moisturize your skin and then use an astringent which by its very nature will dry out your skin?
Use shave balm as the last product of your shave routine and see what a difference it makes.
Tip 2 – Use COLD Water.
Cold water, you ask?? That is rediculous!
Well, it depends who you’re asking.
Ask a barber and he will explain that hot water softens your beard and opens your pores thereby producing a closer shave.
Ask my dermatologist (like many others) and you will get a completely different answer.
You do not want your pores to be open. Let’s look further as to why.
It is true that a great time to shave is right after a shower, as your skin will be warm and moist and free of excess oil and dead skin cells that can clog up your razor blade. BUT your pores are open. This causes the following problems:
Hair from your beard gets trapped in your pores. Skin is oily by nature and the combination of those oils and hairs from your beard that get left behind actually blocks your pores, attracts dirt, and increases drag on your razor. This makes for a less comfortable shave and gives rise to pimples, black heads, and other skin problems.
So start with a hot shower to soften your beard. Then use a COLD WATER RINSE all the way through the shave and especially at the end.
Try it. You will get a better and smoother shave and according to my dermatologist, healthier skin.
TIP 3 – Use SHAVE OIL, Not a PRESHAVE CREAM, & Use It BETWEEN PASSES As Well!
Simple. Oil and water don’t mix.
Shave soap, cream, and gel, get absorbed by the skin. They are lubricants, so you want lather to sit on top of the skin. Using a quality shave oil helps keep your lather on top of the skin and also further lubricates it as you shave.
Tip 4 – NEVER Store Your Razor & Blades In The BATHROOM.
Your bathroom is a warm, humid place, right?
That humidity causes microscopic rust particles on the edge of your blade which dulls the blade and destroys the coating.
Keep ypour razor(s) in a cool place. Your blades will last longer. Your shaves will be smoother and closer.
Tip 5 – For a Closer Shave Use UNCOATED Blades. They ARE Usually Sharper & Less Expensive.
Its true that uncoated blades may be slightly less comfortable to shave with, but in exchange you can get a sharper blade. Actually of note is the fact that when using a coated blade, the second and third pass is always shrper. The blade sharpens up because friction causes the coating to wear off.
Here are a few stainless steel blades that are pretty good and easy to shave with:
ASTRA BLUE– Many shavers use the popular ASTRA SP (Special Platinum) blades. Astra SPs are pretty smooth for the first shave but decline quickly from there. They really are not that sharp. ASTRA BLUE is in fact a much sharper blade. If ASTRA SP is a 2 / 5 in sharpness ASTRA BLUE is a 3.5 / 5 in sharpness, and is very consistant from shave to shave.
RAPIRA SUPER STAINLESS– These are scary sharp, I would say pretty close to Feather. They last forever. The trade off is that they are not as smooth as some other uncoated blades.
SHARK SS– Not as sharp as the two others reviewed above, but if the Astra Blues are a Corvette, the Rapira Stainless are a Ferrari, then the Shark SS blades are certainly a Jeep. They are super forgiving, pretty smooth to shave with, and I get consistent great shaves with them.
Got some do’s and dont’s to add? Well that is what comments are for. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
about 5 years ago I found a shaving method that won’t irritate my skin and is also ecologically friendly, affordable, and natural. It revolves around a shiny jewel-like safety razor, a blade, a bowl, and a brush. You won’t have to buy aerosol cans of petroleum-based shaving cream, plastic shavers that you keep throwing out, or overpriced multi-blade razors anymore.
5 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PURCHASING SAFETY RAZOR BLADES.
Let’s take a few minutes to discuss some things you should consider before you choose a razor blade After all, like any other product, there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly – although most men who use safety razors are pleased with the kind of shave they get on a daily basis.
You’ll also want to keep in mind a very important point, i.e., every man’s skin and whiskers are different. Just because a brand of blades works perfectly for another man doesn’t mean it’s going to work just as well for you.
Here are some things to think about:
1. IS SHARPER BETTER?
It’s easy to get hung up on a blade’s sharpness because a sharp blade usually means a closer shave, right? In theory perhaps, but sharper also raises your risk of nicks and cuts – especially if you don’t have much experience with a safety razor. It is true, however, that a sharp blade allows you to make fewer passes over your skin during the shave.
However, you’ll also want to consider a blade’s smoothness. By “smooth,” we mean that the cutting angle isn’t as extreme and that you’ll have to apply a bit more pressure during your shave than you would with a sharper blade. There’s less chance of nicks and cuts, but an increased chance of skin irritation – which may spell trouble for men with sensitive skin.
2. WHAT’S YOUR HAIR TYPE?
Your facial hair type is all-important regarding your choice of safety razor blades. Again, everyone’s hair is a bit different – although similarities certainly exist – so what works for one guy may not work for you.
The good news is that double edge safety razor blades make it easier to customize your shave to fit your facial hair type thanks to the number of blade choices that are available.
Generally speaking, the coarser your facial hair, the more aggressive the blade. By “aggressive” we mean the sharpness of the blade. A blade that’s not as sharp will have harder time shaving through coarse hair (with the result being lots of pulling and tugging).
The length of your facial hair is important to your buying consideration, as well. If your hair is longer, then a more aggressive blade is best.
Also, if you have rough, sensitive skin, you’re best served by a less aggressive, smoother blade.
3. SKILL LEVEL
While the learning curve for becoming adept with a safety razor isn’t as steep as with a straight razor, it still takes some getting used to if you’re used to shaving with a cartridge razor, or are new to shaving altogether.
That said, it’s best to start with less aggressive blades while you’re getting the hang of safety razor shaving. It takes time to learn how much pressure you can apply on the razor head without nicking, cutting, or irritating your skin.
4. GO FOR VARIETY
Like most men, you’ll eventually decide to stick with one brand of safety razor blade for one simple reason: it works for you. In the beginning, however, there’s no crime in trying a variety of blades, and you can even find them in variety packs . That way, you’re not spending money on several blades of a certain brand (you can even purchase many blades in packs of 100) that you’ve quickly discovered don’t suit your shaving needs.
5. COST PER SHAVE
This should be the last consideration in your evaluation process, but a good blade should give you 4 – 5 really comfortable and efficient shaves. Some men use one side of the blade and then flip it over for each shave. This can help increase both blade life and shaving comfort. Another tip is to gently tap the blade dry with a soft cloth. Never wipe the blade though. This prevents small rust particles from forming and helps to preserve the blade’s sharpness.
Did you know???
Most often a blade gets sharper the second time it is used, and often the third shave as well. This is because excess coating has worn off of the blade. Its still there, just not in over abundance.
Many people who dispose of their blades after a single shave, really miss out on the second shave, which is usually even better!
In my next post, I will review some popular blade choices and give you my opinions on each one. Stay tuned!
I do it, and you can too. I shave for under $3 (CAD) a month.
I get excellent shaves and I even can use a new blade every 3 – 4 days and still come out with a very inexpensive and very enjoyable shave.
Here’s How I Do It. (Remember, your mileage may vary.)
1 – Pre-Shave
One of my secrets is to use good ol’ NOXEMA as a pre-shave. I kid you not NOXEMA is a wonderful pre-shave. It costs me $8 for enough to last me for an entire year.
NOXEMA is chock full of eucalyptus and moisturizers. It not only will soften your beard and clean your face, but also cool your skin and tighten it as well, thereby enabling you to get a cleaner, and closer shave.
Here is How I use NOXEMA as a Preshave
I wet my face with luke-warm water.
I apply the NOXEMA over every area I intend to shave.
After messaging my face with it, I let it sink in for a couple of minutes.
I then wash it off. (This helps further soften my beard….)
Noxema sort of smells and acts like Proraso pre-shave. But you get 3x to 4x as much for the same price. If you really want to economize Walmart has a similar product under the EXACT brand name. It is $5 compared to NOXEMA which costs $8. They both but last an entire year.
Cost: $8 divided by 350 shaves a year = $0.02 cents per shave.
2 – Shave Soap
I actually have 4 that you can use. Each one has its pluses and minuses. But all 3 produce amazing results if you use them properly.
WILLIAMS SHAVE SOAP:
This brand has been around for 100 years. The formula was changed a few years back.
Most people have an issue building a lather with the new formula. WILLIAMS is a tallow soap. It loves to lather. There is a trick to using it. Stay tuned…
WILLIAMS has a nice soapy smell. It is perhaps the least expensive shave soap you can get and for my money, its one of the best. Remember, I own a wet shaving business, I have tried a ton of shave soaps.
Many people do not like WILLIAMS only because they don’t know how to use it.
The trick is to use a synthetic brush like our VINTAGE Series 121 Mirrored Shave Brush. Do NOT use too much water on your brush! Take the brush get it wet (not too wet…) then wring it out so that there is no dripping water from it. The brush should be a little wetter than damp, but not by much!
I use a 6 oz cup as my “shave bowl”.
Next whip a nice pasty lather. Apply it to your face using gentle circular motions so that you work up additional lather on your face.
BTW – I think that WILLIAMS is the slickest of the 3.
If you follow the advice above, it will only cost you about $1 a month. A $2 puck of Williams will last about 2 months if you shave every day.
Cost is $.03 a shave.
ARKO SHAVE STICK.
Derby wins the prize in my opinion as the best of the cheapies. At least for shave soaps….
It has a nice pleasant floral smell. Like ARKO, Derby is made in Turkey. I have found that Derby is a much softer soap than ARKO. Derby also has both a shave stick and soap in a cardboard indestructible bowl.
I usually purchase the soap and not the stick. It works out better. I can get 3 – 4 months usage out of the soap.
Derby lathers up a storm. It is pretty slick. Great protection. Easy to use. Calming scent. I love Turkey, they make great shave soap.
Not being too precise, so don’t hold me to it, I figure that the Derby Soap costs about $0.025 a shave.
I shave with all 3. I get great shaves with each. They all lather as well as anything else, and they all cost no more than $0.03 a shave!
But when I want to splurge and go all out, I pull out the BIG GUNS. It is a bit more expensive and will add about $0.50 a month to my shave bill, but hey I am worth it!
My Absolute Favorite! – Nivea Shave Cream.
At $3.50 a tube (or less) I get about 10 weeks of great shaves out of this superb shave cream.At $0.058 a shave, it does stretch the budget just a bit, but it is certainly worth it.
This has got to be one of the easiest to lather shaving creams you can find; it only needs a small amount of water to explode into a wonderfully thick, creamy and dense lather.
Just a small dab of product the size of an almond is all it takes to make enough lather for three passes. It is absolutely effortless to lather and even the most novice of wet shavers will have no problems with this one.
Even though Nivea is one of the most popular and widely used shaving creams in Europe – you can find it at any grocery or drug store – it’s not that popular in the USA. And that’s a real shame as it really is a great product! I find it as good as Proraso, at one third the cost!
Nivea Shave Cream is a fantastic value for money, and offers excellent performance for close and comfortable shaves. It is also recommended for sensitive skin.
It is the only shave cream I put on the list, and after trying many shave creams at different price points, I can honestly say, Nivea Shave Cream is equal to, or superior to most!
Honorable inexpensive mentions.
Wilkinson Soap in a Bowl. Palmolive Shave Cream, and Van Der Hagan Shave Soap.
3. NOW FOR THE BLADES:
All of these blades can be purchased on Amazon or Ebay easily. If you purchase more than a year’s supply of 100 blades, for under $10. Or to look at it another way, they all can shave me for about $0.025 a shave!
I have listed them from favorite, to good but no cigar. Blades are very subjective. But here are some you may want to try.
Almost all of the blades listed are chromium, or platinum coated, with few exceptions.
1 – Shaver Boy (China) – A Delightful Surprise.
This is a Chinese blade that is better than any other blade I have tried. I was looking to purchase 100 Astra blades on eBay and while searching found Shaver Boy. They had sold 80,000 on eBay alone. The revues were spectacular. By the way, eBay is the only place you can get them. Anyway, they had a 5 star (or perhaps 4.5 star review.) It was from 400 people! They also advertised that they had sold 80,000 blades.
So I tried them!
These are amazing blades. They will cost you $7.99 Canadian + $5 Canadian for Shipping. So $12.99 Canadian which currently is about $8.65 USD.
I can get at least 5 shaves with 1 under $0.09 blade.
2 – Gillette Wilkinson Sword (India) – Very good blade.
Sharper than most. Very smooth shave. Every time I recommend these, I get a huge thank-you, and I have never met anybody who doesn’t like them.
They are my usual “go to” blade.
They are about $7.50, usually are delivered free from India, and they always take 3 to 4 weeks to get.
They can also give me about 5 shaves. Not too shabby, eh?
3 – Voskhod – Smooth, Sharp, Plentiful.
(and you can add most blades called Rapira which are also very good. Note: if you are a beginner, stay away from Rapira Super Stainless, a great blade, but VERY sharp!)
In my opinion. and again YMMV as they way, Voskhod is the sharpest and smoothest of the lot.
Many people love Astra SP and would put it on par with Voskhods. I personally have tried to like Astra SP blades but….. YMMV (your mileage may vary….)
Voskhod is coated with Teflon which helps balance out the sharpness of the blade. They give me a very smooth shave and are a cinch to shave with.
4 – Dorco Prime (ST-302) – Ouch!
This blade is super thin and by far the sharpest blade of the lot! I use it in very mild razors with it only. (Merker 23C, Merkur 34C, Edwin Jagger 89 series, our JAVA Americano and Espresso. Otherwise I get cut.
If you are new to wet shaving, you may want to look elsewhere. I have found however that a mild razor and a sharp blade in many cases are an unbeatable combination!
The ST-302 (also called DORCO PRIME,) can usually be found at around $8.50 or so for 100 blades. They last me about 4 shaves in a mild razor.
5 – DORCO Regular (ST 301) Yawn! – These blades are pretty gentle, They are kind of the “Chevy” of double edge blades. At least to me.
The Dorco ST-301 is somewhat sharp and somewhat smooth. They are very plentiful, good to shave with, and pretty inexpensive. Dorco also makes the ST-300 blades. These have been discontinued, but are the same as the ST-301, except for the packaging. The ST-300 can be found for six or seven cents online.
The cost? About $0.08 a blade (usually under $10 per hundred.) They last me about 4 shaves. Hey, but I used to own a Chevy. I won’t tell you the year though.
HONORABLE MENTIONS – Shark Chrome (sharp and last), Rockwell (not bad and cheap), Super Max Platinum, and Gillette 7 O’clock (Green).
STAY AWAY FROM – Topaz, most Chinese blades, Laser, 7AM, ZsaZsa, Zorick although the platinum ones are not too bad…) or any blade made in Bangladesh.
AFTER SHAVE CARE:
Shhhhhh! this is also a huge secret. So don’t tell anyone. Promise?
Guess the cat is outta the bag!
I sometimes use an aloe after sun gel. This acts as a shave balm and an after shave lotion. It costs me $1 for a tube that lasts me 100 shaves.
That’s it. I sometimes use an alum stick or block, and sometimes I will use Aqua Velva. That’s it.
Okay let’s review what I pay per shave…..
Pre-shave – $0.02
Shave Soap – $0.03
Razor Blade – $0.025
After Shave Gel – $0.015
Total is $0.09 per shave which is $2.70 a month! I get great, amazing and enjoyable shaves. I hope that you do too.
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5 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PURCHASING SAFETY RAZOR BLADES.
Oct. 31, 2018
Proud to Have Designed CALYPSO – The Razor for Men of Colour
Oct. 22, 2018
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