Welcome to the — David Boles, Blogs — Double Edge Safety Razor Review! Today, we’ll review four double edge safety razors and two blades brands, but first things first — if you’re going to shave, you need to have a right shaving cream and there’s really only one in my book that fits both hand and face and mind in aesthetic, smell and contexture: Taylor of Old Bond Street Eton College Collection Shaving Cream — about $16 a boodle — for this “Made in England” gemstone! Score 10/10.
Writing this review took me back to the good old bad days of my youth and the first experience of shaving with a generic Gillette double-edge safety razor while in high school. That experience was always tiresome, and often bloody, and the multi-blade disposable razors that were to come felt like a Godsend.
But now, with time waning and tide overwhelming — there is a certain calmness in returning to the ritual of my youth, and the lather, and the water, and the brushing — all conflating to create a calmness of meditation. Shaving like this, I’ve rediscovered, is a good way to end or start the day. Communing with your body reminds you just how human you are in your immortality!
As with all lifetime doodads and geewhizkits, Double Edge Safety Razors run from expensive to cheap and, like it or not, the more expensive razors tend to be the best performers. Everyone’s face is different. We all have curious skin types and variations on beard toughness. I shave everyday. I have a light stubble. Here are my findings, starting with the most expensive Godly razors and working our way downward into the tranches. I used each razor and blade for a week.
Pils 101NE – Stainless Steel – $270 – Made in Germany
The Pils is sort of nefarious in online razor conversations. Some guys love the heft and deliberate aesthetic of the razor while others think guys like me pay too much for this work of Art, and we only rave about it because we can’t admit we overspent on razor by a factor of two.
All of that is untrue and more than just a little unkind.
The Pils 101NE is a hard razor to buy. I tried several online stores and they were either out-of-stock or had returns because the blades in the razor were off-center. I ended up ordering directly from Pils in Germany and, in 6 days — including three full days being stuck in U.S. Customs in New York City! — I had this handmade beauty in hand, and I was not disappointed.
Shaving with the Pils is an experience of mastery in craft. This razor is handmade and you know it by the tool marks on inside of the blade compartment. Using this Pils is a workout. It is weighty, and a little slippery, and it feels like you’re dragging a Panzer IV gun turret across your face: Heavy artillery and battle weary!
Those are compliments, by the way.
This Pils is a master of German engineering and it gives me the quickest, cleanest, fastest shave. The 101NE is built so you just load up a blade and let the heft of the razor do all your cutting — no extra pressure required. The Pils is also the only double edge safety razor I’ve used that lets me shave the fine hairs under my nose. Every other safety razor fails that important grooming test.
The Pils is also the only razor that shaves with the blade in dead-flat position. There’s no subtle bend-to-angle when the blade is loaded. That helps in keeping both blade and razor from getting clogged with hair and cream and all the other bits of human detritus that tend to cling on after the ritual.
Feather blades work best in the Pils. They’re sharp and efficient. Personna blades tend to drag a bit and burn. Blade ends are covered by the razor.
Oh, and here’s how the Pils became internet famous as a meme of its own:
Yes, that’s actually how you change blades!
The Pils is a remarkable tool of masculine inevitability. Beware that the first few times you shave, you may have the sensation of the razor head “spinning” or “unwinding” as your shave — the video may be partly to blame for that experience, or the ultra-smooth handle might also add to that slipping sensation. You quickly recover into reality and return to your place among the Gods. Score: 10/10
Seki Edge Feather AS-D2 – Stainless Steel – $150 – Made in Japan
If I’d never met the Pils, and let it steamroll over my face, the Feather AS-D2 would be my razor of choice — arriving in hand at half the price of the Pils. This is a beautifully machined razor that is grippable and lightweight. You are the master of your shaving destiny. Everything fits just right, only the printing on the head of the razor makes the whole experience appear cheap and residual. Once we buy the razor, we don’t need to be reminded of the branding! Feather blades were born for this Feather razor! The ends of the blade are covered by the razor head. Score 9/10.
Merkur 38 HD – Chrome Plated Solid Brass Core – $35 – Made in Germany
The Merkur 38 HD is a short and heavy razor. The ends of the blades are exposed, which is a total bummer because, while the blade ends are not sharp, they can still get caught up on things like ears and nostrils. This razor is priced right for the middle and it provides an excellent shave. The heft of the razor matches the Pils — German engineering once again at work! You merely hold the blade against your skin and the razor takes over all the pressure of cutting. The Merkur works best with Personna blades. Score: 7/10.
Edwin Jagger DE89LBL – Chrome Plated Brass – $30 – Made in England
Mainstream buyers tend to like this razor, and I think that’s because they’ve never held court with a Pils or an AS-D2. Sure, this is a brightly chromed razor, but the tooling feels vague and imprecise — even when compared to the comparably priced Merkur. The blade ends are also exposed, making for a scraping experience shaving your sideburns. The Jagger arrived with Derby Extra blades and those horrible blades were the only brand in this entire review that cut me. Throw the Derby to the dogs! The DE89LBL, for me, is a travel razor I wouldn’t mind losing to an overzealous TSA airport inspection while my Pils is protected at home in my shoe… I mean… safe! Score: 3/10.
Feather New Hi-Stainless Blades – $20 per 100 – Made in Japan
Feather blades are super-sharp! If you rush, you’ll get cut. Bleeding isn’t the fault of the blade. The fault, dear bleeder, is not in our Feathers, but in our hands! Double Edge blades are cheap enough to replace every shave — so do it and live a little! Score: 10/10.
Personna Comfort Coated Stainless Steel Blades – $12 per 100 – Made in USA
Mainstream double-edge shavers enjoy the Personna blades a lot. Personna blades are made in a variety of countries. Mine were made in the USA. Personna blades are workable, but on my face, they tend to drag and burn — but not as much while clamped in a Merkur! Merkur and Personna appear to be made for each other just as Feather blades and the Pils are conjoined in human ecstasy. Score: 7/10.
That’s the review!
The fit of it: Pils 101NE + Feather Blades! = Not Just Shaving; A Fruitful Experience, for $300. Score: 10/10.
The rest of it: Seki Edge Feather AS-D2 + Feather Blades! = Just Shaving, for $170. Score: 9.5/10.
As a Vegan, I use a generic, non-animal, shaving brush. It works fine and lathers well, but then falls to being non-exciting. If you have an insider experience using a righteous Vegan Shaving Brush, let me know!