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Are you looking for a unique idea for your groomsmen gifts — or a gift for a birthday, Father’s Day, or any other occasion? Consider picking up an old school double-edge safety razor for something out of the ordinary.
The below video should give you a pretty good idea about why I think (a) you should switch to safety razors and (b) why they’d make for great gifts that your groomsmen would use for a VERY long time.
When I Started Using A Safety Razor
Back in 2007 or 2008 my brother was visiting me in Hawaii, where I was stationed at the time. He saw I was still using a Mach 3 or Fusion or whatever was popular at that time.
He swapped a fresh blade into his Merkur razor and let me try it for a few times. There was a little bit of a learning curve as I had to be a little more careful around moles and my Adam’s apple. But once I got past those issues I was hooked.
So for the last 11+ years I’ve used a safety razor almost exclusively. The few exceptions have been when I’ve traveled light. Apparently the TSA doesn’t like double edge blades in your carry-on bag because they could theoretically be removed and used as weapons.
I also switched to a normal cartridge or a disposable razor when deployed or in the field. It just wasn’t practical to mess with shave soap and a brush in those situations.
Advantages Of Safety Razors
A Better Shave
First things first, once you get past a brief learning curve you’ll get a much closer shave with a double edge razor.
When I was still active duty in the Marine Corps, I would often shave late at night to avoid having to do so when groggy at 5am the next day. My safety razor gave a close enough shave that I could roll onto base in the morning and still look like I’d shaved 10 minutes before.
Now, this approach may not work if you’re the kind of guy who has a 5 o’clock shadow by noon. But for those with slower growth and less-thick beards you should be fine.
Less Skin Irritation
The sharpness and fine edge on quality blades mean that you can shave against the grain of your beard without irritating your skin.
Do you have a skin type that’s prone to ingrown hairs, razor burn, or bumps? You’ll likely find that a safety razor does wonders for those irritating problems.
BIG Cost Savings On Razor Blades
Once you get past the upfront costs of buying the equipment, you’ll save a LOT of money on replacement blades. On Amazon you can get a 100-pack of Astra blades for as little as $7.73 with free Prime shipping (as seen here). Compare that to Fusion blades which will run you $33.99 for a 12-pack but won’t last any longer on a per-blade basis.
As for cost, this New York Times article from a few years ago shows how much you’ll save over a lifetime:
Estimated lifetime cost of a daily shave, by brand:
Gillette Fusion ProShield: $22,000
Schick Hydro 5: $13,000
Gillette Sensor3: $7,000
Bic single-blades: $2,000
Astra blades: $400
What Do You Need To Get Started Shaving With A Double Edge Razor?
As I mentioned above, the upfront costs for a double edge razor and accessories are a bit higher than you’d have with a Gillette or Schick razor.
The Razor Handle
First, you’ll need to buy the razor itself. You can get a solid razor for somewhere in the $30 range, or you can spend $200+ if that’s your thing.
The Edwin Jagger razor shown in the above video is a solid option at $44, available here.
Aside from aesthetics, materials, and factors like handle length and thickness, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between razors at those extremes of pricing.
The main function-related choice I’ve noticed has to do with the way that the razor secures its blades.
It’s a little hard to see in the below photo, but once you unscrew the head of the Edwin Jagger razor you will have three separate parts. You have the rounded cap which has a screw post in the center and two outer prongs to go through the holes in the blade.
Then the metal guard goes below the blade, and has three holes to accommodate the screw post and the two prongs. The blade gets sandwiched in between and curved slightly to give it an optimal cutting angle.
One major upside of this design is that you can separate the three parts and wash/sanitize them individually.
The other main style of razor features a twist-to-open or a “butterfly” design like you see in the below Boker Safety Razor.
Twisting the bottom of the handle results in the two parts of the cap opening up for easy blade replacement. The one-piece design makes for faster blade swaps and no risk of losing parts. But the downside is that this style is a bit harder to clean.
Classic Shaving has an in-depth article (with video) available right here if my explanation didn’t make sense.
High-Quality Shaving Cream or Shaving Soap
While you can use regular cream or gel out of a can, you’ll get better results by applying shaving cream or soap with a quality brush.
For shaving cream, you can go with a bowl like the Original Shave Company blend shown in the video (here). It’s about the consistency of Cool Whip and comes in a self-contained bowl with a screw-on lid.
Get some of the cream on a wet brush and it’ll lather up nicely on your face and neck. Or if you find yourself without a brush, your fingers will do.
I’ve also used several types of cream from Taylor of Old Bond Street and have been happy with them. Some of the scents are nice enough to make shaving seem like it isn’t such a chore.
The other main option for getting a lather is shaving soap like you see below.
This style resembles a normal solid bar of soap, but they normally have ingredients that protect and moisturize the skin. It lathers up with no sweat once you stir a wet brush around in it.
You can buy a fancy wood bowl as shown above and refill it when a bar runs out. Or you can keep things simple with something like this Col Conk soap and its disposable plastic packaging.
Again, you can spend as little as $10 for a good-enough brush, all the way up to $150+ for a top of the line silver tipped badger hair brush.
I’d recommend going for a brush in the $30-40 range so you can get badger hair that will hold enough water to lather your soap or cream.
It’s not a bad idea to buy (or make) a metal or wood stand that will let you hang your brush upside-down after use and allow it to dry.
What Should You Get For Groomsmen Gifts?
When it comes to choosing the right groomsmen gifts, we’ve talked extensively about buying gifts that your groomsmen will actually use.
If you don’t buy practical gifts for your groomsmen, you might as well light your money on fire. There’s no point to buy something that will sit in a drawer or on a shelf unused. Or worse, the kind of gift that will go into the trash can right after the wedding.
Obviously, a nice safety razor is something most men will use nearly every day. And a good razor and brush will last decades, if not longer.
The all-inclusive shaving kits you can see here from Original Shave Company are a good place to start. They have several options for the razor, blades, soap/cream, and brush. You can also opt to include pre-shave oil or aftershave.
If none of the bundles are a good fit for you, then you can always build an a la carte set. Piece together your favorite components from each category on the site. Then put them into a monogrammed dopp kit or gift box for each recipient and you’re all set.
Depending on where you order from, you may be able to get custom engraving on the razor handle or the bowl. Or you could always take them to a local engraver to add a name, monogram, or any other text.