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  1. #1
    Senior Member De Layne's Avatar
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    Default Blade suggestions for new DE users

    Hiya,

    New DE shavers might read about all the different blades out there to sample. Yeah, there's quite a few to choose from, and maybe I can make things a little easier. I've been shaving with a DE(well, lots of em) for a number of years, and have got things down pretty well by now. Can't tell you how many blades I've used, but it's a bunch. I've also done a fair bit of reading about things I haven't actually tried, which can also be educational.

    First, let me just say that yes, the Feather blade's the sharpest one out there. It's also true that it's not the right blade for many people. A blade can be too sharp and can cause the shave to be less comfortable than it should. Plus, many people don't even need that sharp of a blade to achieve a very close AND comfortable shave. In addition, the sharper the blade, the better your technique should be.

    Mild blades can quite often offer very nice results, and my thought is to start with one of those in the beginning. Stay with the same type blade for a few weeks until everything starts coming together. You'll have less of a chance of cutting yourself and it's possible a mild blade is gonna be your preference anyway.

    After a couple weeks, try another blade and see how that feels. Without knowing it, you'll have developed a reference point about blades. You'll know pretty quick if that new blade is better or worse than the last. It's all about understanding what to look for in a blade, and that only comes with experience. After a while you'll know within 1-2 strokes if a new blade's for you or not.

    I'll list a few mild and a few sharper blades. I won't recommend any one type, since the ones I like you might hate.....heh.

    Some mild blades with very good reputations are the Crystal(Israeli Personna) and also the Red Personna. Derbys are also used a lot, and I believe are on the milder side.

    Shaper blades would include Shark stainless steel, Gillette SharpEdge(yellow) and Super Iridiums. Feathers should be used after your technique has been fine tuned. The Iridium blade would be the first one I'd recommend......an excellent blade. Very sharp, but quite forgiving. These come closest to the legendary old Swedes performance wise, at least to me. Matter of fact, I like the Iridium a little more.

    There's a bunch of other blades somewhere in the middle, and I'm sure I'm leaving out other sharper and milder ones as well. This post is just a sorta vague guideline on what might be good to start off with......especially if you have a sampler pack.

    One blade to stay away from would be the Merkur. These are often included with a razor purchase, but I'd strongly suggest you wait a while before shaving with one. You wanna have that reference point I was talking about before trying a Merkur blade. Most people don't like these blades, but some do.

    I've read that straight users will catch on to DE shaving quicker than someone using a cartride system. Makes sense, since some parts of technique carry over. Things like no pressure and not rushing things are examples. Still, I'd guess it would take maybe a week or longer to get the hang of what a good DE shave can be like.

    I hope this helps out in some way, and maybe others would care to add their thoughts.

    Martin
    Last edited by De Layne; 07-01-2010 at 09:07 PM.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member blabbermouth niftyshaving's Avatar
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    Nice summary....
    Another subtle thing is that one blade in one razor
    may be very different in another razor and adjustable
    razors are less adjustable than some expect.

    And always whisker and skin prep combined with lathering
    can make or break any shave. The point about a 'reference'
    point should include a base line consistent soap and lathering prep.

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  5. #3
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    Seems like a common sense approach for DE first timers. Crystal blades are nice, although I do find them sharper than Derby blades. IMO Derby's are probably a newb's best bet as they are very smooth blades, very forgiving. But Israelli blades would be a good bet too.

    I actually started out with Merkur blades, and I'm sure many others did as well. Are they the best blade? Nope, but I don't think they are the worst either. Very middle of the road.

    Interestingly enough, I don't find Shark blades all that sharp. I know they have their fans, but I can't really say I'm among them.

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  7. #4
    Senior Member De Layne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by niftyshaving View Post

    Another subtle thing is that one blade in one razor
    may be very different in another razor and adjustable
    razors are less adjustable than some expect.
    Hi Tom,

    I agree with you about blades sometimes performing differently, depending on the razor. Finding the correct blade/razor combo is the name of the game for the best shave possible. It's not tough to get a good shave, but a great shave can take a while to achieve. Heh, I'm trying not to scare possible DE users by telling em what's really involved.

    Gotta start somewhere, and finding a blade is part of the deal. Finding the right razor is a whole other bit of craziness. Putting em both together can be an 'interesting' journey.

    Yeah, it's baby steps for a while........all trial and error. No substitute for personal experience as you know.

    I use a Gillette adjustable as my go to razor, and have for a bunch of years now. I have lots of other razors that are nice for a change of pace, but the adjustable fits me perfectly. I'm able to dial in the exact amount of aggressive nature to the razor that suits my face. Once that magic number was found there was no need to ever touch the adjuster dial again. Set it and forget it.

    I would never use this if it was a fixed head razor, preset to a much higher number. I have razors that are great looking, but I can't use em. Can't adjust those to be comfortable. I change technique to compensate, but it doesn't help.

    I'm guessing you've had a different experience than me.......maybe with another brand of adjustable? That's the only thing I can think of.

    Thanks for the post,

    Martin

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  9. #5
    Senior Member De Layne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan82 View Post
    Seems like a common sense approach for DE first timers. Crystal blades are nice, although I do find them sharper than Derby blades. IMO Derby's are probably a newb's best bet as they are very smooth blades, very forgiving. But Israelli blades would be a good bet too.

    I actually started out with Merkur blades, and I'm sure many others did as well. Are they the best blade? Nope, but I don't think they are the worst either. Very middle of the road.
    .
    Hi there,

    I started out with a Merkur blade myself, and can't decide if I'd recommend em as a first blade. The end result was good in my case, but maybe not the most comfortable way to go.

    I used those for two weeks straight. Luckily, I had a razor that was a good fit for me, although I didn't know it at the time. The end of two weeks I was still getting some poor shaves. No cuts, but some pulling and the blade dragging over my face. Not great.

    I changed brands after that period and immediately my shaves improved dramatically. Yep, turned out the Merkur wasn't a good fit. The only problem was I didn't know it.

    I realized I'd been starting to perfect my technique without knowing it. Wasn't till I tried another brand that I started to see the light. If I used a Merkur blade now I'd bet money I'd get a poor shave......even in that go to razor. Some members use those regularly, but not very many. I was mainly mentioning those because a new DE user would probably figure one blade's the same as the next.

    In my case, it was a lesson well learned, but a sorta cruel route to take.

    Martin

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  11. #6
    Senior Member Arrowhead's Avatar
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    Finding a decent blade or selection of blades is pretty much the be all and end all of DE shaving, and frankly it's what gave me the impetus to take up shaving with a straight razor.

    For more than 20 years I shaved with a DE exclusively, and always with Wilkinson Sword blades, with the occasional Gillette Platinum ("Swede") when they came my way. I still think that these two blades were the best ever to be produced, and both are discontinued now (Wilks are no longer made in the UK - the ones bearing the name nowadays seem to have a lot in common with Merkurs, actually). There are plenty of good blades around, and I've settled on a few brands, but none of them suit me quite as well.

    So, to reiterate what I've said quite a few times before: try plenty of different makes, sticking with each one for at least a week, and when you find one which works really well for you - buy a lot.

    My recommendations, in no particular order: Super Iridium, Gillette 7 o'clock yellow, Feather (these don't suit everybody), red Personna.

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  13. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by De Layne View Post
    I started out with a Merkur blade myself, and can't decide if I'd recommend em as a first blade. The end result was good in my case, but maybe not the most comfortable way to go.

    I used those for two weeks straight. Luckily, I had a razor that was a good fit for me, although I didn't know it at the time. The end of two weeks I was still getting some poor shaves. No cuts, but some pulling and the blade dragging over my face. Not great.

    I changed brands after that period and immediately my shaves improved dramatically. Yep, turned out the Merkur wasn't a good fit. The only problem was I didn't know it.

    I realized I'd been starting to perfect my technique without knowing it. Wasn't till I tried another brand that I started to see the light. If I used a Merkur blade now I'd bet money I'd get a poor shave......even in that go to razor. Some members use those regularly, but not very many. I was mainly mentioning those because a new DE user would probably figure one blade's the same as the next.

    In my case, it was a lesson well learned, but a sorta cruel route to take.

    Martin
    Martin, pretty much everything you wrote somehow seems very familiar to me I suspect we are on the same page as far as DE shaving goes.....

    Take care,

    Ryan

  14. #8
    Senior Member De Layne's Avatar
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    Hiya,

    You know, I don't think I woulda started this thread in most of the other shaving forums. Normally the topics are all positive and can sorta avoid what the deal really is about how far down the badger burrow goes. I'm glad to see some experienced DE users comment on their own journey of finding the right blades. They are a big deal and can affect the shaves dramatically.

    So, I was saying that being honest about this 'hobby' can be a bit daunting for new DE users to read about. This particular audience(straight users) have already gone through some serious trials to get that type of shaving down. I think they can understand the concept of trial and error, and learning through experience. Heh, I also think some of em may get a kick about how far this DE thing can go.

    I also figured I'd give the new to wetshaving members the straight scoop. I'd say there's a bunch of blades you can start, and it'll be fine. I'd stay away from the Merkur and Feather, but many others should do the trick. Hell, you won't know what a good(for you) blade is anyway, so pick one of those with a good reputation to start with. They're a crapshoot anyway.

    The main thing for you new guys is to stick with that one type blade for a few weeks. By then your technique will be mostly pretty good, and you will have become familiar with that blade. The difference in blades can be subtle or obvious, and that knowledge comes only with actually using the various blades yourself. You won't need to spend that much time testing the next blades, since you'll start to know which one feels good and what doesn't.

    Straight users looking for the occasional 'casual' DE shave might be a little dissappointed with the shave quality, and rightfully so. Unless the time and effort is spent finding the right blade, the shave is always gonna be a limited success.

    There are some blades I flat out can't use. They pull and feel awful on my face.......I'd go back to using an injector if all blades were that bad. Most other blades are various degrees of ok, and a few are perfect for me. It's nuts how much a blade can matter, IF you're looking for the perfect shave. Otherwise, there's a bunch of not bad blades that would give you a not bad shave. Just depends what you're looking for.

    Whew, I think that's plenty for now,

    Martin
    Last edited by De Layne; 07-01-2010 at 10:00 PM.

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  16. #9
      Lynn's Avatar
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    Nice Thread Guys!!

    And some great information.

    Thanks,

    Lynn

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    Thanks for the post. I have a nephew who is just starting out and.....well this is a timely thread. He is in the military so I need to get some to him before he deploys.


    Take Care,
    Richard

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