A few years ago I had a friend/co-worker tell me that they were really into shaving. He treated it like a hobby…perfecting his skill with an old style straight edge razor and buying up all the little shaving goodies. It sounded kind of dumb to me at the time. I couldn’t imagine anyone making a hobby out of one of my least favorite things to do: shaving. Shaving sucks. When I wake up and realize I have to go into the office, the first thing that crosses my mind is “oh man, I have to work today…”, second thing is “crap, I have to shave today too”. Lately I’ve started wondering if there are more enjoyable ways to shave. As I’ve gotten older I’ve started to figure a few things out…I’m satisfied with the way I style my hair now, I’ve found shoes that are comfortable and cheap, I know where to buy a decent pair of jeans…but I still haven’t figured out how to have an enjoyable shave. Then I found wicked_edge.
Wicked_edge is a sub-reddit made for people like my old friend that like to go and geek out over shaving. People post pictures of their shaving set-ups, talk about all these fancy balms and aftershaves…I’m surprised I haven’t come across unboxing videos. These guys are really into shaving. Call me weird, but this stuff is fascinating. I’m enthralled with the idea of using an old style razor and lathering up my face with some nice warm cream. I’m imagining how refreshing it will feel to get that awesome shave in the morning and how good I’ll smell all day after using some fancy aftershave. Now that I’ve got that sweet, sweet tax return money in my hot little hands I’ve decided to place my order for my double edged safety razor shaving set-up. This is the stuff I ended up buying:
I went with the Edwin Jagger De89bl. This particular model comes highly recommended by the community and a reasonable price ($32). The other razor I looked at was the Merkur 180 which is also very well regarded and basically the same price.
Amazon also has the De89lbl, the only difference being that the handle on the lbl has vertical lines running up it to provide more grip. If the lbl was in stock I would have grabbed that one instead. By the way, the “bl” at the end just means that it comes with a pack of blades and isn’t really part of the razor model number. You can also get the De86/87 which I think just have shorter handles and the handles come in finishes like ivory or black. All of the models I mentioned have the same head.
I decided to get a sampler pack of blades so that I could try out a few different types to see what worked best with my face. There is a wide variety of sampler packs on Amazon, but I decided to buy this sample pack from West Coast Shaving since the pack included the brands of blades that most people seem to like. Feather brand blades in particular seem to be a favorite and this pack includes 10 to try out. At $10 for 35 blades, I think it’s a great deal.
This one was a hard decision. The prices range anywhere from $10 on up to $150+. Brushes can be made with boar hair, badger hair, horse hair, unicorn hair…there’s just a lot to choose from. I almost pulled the trigger on the Tweezerman shaving brush since a lot of people seem to like it and it’s only $12, but I didn’t want to waste any money on a brush that might end up being crappy. The Tweezerman brush is made with badger hair, but the hair is cut to create the fan shape unlike better brushes that leave the hair uncut. It’s the ends of the hair that are nice and soft on your face, which is why the better brushes aren’t cut. Generally badger brushes that say “pure” or “black” are the crappier ones, the ones that say “finest” or “best” are mid-grade, and the ones that say “silvertip” are the best (softest).
Apparently all the badger hair comes from China where badgers are considered to be vermin. I came across some posts talking about Frank Shaving, some badger brush manufacturer in China that has a few resellers on eBay. Quite a few people had commented that their brushes had a tremendous bang for the buck. I decided to order the Finest Badger hair Shaving Brush #Kenilworth Faux Ebony from Ian Tang’s eBay store. With shipping the brush cost me about $30. These brushes used to be cheaper on eBay, but apparently changes in the exchange rate and rising costs for badger hair have pushed the price up a bit. Still, the “finest” brushes from Frank Shaving are supposed to be on par with brushes from other brands that cost twice as much. The pictures on eBay also don’t show that the brush comes with a nice little stand, which is pretty cool and saves you a few bucks. The only downside is that it ships from China, so I’ll probably have to wait 2-3 weeks before it shows up.
I saw the name Proraso come up a lot when looking at shaving creams. They make a wide variety of creams and soaps and have been in business for a loooong time. I decided to try out the Proraso cream that comes in a tube instead of the stuff that comes in a tub. I see a lot of people using the tub stuff, but I think you’ll probably get more mileage out of the tube. Someone mentioned in a review that the tube lasted them 8 months and they shaved frequently. I bought the re-branded Proraso that is sold under the C.O. Bigelow brand which is generally sold at Bath & Body Works. It’s the same exact product, but $1 cheaper.
I bought two types of aftershave: alum and bay rum.
According to the interwebs, alum is a compound that occurs naturally in nature. You usually buy it in block form and when you’re done with your shave, you wet the block with cold water and run it over your face. The alum helps soothe razor burn and tighten up the skin (in a good way). I bought the RazoRock Alum in Case because it seems easier to handle than a block and I don’t have to keep it out on a soap dish or anything.
I bought some bay rum because I want to smell good. I chose the Ogallala bonanza pack which comes with samples of their top 5 bay rum products: 4 aftershaves and 1 cologne. I wanted to give them each a good sniff before I invested in a bigger bottle. It was about $16 plus shipping, not too bad.
I almost bought the Colonel Ichabod Conk Stainless Steel Shave Cup, but I decided I wanted something ceramic that might hold heat better and keep the shaving cream warm. My plan is to fill the sink with hot water and keep the shaving bowl in the hot water to keep the cream warm. I went down to the Goodwill and bought the bowl shown above for $1, can’t beat that.
I really wanted to buy a cool looking stand, like the Colonel Conk Evernice Model 775 Chrome Safety Razor Stand, but I decided against it since I don’t want the kids seeing the razor out and decide to shave off half of their face. I’ll probably end up getting this leather razor case just so that I have something to store the razor in.
This kit ended up costing me a total of about $110, not exactly cheap…but not really that expensive either considering how much I was paying for cartridge refills for the Mach III. I haven’t bought the razor case yet and I’ll probably end up trying some other shaving stuffs, but for now it seems like I have everything I’ll need to get that nice comfortable shave :). I’ll post again once I’ve given everything a try.