Merkur Safety Razors (for Shaving): Pros and cons? For sensitive skin? Anything I should know?
October 23, 2005 4:31 PM   Subscribe

Merkur Safety Razors (for Shaving): Pros and cons? For sensitive skin? Anything I should know?

I saw a post on Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools about the Merkur Classic Safety Razor (, and was excited, since it's a new gadget. I have sensitive skin, and like a close shave. Is this a good option? If not, any better options out there? (Currently use a Mach3 Turbo and some italian shave cream/oil)
posted by sdis to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I like mine. It takes a while to learn to shave in the right direction for your beard, since you can just hack any which way with a Mach 3 and not get cut. Probably the most important tip is not apply pressure. Just let the blade glide over your skin and let the sharpness of the blade do the cutting for you. I shave twice: once with the grain and once across or against the grain to get closer.
posted by stopgap at 4:45 PM on October 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

It's recommended in the oft-cited MSNBC article "How to get that perfect shave." I too would like to hear some personal anecdotes about the razor, though, as I bought the brush and shaving cream recommended in the article but have yet to spring for the razor.
posted by ludwig_van at 4:46 PM on October 23, 2005

sub-question: does anyone know where to buy one in the DC area?
posted by MrMoonPie at 4:58 PM on October 23, 2005

I don't have one myself, but you can learn a lot about using them here.
posted by anathema at 5:09 PM on October 23, 2005

I like mine very much, but I don't think I have particularly sensitive skin.

Anyway, the key is to hold the razor lightly (it's got a lot more weight to it that what you've become used to) and go over your face as few times as possible. I stroke down against the grain once, and then across the grain once.

And though it seems fancy-pants, get yourself a proper brush and shaving cream/soap combo. They make an enormous difference, as mentioned in the now mythic (the Merkur people must be thrilled) article above.
posted by aladfar at 5:47 PM on October 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

an aside, are these (the blades, really) allowed in carry-ons for air travel? I don't trust the TSA bulletins that list "safety razors" as OK, since they could be sorely mistaken and may mean cartridge-type blades. I mean, if you can't take plastic sewing needles, a double-sided razor blade seems unlikely.
posted by kcm at 6:17 PM on October 23, 2005

It takes about 7 days to learn to shave "down" and about three months to learn to shave "up" without nicking yourself. It's the best shave I ever had and makes shaving into an experience I look forward to. Read the article from MSNBC article. All true.
posted by about_time at 6:17 PM on October 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

My husband has a safety razor and loves it. He uses sandalwood shaving soap and I spend a lot of time smelling his face after he shaves - I suppose that could be a plus if you want women all up in your grill smelling your face.

As an aside to the ladies: A shaving brush, shaving soap, and a safety razor works amazingly well for legs and armpits, too, and is a bazillion times cheaper than the Venus and its offshoots, plus I get a closer, more comfortable shave with that set up. The only downside is that you have to shave slowly, and I am usually in a mad hurry in the mornings. But even if I occasionally revert to modern multi-blade shaving for speed, I will never give up the brush and soap. It's so cheap and creates less trash and smells so good and the brush feels really nice.
posted by jennyb at 6:41 PM on October 23, 2005

Don't decide to spring for the Merkur Futur razor like I did. I have very sensitive skin on my neck and it's a harsh razor with Merkur blades. It's much smoother with Feather blades, but I'm left wondering if I should have just gotten their normal Classic. The guys on the Badger and Blade forums seem to agree that the Futur is harsh.
posted by zsazsa at 6:44 PM on October 23, 2005

Pro's: It's much better on sensitive skin... MUCH BETTER.

Con's: Mistakes are costlier :-)... and it takes a little longer to shave properly.

You'll have to learn how to do it properly (and unlearn any bad habits), but it's worth it. And about it taking longer, that might be considered a 'pro' since it becomes "quality time with yourself" (no, not that kind of time, but you get my point)

My shave is much closer than ever, and not just "barely noticeable" closer. Two days after shaving it still feels closer than a couple of hours after using a Mach 3. And the razor burn in my neck is basically gone.

It might be because of the safety razor, or because of the shaving cream and brush, or because I now take the time to do it right and learned to recognize the hair direction on different parts of my face. I'm really not sure, but I know that the combination of the three factors made a ten-fold difference in the quality of my shaving.
posted by sd at 6:44 PM on October 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

I really like the Merkur Classic. An advantage not previously cited is that these things don't clog. Since I have a habit of not shaving usless I'm going into work (rather than working it my house) I've found that 3 and 4-blade razors clog rather badly. That, and I always had a tendency to forget exactly which blade model I needed when I got to the drug store.

I've found the Merkur to be great, and easy on my skin, except for one part under my chin where the direction of beard growth changes abruptly. The only other downside is trying to find good blades in local drugstores.

I also tried a disposable straight razor and never got the hang of it. But it works great for beard trimming using a comb.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:47 PM on October 23, 2005

Sounds like the badger brush is a really important part of all of this. There aren't any synthetic versions of a badger-hair brush that are any good, eh?
posted by sirion at 8:00 PM on October 23, 2005

Also, anyone familiar with what the differences are between the Merkur blades?
Classic vs Classic Hefty vs Classic-Slant Bar, Futur(already noted above as harsh), Progress, etc?

I can see various descriptions at, but they don't mean much to me. (Angle adjustment on the 'progress' that a good thing?)
posted by sirion at 8:09 PM on October 23, 2005

This post came along at a great time. I've been watching the prices on the Mach3 cartridges rise like crazy, and I've been meaning to look into this. I just ordered a Merkur and blades. THANKS!
posted by keswick at 8:15 PM on October 23, 2005

Sirlon: You don't want to go with a synthetic brush - something about the way they hold water. But I think you can get away with a brush that isn't badger. Cheaper models use boar bristles, or somethin similar. I went with the cheapest possible natural brush I could find and have been happy with it.

As for the high end adjustable razor, I can't say that I've ever used it. But I get the feeling that their classic design, which has worked well for generations, is probably fine for almost everyonne. It is, however, a little short in the handle. It seemed entirely too small in my hands, so I went for the longer model they offer.
posted by aladfar at 10:49 PM on October 23, 2005

jennyb: you want nice armpit shaving, shower with hubby and get him to do the job. Much easier for him to taut your pit and scrape the hair.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:53 PM on October 23, 2005

I use one. The shave is very good, but not amazingly better than the Mach3. The difference I've noticed is the care I'm taking with shaving now. By investing in a great razor (Merkur from, some great soap & stuff (men-u from somewhere, I forget), and some time (from me) I find that my shaving experience is more ritualistic and more thoughtful. All of these things are good for my face.

The best tip I've seen so far for shaving has nothing to do with the particular razor: Shave twice, both times in the same direction as your hair grows; never shaving against the grain. Having a brush makes this eminently possible because you just immediately lather up again. Because I'm careful, I don't repeatedly stroke over the same spot. I do it once over my whole face. And once again after I've lathered up again.

The experience is much nicer.
posted by tamills at 3:10 PM on October 24, 2005 [1 favorite]

I have several Merkur razors, and over the past while have been collecting in one post (which I regularly augment and revise as I learn more) everything I know about shaving with a safety razor. I even posted it in MetaFilter Projects:

Suddenly got interested in what my bro-in-law calls "the gourmet shaving experience," and after learning much from various forums and experiments, posted a comprehensive guide for the beginner, with many links. The main benefit of going this route (at least for me) is that I actually look forward to shaving each morning instead of viewing it as a routine chore. YMMV. At any rate, if you're interested, this will give you plenty of info.
posted by LeisureGuy at 2:55 PM on August 5, 2006 [2 favorites]

Oh, and here's a recommended starter kit for beginners.
posted by LeisureGuy at 7:26 PM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

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