For Christmas I got a safety razor and the accompanying shave mug and soap. I had asked for these items because I’m tired of using a mach 3 (high cost, good shave with several days worth of growth, decent shave with only one day’s worth of growth) and wanted to see what else was out there. Based on what I’ve read there is about a one to two week learning curve before you start seeing good results. My prediction is that my Monday morning shave will be about the same as it was with the mach 3 but that my Tuesday – Friday shave will be better than with a mach 3. Additionally, the cost for replacement blades are far cheaper than for a mach 3. ($10 for 30 versus $15 for 4). Here are my initial impressions:
Day 1: 2 days worth of growth using standard canned shaving foam. Razor cut through growth with no problem. Difficult to get a feel for the proper angle to hold the blade. Had to go over trouble areas multiple times resulting in mild razor burn. Final results comparable to mach 3. Overall rating: Decent.
Day 2: 1 day worth of growth using standard shaving foam. Razor cut through growth with no problem, which is good because a major drawback to the mach 3 was that it had a hard time cutting only one days worth of growth. Better feel for the proper angle. Required fewer passes over trouble areas. Still had some mild razor burn. Overall rating: Decent.
Day 3: 1 day worth of growth using new shaving soap. First day shaving before going to work. Time wasn’t a factor but I still felt rushed. Unable to get as close a monday morning shave as I’m used to but this had more to do with having shaved yesterday rather than having 3 days worth of growth. Will hold off on judgement until next monday. Increased razor burn due to multiple passes. Had trouble getting the soap to lather, which contributed to the razor burn. Need to focus on getting better lather and making fewer passes. Overall rating: OK.
Day 4: Much better lather. Still not quite where I need it but awfully close. Still had to go over areas multiple times at different angles to get the same results as a mach 3 but far less razor burn due to better lather. Small nick on the chin – will have to watch out for that. Time not a problem and I found the whole process fairly enjoyable though we’ve still got a way to go before ‘zen like.’ Blade far more comfortable on one days growth than a mach 3. Overall rating: Good.
Day 5: Too much water in the lather. Required fewer passes to get decent results. No nicks. Razor burn OK so far but worried if it will get worse as the day goes on (as happened yesterday). I think it’s time to change the blade. Overall rating: Good.
Day 6: Good lather. Still needed a fair amount of passes but got very good results. Minimal razor burn that went away fairly quickly. Able to devote more time than usual due to not going into work today. Starting to see the benefits. Overall rating: Very good.
Day 7: The same as day 6, which is good.
Day 8: This was the true test. The first work monday with a full weekend’s worth of scruff and a brand new blade. Overall I’m not terribly impressed. It didn’t get as close a shave as I get with a mach 3 and to make it worse, the blade hurt going over my goatee area just as much as a mach 3. This is not an encouraging sign. Plus, it takes me a lot time to shave my chin area. On the plus side, my skin is now used to the new blade so there is no razor burn. I’m starting to think the safety razor is a bust, but, all is not lost because I like the shave soap and mug. I’m thinking I’m going to finish out the week with the safety razor so I can get a good two week test and then try the shaving soap/mug with a mach 3. Overall rating: good.
Day 9: A good day. If every shave was like today I would be pleased. Overall rating: Very good.
Day 10: We’ve finally reached the point where it’s become routine. I’ve settled into a nice rythmn, there is zero razor burn, and the shave is where I want it to be. Overall rating: Excellent.
Day 11: Getting better each day. Overall rating: Excellent.
Day 12: Last day of test and overall I am satsified and plan to continue using the safety razor instead of the mach 3. Overall rating: Excellent.
Final thoughts: Now that I’ve gotten used to the safety razor I’m really starting to see the benefits. First, the soap is very nice. It feels good rubbing it on your face and you feel like you’re not only prepping to shave but are cleaning out your pores as well. I also like that I can throw a little cool water on my face when I’m done and the soap comes off quite easily, whereas with shaving cream I had to wipe my face down with a wet towel. Not a huge deal but it makes you feel better that what you’re using is a natural soap rather than a bunch of chemicals. Overall my face seems cleaner and I get fewer blemishes, cuts and other unsightly skin problems. I can’t swear it’s due solely to the shaving soap but since I haven’t changed anything else it would seem to make sense. Second, the razor is very good once you get a feel for it. It’s not, ‘Holy Crap, this is the best shave of my life!’ good, but it’s consistently as good any day as a mach 3 is on it’s best day. Plus, it’s cheap. Once you’ve bought the razor, the blades are very cheap, which means you can put a fresh one in each week instead of having to choose between seeing how long you can stretch your mach 3 or buying new blades all the time. Third, no in grown hairs. I didn’t get them all that often using a mach 3 (usually only on Mondays) but when I did they hurt. So far, no in grown hairs and I don’t think they’ll be any because of the way the blade cuts compared to a mach 3. Finally, the entire process is enjoyable. It’s nice to force yourself to take your time instead of rushing through. By hitting the snooze one less time I have plenty of time in the morning to devote to shaving. This doesn’t make shaving something I look forward to but it does make it something I no longer dread. I’m not about to throw away my mach 3 and proclaim the safety razor the greatest tool ever, but it does do a very good job and now that I’ve got the hang of it I’m quite pleased.