I’m very happy with my shaving routine and my current double edge razor. But when the folks at MD Barber contacted me about trying one of the their razors I thought I would give “Shavette” shaving a try.
The razor I tried was their MD Dragon Straight Razor. Not an actual straight-razor, but a “Shavette” razor that takes single edge blades. They also sent a box of their Royal Red Razor Blades to use with the Razor.
I’ve laid out my elaborate shaving routine in the past. I’m going to be testing this, by using it in place of my double-edge razor. Which I shave with every other night.
I’m not going to do the whole hot towel thing. My shaves already take long enough. During the winter I grow a beard so I only do one pass with the double-edge and one pass with the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Flexball. So for this 1st round of testing I’m going to do one pass with the Dragon and compare it against the Merkur.
First, I opened the razor up and put one of the MD Barber Red Razor single edge blades in. It wasn’t as easy as I would have hoped. The guard flips up, but you still have to try to pry the two sides apart to place the cartridge between. I was as careful as I possibly could be and was able to get it in perfectly. However, I wasn’t able to avoid a small, paper-cut like cut on my index finger. Hopefully this part gets easier.
Then I showered, lathered, washed off the 1st round of later, and re-lathered. Then I started my pass with the Dragon.
I had watched a few videos beforehand and knew to be careful. I may have been too careful, as I don’t think I cut very much beard off. I experimented with the two grips, one with the fold of the blade in the center of four fingers and one with it between one finger on one side and two on the other side. Two fingers on each seemed to be a little better.
When I got to the neck area, I had a problem. I couldn’t really reach either side with the either hand in a normal grip. So I turned the Dragon upside down. That seemed to work pretty well.
After one day, it’s too early to tell. It’s harder to maneuver than a double edge, which is already harder to maneuver than a cartridge. A few times I felt like a was really cutting the beard well, in a way that was more satisfying than the Fusion or the double-edge. They were nice clean strokes. But most of the time I wasn’t sure if I was even cutting anything, because I was too worried about going too deep.
I also have some pretty intense razor-burn in two patches on my neck. Maybe the upside grip wasn’t a good idea?
Today, I did my normal routine. I shaved at night so no shower, just washed my face. Lathered once, rinsed it off, and lathered again.
I took out the first blade and put in the next one. A little easier to open it up this time. I carefully got it out and didn’t cut myself. I got the new blade in, but it looked like i was sticking out too far.
The blade length freaked me out. I was super careful. I started on my left cheek with the my right hand. It was not really working. So I started from my mustache and worked out. Then I switched sides; but I was careful, I hardly cut anything. But I did manage to make a legitimate cut right above my beard line.
I moved on to the neck. I didn’t want to do the upside down grip this time. I shaved down instead. I’m was able to get a little hair off, but not much.
I ended up doing most of my actual shaving with the Fusion. My face looked ok, but not as good as a double edge shave. I put a band-aid on my cut. After a while the razorburn came back on one side of my neck. It wasn’t as bad as the first day though.
To be honest, I’m starting to lose hope on this. Today I figured out that you could pop the handle up to put the blade in instead of prying it open. But then popping it closed without moving the blade too much proved to be a different challenge. I got it in, but I was worried it was too loose. After popping the guard on, it seemed fine.
All the guides say to start with your cheek. I just can’t when I have a beard, there’s no space. I tried to start on my cheek but there was no place to go with the blade. So I went mustache out again.
I only got a few good strokes on my face. The majority of the time I wasn’t cutting at all. I tried adjusting my angle when to compensate for this and promptly cut myself. This keeps coming up but there is just not enough space to maneuver.
My neck was a little better, cut some growth there.
This was not a good shave. Had to do most of the work with the cartridge razor on the second pass. My beard is still intact, but it still looks like I need to shave.
No razor-burn tonight, but the cut from before is still hurting.
I’m starting to think this isn’t for me. Granted ,it took three months of shaving with a safety razor before I could reliably not cut myself and still get a good shave. But those were minor nicks, these are pretty sizable cuts.
Week 2, Day 1
I figured it out! I was able to successfully and safely switch out the blades. I think I’ve figured out the trick now.
I also reviewed a few more videos. To be honest though, there really aren’t any tutorials on how to use a shavette if you’re keeping the majority of your beard.
I had time to shower beforehand tonight. I tried taking smaller strokes on my mustache and my cheek. But really there’s no room to take any type of strokes. I didn’t really cut anything.
For the neck I tried going up, instead of down since that seems to be recommended by most tutorials. It worked, but its not as detailed, doesn’t reduce as much as a double-edge or even a cartridge, and is still causing razor-burn.
Once again, the majority of the shave was done by the Fusion tonight.
Week 2 ,Day 2
My heart just isn’t in this anymore. I didn’t change the blade tonight. I tried multiple positions and grips but it always comes back to that I don’t have room to shave with the Dragon when I have a beard. I started shaving my face, but when I was about halfway through I realized I wasn’t even trying to cut any growth away anymore, I was just going through the motions. It was doing nothing. I didn’t even bother to shave my neck.
After two weeks of testing (or one and half) , this is definitely not replacing my Merkur. It is too hard to maneuver, too easy to nick yourself with, and the blades don’t seem to stay locked in place well. Every shave was giving me razor-burn and every shave looked sloppy.
I’m going to try again when I go back to my goatee. Hopefully it works better when I have more space to work.