Taking the toys built for the boys: Merkur safety razor and Astra SP blade review

I have never been one to swallow the “pink it and shrink it” approach to selling products for women. I imagine a room of men (like Amy Schumer’s 12 Angry Men) sitting around table discussing how to make a product designed for men to attract women, deciding, that if a little pink is splashed on and a few extra dollars are added to the price, it will totally do the trick.

Note: I am not uniformly opposed to products that are designed for women – like my “women’s specific” bike frame, which is a much more comfortable fit to those of us who have longer legs-to-torso ratios. But this is more about creating a product that suits the physical build of people (men OR women) who don’t perfectly fit the standard frame proportions. But that is a bit of an aside.

Back on track. OK.

I have been particularly perturbed by “ladies” razors, which always seem less durable AND more expensive than the “manly” versions. So, rather than being a Venus Goddess, a few years back, I bought a “men’s” razor (the Mach3) and it has worked well for years.

But, as I got down to my final replacement blade, I started looking for a more durable, plastic-free, and sustainable razor.

Double-edged safety razor

This is one of the areas where most “zero-wasters” and plastic-free minimalists agree. The unanimous answer is to get an old-school safety razor. Obviously, hipster points are up for grabs if you can nab your granddad’s old safety razor.

There are tons of options out there for safety razors, but after reading through several mens’ shaving forums, I decided to go for the Merkur 23 C Long Handled Safety Razor (can’t say no to quality German steel 😛 ).img_7527As you can see from this comparison photo, even the “long handled” version is still shorter than the handle length I am accustomed to. Particularly for people who use their razor to shave their legs, I would strongly suggest going for the long handled one.img_7525

Blades

I thought that was the end of my purchasing decisions until I realized that there are approximately a billion different types of blades you can buy. And, unlike the ad nauseum reviews for most of the beauty products marketed for women, this was relatively unreviewed waters! I did come across a few discussions on the Badger & Blade forum, but these were (understandably) focused on normative dude hair removal (face and occasional head shaving). There was nothing on what one should look for in a blade for lady-scaping (primarily leg and armpit shaving).

Like do I want the sharpest blade? That sounds good, but also terrifying. Less irritation sounds like a good thing, but I am not sure if my irritation levels are commensurate to gents who saw through course chin hairs.

In the end, I threw a pack of 100 (!) Astra Superior Platinum blades in the cart, partly due to the old-timey shaving soap stick that accompanied the purchase. As I don’t shave daily, this quantity of blades may last FOREVER.img_7528

Useability

Setting it up is super simple. To install a blade you simply twist off the handle, put the blade between the safety guard and the head, and twist the handle back on. The only caution is to make sure you handle the blades by the shorter edges because they are sharp. img_7526I was a little bit intimidated the first time I used it but was pleasantly surprised at the ease of use. I have been using it for a few weeks (still on the first blade, as I said, I am not a daily shaver) and love it. I think it gives a close, smooth shave, and I have yet to nick myself, which was my main concern.

Blade disposal

Particularly for those who live with children, keeping the blades out of reach and safe disposal are really important! Some dispenser packs have a slot in the back to put used blades in, or else, you can make a blade “piggy bank” out of a tin can, where you can slip the used blades in before you recycle them. I am working through my Altoids and plan to keep the tin as my recycling storage spot.

In the end, I love this switch and think this may be the sort of razor that lasts a lifetime. Have you made the switch? Let me know what you think!

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