New to safety razors. Got a few questions

Discussion in 'Welcome Center' started by TheGallifreyan, May 16, 2016.

  1. I recently went back to shaving completely after many years of beardiness. I've always hated multi blade razors, so I finally went out an bought a safety razor. I bought a Van Der Hagen (the only one I could find in stores). I shaved with it, and certainly liked it way more than my old razors, but I nicked myself a bit and experienced some of razor burn . The blades seem really cheap (super thin and flimsy), so i went and bought some Gillette blades (most expensive I could find) but they didn't feel and I nicked myself even more and I didn't get as close a shave. Though this time the nicks may be because I tried to use shave soap and a brush and i don't think I did it right. Anyway, I have a few questions .

    Are safety blades supposed to be very flimsy?

    What are some good brands of blades?

    Are all blades universal?

    What are the advantages of buying a better razor? Is it mostly the handle, because the handle on the Van Der Hagen feels fine to me.

    Is Van Der Hagen premium shave soap and brush not very good, or did I just not do it right? I couldn't get it to lather up very much.
  2. PLAla

    PLAla Bit Shy of a Full Puck

    Welcome @TheGallifreyan! You've certainly come to the right place.

    Blades are highly subjective. You'll see lots of YMMV here (your mileage may vary) and that applies to blades more than anything else. Some blades work well for you and not for others. The best way is to try'll never know fully until you try some. DE blades are universal as far as size but definitely not universal in quality. Check out where you can order small numbers of blades without committing to a larger amount. That's a great way to try a huge variety of blades.

    You'll encounter a phrase around here - Technique trumps tools. I firmly believe in that! All razors are outfitted to accomplish the same task. If your technique is bad then all razors are going to leave you with poor shaves. The technique of shaving is more important than the tool.

    VDH soap is very good. I've been using it a lot this month. The brushes aren't the best quality but work pretty well I think.

    I hope I'm just the first of many who chime in to welcome you and help you along on your journey!
  3. Redfisher

    Redfisher Doesn't celebrate National Donut Day

    Oh boy, lot of questions here and we have the people to help you answer some if not all of them. Welcome to the Shave Den!
    To start, yes double edge blades are thin and flexible but very sharp. When placed in a proper razor they are supported and become much more stable. The angle you use along with a number of other factors will influence the shave. Check out some of the tutorials in the shaving forum. I'm sure some other friends will be here in a little while! Again Welcome!
    AGHisBBS, chrisbd, NCoxSTL and 2 others like this.
  4. Boojum1

    Boojum1 Valet Parking Available Here

    Welcome to TSD. :)
    AGHisBBS, chrisbd, NCoxSTL and 2 others like this.
  5. Jayaruh

    Jayaruh The Cackalacky House Pet

    Supporting Vendor
    You have got some good equipment. There are better razors and brushes available, but you can get great shaves with what you have. I like the VDH soaps as well. They are good soaps for the price. Be careful, because you are about to go down the rabbit hole.
  6. Thanks for all the welcomes!

    That sounds extremely helpful, thanks. I'll definitely order off there. Maybe just go down the popular list till I hit $10 or so.

    I'm sure my technique needs work. I'll keep working at it.

    Surprising. I always thought they were much thicker. Cool, I'm now certain the blades aren't the issue.
    opsimath, AGHisBBS, chrisbd and 3 others like this.
  7. clancopolis

    clancopolis Member

    I'm new to the DE world too, and this little place TSD is insanely helpful - cuz this IS such a different take on an inherently mundane and necessary task and the experience/knowledge I've perused here has been invaluable. Some really smart and helpful guys and girls. So, welcome (from a two-dayer)
    Last edited: May 16, 2016
    AGHisBBS, chrisbd, NCoxSTL and 2 others like this.
  8. RyX

    RyX DoH!

    Welcome @TheGallifreyan.
    The VanDerHagen razor, brush, and soap are (depending on who's opinion you ask) acceptable tools.
    The Razor is a copy of a Gillette Superspeed Flare Tip. The Vintage originals are great & available should you shop Ebay or Etsy. I haven't tried the VDH version myself, but others seem to like their performance. There's a guy from a Vegas pawn shop show that sells the same razor in a different package.
    The VDH boar brush, comes with a blue bowl that's green on the inside? That one I do own. Except for the regular dropping of bristles it's another acceptable tool.
    Even the soap, Luxury or Deluxe? I've used both and they can be made to work.
    If you tried to shave with the VDH ice tempered blades... Most folks would suggest you dispose of them. If you can spot generic store brand blades that are "Made in Israel" they are decent blades to try. Also inexpensive. Check at your friendly Ladies Beauty Supply Store for another possible source for all this stuff.
    There is a skill to using a DE razor. READ THIS for a suggestion on increasing your skill, and decreasing the irritation. If that simple step helps, consider hanging out with These Guys for more tips and shenanigans.
    Drygulch, AGHisBBS, chrisbd and 2 others like this.
  9. Keithmax

    Keithmax Breeds Pet Rocks

    Hi, nice to meet you. I'm sure more of the DE experts will chime in.
    AGHisBBS and chrisbd like this.
  10. NCoxSTL


    Welcome aboard! I started with the VDH razor and blades as well, and soon had the VDH kit with the deluxe soap and blue/green bowl. Still use the brush some, the bowl is in constant use, and the VDH Deluxe soap is my head shave choice. And that's after almost a year and a half.

    Lots of great advice already. I'll go ahead and say it because everyone will expect me too.....get some Voskhod blades. Really, there is no other (ok, so there are). It really is all about finding a blade that is comfortable then learning technique. Keep asking questions and hanging in there. You'll get the hang of it in no time! Then, it's just more razors, more soaps, more brushes, well, you get the idea. Again, welcome to the friendliest place on the web!
    AGHisBBS, chrisbd and RyX like this.
  11. Norcalnewb

    Norcalnewb Magnanimous Moos

    You've already gotten lots of good advice, so I'll just say: Welcome to TSD!
    AGHisBBS, chrisbd and RyX like this.
  12. Yeah, I saw that in a store after I bought the VDH, I thought it looked extremely similar

    Yeah, thats the one I have.


    I'm going to use the tryablade site @PLAla suggested, but I'll try to find one of those stores first to see what brands that have, and try those first. When I find a blade I like, I'd like it to be one I can get at a store.

    Yeah, I think I'm going to take the Technique trumps tools thing serious, about focus on my skills. That said, I'm gunna put the soap and brush aside for now and pick up some shave cream for now, untill I know how to use the razor properly.

    Thanks, I'll put that on my tryablade list.
    AGHisBBS, chrisbd and RyX like this.
  13. Jorvaljr

    Jorvaljr Operation Daytona 8000

    1. Welcome aboard!
    2. Order a blade sampler
    3. Join the 30 day focus thread after you receive your blade sampler.

    As far as what your are doing during the shave, don't use any pressure. When you are shaving you should just be guiding the razor. The razor and blade should be gliding along your skin. When you have the razor to your face start with your razor in this position ------. Drop it down in this position \ . if the handle is too close to your face you will be scraping. it will lead to irritation.

    For your soap and brush... Soak your brush. after ring it out. The brush will be damp. Now with the soap in the bowl, soak it while you are soaking your brush. After dump the water or use it on your face. After all the water is out add a little water. A little meaning there should just be some on the puck just enough to puddle. Now work it good for like a minute or so. The lather should be thick and solid looking meaning it shouldn't look thin and airy. Once it's there, add some water to your face. Now apply the lather. Work it in good and don't be afraid to use that brush. After you have applied it, use the brush like a painting brush and smooth the lather out.

    This is just one way of many ways. The way people lather is different some and same for others. Some bowl lather some face lather. As you continue to shave you have to experiment a little. This will help you find what works for you. Ask questions, everyone here is part of a community. We like to help when we can.
    AGHisBBS, NCoxSTL, chrisbd and 2 others like this.
  14. MetalHead88

    MetalHead88 Well-Known Member

    A blade sampler is the way to go. When I started, I got very luck and found a 100 blade sampler with like 30 different blades for like 17 bucks. I did a quick eBay search, and something like these would be pretty good The more variety the better and you can figure out for yourself which blades you like best. Maybe you can find a better deal on eBay.... I didn't look through all of them. The ones I posted are a tad expensive considering you can get a 100 pack of one type of blades for 10 or 12 bucks usually.

    I have the VDH brush. I hated it at first but after using it a bit, it broke in nicely and now it's pretty good. I have an Omega boar brush which I much rather prefer, but the VDH brush is definitely alright and I use it from time to time I feel like it would be a great brush if the bristles were just a tad longer. The luxury soap is awesome. It's one of my favorite soaps.

    As far as you not getting it to lather here's some videos to help ya out.

    The first time I used a soap it didn't go well either. Turns out - I didn't load enough soap onto the brush so the lather wasn't very thick and I got pretty bad razor burn.
    Jasman, AGHisBBS, NCoxSTL and 2 others like this.
  15. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    Are safety blades supposed to be very flimsy?
    Since the 1930's all double edge razor blades have been of the type known as "thin" blades. Thicker blades have been obsolete for many decades.

    What are some good brands of blades?
    Your face is the only thing that can tell you what brands are 'good.'

    The Van der Hagen blades you have tried are rebranded Merkur blades, which have a poor reputation with most people. The Gillette blades you tried with less success, have a very good reputation.

    Are all blades universal?
    Some DE (double edge) blades are slightly wider than others, but yes, all DE blades will work in all Gillette style DE razors.

    What are the advantages of buying a better razor?
    Durability, closer tolerances, better plating.

    Is it mostly the handle, because the handle on the Van Der Hagen feels fine to me.
    No, it's actually the head that is most important. The handle is just that, a handle. As long as it is grippy enough and long enough for you, that is all that is important.

    Is Van Der Hagen premium shave soap and brush not very good, or did I just not do it right?
    The soap is fine, as is the brush. Both are considered serviceable. Not top end, but the brush should serve you well for many years. If you follow @Jorvaljr's advice, you should get a decent lather.

    The only thing I would add to that is to practice making lather on your hand. Do it until you get it right. You can better judge a lather when it is on your hand because you can feel the slickness when you run your fingers together. That puck of soap will last for a month or more. Don't be afraid to use it for practicing.
  16. gregkw1

    gregkw1 Well-Known Member

    Do yourself a favor and don't buy canned shave cream. Use your soap and brush and practice. Keep loading or swirling your brush into the soap till the brush gets really pastie. If you must buy canned get the Nivea shave cream only not the tube stuff it comes in a rather thin can.
    AGHisBBS, NCoxSTL and chrisbd like this.
  17. clint64

    clint64 Blind Squirrel

    Welcome to TSD.
    AGHisBBS and chrisbd like this.
  18. Troy M

    Troy M Prep: Mephitis mephitis musk

    Welcome! I'll simply echo what others have said - let the weight of the razor be the only pressing you sense on your face. The other thing that I will add is to always wash your face and beard area with soap and water. Rinse that soap off then work the lather into your whiskers. I face lather, so that 45 seconds to a minute really seems to help prep your beard. Good luck.
  19. pvtbanks

    pvtbanks Corners First

    All hail Voskhod and Feather!
    RyX, AGHisBBS, NCoxSTL and 1 other person like this.
  20. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    D) All of the above

    Welcome to the Den! In my opinion, VDH soap is the best bang for the buck out there.

Share This Page