Why Switching To a Double-edge Safety Razor Makes Sense

When we prepare for an uncertain future, we often consider the big things. Things like preparing a bug-out bag, getting enough water, foraging for food, buying enough ammo or increasing our tactical skills.

Yet there are smaller items that make life better. Having soap, for instance. Or toilet paper. Or, in the case of today’s article, being able to shave and still feel like a human being under less-than-ideal conditions.

Sometimes old tools are the best tools.

This is the case with many gardening implements, cast iron cookware, and…

Razors.

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This kid shaves like a man (photo credit).

I’m not crazy enough to go all the way back to using a straightedge razor; however, a few years ago I switched from using an electric razor or disposable razors to using a classic Gillette double-edge safety razor from the 1950s. It was an antique-store special… and it was one of the best buys I’ve ever made.

When I first started shaving, I used cheap disposable razors, later followed by a Gillette Mach III. That provided a good shave but the cartridges were prohibitively expensive. since they cost $2-3 each and only shave well for a few uses.

If you’re an obsessive saver, paying $1.00 PER shave is distasteful in the extreme.

After switching back and forth between my Mach III razor and cheap disposables for a while, I was given an electric razor. Unlike the Mach III, it was cheap to use; however, it had a downside: it didn’t provide a really close shave.

I was wandering aimlessly through my manhood, ne’r to find a good shave… until four years ago when I came across this post over at Lew Rockwell’s site.

I’d always assumed that the old double-edged safety razors had fallen by the wayside because they were inferior to modern razors. After reading the above article, I decided to give them a chance.

A week or two after the thought of a vintage shave entered my mind, I happened to be near one of my favorite antique stores. I stopped in and decided to look for old razors that were still in working condition.

Lo and behold… I found a few. And they were cheap. I picked up a pair of single-edged razors along with a Gillette double-edged safety razor (which cost me $12.00). After buying the razors, I stopped by the grocery store and found some single and double-edged blades in the pharmacy section, along with some “Mug” shaving soap and a cheap bristle brush.

I quickly discovered the single-edged razors were really tough to handle, so after a few days I gave up on those. The double-edged razor worked wonderfully, however.

I was impressed.

Better: the initial investment in the razor was minimal, costing less than a new Mach III. It’s not pretty anymore, but it’s solid.

The real savings start to add up when you buy blades. I usually get them for about $0.07 each and they last for two shaves and can stretch to three or four if you don’t mind a less comfortable experience.

As for a shaving brush, you can get by with cheap bristle brushes but a well-made badger brush will serve you a lot better in the long run. I’ve been using mine for three years and it’s still holding up. A shaving brush allows you to build up a good hot lather and shave well. It also prepares your face for the blade when used properly.

The Mug soap is cheap stuff but lasts a long time. I have a mug I made in a ceramics class I took long ago (don’t ask… I’m a terrible potter) that serves as my receptacle for the disk of soap. Here – this is my kit:

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This custom shaving mug was made by a failing ceramics student!

One other thing: I don’t use traditional aftershave (unless I’m feeling like a fox, then I use Brut). Instead, I picked up a trick from my dad who uses a solution of witch hazel. That stuff is really good and it’s cheap.

Though the entire shaving kit is perhaps slightly more complicated than a cheap plastic disposable razor and a can of weirdly scented shaving gel, it saves a lot of waste in the long run. You’re not chucking plastic razors every other day or ditching plastic and metal Mach III heads. Plus the double-edged razorblades can be pressed into service (carefully) for cutting twine or making bladed tools or scary apocalyptic weapons.

Saving money is a big reason why I made the switch to a double-edge safety razor, but saving at least a little piece of the environment feels good too. I hate our disposable culture.

There’s also something very satisfying about shaving a little slower and doing the job well with a solid tool rather than a piece of Chinese plastic.

Try out a true double-edged safety razor. Though they’re obviously not vital to survival, stocking up on blades and shaving soap is really cheap… and the money you save can be used for much better things.

You’re not sacrificing a good shave. You’re sacrificing decades of modern marketing hype and plastic trash.

Try it out – I doubt you’ll go back.

About David The Good

David The Good is a naturalist, author and hard-core gardener who has grown his own food since 1984. At age five, he sprouted a bean in a Dixie cup of soil and caught the gardening bug. Soon after, his dad built an 8’ by 8’ plot for him and David hasn’t stopped growing since. David is the author of four books, writes a regular column for The Ag Mag in North Central Florida, is a Mother Earth News blogger and has also written for outlets including Backwoods Home, Survival Blog and Self-Reliance Magazine. You can find his books on Amazon here. David is a Christian, an artist, a husband, a father of seven, a cigar-smoker and an unrepentant economics junkie who now lives somewhere near the equator on a productive cocoa farm. Visit his daily gardening and survival blog here: The Survival Gardener And for lots more gardening info, click here and subscribe to his often hilarious YouTube channel.

View all posts by David The Good

4 Responses to “Why Switching To a Double-edge Safety Razor Makes Sense”

  1. TylerTX Says:

    I have used both double edged razors and mug cup & brush but I’ve migrated to something faster and even cheaper. I buy either Wilkinson Sword or Personna triple blade disposable razors and Barbasol canned shave cream.
    Most razors are manufactured in the same plant and then packaged for different sellers. The dueling duo of Gillette and Shick spend lots of money to convince you to buy their products but Wilkinson Sword and Persona just sell you the same razors without the marketing price hike. It’s true they cost twice as much as double edged blades but I get way more than twice as many shaves with them. I get nearly a month of shaving with each disposable and can’t remember the last time I’ve had to use a styptic pencil. Stretching extra shaves from a dulled double edged razor can have you showing up for work looking like “The Mummy Returns.”
    As for Barbasol, I have found the most difficulty in dispensing ONLY enough to do the job. About a grape sized pile of suds does the job and that makes a dollar can of shave cream last nearly a year.

    I still enjoy my shaving mug but if it comes to cheap, easy, and fast, it’s hard to beat what I’m doing.

    Find what works for you and go with it. I even have a straight razor but have never felt comfortable putting it next to MY throat.

    Reply

    • David Goodman Says:

      Hey – great tips, TylerTX. Thank you.

      You’re right on dull double-edged razors. Mummy Returns. Heh.

      If I’m speeding, I’ll sometimes “borrow” one of my wife’s disposable razors and use mug soap with it. Works a bit better for me than the Barbasol I used in the past.

      Reply

    • Mike Says:

      I returned to shaving with a double edge razor about 7-1/2 years ago. I highly recommend Feather razor blades, available at Amazon, but try to find an offer by Amazon instead of a 3rd-party vendor. I recently bought five 10-count packs for $15. I can shave with one blade for three weeks and it is about as sharp at the end of three weeks as other blades new from the dispenser. Of course, you mileage may vary.

      Reply

  2. Dave Says:

    Loved this post… Few things to consider.
    Don’t rule out the old straight razors. Plenty of old and new ones available and really do give the best shave you’ll ever heve.

    The TSA and most European Airport Security will not allow the blades (double or straight) in Carry-on luggage. Bummer if you like to travel light.

    If traveling, just lather up some soap in you hands and against your beard. You really don’t need too much lather. Better still, use a shaving oil and you’ll be amazed at the difference.

    Reply

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