Switching from a disposable cartridge razor to a double edge razor is a relatively straight forward experience. The techniques used have a few small yet important differences, and because the razor will last many years looking after it is important.
This guide was written to try and cover everything you will need to know when jumping in to shaving with a double edge razor.
In this Beginner's Guide we will cover the following:
- Different types of double edge razor
- How to load a razor blade
- How to prepare your face
- Shaving techniques
- Razor maintenance
- Popular Brands
- Frequently Asked Questions
So let's start!
Firstly, there are three general types of double edge razors - one-piece (or butterfly), two piece, and three piece design.
One-piece razors have a butterfly style mechanical latch which allows access to the removal and installation of a new blade without pulling the entire razor apart.
The two-piece razors have the handle twist off so that the top of the cutting head comes away from the base.
A three-piece razor has both the top and bottom of the cutting head come away from the handle.
Depending on what style of razor you have changes the method in which you load a razor blade slightly.
Loading a razor blade is extremely easy but there are a couple of key points to look out for.
This video below gives a great introduction into just how easy it is to load a blade into a two-piece double edge razor:
Remember - if there is any looseness in the razor then make sure you adjust the skew of the blade to ensure it is even along the blade and even on both sides of the razor.
Loading a blade into a butterfly razor is just as simple - but it may have a single flat piece of metal to position the blade instead of the three-prong design.
You should prepare your face in a similar way whether you are using a disposable razor, a double edge, shavette, cut throat razor or any other variety. This guarantees that your facial hairs are soft, and there is sufficient lubrication to prevent cuts and razor burn.
Soften your facial hair
Hold a hot towel on your face or have a shower. This will soften your facial hair and remove any dirt and oils from the day.
Apply a lather
A good quality shaving soap will help to lubricate your face and soften your hair. Application with a badger haired brush will also align your hairs and improve your shave.
The techniques used with a double edge razor is very similar to how you are probably already shaving with a disposable cartridge razor.
The key lesson to learn is the angle of the razor - target 30 degrees.
Don't apply too much pressure - use the sharpness of the razor blade to do the cutting, not just applying more pressure.
If you start missing hairs or the closeness of the shave reduces leaving prickly skin behind then change out the razor blade. Don't keep using a blunt blade and just doing more and more passes. The less passes the better in terms of irritation to your skin.
Start shaving with the grain - this means from top to bottom. If you are unhappy with how smooth this shave gives then do a second pass against the grain from bottom to top. The first pass will make this significantly easier and will reduce the likelihood of getting ingrown hairs.
A good quality double edge razor will last for many years and will continue to give you a better shave as long as you maintain it. The main culprit responsible for razor damage is rust and corrosion.
Even stainless steel razors and still stain 'less' not stain free.
Keep your razor dry - this can a difficult task in the wet and humid environment of a bathroom. We recommend drying your razor after each use and keeping it away from the potential for getting in contact with moisture.
The other important factor is storage to avoid your razor getting damaged from cats or kids. Some options include:
- Storing it in a towel on a high shelf
- Storage within a leather pouch
- Keeping it within a wooden razor box
There are plenty of great manufacturers of double edge razors available... however there are also plenty of terrible ones. We strive to only stock quality suppliers so that our customers never have to worry about quality. Our recommended brands of double edge razors include:
If you have any recommendations from personal experience then please leave a comment below.
Are all double edge razor blades the same?
No. Razor blades come in different materials from platinum to stainless to chrome. They also have different sharpness straight out of the packet. Have a look at the table below to see different brand's razor blade sharpness.
Why are double edge razors better?
Double edge razors often can reduce skin irritation, shave bumps, and ingrown hairs compared to disposable cartridge razors, because they have only one razor blade against the skin at one time. Double edge razors have lower waste than cartridge razors. They also provide a much smoother shave than electric razors.
How often should you change your razor blade?
When you notice the razor blade starting to tug on hairs while shaving then it is time to change out the razor blade. For a double edge razor, this is around the 5-10 shaves, although of course is dependent on the brand of razor blade.
What is the sharpest double edge razor blade?
We have put together this list of razor blade brands and their sharpness below:
- Astra Superior Platinum – Super Sharp
- BIC Chrome Platinum – Super Sharp
- Feather Hi-Stainless – Super Sharp
- Wilkinson Sword – Very Sharp
- Lord Super Chrome – Very Sharp
- Persona Platinum – Sharp
- Gillette Super Stainless – Sharp
- Merkur Platinum – Moderate
- Derby Extra - Smooth
- Shark Super Stainless – Super Smooth
Should I shave with or against the grain?
Always start shaving with the grain – this means from the top of the face towards the chin. This will remove the bulk of the hair and is the least likely to hurt sensitive skin. After one pass with the grain then you can do another pass against the grain to get a smoother finish.
What shaving soap should I use?
This really comes down to personal preference. Soap pucks are cheaper and last longer but take longer to build into a lather and a thinner lather. Shaving cream is more expensive but builds into a thick, long-lasting lather. I personally prefer shaving creams. One of the fun parts of wet shaving is trying different soaps and finding the best for your razor and skin type.
What is the best angle to shave?
The magic angle is 30 degrees as this provides sufficient angle for the blade to run across the skin. This can be different for different razor designs and types. We recommend starting at 30 degrees and adjusting slightly based on your experience and results.
How long does it take to learn how to use a double edge razor?
Double edge razors are extremely similar in technique to disposable cartridge razors, and hence they only take 3-5 shaves to learn how to use. Trying out different shaving soaps, creams, razor blades, and pre-shave oils can take several months to find the ideal product for your personnel preference.
What does alum do?
Alum is an antiseptic that stops nicks and cuts from continuing to bleed. This is particularly handy for beginners to wet shaving who are likely to get small cuts as they practice shaving with a new technique. Alum is also very useful when shaving because the wet face allows the blood to run.
How many times can you use a razor blade?
When you notice the razor blade starting to tug on hairs while shaving then it is time to change out the razor blade. For a double edge razor this is around the 5-10 shaves, although of course is dependent on the brand of razor blade.
Getting started in the world of wet shaving is an exciting and rewarding experience and a double edge razor is a great starting point.
If you are keen to get started with a double edge razor then have a look at your store at Cut Throat Club.