Recommendation for a safety razor for leg-shaving?
July 20, 2015 8:21 AM   Subscribe

If you're a woman and use a metal-handle, old-fashioned safety razor for shaving your legs, give me your recs!

I tried my husband's safety razor on my legs when I realized I didn't have a replacement blade for my regular plastic disposable razor. I really liked the shave it gave me, I liked using it, and I dislike the expense of buying disposable razors (e.g., Venus, Gillette).

The only thing I didn't like was the short handle; it's a Merkur. I think I'm going to buy the long-handled one but I thought I'd ask if people have any strong recommendations first. I'll be ordering through Amazon.

Also, any lady-shaving tips using a safety razor on your legs, tips on maintenance, and any shaving cream recommendations appreciated.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome to Shopping (11 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
(I'm aware there's a previous question on Merkur Safety Razors from 2005.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:22 AM on July 20, 2015

I've been happy with this one for years.
posted by anotherthink at 8:31 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have an Edwin Jagger which is fine, but haven't tried any others for comparison. The short handle was annoying at first but it's fine now that I'm used to it. Would still probably get a long handle if I ever get one again.

If you read about it online you'll quickly run into the safety razor evangelists with their fancy brushes and creams and collection of razors and blades, and I'm sure that stuff is lovely, but you don't need anything fancy. I never bothered with shaving cream at all because the baby oil I was using before still worked fine. Conditioner also works well, maybe even better. I was super cautious at first but now I shave pretty much exactly the same way and speed as before, and cut myself about as often (pretty rarely). My legs get a lot less irritated with the safety razor (probably because I only need to do one pass instead of like 3), and the shave is definitely closer - no stubble right after shaving now, and it seems to stay smooth a bit longer.

Try a bunch of different blades, though - I found some left a bunch of my (super-fine blond) hairs behind, whereas others were more likely to cut me at first (though I adjusted). My favourite was somewhere in the middle. I got a multi-pack with like 10 different kinds of blades for ~20$, and I'm still working my way through them a year later.

I'm spoiled now - I couldn't bring it when I was travelling for a month recently (not allowed in carryon), and I really missed it. It's almost not worth shaving if it's not perfectly smooth after. I usually change the blade every time I shave my legs now (again, spoiled), but you can stretch it out longer than that, it's just cheap enough that it's worth it to me for the slightly better shave.
posted by randomnity at 8:46 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

said husband here: I found double-edge razors, for men at least, to be an absolute rabbit-hole of Internet fanaticism. I could have sworn there was a Sweethome article specifically on the subject, but it seems to have since been updated to be mostly about cartridge razors with just a small section on safety razors. Lifehacker likes the Merkur and Edwin Jagger razors. Sharpologist has a good list.

BestLadyShaver has a list for women which is mostly the same Merkur/Parker/Jagger recommendations but with some good commentary.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:50 AM on July 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

I shave my face with a safety razor, and was really into the culture for a while. My wife shaves her legs with one, too.

I think the only crucial factor across all safety razors is construction, as you definitely don't want a razor head that wobbles and comes loose from the handle. Thankfully, even the cheaper razors are generally fine. Then comes the overall weight of the razor, and the feel of the handle, which are both personal preference. Merkur is pretty much the gold standard of beginner, all-around good razors, so if you tried one and liked it, I'd suggest you just get their long-handled version, the Merkur 23C or Merkur 180; they're the same razor.

The biggest variation to consider would be a slant-bar razor instead. The heads of these razors bend the blade slightly so that it approaches the hairs at an angle, and since a slice is easier than a chop, this cuts the hairs more smoothly with less pressure applied, which is great for more sensitive skin. However, holding the razor at too sharp an angle also means it's easier to slice your skin than with a standard razor. If you feel comfortable enough with shaving, and have rather sensitive legs, this would be a good option. Merkur's long-handled option is the 39C.

Beyond that, I find that the blades themselves make a much bigger difference than the razor does. There's many quality brands that offer different levels of sharpness, from Derby, which are much smoother and less aggressive (and make a great beginner blade), to Feather, which are surgically sharp (they also produce actual surgical scalpel blades). I'd suggest finding a variety pack, and trying a few brands out. You can still get a decent shave with your non-ideal blades, so they won't go to waste.
posted by Skephicles at 9:07 AM on July 20, 2015

I got my hubby a 100-pack of Shark brand blades for like $20 for Christmas 2009 and there's still like 1/3 of it left. It's absurdly cost-effective. I wound up getting an extra handle through a shipping mix up and I use it sometimes. Just not all the time cause I'm kind of irrationally afraid of it. I just find I have to remind myself to go more carefully. I just use body wash instead of any fancy cream.
posted by bleep at 9:12 AM on July 20, 2015

If you don't mind going vintage, the Lady Gillette is the women's version of my favorite all time razor, the Gillette Super Speed.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 9:26 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a Lady Gillette as well and I absolutely adore it and it's super cute.

(Feather makes hands-down the best blades, in my opinion.)
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:52 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Another dude barging in (sorry) just to say that although I have never used one on my legs, safety razors are wonderful *if* you are absolutely in no way in a hurry. I've been using a safety razor (a vintage Gillette that was a generous gift from a pen pal) for about 6 years now and no matter how careful I think I'm being, I invariably nick myself if I try to hurry even a little bit.

Also, this seems like a real dumbass move in hindsight, but it didn't occur to me at all at the time: I do not recommend traveling with one, or at least not with a little five-pack of extra blades (the kind with a little flap at one end and a slot for spent blades at the other) because blades will wiggle out into your travel kit and cut you when you reach in to rummage around for something else.
posted by usonian at 11:46 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's definitely worth paying a little more for a vintage Lady Gillette, the length of the handle is perfect for leg shaving whereas a lot of the razors being made today have a shorter handle, fine for faces but not as maneuverable up a shin. Plus they're just really attractively designed, if you have any kind of a bent toward mid-century stuff.

(also seconding Feather blades which are a miracle).

(also on preview, what usonian says is very true. I keep a Dollar Shave Club set on hand for travel and times of great haste).
posted by padraigin at 11:48 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yes! I have a vintage Lady Gillette, too! That blue one with the stars! I love it so, so, so much after not shaving my legs for years and years. The knurling on the handle gives it a really good grip. Prior to that I used a men's travel razor and it was...difficult.

Try a bunch of different blades; I like the Derby ones, I agree that they are a little more forgiving.

I also use a thick men's shaving cream (Barbasol).
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:03 AM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

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