From OCAU Wiki
Traditional Shaving is a form of shaving that eschews the newer cartridge-based razors and aerosol-based creams and gels, and instead used older forms of blades such as the 'Straight' (cutthroat) and 'Double Edge' (DE) razors which when combined with quality soap or cream gives a much closer, irritation free shave. It is also known as Wet Shaving.
With the moves by multinational corporations to force western-world shavers into the expensive cartridge based products, many men have found that they spend up to $4 per cartridge, yet get all sorts of problems such as bumps, ingrown hairs, razor burn and other skin irritations. In most cases, the cartridges are do not last any length of time, and are used more times than they should because of their expense and that causes more issues.
Traditional Shaving instead uses sharp, inexpensive blades which in most cases last longer than cartridges and range from 8 to 15 times cheaper, giving much better value. While the cost of entry into Traditional Shaving is often much higher than a cartridge based razor, the ongoing running costs are much lower, and shaving is seen more as an enjoyable task than a daily chore.
For the most part, OCAU members use Double Edge (DE) Safety Razors for their tradtional wet shaving, mainly as the effort required to keep a Straight Razor in good condition is high. Thus, the scope of the Traditional Shaving page in this Wiki is limited to DE shaving. A Straight Razor Shaving page has been created for those that prefer that method.
The current main thread used by OCAU members for traditional shaving discussion is called DE Wet Shaving Victory
There is a high initial cost of Traditional shaving if you were to buy a complete shaving kit, however you may have some usable items already in the house.
You may have an old DE Razor floating about. Many of us were given one by our Grandfathers in the 1980's as a toy - no blade in it of course. Otherwise they can be purchased from online retailers, eBay, etc. Often hitting an old, slightly crusty and rusted razor with baking soda and an old toothbrush yields a razor that looks almost good as new.
Blades are getting hard to find now in retail outlets in Australia. The easiest blades to find are the Brazilian-produced Wilkinson Sword in a white plastic container, mounted on a cardboard hanger and plastic bubble. These sell at Coles and Woolworths supermarkets nationally for ~$12.50 and at some chemists for ~$14.00 and while considered 'servicable' they are not highly regarded. Otherwise, you can get 10-blade packs online for less than $10 delivered. See the Blades section for more details.
Shaving brushes can be found at Chemists for around the $10 mark if you hunt around a bit. If you want a bowl to build your lather in, a simple cheap ramekin from discount stores for just a couple of dollars.
Soaps and creams can also be found at either supermarkets or chemists. Mennen and Palmolive Sticks are found widely and cost just a couple of dollars, and Palmolive cream in a tube is usually stocked also. These are fine to start with before hunting out the fancier stuff like Proraso cream or Colonel Conk soaps.
Double-Edge Safety Razors, while not generally available at the supermarket, chemist or other grooming stores are still one of the best ways to shave. The replaceable blades are cheap compared to cartridge razors - 100 blades can often be bought for the same cost as a 6 pack of cartridges, and give very good to excellent results.
The main difference between a DE razor and a cartridge razor, is that the blade doesn't have a built in pivot. The cartridge is essentially a foolproof razor, and has all but eliminated the need for any skill, being designed for speed and convenience. So there is a skill to learn in manoeuvring a DE razor around your face to imitate the pivoting action of a cartridge.
DE Razors are not entirely without risk because the blade edges of the razor are exposed and can cause minor nicks and cuts if the appropriate technique and sufficient caution are not used. They are, however, considered to be safer than straight razors because there is no actual risk of serious injury as there is with the naked blade of a Straight Razor.
Blades are best purchased from online suppliers who can buy in the bulk required to keep prices low, mostly under 50c per blade. There are many vendors who offer sampler packs of a few blades of each brand and variety in order for you to try. After you find a blade that works well for you, it is best to buy in bulk where you can. 100-blade packs are known as Pillars, Slabs or just Boxes. Some blades come in 200-blade Pillars, some in 100-blade Slabs.
Some OCAU members will have small amounts of blades left that they will be happy to either swap with you for another brand, or even send to you on a Pay It forward (PIF) basis, with the expectation that you will do the same for someone else. It's great to try different and possibly harder to get blades in this way, and a blade that doesn't work for someone may just work on your skin and beard combination. This is known as the YMMV rule, or Your Mileage May Vary. Shaving is a very subjective thing.
The following is a list of blades available to purchase through various vendors. We have attempted to find the best vendor list price on each blade on a volume basis of AT LEAST 100 blades, added postage costs for that one package only, and converted it into Australian Dollars at a set rates against Euros (€0.70c), GBP (£0.60) and USD (US$0.95) as indicative at time of publishing. The foreign exchange rates and/or prices may change, extra volume or coupons may affect the price, and getting multiple pillars at once might be more cost effective from a postage unit cost view. DO YOUR OWN CALCULATIONS!!
|Blade||Image||Nicknames||Origin/factory||Quality category||Availability||Squire's Score|| Cheapest Vendor Delivered to AU
|Price Per Blade||Mitsi's Notes|
|Astra SP||Value||Wide||6.25|| Razorblades & More
|23.4c/blade||Not a lauded blade, but liked for the price. Needs slow strokes.|
|Derby||Turkey||Performance||Wide||7.0|| Razorblades & More
|19.2c/blade||Many recommend this blade, however some say the 'Horizontal' packaged blades are better than the new 'Verticals'. Company says there is no difference. At the USD$20/100 mark it is decent value, at under 20 bucks delivered it is insane value.|
|Personna Platinum||Red Israeli's, Red Personna, Personna Platinum Chrome||Israel||Value||Wide||6.25|| Shaving.ie
|14.9c/blade||Highly regarded blade for the price but it is a daily 'value' blade. Big value in buying BIG amounts. Connaught can do 400 blades at £28.00 ($46.67 or 11.7c/blade) before postage cost if you like them. Crystals (Blue Israeli's/Israeli Personna) sharper but noticeably more expensive.|
|Lord Platinum||Egypt||Performance||Good||N/A|| West Coast Shaving
|15.6c/blade||Exceptionally cheap from WCS, one other vendor at USD$12.50/100 (Razorblades & More), the rest above USD$23. Definitely worth a try at these prices.|
In order for the blade to glide across the skin and slice through the facial hair, some sort of lubrication is required. In most cases with traditional shaving, this lubrication is provided by a cream or soap which is worked into a lather and applied to the face, often with a shaving brush. Traditional shaving soaps and creams are based on Tallow (animal fats) or Vegetable fats/oils, and sometimes a mixture of the two. These base ingredients provide lubrication to the blade.
Modern products such as Foams and Gels may work for some people, however they lack the Tallow or Vegetable fats, and replace then with petroleum-derived surfactants instead, namely Sodium Laryl Sufate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate. These two chemicals tend to strip your skin of its natural oils and some people can have sensitivity to them.
Most men are only familiar with shaving cream/foam/gel that has been canned and pressurised. While many men have grown up with these, the propellants such as propane and butane, and the chemicals necessary to pressurise and preserve these, can contribute to irritation, as well as significant waste. Due to massive worldwide marketing from Gillette, which sells the idea that newer is always better (when more realistically, it can simply mean more expensive), you'd be forgiven for not knowing there are other options, and arguably, far better products.
While canned gels offer speed and convenience - dispensed as ready to use and simply smeared on, canned products assume everyone's face is exactly the same. Traditional shaving cream in a tub or tube offer wet shavers a far wider product choice, and the ability to make lather that suits them, depending on their beard and skin type. Many find traditional creams are far slicker and more protective than canned products. The price comparisons also see the mass-market aerosols lose out, just as cartridges do against DE blades.
A shave brush is used to make lather from a cream. Either put a toothpaste-sized portion of cream on a damp brush and lather on the face, or put the cream in a bowl and use the brush to make lather there, adding water with either method, as necessary. Some practice is often needed to get familiar with the right amount of product and water to attain the right lather consistency.
Not only are traditional creams cheaper per shave, there's an infinite choice of brands and scents available. Some popular brands are listed below:
Proraso: Many a wet shavers first cream, this Italian menthol and eucalyptus cream is easy to lather, very protective, cheap and widely available. You may find this at your local barber, or online for around $10 a tube. The shavershop franchises sell Proraso products too, but expect to pay more.
Taylor of Bond Street: "TOBS" offer many different cream scents and are another staple of wet shavers.
Geo. F Trumper: These are pricier than Taylor's, having a more upmarket image.
Truefitt & Hill: Hold a Royal Warrant to supply shaving products to the British Royal family. Buy some and shave like a King. Unlike Kings and Princes, you'll need to pay for yours.
Speick: A German cream with a strong herbal scent.
Musgo Real: Portuguese cream with lanolin.
If you're going to start wet shaving you need a shaving brush. A brush is the best way to make lather, and lather is one of the most important parts of wet shaving. Without a good lather you cannot get a good shave, no matter how skilled you have become with your chosen blade.
There are 3 main types of bristle for brushes; Badger, Boar and Synthetic. Synthetic is usually made of nylon. Badger and Boar are the most widely used, both having differing characteristics and prices.
Boar is least expensive, but doesn't mean it's inferior to Badger as far as performance goes. Badger hair costs more, is usually much softer then boar, and many popular brushes are handmade by established English or European craftsmen, and therefore priced as luxury goods.
A brush will be soft or firm depending on type and quality of hair used, density of the knot (how much hair is stuffed into the handle) and loft – height of the hair extending from the base of the knot. As a guide, the shorter the loft and bigger the knot, the firmer the brush will be. Generally speaking, soap latherers prefer a firmer brush to load soap from a puck, and cream users, a softer one. But really, that's a personal preference and many use one brush for both. To start with, you want something easy to use, reliable and at a price you're comfortable with.
Badger hair brushes come in different grades. These grades aren't standardised, so price is usually the guide for what you get. The lower grades ⎯ Pure or Best are found in cheaper brushes, which usually cost up to $50. These usually aren't as soft or packed as densely as the more expensive grades. Silvertip is the most expensive, costing from $80+, depending on brand. Popular brands are Kent, Vulfix, Rooney, Simpson, Shavemac, and for the ample walleted - Plisson.
The higher the cost up to Silvertip, the better the hair and more of it, which increases water retention and ability to make lots of lather very easily. Higher grades also have more spring, or backbone, so are very soft but also firm, so as to massage the beard while applying lather.
More detail on badger hair grades is available at the Wikipedia
A boar brush will generally need a breaking in period, whereas badger doesn't. During break in, the tips split and the brush softens considerably. Regular use over a couple of weeks will also see it retain water better, and produce lather more easily.
While the well-known badger makers may also make boars, Omega and Semogue are brands renowned for their boar brushes. Both are excellent quality and inexpensive, being available for $15-30. Avoid cheap generic boars, which may well be similar in cost, but can be vastly inferior.
Semogues are made by a family business in Portugal and are very popular. They offer differing grades of boar hair, which can be softer than regular grades. Semogues are available online from Fendrihan (Canada), Shaving.ie (Dublin), Shoeboxshaving (USA). All are reliable online sellers.
Omegas may be available at your local barber, or at a Shavershop (AUS), and also many online wetshaving stores.
Unfortunately getting supplies for shaving is not as easy as running down to the local supermarket and picking up your favourite DE blades. In most cases we need to deal with online shops, but some local bricks & mortar businesses are stocking the products we want.
All vendors listed have had OCAU members purchase from them with no issues. While this is no guarantee that you will also have a smooth purchase, it gives some background and level of comfort. OCAU takes no responsibility for vendors listed here that you have bad experiences with.
mensbiz.com.au : Local outlet with shopfront in Richmond, Victoria. Store has a very good selection, and very few items out of stock. Usually free samples, delivery is fairly priced and fast (AusPost eParcel). OCAU 15% DISCOUNT: Use 'OCAU2011' at checkout.
Himage : Huge range of shaving supplies, free postage anywhere in AU/NZ.
Art of Man : Excellent range including Art of Shaving products. Competitive AU pricing, reasonable postage costs.
True Gentleman : Does not supply blades, only a couple of razors, but does have a good range of pre&post shave product.
shaving.ie (IRE) : Newish vendor with an excellent range, some very good prices.
West Coast Shaving (USA) : Longstanding online store, massive range. Postage costs appear the lowest in the business.
Bullgoose (USA) : Another excellent US store. Some hard to get soaps and creams.
Lee's Razors (USA) : Lots of high-end equipment and products here. Seems to be great postage value when buying a large amount.
Connaught Shaving (UK) : Possibly the widest range of blades, and great prices if buying in bulk.
The Superior Shave (US) : New and somewhat ugly site (HTML circa 1998), small Mum & Dad operation but that means low overheads and great service.
Razorblades & More (US) : Former shaving forums seller with a proper website. Some seriously cheap blades, postage is very low.
The Shave Shed (AU) : Local seller of decent products - blades, soaps and brushes. More expensive that overseas sellers, but handy if you need something within a few days.
Double Edge Shaving Place (aka dridiot, SGP) : Possibly the world's best source of Feather DE blades, and only source of Feather portables left to Australians. Cheap, fast postage from Singapore. Suggest contacting him via PM in the major shave forums as his prices (including postage) are much lower outside eBay.
Bestshave (aka Store34, TUR) : Source of Shark, Rapira and a number of NOS blades. Some very cheap prices, mostly sold 'Buy It Now' with postage included.
Ferroburak (TUR) : Store34's Turkish competition. Does not sell much on eBay, but his package of 1000 blades (400 Derby, 300 Shark & 300 Rapira) is priced as delivered to Australia for under $80. Also sells off eBay.
On The EDGE (aka ntguys, USA) : A decent and reasonably priced source of some harder to get blades, also stock Weishi razors and well-priced Omega brushes.
Kentbrushes (aka gbkent, UK) : eBay 'Factory outlet' for Kent - the brushes considered by most as the best in the world. Great gift ideas (brush, bowl, soap & stand).
From time to time we have bad experiences with some vendors. These vendors are listed only to inform of a pattern of behaviour which concerns us. We would encourage anyone buying from these Vendors, eBay Members or Forum Sellers to exercise 'Cavat Emptor' or BUYER BEWARE.
Vintage Scent (PT) : Placed on list 25/1/11 - Seller of Semogue brushes and some harder to get Portuguese/Spanish items like La Troja and Spanish Floid. While previously good, order processing times have blown out to over a week, items mysteriously out of stock, emails are not replied to. At this stage, we cannot recommend that you purchase through Vintage Scent. Alternative supplier: shaving.ie for Semogue Brushes