Real shaving, what’s it all about?

Just now there is a growing fashion, a zeitgeist, a popular movement back to an older form of male grooming. This involves using shaving soaps or creams with a brush to generate a lather, then a double edged (DE) safety razor to actually shave. This is a similar popular movement, fuelled by what people really want,  to the real ale and microbrewery movement. What makes it possible is the internet, for spreading knowledge and making purchases, and, to a lesser extent, the continued use of real shaving in the developing world, which creates an ongoing market for the key products.

Real shaving is partly a reaction against the marketing of the big shaving companies and their amazingly expensive products. Aerosol shaving gels and foams are mainly water and they often contain lots of petrochemicals in order to do their job. For a cheaper cost per shave you can luxuriate in prestige products made from natural ingredients. It is the same with the razor blades. A multibladed system razor cartridge can cost well over £2, yet reportedly costs just 5p to make. With real shaving you can buy from a wide choice of different quality blade brands and 10p is all you need to pay.

But it is not just cost. Real shaving converts what is a daily chore with system razors into a special event, a ceremony to look forwards to every day. Real shaving is fun because it is personal to you. You can choose from many shaver models to get the one that you like. Likewise with the blade. Each day you can choose which luxurious soap or cream you will enjoy. The various combinations are infinite because there are no patents protecting the designs. So anyone can make a double edged razor, and anyone can make the standardised blade design to go in it.

There is more. Whilst real shaving is very easy and instinctive to do, it rewards technique, it is something you can get better at with practice. So each day you try different things and see the results. And as your skills increase so does the quality of your shave. Till it is far, far better than any system razor could produce.

And just to finish of we can look at daily choice. The various components of a real shave are so cheap that you can buy many different ones and give yourself a choice every day. I have a 1930s Gillette Tech razor, a 1960 Gillette Fat Boy razor and a 2010 Edwin Jagger DE89L razor (amongst others) also I have over 20 shaving soaps and creams. So every day I can have exactly the experience that my mood takes me to. This is a great luxury in life and is the exact opposite of the standardised experience you get with system razors.


  1. Congratulations and best wishes for your blog. Beware where it may lead. I’ve gone from Fido’s Shaving Blog to Fido’s Shaving Brush Blog to New Forest Brushes.
    I hope you encourage more people into this crazy obsession!

  2. I have followed the wet-shaving renaissance with great interest as I myself am one having been converted to it by my father. The cost of shaving using the cartridge and aerosol method is well documented, what is not so well publicised is the vast sums paid to Messrs. Fedderer, Beckam and Henry to endorse their products when they generally appear unshaven in public. Amazing!

  3. I got disgusted when I couldn’t shave off a week’s growth with my 4-blade vibrating wonder razor. It clogged up with hairs almost immediately and I couldn’t rinse them out. Then it barely worked and I had to scrape and hack to finish the job. The expensive cartridge was junk.

    That got me thinking … perhaps the old fashioned safety razors would do a better job and be easy to unclog. And so here I am, I have a Gillette Super Adjustable, a puck of soap, and a cheap brush. It works brilliantly!

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