5 Vintage Wet Shaving Products You Should Be Using Today

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Photo: Badger and Blade

There’s something undeniably intriguing about vintage wet shaving products. Shaving with a vintage razor (especially one that was passed down) may remind you of your father or grandfather, adding a nostalgic dimension to your daily shave routine.

In addition to vintage/collector’s pieces, there are a small number of old school items still in production today. These are time-tested grooming superstars that deserve your attention. From an alum block that has been produced in France the same way since the 1950s to a revival of the WWII Bakelite safety razor, we take a look at five vintage wet shaving essentials you should be using today.

Study this list before you pick up your next aftershave or DE razor.

Osma Alum Block

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Bloc Osma has been producing natural potassium alum blocks since the mid 1950s. Unlike many alum block makers, who cut costs by sourcing their alum from Asia, Osma Laboratories reduces their carbon footprint by only using product found in France. 100% crystalline alum soothes and cools the face while stopping bleeding from minor cuts. Alum blocks have a myriad of benefits: they are natural astringents, tightening pores and combating oil. They also act as antiseptics, killing surface bacteria.

Fun fact: Alum blocks are the first known aftershave. They were used by the ancient Egyptians more than four thousand years ago as antiseptics.

SHOP: Osma Alum Block

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D.R. Harris Arlington Pre-Shave Lotion

D.R. Harris boasts the title of the oldest pharmacy in London, and also holds the Royal Warrants to Her Majesty the Queen and HRH The Prince of Wales. D.R. Harris was founded in 1790 on St. James Street, where it still operates today. The D.R. Harris Arlington Pre-Shave Lotion is part of the British pharmacy’s classic collection.

This non-oily pre-shave enhances glide and cushions for the shave ahead. A subtle blend of fern and citrus make this pre-shave a delight for the senses.

SHOP: D.R. Harris Arlington Pre-Shave Lotion

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Boker 6/8” Silver Steel Straight Razor

The Boker 6/8” Silver Steel Straight Razor is a modern edition of a classic razor from the Boker range. Around the beginning of the 20th century, Boker came out with a razor featuring blade steel that contained real silver, which they called “Silver Steel.” Because the blade contained silver, the cutting performance was literally cut-throat.

Thus, the “Silver Steel” etching references the days when silver was included in the blade. The current version employs a sharp, extra hollow carbon steel blade with a grooved thumb rest. Timeless faux tortoiseshell rounds out this elegant piece.

SHOP: Boker 6/8” Silver Steel Straight Razor

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Ballistol Lubrication Oil

Straight razors are beautiful tools of precision, but in order to keep them sharp, consistent maintenance is mandatory. Prevent your razor from rusting while promoting free joint movement with Ballistol, a lubrication oil. Invented in 1904 by Dr. Helmut Klever for the German Imperial Army, Ballistol (from the words “ballistic” and “oleum,” the Latin word for “oil”) quickly went into use for cleaning and maintaining the metallic parts of a rifle, as well as its wooden stock.

By the 1940s, hunters, hikers, and other outdoorsmen had adopted Ballistol. If you’re worried about using a propellant on your pricey safety razor, don’t be – Ballistol is biodegradable, and doesn’t produce byproducts that are harmful to the environment. It’s non-carcinogenic and safe for use on skin.

SHOP: Ballistol Lubrication Oil

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Merkur 45 Bakelite Safety Razor Travel Set

During the WWII metal shortage, companies were pressed to find a high-functioning substitute. Bakelite, the first synthetic plastic, went into service for a number of applications, including DE razors. The plastic was named after Belgian scientist Dr. Leo Baekeland, who invented it in the early 20th century. Popular manufacturers of these Bakelite safety razors included Souplex and Wardonia.

A few years ago, Merkur brought back this retro design with their 45 Bakelite Safety Razor, outfitted in a pop of red and black. Because the razor is made of plastic, it is much lighter than your average DE razor, but don’t let the light weight fool you – customers who have used this razor say it produces an aggressive, close shave.

The Merkur 45 Bakelite Safety Razor’s plastic construction requires less maintenance than metal razors.

SHOP: Merkur 45 Bakelite Safety Razor Travel Set

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The Top 7 Bestsellers of 2016

It’s coming on the end of the year, and we feel it appropriate to share a “Best Of” list to celebrate. With the immense growth of the men’s grooming industry, there are new products being released all the time, vying at our attention. However, there are certain tools that persist – whether it’s the blade that gets you the perfect shave or the safety razor that weaned you off cartridge shaving for good.

Every year, we take a look back on the wet shaving essentials that you loved most. The following seven items are our bestsellers of 2016. Take a gander, gain a few tips from the reviews, and perhaps discover your next standby.

30 Degree 320 Silvertip Badger Shaving Brush – Black Resin

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Features

  • Soft silvertip badger hair with superb water retention
  • Smaller knot for optimal precision and control
  • Bulbous loft for easier lathering in shave bowls and mugs

Customer review

“This is a good brush that produces a great lather. Great deal for the money.”

-Rod

SHOP: 30 Degree 320 Silvertip Badger Shaving Brush – Black Resin 

Merkur Super Platinum Stainless Blades, 10 Blades

 

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Features

  • Platinum-coated stainless steel
  • Excellent starter blade for men with light to medium beards

Customer review

“Makes my Merkur 34C sparkle in the morning. Gives my wife a great cheek to cheek.”

-Larry J.

SHOP: Merkur Super Platinum Stainless Blades, 10 Blades 

Merkur 34C HD Classic Safety Razor – Polished Chrome Finish

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Features

  • Midweight construction for just enough pressure
  • Stubby handle for better grip
  • Two-piece, closed comb construction

Customer review

“This is my first safety razor. I tried the Merkur blade that came with it and was so impressed at how mild yet effective the razor was. I was very nervous the first time. No nicks but the closest, smoothest shave ever in over 30 years of shaving.”

SHOP: Merkur 34C HD Classic Safety Razor – Polished Chrome Finish 

Taylor of Old Bond Street Luxury Shaving Cream Bowl

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Features

  • Glycerin-based for slickness and glide
  • Coconut acid for a rich lather
  • Available in a dozen scents

Customer review

“This is the best shave cream that money can buy. There is no burning or drying your skin out. It bathes you skin in comfort, and the Sandalwood scent is the best I have ever smelled.”

-Jerry B.

SHOP: Taylor of Old Bond Street Luxury Shaving Cream Bowl 

Edwin Jagger DE89L Double Edge Safety Razor with Lined Handle

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Features

  • Three-piece, closed comb construction
  • Chrome-plated for enhanced rust resistance
  • Fluted handle for a secure grip

Customer review

“This is a pretty amazing razor at a very economical price. Fantastic option for new DE shavers who want a superior razor but don’t want to spend a lot upfront. Very impressive build quality and materials. Weight is just right. And the longer handle is a great choice for those transitioning from cartridge and disposables. It will feel very familiar. At this price, you can’t go wrong. Actually, you’ll be pretty amazed at how much razor you get for just $32.”

-Kenstee

SHOP: Edwin Jagger DE89L Double Edge Safety Razor with Lined Handle

Dovo Best Quality 5/8″ Full Hollow Carbon Steel Straight Razor – Black Celluloid

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Features

  • Stiffer, more forgiving half hollow Swedish blade
  • Top and bottom tang jimps for enhanced grip
  • Durable celluloid scales

Customer review

“Nice Straight Razor. Smooth Dovo quality clearly felt in this razor, great first razor to jump into straight razor shaving. There are better Dovo razors but this is a great starter for the price and quality. It will last forever and be a great travel razor when you upgrade.”

-Michael L.

SHOP: Dovo Best Quality 5/8″ Full Hollow Carbon Steel Straight Razor – Black Celluloid 

Proraso Shave Soap Jar – Green, Refreshing and Toning

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Features

  • Coconut oil for enhanced slickness
  • Glycerin-based formula keeps skin soft
  • Soothing menthol scent

Customer review

“I purchased the Proraso Hard shaving cream as part of a straight razor starter kit. When Opened the Proraso hard shaving cream bowl, I could immediately smell the refreshing scents of menthol and eucalyptus. This cream lathers up very thick with little effort. The cream not only applies to my skin very nicely ( I recommend a badger brush), but it also doesn’t bubble out like a lot of other creams out there. After I use the shaving cream my skin is super soft. I will only use this cream from now on.”

-Jason

SHOP: Proraso Shave Soap Jar – Green, Refreshing and Toning

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Should You Use a Slant Bar Razor?

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Merkur 39C Slant Bar Razor

A slant bar razor is a type of non-adjustable razor, meaning it has a fixed blade angle and exposure. What makes the slant bar unique is the slant of the blade, which slices through hair rather than chopping. A typical DE razor has a straight edge, which cuts bluntly across hair, pushing stubble over rather than going in for a clean cut. This causes stubble that feels a bit rougher after you’ve shaved.

A slant bar does not push stubble over but rather quickly slices, reducing resistance and leading to softer stubble. Think about the guillotine versus the Scottish Maiden – slicing versus blunt force.

Because the slant bar slices so cleanly through hair while maintaining a good gap between the razor and the skin, it’s a wonderful tool if you have thick, wiry hair and sensitive skin. When the blade does not push against stubble, the stubble does not push against skin, which means less irritation and a smoother shave.

It also works well for a neck shave, where alternating grain patterns, shifting contours, and delicate skin can get the best of even the most seasoned wet shaver.

Slant bar guard (Image via Badger and Blade)

Slant bar guard (Image via Badger and Blade)

The slant bar should be your second DE razor

The fact that a slant bar razor cuts so effortlessly makes it a liability if you press too hard. If you’re switching over from a cartridge razor and are used to putting pressure on the razor, translating this method to a slant bar razor will result in bloodshed.

Since keeping the right amount of pressure on the bar is so important, we recommend trying a slant razor after you’ve mastered your technique on your current safety razor. You should be getting consistently smooth, irritation-free shaves. Once you hit that point, you’re ready for the new level of closeness that a slant bar can offer.

Tips for using a slant razor

Blade sampler packs are your friends

You may consider yourself a Feather guy through and through, but once you make the transition to slant, it’s time to do some blade exploration (which should be done with any new razor). See our blog post on how to find the right DE blade for you for a step-by-step process. And be open to the fact that the blade that ends up working well on your slant bar razor may be terrible in your original DE razor, and vice versa.

Emphasis on (almost) no pressure

You handle a slant bar razor the same way as a normal DE razor, but with even less pressure (and of course at the correct blade angle). The slant bar will do the slicing for you – you don’t need to help it along with extra pressure.

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Thomas Wild’s patent

History

There were various versions before the twisted head we know today came to be. In 1916, the first recognized patent was filed by Thomas Wild of Britan (although there is still debate about who filed a patent first – Wild or Merkur).

Wild’s patent drawing shows an open comb design with a torqued head. You’ll find that same head on the Merkur 37C as well as slant bar razors by Above the Tie and Maggard.

Shop slant bar razors at RoyalShave.

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Our Top 5 Customer-Reviewed Safety Razors

We had such a great reception to our blog post, Our Top 3 Customer-Reviewed Straight Razors, that we had to shed some light on safety razors as well. With oftentimes a far greater selection than straight razors, sometimes the sheer quantity of options can be daunting, whether you’re a first-time shaver or a veteran.

Below are our 5 best-reviewed safety razors, accumulated from years of customer purchases and testing.

Merkur 34C HD Classic Safety Razor – Polished Chrome Finish

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Features

  • Midweight construction for just enough pressure
  • Stubby handle for better grip
  • Two-piece, closed comb construction

Customer reviews

“This is my first safety razor. I tried the Merkur blade that came with it and was so impressed at how mild yet effective the razor was. I was very nervous the first time. No nicks but the closest, smoothest shave ever in over 30 years of shaving.”

-Faust D.

“This razor is my first, and still only DE. After a full year of use, I’ve been satisfied enough not to bother putting out for an additional razor. It’s easy to load, has a great feel in the hand, and is easy to hold securely. The handle is not real long, but is fine in my large hands. I especially like the thickness of the handle and the weight of this instrument.”

-Eric

“I have been absolutely amazed, astonished, and impressed by the fantastic shave I experienced with my new Merkur HD Chrome Plated 34C Razor and the Merkur blade. I’m a 75-year-old gent with the soft, sagging skin that comes with age and had used a Gillette double blade razor for more years than I can remember. Not only did the Merkur glide smoothly over my skin but it gave me the closest shave imaginable, without any nicks or cuts. It’s in a league all by itself – incomparably better than my old Gillette. In addition to its effectiveness, it is a work of precision, mechanical art, and has a nice heft and grip. I recommend it without any reservations.”

-Grover W.

SHOP: Merkur 34C HD Classic Safety Razor – Polished Chrome Finish

Muhle R89 Closed Comb Double Edge Safety Razor

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Features

  • Lightweight body for easy maneuverability
  • Engraved handle for grip
  • Three-piece, closed comb construction

Customer reviews

“Got the Muhle R89 for Christmas from my wife, on my request. I’ve got several other brands of razors, but “wanted” the Cadillac!!! Royal shipped it w/5 Kai blades and I haven’t looked back since. I usually did a 3-pass shave, but with the Muhle and Kai, I’m down to 2 passes. WTG and ATG. Done. Closer than all the other razor and blades combined.”

-Mike H.

“Let me preface by saying that I am a 1 razor guy (1 DE + 1 Str8). I’ve tried some of the high-end razors and they don’t shave better than this Muhle. Sure you’re paying for luxury with those, but the shave itself is not actually any better. I’m not a wasteful person and I feel that this razor is the best bang for your buck out there. I recommend it both to the novice and veteran alike.”

-J Dogg

SHOP: Muhle R89 Closed Comb Double Edge Safety Razor

Edwin Jagger DE89L Double Edge Safety Razor with Lined Handle

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Features

  • Chrome-plated for enhanced rust resistance
  • Fluted handle for a secure grip
  • Three-piece, closed comb construction

Customer reviews

“This is a pretty amazing razor at a very economical price. Fantastic option for new DE shavers who want a superior razor but don’t want to spend a lot upfront. Very impressive build quality and materials. Weight is just right. And the longer handle is a great choice for those transitioning from cartridge and disposables. It will feel very familiar. At this price, you can’t go wrong. Actually, you’ll be pretty amazed at how much razor you get for just $32.”

-Kenstee

“This was not my first safety razor. It is moderate to mildly aggressive. It is immaculately plated and beautiful. It delivers BBS when paired with the right blade. It is in my rotation and I purchased one for my son as well. Must be pretty good if I bought two of them.”

-Larry

“Out of the box the chrome finish of the Edwin Jagger DE89L was amazing. The finish was polished to a crisp sparkle. There is a good heft to the overall razor and the balance is consistent throughout. Some people may prefer a lighter handle so that the shave head is heavier, but these are just personal preferences.

Some have mentioned that there is not enough grip with the lined handle but I have not had any issues even when my hands were wet. Using Derby Extra razor blades and Col. Conk Shave soap, I could get a super smooth, irritation free shave with 2 passes (with the grain, against the grain).

Summary: A great razor with an outstanding build quality with an almost flawless chrome finish. Shaves a little bit less aggressive than the Merkur 34c. Unbeatable price when compared to the Muhle 89R which uses the same razor head.”

-Eric

SHOP: Edwin Jagger DE89L Double Edge Safety Razor with Lined Handle

Feather AS-D2 Stainless Steel Safety Razor

 

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Features

  • Heavy weight for smooth passes and a close shave
  • Diamond-pattern knurling for enhanced grip
  • Three-piece, closed comb construction

Customer reviews

“Once you put the first blade in you will notice the quality of workmanship. The blade is tight and the weight is very well balanced. I use with Feather blades and get a close comfortable shave. My HD will be collecting dust.”

-Joshua K.

“I knew I had to have one of these as soon as I saw it! Just such a lot of money for a safety razor…

Anyhow, I took the plunge and I’m glad I did. The manufacturing quality is splendid, and the weight, feel and balance are all first class.

This new Feather is a mild but effective shaver. Even used with the legendary “Ninja” sharp Feather blades, it is difficult to make a mistake. A very smooth performer.

Compared to most of the fixed-head razors in the Merkur range, the Feather might be considered a little less aggressive, but it does the job surprisingly well – one almost doesn’t feel it cutting, but the whiskers are disappearing all right!

I’m delighted with my purchase, and look forward to having a grandson to whom I might pass it on. It will certainly last more than one lifetime.”

-Tom H.

SHOP: Feather AS-D2 Stainless Steel Safety Razor

Merkur Futur Adjustable Safety Razor – Satin Finish

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Features

  • Adjustable blade aggressiveness with 6 settings
  • Well-balanced build with chunky handle
  • Two-piece construction

Customer reviews

“At first I didn’t like this because I felt the head was to bulky. I have used this for a couple of weeks and love it. Shaves really close with feather blade no irritation. I can get closer to my nose with Futur than with my Merkur 34C. The balance and feel is the best. Only EJ DE89 comes close in quality of shave. I also don’t need as much prep with Futur. Great razor!”

-Jack K.

SHOP: Merkur Futur Adjustable Safety Razor – Satin Finish

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