Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Shaving recommendations

with 63 comments

Last revised 11/22/07 – Method Shaving link

NOTE (21 Dec 2016) The links in this post are old and most do not work. The best current information is in my comprehensive beginner’s guide to gourmet shaving available as a trade paperback: Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving the Double-Edge Way. The book, now in its 7th edition, is a reorganization and substantial expansion of the information provided in the blog, and contains all the information needed to make the transition to shaving with a safety razor and double-edged blade. It includes many links to resources on the Web, including a list of vendors. A great gift for friends who are thinking of making the switch to traditional shaving.

You may want to begin by reading the post that started me down this path. It’s not so comprehensive as the book, but it contains more information than this brief post.

Should the experiment in shaving with a double-edged razor not work out for you, you can readily find buyers for your equipment and supplies on the ShaveMyFace and Badger & Blade selling forums. Indeed, you might be able to pick up some of your equipment there—along with good advice. For example, here’s a basic budget starter kit for the newbie on a tight budge (a student, for example). If you pick the cheapest option in every category, the total cost is only $35.25, including the sampler packet of blades. That’s the cost of ten disposable Fusion catridges.

Normal budget

$30.00 Merkur Hefty Classic (“HD”)
$12.00 Blade sampler packs (see below)
$06.00 Musgo Real Glyce Lime Oil Soap
$30.00 Edwin Jagger Best Badger brush (no VAT for export)
$10.00 Proraso Shaving Cream (see comment)
$09.50 QED shaving soap or shaving stick (your choice of fragrance)
$00.00 Lathering bowl (deep cereal bowl—approx 5″ across, 3″ deep)
$03.00 Glycerine (at local Whole Foods, health-food store, or drugstore)
$04.00 My Nik Is Sealed (styptic liquid in roll-on applicator)
$03.00 Alum block
$13.00 Dominica Bay Rum (but see balm option below)

$135.50 total, before shipping and any sales tax—that is, about the same as a new Gillette Fusion razor and 27 of its disposable cartridges. You might save a bit if you check out eBay to pick up a Gillette Super Speed in good condition. There’s general agreement that the 1940s version is the best of the lot—here’s a photo of one (click photo to enlarge). If you prefer a razor with a larger handle, the Edwin Jagger razors have the same head as the Merkur HD (though with additional polishing and Jagger-specified chrome or gold plate) but larger handles. They are quite elegant and excellent razors.

Novices fail to realize that the quality and closeness and comfort of the shave is due about 30% to the razor and 70% to the blade. Because the blade is disposable and cheap, the novice focuses on the more obvious and expensive razor. But the razor—once you have your technique developed—is not so important as the blade.

Because each brand of blade has those who love it and those who hate it, you must try a variety of brands to see which one(s) will work for you. Do not neglect this step. If you just pick a brand of blade and stick with it, it’s possible that you will decide traditional shaving is hopeless for you, when the only problem is that the brand of blade you’re using doesn’t work for you. You will be amazed at the differences you experience from brand to brand—and also amazed that the brand you find is smooth, sharp, and comfortable strikes some as shaving with a cheese grater. The link above takes you to a post providing complete information about the currently available sampler packs, including for each pack the contents and the price per blade.

The Musgo Real Glyce Lime Oil Soap is specifically made as a pre-shave soap. Wash your beard and partially rinse with a splash of warm water, then lather. It makes a noticeable difference in the quality of the shave.

The styptic liquid My Nik Is Sealed is much nicer than a styptic pencil and leaves no white deposits on your face as the pencil does. It will quickly stop bleeding from a nick.

The alum bar is a wonderful face treatment at the end of the shave (more info at the link). For some reason, a number of men seem to be trying to use a styptic pencil sideways in lieu of an alum bar. This is highly misguided: different substance. Get the alum bar.

Use the glycerine as your every-pass pre-shave: rub just a small amount over your wet beard before lathering for each pass. You can read more about this technique in the main shaving post.

You’ll notice I included both a shaving cream and a shaving soap. You might as well practice with both. Proraso is a popular shaving cream, though some men’s skin does not do well with the Proraso eucalyptus-menthol formula, especially in the winter months. So you might want to go ahead and spring for the Taylor of Old Bond Street Avocado Shaving cream (see alternate kit below).

QED’s shaving sticks are soap in stick form: you rub the stick all over your wet beard against the grain, then use a wet shaving brush to build the lather directly on your face. The Mocha-Java shaving stick is particularly delectable. If you prefer soap in a tub, let me recommend Special 218. When you order, it’s easiest to email or call Charles directly (email:; phone (401) 433-4045).

For an aftershave, Bay Rum is a classic. OTOH, you might prefer a moisturizing balm after you shave, and Neutrogena Razor Defense ($6.00) is available at your local drugstore. Generally speaking, a balm is soothing, an aftershave bracing, so you choose the effect you want.

And, as mentioned above, you should check out the selling threads in ShaveMyFace and Badger & Blade.

There are, of course, options in the other direction—e.g., getting the HD in gold instead of chrome ($40, but very nice).

Only the best

$30.00 Merkur Hefty Classic (“HD”)
$12.00 Blade sampler packs
$06.00 Musgo Real Glyce Lime Oil Soap
$75.00 Rooney Style 3 Small “Super” brush
$13.50 Taylor of Old Bond Street Avocado shaving cream
$09.50 QED shaving soap (pick the fragrance you like)
$00.00 Lathering bowl (deep cereal bowl—approx 5″ across, 3″ deep)
$03.00 Glycerine (from Whole Foods, health-food store, or local drugstore)
$04.00 My Nik Is Sealed (styptic liquid in roll-on applicator)
$03.00 Alum block
$13.00 Dominica Bay Rum (note balm option below)

This amounts to around $169.00 before shipping and sales tax, depending on which size Emperor brush you choose. About 64 disposable Fusion cartridges—and this really is an exceptional collection. After much thought, I changed this recommended kit: instead of the Vision, which turns out to be more than most novices want to deal with, I’m sticking with the HD. If you want something a bit more posh, try an Edwin Jagger razor.

I recommend a Rooney brush. I personally prefer the Style 2 super to the Style 3 listed above, but the Style 3 Size 1 (small) seems to have more general appeal. If you want to splurge, you can get the Rooney Style 2 Small Finest, at $210. It is somewhat more resilient than the Super Silvertip, and has a longer loft than the Style 3. The Finest also has almost pure white bristle ends.

For an alternate, check out the 22mm Silvertip brush from Superior Brushes. You get to specify color and style of handle, and it’s quite a nice brush at a good price.

As above, I included both shaving cream and shaving soap/stick. See above for ordering from QED.

Regardless of your first razor, I recommend that your second razor be the Merkur Slant Bar ($30.00). It should be a second razor because it requires a light touch and a sure hand, so you should be an experienced wielder of the safety razor before using it. Sharp blades work wonderfully well in it. For me, the ideal combination is the Slant Bar with an Astra Superior Platinum. The Slant Bar with a sharp blade is the ideal tool if you have a thick, wiry beard and sensitive skin. Read more about it here, including an explanation of why it works so well. You can also get the Slant Bar in gold for $40.

In learning how to use the shaving tools, you will find the series of videos made by Mantic to be quite helpful. Use those to complement the information your read in this post and in the comprehensive guide.

J.M. Fraser’s Shaving Cream is very good and also inexpensive. It has a light lemony fragrance, creates a good lather, and gives a fine shave (scroll down at the link). It is somehow particularly effective at softening the beard. This shaving cream would work with either of the collections above.

When you decide to get a second aftershave, I recommend Thayers Witch Hazel (alcohol free), which you can find at Whole Foods and in various health-food stores in a variety of fragrances (see at the link). Or get Thayers Extra Strength Aftershave with Aloe Vera—a great aftershave for traveling, since it has no fragrance.

Eventually you’ll want to try other shaving creams and shaving soaps. The general guide provides some options for these, and don’t overlook the artisanal shaving soaps. These are really wonderful and create great lather.

Target has a fine selection of inexpensive bowls that make good lathering bowls. Look in the housewares section, next to kitchen equipment. Or you can use a cereal bowl you already have. It’s best if the bowl’s interior is a relatively dark color: that makes it easier to see and judge the lather.

Another option altogether: Method Shaving

It was quite a while before I tried a Method Shave, and when I did, I was stunned at what a good shave I got. You can read about my experience, and I certainly encourage you to give it a try. Like everything in shaving, YMMV, but my own experience was extremely positive. I don’t necessarily cotton to the jargon, but the shave itself is jargon-free and quite good. Something in the products really produces a fully prepped beard and well-protected skin. At the link, you’ll find also Mantic’s three videos on Method Shaving. It’s definitely worth a try.

The razor recommended for Method Shaving is the Merkur Hefty Classic (“HD”), though the Edwin Jagger Chatsworth or Georgian would certainly work as well: just a more finished Classic head with a better (in my opinion) handle. The Shavemaster Brush would make the lathering a bit easier (see link in previous paragraph), and the supplies are pure Method from Enchante: Cube, Shaving Paste, Activator, Cutting Balm, Aftershave Conditioner, and Aftershave Tonic. In my opinion, the Method should definitely be a component of your shaving portfolio of practices.

For samples of a variety of shaving products, check out this comprehensive list of sources.

Use the ShaveMyFace and Badger & Blade and The Shave Den forums to get help with specific details—for example, if you have what is known technically as “Kirk Douglas chin”: a deep dimple in the middle of the chin, difficult to shave; or if you have extra-sensitive skin that’s prone to break out when you use regular shaving products; or if you have a problem with skin irritation when you shave your neck; and so on. All these problems are more are discussed and, generally, solved via the pooled experience of the shavers in the forums.

Let me know if you have any questions. Good shaving!

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Written by Leisureguy

1 August 2006 at 9:40 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving, Toys

63 Responses

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  1. Merkur HD and Feather blades?! Ooof-Da…a prescription for danger. For the complete “newbie” I’d suggest sticking with the razor they have (if they’re currently using a bladed razor). If they’re transitioning from electric I’d recommend a Gillette Sensor Excel (2 blade) or Mach3 Turbo, as they are readily available and give a decent shave if used correctly. And they’re “automatic transmission,” forgiving of moderately lousy technique, until the new shaver can get a handle on his new way of shaving. The brush and cream (and lots and lots of water) are the most important bits. After the new shaver has a few months of wetshaves under his belt he’ll be better equipped to deal with the individual vagarities of his face, and he’ll have a better idea on how he can customize his shave.



    1 August 2006 at 10:33 am

  2. Good points, but I was recommending a complete DE kit. Starting with the automatic transmission does make sense, but what would one recommend for the DE razor once they’re ready to move to that stage?



    1 August 2006 at 10:37 am

  3. As far as the first DE razor for new guys, I saw more suggestions of the Merkur HD than anything else when I was looking this spring and I’ve been happy with it so far.

    Some Gillette models get a lot of praise in the various dicussion boards as approriate for starting out, but that seems to come from guys who learned while using something else. These suggestions strike me as analagous to praise for manual transmissions (i.e., for their fuel savings or speed in tricky shifting) — it ignores the fact that a learning curve shuld be as flat as possible.

    Just my two cents.


    Will E.

    1 August 2006 at 11:05 am

  4. An important, but missing, detail is that your wife or SO will likely not be as fascinated by the activity and its accoutrements as you are, so don’t feel obliged to ask her opinion about this vs. that razor, or announce to her the direction(s) in which you shaved this morning.


    the wife

    1 August 2006 at 12:50 pm

  5. “Merkur HD and Feather blades?! Ooof-Da…a prescription for danger.”

    Not at all. I just started shaving last saturday and I ordered a Murker HD and 100 feather blades. I don’t have any nicks or cuts. I do have a slight razor burn around my nose that I can only feel when I rub my face. Overall though the HD and feather blade works very well for me ^_^



    1 August 2006 at 6:29 pm

  6. Here are some comments on Feather blades. Take a look and you’ll see why I suggested you start there.



    2 August 2006 at 4:18 pm

  7. I agree with almost everything included in your starter kit, except for the Feather blades. I’ve been shaving with a DE and a straight for over a year, and the two blades that were highly recommended when I first started where the Feather blades and Merkur blades. And after all of this time, they are my two least favorites. Yes, they are great. But over time, I have found that the Israeli Personna Blades and the Derby Blades to be much more “user friendly”. Of course, this is all personal opinion, but for a beginner, to recommend the Feathers, probably the sharpest blades on the planet, may be a recipe for disaster.



    27 August 2006 at 11:40 pm

  8. I just bought a green tube of the Proraso shaving cream at Target and it was only $5.99, which is a much better price than I have seen at any of the online shops. They had quite a few other Proraso items and I bought a total of four, including pre-shave cream, a small cake of shaving soap in a plastic tub, and their alcohol free after shave cream lotion.



    Tim Cuthbertson

    30 September 2006 at 11:06 am

  9. I’ve been using the Art Of Shaving products for quite some time now (after throwing away a $250 electric that butchered me)… I was wondering if anyone else had a comparison of them to the products mentioned in your blog since I have not seen mention of them yet… I like them a lot, but I guess I’m wondering if the grass is greener on the other side…


    Robert Robbins

    1 October 2006 at 4:19 pm

  10. I’ve not used the Art of Shaving products yet, but I ordered a jar of the lemon shaving cream just today. You can find good discussions in ShaveMyFace and Badger&Blade (links in the blogroll at the right). You can search on “Art of Shaving” to find posts. The general take is that they’re not bad.



    1 October 2006 at 4:34 pm

  11. Has anyone experienced a problem where the razor gets stuck around the chin area beard. I usually have that issue with the fusion and mach 3. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.



    16 November 2006 at 10:50 am

  12. My first thought is that you should make sure your beard is thoroughly prepped: shave after showering, use hair conditioner on your beard in the shower, wash beard at sink with soap and water, leave beard wet before lathering, perhaps try the 100% glycerine every-pass pre-shave. The focus here, though, is one shaving with a double-edged blade and safety razor, rather than with a multi-blade cartridge, so perhaps you might want to try that as well.



    16 November 2006 at 11:24 am

  13. Hi – Regarding a first time set up and using the “only the best” list

    Do you know if the silvertip brush that comes with the Merkur Vision set is a good purchase?

    Or do you still recommend Simpson Emperor brush.




    2 January 2007 at 1:32 pm

  14. I personally would go with the Simpson, but then I’ve never used the brush that comes with the Vision set. There are some guys on who do have that set, though, so I suggest you do a post there and get some first-hand knowledge. All in all, I think a Silvertip badger brush is going to be good, no matter what. A lot is individual taste regarding size, stiffness, etc.



    2 January 2007 at 1:45 pm

  15. First of all, Thanks for your Support.

    Here in Spain it’s difficult to find some of the items that you recomended, i haven’t been able to find the alum block (bloque de aluminio), somebody knows if it has another name, or its composition to request it in a pharmacy. Also it`s impposible to find good blades, only Gillettes (no country of origin) Wilkinson or Bic. It’s a Hard Life for a Spanish wet shaver.

    On the other hand I recommend these Spanish products:

    – Shaving Creme: “Latoja crema de afeitar sensible” and “Lea Mentolada”.
    – Aftershave: “Flöid” Mentolado Vigoroso.
    – Moistorizer: Latoja crema hidratante.
    – Blades: We had “Filomatic”, but Gillette bought the factory and close it.
    – Colognes: “Alvarez Gómez”.




    26 January 2007 at 2:44 am

  16. Thanks, Alberto. Very helpful comment. I am sure that Mama Bear would ship a bar to you—and she also sells a very nice wooden rack for it. The bar should last for a couple of years (unless you drop it on a hard floor). Scroll down to the bottom of this page, and you’ll see it.

    According to the company that makes the alum bars sold by Mama Bear: “The Alum Block (for shaving and deodorant purposes) is usually Potash Alum. Potash Alum doesn’t sting so much as Ammonium Alum, but some companies do use Ammonium Alum as a shaving block.”

    One inexpensive form of Potassium Alum (aka Potash Alum) is deodorant crystal sticks—for some reason these are often priced much less than the Alum Bar for shavers.

    For more info, see the Wikipedia article on Alum.



    26 January 2007 at 7:34 am

  17. Thanks for taking the time and effort to put this blog together for us newcomers! I’m really looking forward to my first attempt, (my DE gear is still in the mail).

    After reading everything concerning reviews and ratings of DE razors and several discussions with Merkur users I purchased the Merkur Vision Shaving Set from
    along with DR Lavender Shaving soap and a pack of Merkur blades.

    Then, from comes some Taylor of Old Bond Street Hypo-Allergenic Shaving Cream, Feather “Kanwa” Herbal Aftershave Balm, 250gr Refillable Bottle, Cremo-Cream Shaving Cream and a ten pack of Feather “High Stainless Platinum” Double-Edge Blades.

    I’m told that I made some good choices and this blog provided some great tips and suggestions to help get me started,,,thanks again and best wishes,,Patrick


    Patrick D

    27 January 2007 at 8:35 am

  18. I have been using a brush along with my regular razor and I am seriously considering buying a DE and more specifically your recommendation of the hefty classic or HD. I do have a question or two though. What is Merkur’s model number for the one you recommend? Would I be better off with a razor with teeth or no teeth? Also should I go ahead and buy the Progress since it is adjustable? And what exactly does it mean when the description says with bar (not slant bar, just bar)? Is that another kind of comb or teeth or perhaps just a regular razor? I have found a few Gillette DE’s at an antique store here in town and was wondering if I should go ahead and spend the extra $15 or $20 on the Merkur. Any help or advice would be much appreciated. And don’t forget the Model number of the HD classic. Thanks in advance for all the help.



    6 February 2007 at 12:11 pm

  19. Lee’s Razors site shows the HD model number as 334, available in chrome or in gold. Em’s place offers them in chrome or gold, but uses her own model ID.

    I recommend that you not get the Open Comb model (the one with teeth), just the regular HD. The “bar” is the regular model, as opposed to the “open comb” (teeth).

    You could start with the Progress. If you go that route, start with a setting of “1” and advance it from shave to shave until you get the shave you want. Of course, at the beginning, you’ll be unsure whether the shave result is due to your technique (blade angle and pressure) or to the setting—which is why the HD is probably a better beginning choice.

    Not knowing which Gillette razors you found, or their condition, I’m not in a position to make a recommendation on those vs. the HD.



    6 February 2007 at 12:25 pm

  20. Thanks for such a quick response. I think I will order the Merkur. Thanks for all the advice. I’ll let you know how it goes.




    6 February 2007 at 12:55 pm

  21. Your blog is really great,
    I am thinking about introducing myself to the world of BBS shaving with a DE Merkur futur razor (Although you recommended the vision, many say it is not as well built, not even the vision 2000, as the Futur).
    I have a very important question that is not answered nowhere where I looked. I do not have a flat chin. I have a sort of lowering in the middle of my chin, quite round, and I am afraid that it will be very much prone to cuts and nicks.
    How do you advise me to go about that part?
    Also, is shaving with the Merkur Futur or Vision under the nose as hard as some say?

    THanks for your time



    17 February 2007 at 8:05 am

  22. The Futur is a fine razor, provided the user has the elementary good sense to start at the setting 1 rather than some higher setting. As noted above, it’s vitally important to find the right blade for it, and the LetterK blade sampler pack is the easiest way to do that.

    In the penultimate paragraph to the post above, I mention the very chin formation that you describe, and I suggest that the best course is to seek advice through the forums and There you can obtain advice from shavers who have chins very like your own and learn the solutions that they found.

    Shaving under the nose, like so many things, seems simple once you learn it. The general approach is to use the non-shaving hand to push the nose aside or up, and/or come in at a slight slant on the downward pass, and shave sideways under the nose for the across-the-grain pass. After several shaves’ worth of experience, it becomes quite easy. I actually found it easier to use the Vision under the nose than the Futur, but you can easily learn either. Practice and observation are the keys.

    Hope this helps. I do recommend that you read through the comprehensive guide for more detailed information.



    17 February 2007 at 8:47 am

  23. Another question if you do not mind, and thanks very much for your answer, it is very helpful:
    Is the vision really as “shakily” done as some say? Or does that happen after some years of use?



    17 February 2007 at 9:20 am

  24. My Vision was solid as a brick, right out of the box, and I’ve had no trouble at all—and others have had the same experience. Yet a few have had some problems. In the comprehensive guide, I include a link on how to fix these problems yourself, and of course you can also exchange the razor if you have problems—the shaving vendors are very accommodating.

    As in so much of shaving, YMMV, but my mileage has been that the Vision is a wonderful razor. Read the comprehensive guide and follow that link, and see what you think. And, of course, you can post your question in the aforementioned forums and get responses from other Vision users.



    17 February 2007 at 9:25 am

  25. Thanks,
    I will read now the comprehensive guide.
    Just another detail that would be a great addition to public knowledge.
    I use the Anthony logistics shaving cream, and heard many, including yourself advising the use of Taylor of Old Bond Street. Could you tell me what is you opinion about the Anthony logistics shaving cream, and the difference you see between both?



    17 February 2007 at 10:10 am

  26. I’ve actually never heard of Anthony logistics shaving cream. The shaving creams that I know and like are: Taylor, as you mention, but also Geo. F. Trumper, D.R. Harris, Castle Forbes, Truefitt & Hill, Saint Charles Shave, Em’s Place, Proraso, and Endymion.



    17 February 2007 at 10:15 am

  27. I recently switched from Gillette Sensor3 (not the disposable kind) to a combination of badger brush, Proraso cream, Merkur HD razor and Merkur blades. I read and watched your tutorials, and think am doing a decent job following your the recommendations. However, I am still not getting as smooth a shave as I was before. The first 2-3 passes get rid of most of the stubble, and I go (very gently) sideways and against the grain aiming for the perfect result. But I either end up with a “five o’clock shadow like” shave or, if I attempt too many passes, an irritated skin.

    Any thoughts on what I else should be trying? Thanks!



    28 February 2007 at 11:50 am

  28. The obvious next step is to try the next sharper blade from the sampler pack you got from LetterK. The usual sequence is: Merkur – Israeli – Derby – Gillette – Feather. You probably read this comment in the long post:

    Just started wetshaving 2 weeks ago…have only used Merkur blades since they came with the razor.

    Leisureguy suggested I order a 5 blade sampler with plan to try the blades in this order: – Merkur (already had)-> Israeli -> Derby -> Gillette -> Feather

    I rec’d my sampler yesterday and tried the Israeli this morning…WOW!!

    I could not believe the difference. My best shave so far by leaps and bounds. The razor was gliding across my face and by the 3rd pass it was the closest most comfortable shave I have had yet.



    28 February 2007 at 12:59 pm

  29. Do you think a product like this one Is incompatible with a DE safety razor? I mean after all you cannot really use a badger brush with it, although it seems really really lubricating.




    6 March 2007 at 11:24 pm

  30. The product you link to—the REN Tamanu High Glide Shaving Oil—should work fine with a safety razor. I agree that the brush has not role in such a shave, but the safety razor would work.

    Still: the idea of the prep is to make the whiskers as soft as possible, which is done by their absorbing water. So before applying the oil, I suggest that you thoroughly wash your beard with soap and water and make sure the whisker stubble is fully wetted. Then try the oil. And, in comparison, on your next shave use a good shaving soap or cream without the oil. You want to find what works best for you, after all.

    One drawback with oils of this type is that it’s difficult to see where you have shaved and where not. Also, on the multiple passes that a safety razor requires, you’ll need to reapply the oil before each pass.

    Hope it works for you.



    7 March 2007 at 6:39 am

  31. Pinaud Bay Rum?!? Yeeeech! Smells so artificial. And *is* so artificial (read the ingredients — yes, the chemicals listed are major chemicals found in essential oils like cinnamon and clove, but they ain’t the oils). Better to go with a REAL bay rum like the one from California-Antilles Trading Company (Dominica Bay Rum Aftershave).



    26 March 2007 at 7:00 pm

  32. I do use Dominica Bay Rum as well, along Taylor of Old Bond Street. Oddly, I don’t find the Pinaud Bay Rum objectionable, though that’s one of those YMMV things.

    Later: I used the Dominica this morning. Very nice. Changed the recommendations.



    26 March 2007 at 7:41 pm

  33. I recently purchased a 1948 mint condition Gillette Super Speed British Rocket (mfg. in Britain). What is your opninon on this particular Super Speed vs. the standard Merkur HD?




    23 June 2007 at 5:50 am

  34. The Super Speed British Rocket of that vintage is a terrific razor: heavier and more substantial than the US Super Speed. It provides a more gentle shave than the HD, which for me translates into having to use a bit more care (and sharper blade) to get a good shave. But I really like the razor.



    23 June 2007 at 6:09 am

  35. LeisureGuy,
    You website is a godsend for a newbie. I have recently started shaving with a Merkur Long Classic. I have tried several blades and get pretty good results. Usually use Proraso preshave cream, Taylor of Old Bond St cream with a Vulfix pure badger brush.

    I get a little shaving irritation on my neck but I think my technique is OK.

    Will investing in a Merkur Vision help with this?




    24 June 2007 at 10:57 pm

  36. I think the neck problem may be the blade and/or the technique. I see that you’ve tried several blades. Try a few more—this sampler pack and/or this sampler pack (or both, if you’re feeling ambitious and curious.

    Experiment with doing the shave without the Proraso pre-shave—perhaps the strong menthol-eucalyptus is an irritant. Try a week without, followed by a week with.

    Also, map the grain of the beard on your neck and make sure you’re not inadvertently shaving against the grain on an early pass. Of course, the grain may be a whorl, in which case you simply have to use a light touch, a sharp blade, a shallow blade angle, and hope for the best.

    Once you no longer are getting irritation on the neck—well, the Vision is a very nice razor indeed.

    BTW, you can also, of course, buy the book. 🙂



    25 June 2007 at 7:36 am

  37. LeisureGuy,
    Your talk about how great the Castle Forbes creams and products from their line interested me in their shaving products.
    However, there is not many reviews on the internet for their products.
    What I was wondering is how good their aftershaves are. Specifically, during summer when balms tend to make me feel my face is oily, could I be satisfied with the Castle Forbes AS Lime, or would it be better to consider something like Musgo Real “Cork” Splash?
    I am not planning to have a closed full of different products, so I do have a budget for one cream jar (I thought about the CF lime just because more people prefered to lavender in the forums you recommended, although I have not seen any review for each explaining more than “it’s a thick cream where a little goes a long way”) and the CF AS lime.

    If it is not good in the summer I could think about the musgo balsm for winter and their splash for the summer, but isn’t alcohol VERY bad for the skin especially a sensitive place like the face?

    Thank you for your time, and I wish you a Baby Smooth Shave every day 🙂



    16 August 2007 at 12:28 am

  38. I have only one CF balm, the Lavender. It’s good, but I don’t use it that often simply because I prefer a splash—and alcohol-based, generally. Quite a few shavers like balms for the winter, since the dry cold and drier interior heat (in colder climes) means the skin needs some moisturizing. I give some recommendations in the book, and the Castle Forbes balm would, I think, be good in that connection.

    So far, I’ve been using alcohol-based splashes for years, with no apparent ill result. Used on this morning, in fact: Geo. F. Trumper Spanish Leather. Very nice. I don’t have the Musgo Real splash that you mention, but it’s probably good: Musgo Real is a good brand.

    On the jars of Castle Forbes shaving cream, the labels say “Lavender Oil for Sensitive Skin” and “Lime Oil for Skin Prone to Nicks and Cuts,” but I suspect this is simply marketing.

    Hope this helps.



    16 August 2007 at 8:40 am

  39. Dear LeisureGuy,

    Thanks for being the reason I was introduced to DE shaving. I have a question, from reading your review of the merkur vision, I thought that I understood you are saying this razor is not compatible with all blade makes because of its size.
    Is this correct? I wouldn’t want to invest that much money in something that wouldn’t accept the blades that are readily available in my country such as the swedish gilettes and the german wilkinson.
    I hop they aren’t and i am lookign forward to your answer.


    Jean Claude

    1 September 2007 at 7:02 am

  40. The Vision works with all modern blades. I was trying to say that the Vision does not necessarily fit razor stands, which are typically made for smaller razors. Sorry. I’ll go amend that post to make it clear. Thanks for asking.



    1 September 2007 at 7:39 am

  41. Dear LeisureGuy,
    what is you opinion about the Merkur HD vs Merkur Long Handled HD?



    14 September 2007 at 5:07 am

  42. They have the same shaving head, so it becomes a matter of personal preference. I like the HD and sold my Long-Handled Classic. Others probably prefer the Long-Handled Classic.



    14 September 2007 at 7:41 am

  43. I have been using a Mach 3 blade and fancy handle that I bought a year ago. My problem is that the blade is now falling out of the handle. It will not stay in, and I have to put a finger on the blade to keep it in. I can’t see what the problem is, but I’m afraid to buy another similar expensive handle if this will happen again. The handles I have looked at all seem to have the same structure, and hold the blade the same way.


    Ben J

    5 October 2007 at 8:13 am

  44. Interesting. I have some safety razors with fancy handles—for example, those made by Edwin Jagger—and have had no problems. Indeed, in looking at the construction, I can’t see that a problem such as the one you describe is even possible. Why not try one of those?



    5 October 2007 at 8:16 am

  45. Hi, I am new to the world of wetshaving. I am thinking of starting out with a Merkur razor. My question is what is the difference between the Merkur HD Slant Safety razor and the Merkur HD Straight Safety razor? Is one better than the other for a beginner? Also, whats the difference between a styptic pencil and an alum bloc? Thanks!


    Mike C

    7 October 2007 at 11:47 am

  46. Not to put too fine a point on it, those questions and more are answered in the Guide to Gourmet Shaving. But, briefly:

    The most recommended razor for the beginner is the Merkur Hefty Classic (“HD”). The Merkur Slant was (in a few polls) not once recommended for a beginner. The Slant presents the blade at an angle to the stubble, which makes it very easy to cut the stubble—but also, unless your technique is good, your skin as well. So start with the HD and master that, then think about the Slant Bar.

    An alum block is made of alum (ideally, potassium (potash) alum) and a styptic pencil is usually made of aluminum sulfate anhydrous or titanium dioxide. Quite different. And, as noted in the post, I prefer My Nik Is Sealed to a styptic pencil.

    Hope this helps. Try the book.



    7 October 2007 at 12:03 pm

  47. An earlier comment suggested one of the cartridges for a first wet shave after using electric shavers. I think cartridge shaving technique is WAY too different from DE technique. (Gillette spent millions to engineer out shaving angle issues.)

    For the safest wetshave that gets you thinking about blade angle, get a Schick(r) Injector. Get one of the later models with an ordinary plastic handle from your favorite auction site. Avoid the more aggressive Bakelite-handled injectors that Grandpa used. Then shave, shave away.

    I like DE razors too, but there’s more to learn with a DE razor for a beginning wetshaver.


    John G.

    27 November 2007 at 1:16 pm

  48. Looks like Target (in Rhode Island, anyway) is no longer carrying Proraso products.



    2 May 2008 at 10:42 am

  49. Yeah, Target dropped the Proraso line. I’ve updated the post. Thanks for pointing it out.



    2 May 2008 at 2:03 pm

  50. LeisureGuy,

    I posted on this site probably a year ago, looking to perfect the shaving experience. I decided to go with a Merker HD; a lot of site recommended it, as well as this one. I used this razor, and after a few weeks of learning I did get a close shave, but still major razor burn on my neck. I then managed the angle of my blade, applied conditioner to my beard before the shave, and even bought a pre-shave oil and still had the same outcome. I decided after six months to switch to a Gillette sensor excel. It minimized the razor burn, but I still did not receive my perfection that I was looking for. (And I started to get acne) After that I decided to buy into the electric razor and paid 250 for the new Braun Pulsonic. Bad move, because it missed hairs, and now I have ingrown hair problems, not to mention a little acne! I am failing to see the success in any shaving technique. I must have the thickest hair, most sensitive skin, and craziest growth ever known to man. I am at your mercy. I’ve spent probably $350 this year trying to get the perfect shave. I feel “challenged” and especially frustrated beyond belief in this department!! I’ve read all your info and other sites, but I can’t get it right. Help!!!



    The Worst Shaver Ever

    2 October 2008 at 6:00 pm

  51. Razor burn on the neck is almost always due to blade angle and/or pressure. The neck presents a problem: lots of curves, irregular grain growth, and an awkward position for holding the razor correctly (light pressure, correct blade angle). The problem also might be the brand of blade—you don’t mention your blade exploration, but it’s worth trying some different brands.

    So far as the acne is concerned, the treatment depends on the severity. The second edition of the book has a chapter devoted to skin problems (acne, razor bumps, and ingrowns) and discusses some steps you can take. There are also some sites devoted to dealing with acne issues—a Google search on “acne” will find them.

    My suggestions:

    First, return to the HD and try a fairly large blade sampler pack—Razor and Brush has the best selection. Stick with a brand for a week and see whether it’s better than your previous “best blade” or not.

    Second, focus particularly on pressure as you shave your neck: very light pressure, and keep the blade almost parallel to the skin it’s shaving.

    Finally, you might want to try a Merkur Slant Bar. You can probably get one at a good price by posting a “Want to Buy” in the selling/trading section of the shaving forums. You’ll certainly want to use light pressure and appropriate blade angle with the Slant Bar, which you handle just as you do the HD—the difference is in the way the Slant Bar presents the edge to the stubble. I think this razor is by far the best choice for the combination of tough beard and sensitive skin. Again: a light touch.

    Hope this helps.



    3 October 2008 at 8:59 am

  52. Thanks Leisure guy, this is a great community to be part in. I lucked out, my father uses electric razors, and said he would buy it from me, so I won’t be losing out as much as I thought. I just bought a slant, to help improve the angle. I made the switch back the HD today, and got a suggestion to hold the razor at the very end with three fingers. To my surprise that also helped with the pressure and angle control! This is the first time in a while that I have not had razor burn. I’ll see if it keeps up with the following weeks. Once again this is a superb community when it comes to shaving tips and techniques. I’m thankful that I get the chance to pick at your shaving intelligence!


    Slowly Improving Wet Shaver

    5 October 2008 at 6:13 pm

  53. That particular tip (holding the razor by the end of the handle) is included in the book, along with quite a few other tips. You might consider getting a copy of the second edition. It is a helpful book, if I may say it myself.



    6 October 2008 at 7:43 am

  54. LeisureGuy
    I’m looking at buying a double-edge / safety razor. The ones I’m looking at are the Merkur “Vision Double Razor. Is there one that is similar but slightly less expensive? What’s the next level down? Is this the right one for somebody just starting to shave with a safety razor? Some of the other junior officers on the US Navy ship I’m on have experimented with a straight razor but I’m not wild about that option.

    Thanks for the help

    Very Respectfully,
    Brian Wright
    LT, USN
    Sasebo, Japan.


    Brian Wright

    16 December 2008 at 1:40 pm

  55. Hi, Brian. I would recommend against the Vision as a beginning razor. If you have a regular beard, the Merkur Hefty Classic (aka “HD”) is the most recommended beginner razor. If you have a light beard, a Weishi (much milder) might work—as would a Gillette Super Speed, but those are no longer made so you would have to get a used copy (through eBay or one of the shaving forums).

    Note the importance of the Blade Sampler pack. The blade is more important than the razor.



    16 December 2008 at 1:50 pm

  56. Hello everyone!
    I am looking to buy my first safety razor. I have ordered the book (should arrive on 1/15) but have a question. I am looking at the merkur HD and the
    Merkur “The Barber Pole” Hefty Long (Handled) Classic (in blue.) Is there a difference? The only thing I could find is one is sometimes listed as #34c and the other is listed as #38c. What does the number #34c or #145 mean? Do they all use the same blades? I have dark, thick Norwegian hair and grow thick tough stubble in a matter of hours. Will I do OK with the HD or should I start with the slant bar?
    Thanks in advance! Your blogs are very helpful!


    Brandon Theisen

    13 January 2009 at 6:19 pm

  57. I would recommend the Hefty Classic (“HD”). The two razors you mention have the same head, the only difference being the handle. The Barber Pole’s handle is much heavier and because of the spiral engraving tended to twist in my hand. Others found that if they supported the end of the handle with the little finger, the razor didn’t twist.

    All safety razors today use the same blades. I think the HD is still the best razor with which to learn, but the Slant Bar should definitely be your second razor.



    13 January 2009 at 10:03 pm

  58. Have you tried the Feather stainless steel d/e razor?
    I see CLassic shaving has them for $150


    John M

    22 June 2010 at 4:31 pm

  59. I bougth on eBay a vintage Red tip Gillette razor. I would like some advice on how to clean before using it.



    21 October 2010 at 9:37 pm

  60. @John M: Yes, I use the Feather premium stainless razor. It’s a delight to use, in fact. Totally tames the Feather blade and gives an excellent shave.

    @Rejean: Try soaking the razor in hot water from the tap to which you’ve added white vinegar (about 4 parts water to 1 part vinegar). Let that soak for an hour, then rinse clean. If you want, you can polish it by using a toothbrush and a nonabrasive cleaner, such as Scrubbing Bubbles or Bon Ami. That should do it.



    22 October 2010 at 3:58 am

  61. Bonjour Lesure Guy,

    Thanks for the advice. I definitely will do it.



    22 October 2010 at 8:16 am

  62. You can buy affordable safety razor shaving set, that includes double edge razor, blades, cream and brush at



    22 January 2011 at 3:53 pm

  63. The razor recommended for Method Shaving is the Merkur Hefty …



    24 August 2015 at 11:50 am

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