25 January 2011

Worth Every Penny : Parker Safety Razor

I've been shaving with a butterfly safety razor every since I was 18. A while back, after having lost one, I began using an old Gillette, likely made in Boston, that had belonged to my grandfather. Alas, after 60 years of service, the old warhorse started to give out, and I decided I would rather reitre it before it gave out completely than have it in pieces. Enter the Parker safety razor:
An apt replacement to my old one. Stainless steel top, with a knurled black metal handle and just the right amount of vintage styling. The handle is longer that my old one, which took some gettign used to, but after a weeks use I've decided it offers more control. Made in India, but as far as I can tell, every bit as good as a the much prefered Merkur of Germany. In any case, worth every bit of $26.99, especially considering the triple-bladed, lubricated strip, swivel headed plastic junk that you can buy at CVS (or Duane Reade, or Rite-Aid, given you geography) for $15-$20. This thing is nice and hefty, and the last such thin I owned took sixty years of daily use before it quit. A sound investment. Purchased online from Best Grooming Tools, it was on my doorstep in a scant few days.

Those of you who are still afraid of wet shaving with a safety razor, get over it. Sure, you'll hack yourself up a bit to start, but once you get that hang of it, and realize that cuts come only from dull, rusty blades, not clean, fresh sharp ones, you'll wonder why you spent so long faking it. Think about it the next time you're about to drop a twenty on a Mach III, or whatever it is these days. Would you rather have a wafer thin, murderously sharp piece of "safety" near your throat, or something made of plastic with a name suggestive of inordinate speeds? For me, there is no discussion.

19 comments:

Jangie said...

Yes, a million times yes. I don't have many whiskers to shave, but always had issues until I switched to safety razors. It has actually become an enjoyable process; a warm lather followed by cold steel is a rather relaxing time.

Charles said...

I second this. I made the switch a few years ago and I haven't looked back. My beard is pretty thick in places, and there isn't anything in the world that cuts as smooth and with as little irritation as a fresh safety razor. I got mine from leesrazors.com. They have a very wide selection, and a good safety razor to fit any budget. Furthermore, their customer service is some of the best I've encountered.

You can spend 30 bucks on there and get a razor that hasn't changed its design in decades... and it'll surely last you decades of shaving.

Bottom line, you get a better, closer shave with less irritation (once you get used to it. There is somewhat of a learning/adjusting curve). And a refill pack of safety razors is dirt cheap, and readily available at every CVS I've come across. No more buying ridiculously overpriced Mach III refills!

Anonymous said...

My own experience has been that a "McRazor" gives a far better, more comfortable, and safer shave than a "safety" razor.

If heftiness is the problem, try to find one of the original heavy metal handles, as opposed to the Chinese and Indian (!) silver-colored plastic ones now being sold.

One can also find heavy, outrageously expensive handle for "Max3" on the Web:

http://barclaycrocker.com/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=barclay&Product_Code=TH00065&Category_Code=29

Second City Golfer said...

That razor looks like something out of one of the "SAW" movies...

such.ire said...

Not only that, but the cost of the blades is significantly less!

Jho78 said...

You're right about hacking myself up in the beginning. I became very good at using a styptic pencil. I've been looking for a butterfly, I'll have to check the Parker out. Thanks for the tip.

Grace said...

I've been using a safety razor for about a year and a half and I'll never go back. I'm using a Gillette Adjustable Aristocrat from 1962, and it works flawlessly. You ever give a brush a try?

Thanks for the fantastic blog, by the way!

Bob said...

I switched from the typical mach 3 to a merkur a few years ago and have never been happier. MUCH more comfortable shave and the cost savings alone makes it worth it. $10 on ebay for a year's supply or more of blades which is miles cheaper than the mach 3.

-Bob

Anonymous said...

For sure.

I switched to a butterfly safety razor pretty recently (mostly, to be honest, because I thought it was "neat"), and it's great. Good, comfortable shave, it feels nice using a solid, metal tool, and replacement razors are dirt cheap.

And I still think it's pretty neat.

Gregorius Mercator said...

I've been meaning to make the jump for more than two years, and I don't know why I haven't. One of the big questions I still have is what type of blades to use. What kind of blades do you use? Is there any real difference? Any thoughts, suggestions?

Josh Rogers said...

Edwin Jagger double edge (amazon, $35), just got it two weeks ago, and it is awesome. Anyone considering making the jump, I recommend feather blades (amazon, 15 for $7) and Real Shaving Company shaving cream (rite aid, $5). Whip it up in a mug (ebay, $6) with a parker safety pure badger brush (amazon $31) and you will be pampered AND save a bunch. Even at costco, a 24 pack of mach 3 blades cost $38. My last tip, dip ANY razor you use in rubbing alcohol after shaving. I used to get 6 weeks out of a mach 3 cartidge this way.

Josh Rogers said...

Also, there is a major difference in blades. the gillette 7 blades hacked me up, but the feathers have been great. bought a sample pack (amazon, $17) which should last me about 18 months. The ones in the sample pack that I still have yet to try are merkur, wilkinson sword, and derby.

TRVS said...

But can the Mrs. borrow it?

Anonymous said...

I switched to a safety razor and brush a couple years ago and haven't looked back. So much closer, so much cheaper, so much less razor burn. If you're into obsessive blogs about this sort of thing (which, clearly, you are if you're reading this), check out "Badger & Blade." It's the Style Forum of wet shaving, and has everything you could ever hope to know if you want to get started.

I also can't resist giving a shout to Phil, who runs the online shop Bull Goose Shaving. I've never met the guy, but I buy all my blades from him and can't speak highly enough of his extraordinary customer service. The way Giuseppe is always talking about old Boston haberdashers is how this guy is with shaving equipment.

Mike Poplawski said...

I switched to a vintage Gillette safety razor (early '60s) a few years ago when TracII blades became very scarce (been using them for over 30 years). I really loved the Gillette and much cheaper to use. However, this week I finally upgraded to the Merkur adjustable razor. I love it. It has the weight the Gillette didn't have so it is very smooth and a longer handle so it is easy to use. I'm still experimenting with the adjustments to see what I like.

Roger said...

I use a 1941 Gillette Ranger Tech, which I got recently in a lot of five for 10 euros (boxed and with metal blade-box). Previously I used a Slim adjusable, but the ranger Tech is better.
Blades are 50 cents for 10 on the outdoor market.

Most of my razors are old and need to be re-nickled, Razor Emporium in the U.S. does it for a reasonable price. Also rhodium plating. It's just a matter of me getting round to it.

TedJ said...

I purchased a nice Edwin Jagger in Dublin, and found two old Gillette models (less than 5$/pc) here at home (Canada). Antique stores are great sources for old shaving gear.

Add to that the fact that you can buy as many quality blades off the internets, under 15$, as to last you the next two decades, and that'll certainly make you question the mach-stuffs.

Andy N said...

This calls to mind the classic Onion headline:

http://www.theonion.com/articles/fuck-everything-were-doing-five-blades,11056/

(Pardon the overtly crass language)

Scott said...

I shave with a classic brass Gillette safety razor using wilkinson sword blades. It is a fine shave, and it only took one or two tries to get the hang of it. It's actually quite easy to pick up.