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5 Over-Rated Wet Shaving Products – With Better Alternatives

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There are a lot of great wet shaving products.  A few have become “legends” in one way or another.  But is the reputation (and price) of some of them deserved?  Here are five wet shaving products that I think are over-rated.

Note: Amazon, Grooming Lounge, Smallflower, and West Coast Shaving links are affiliate.

1. Martin de Candre Shave Soap

Martin de Candre (“MdC”) shave soap may be the first “super premium” artisan shave soap, at least in the modern sense, having started in the 1970’s.  Insanely expensive and sometimes difficult to get (MdC website, Maggard Razors, and West Coast Shaving for example), MdC is often regarded as a luxury shave soap with an almost-mythical reputation.

The thing is, it doesn’t really deserve its reputation anymore, IMHO.

Oh, it’s an excellent shave soap all right, don’t get me wrong.  But there are plenty of other shave soaps that are equal (or better) in quality and performance, for a (sometimes much) lower price.

2. Merkur Futur Razor

merkur futur

The Merkur Futur has been around since about 1985.  And, as the name suggests, the design goal was to make a futuristic-looking razor.  Personally, I think a lot of this razor’s popularity owes itself more to the futuristic design than to its actual performance.  As I mention in my review of the Futur:

“I think the head is too large, the adjustment range is biased too far on the “aggressive” side, and the smooth handle is slippery in my wet fingers (a common complaint mentioned in other reviews).”

Recently Qshave started selling a Futur clone, the Qshave Adjustable.  As you can see from the image below, the Qshave Adjustable (right) is very similar to the Merkur Futur (left):

I’m amazed that Merkur has not publicly and aggressively pursued some kind of litigation against Qshave.

The thing is, for me, the Qshave Adjustable shaves me better than the Merkur Futur!  The adjustment window is less biased toward the “aggressive” end of the range and the handle seems to fit better in my hand.  Plus the Qshave is a fraction of the price of the Merkur (to be sure, design and engineering shortcuts have obviously been taken with the Qshave, calling its long-term durability into question).

Plus, if you’re looking for an adjustable double edge razor and can do without the futuristic-looking design, there are a number of excellent alternatives.

3. Muhle R41 Razor

Sometimes I think that using the Muhle R41 open comb razor is only good for manhood-measuring contests.  Most examples of the R41 are just ridiculously aggressive–though a design tweak in 2011 did “tone it down” slightly.

I’m sure there are a few hardy souls out there who have facial hair so tough that only the R41 can deal with it.  But for most everyone else it just brings on one of those “WTF” moments in their wet shaving interest.

It is a well-built razor and if you genuinely need a really aggressive razor this is it.  But for 99.999% of the shavers in the world a less aggressive razor will be just fine.  If you want to explore the open comb design take a look at early vintage double edge razors, or better-suited models like the Parker 24c.  Or if you’re looking for a generally more aggressive razor look at adjustable or slant razors.

4. “Plisson-style” Synthetic Brush Fiber

I think it’s safe to say that Plisson’s introduction of their synthetic shave brush material around 2016 revolutionized the synthetic shave brush niche’.  Shave brushes with synthetic fibers of one type or another have been around for years but the Plisson fiber was the first to reasonably compete with animal hair brushes in terms of performance.  And artisans are still making shave brushes that use that fiber (or a close version): you’ll often see a variation of the Plisson name–words like Plissy, Pliss-like, Pliss-esque, etc.–on these brushes to “ride the coattails” of the brand.

The thing is, I think anyone selling a brush with this fiber is being lazy.  Synthetic shave brush fiber technology has grown leaps and bounds since 2016 with many new fiber materials that are superior in performance and competitive (or better!) in price.  Personally, I think the fiber of the PAA Peregrino brush is competitive with the higher grades of badger hair, at a much lower price-point.

5. Simpson “Chubby 3” Shave Brush


Ahhh, the Simpson Chubby 3 shave brush with “Manchurian” (or “High Mountain White”) grade badger hair.  Considered by many enthusiast wet shaving “old timers” to be the pinnacle of shave brushes.  And obscenely expensive for the time (and still expensive now).  Those who subscribed to “Method Shaving” years ago were told this was the only brush to use.

But this legendary brush has long since lost its luster.  There are now many more choices, both by source/brand and by fiber.  Any of the best shave brushes on the market can compete favorably with this brush based on performance.


It can be fun to fondly look back on the products that made traditional wet shaving history.  The legacy of some products will be remembered for a long time.  But don’t let “old school” prevent you from checking out some of the newer, yet traditional in spirit, items on the market.

What wet shaving products do you think are over-rated?  Leave a comment below!


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

25 thoughts on “5 Over-Rated Wet Shaving Products – With Better Alternatives”

  1. My Muhle R41 makes me wonder why some people think it to be so aggressive. One comment on Amazon I read before buying it said it was the most aggressive razor on the market. For me the most aggressive double edge razor I have is the Rockwell 6S. I’ve been shaving fine with its level 5 (6 being the most aggressive) but lately I’ve been getting a few nicks here and there, nothing serious but notable. My Muhle R41 is much less aggressive. Thinking back, I think there are different, more expensive version. I paid I think $53 for mine. Maybe I got a less aggressive version? I just switched out the #5 plate on my Rockwell to the #2. I love this razor but like I said, it ain’t for the faint of heart!!

  2. I am not a fan of calling anything ‘overrated’, so this article just isn’t for me.

    I think overrated has a very negative connotation, and whereas some of these items speak more to some than others I do not feel there is an objective reason to declare they are rated too high.

  3. I used a Chubby 3 for more than 10 years until I branched out and bought a dozen new Simpson’s last year. It’s now too clunky and difficult to hold compared to the others. My favorite is now the Captain 2. Feels great in the hand and just the right backbone for my preference.

  4. Sorry, Mantic-59. Your reply to John Titor doesn’t make sense, and the R41 should not be included in this article, in my opinion. When I went back to a DE Razor a few years ago, I purchased a Muhle R89, because how much I read about the R41’s aggressiveness. After a few months, I purchased a R41 head, and haven’t regretted it. I use the R41 with a Feather blade, as well. I was too late to get an older R41, but the current ones work just fine for me…with a Feather blade. My preference has nothing to do with “manhood measuring”. It has everything to do with getting a clean shave with 3 passes and very few nicks. I don’t think that I’m one of a “few hardy souls who have facial hair so tough that only a R41 can deal with it.” Also, I don’t think that 99.999% of the other wet shavers in the world will be just fine with a less aggressive razor. A quick Google search will produce many results that include comments from people who use and like the R41. Unfortunately, a Google search on the Muhle R41 is now going to show this article, as well, and guys who need a more aggressive head may pass on the R41, unless they read the comments. That’s a shame.

  5. Great article. Being overrated doesn’t mean these items are garbage. It just means they get a bit of a reputation which they don’t always live up to.

    I totally agree with the merkur futur being overrated. It could have been the best adjustable on the market but it has several clear issues.
    1. Too aggressive in a all settings
    2. Head is too bulky
    3. Blade chatter as top cap doesn’t secure blade tight. This can cause cuts and irritation.

    The R41 gets too much coverage as a widow maker and a beast. I reluctantly got an R41 two weeks ago and really love it. I thought it would be too aggressive and I would hate it. Being the 2013 model it is aggressive but not too aggressive. I think it out performs my Fatip open comb slant.

    However the R41 shaves very different to most other DE razors. In fact it is that efficient it feels slightly rough/tuggy when shaving. But I find the results very good, even if it doesn’t feel great at the time.

  6. I agree about MdC. Lathers great but it is somewhat drying. There are a lot of better choices.

    I think you made a mistake in the article…..could be wrong but I think that the R41 was toned down in 2013, not 2011 like you wrote. The 2011 model, I believe, is the original, more aggressive one.

  7. I do love my Merkur Futur Razor even with it’s shortcomings. If it’s been a week since I shaved, it’s that go to for a first pass. Put it on 4 with a Personna Med Prep and nice and easy. If it’s been a day or two and I need a touch up, down to 1. I agree with it can be slick and the head takes a bit of work under my nose but overall I love mine. It doesn’t hurt I ended up getting it years ago from Amazon with a few gift cards so the price was right at the time. Oh, it’s still so much better on my face than my R41 any day.

  8. I love shaving with the Merkur Futur. It has a feeling of solidity that no other razor quite matches.

    But it is insanely over-clocked on the aggressive side of the equation. I have very tough “old man whiskers,” and the setting of 1.5 (at most) is perfect for me.

    Why the settings go up to 6 in aggression I have no comprehension of. Not even a wild guess!

    The handle may be a little slippery for some, but I’ve never dropped mine or even had a close call. Focusing while shaving is not a bad practice. It protects from all kinds of accidents.

  9. The Futur is awesome. Glad it was a later purchase or I might not have explored so many other interesting alternatives. The thing can be slippery and I’ve finally decided to adress that with some grip tape designed for my Glocks.

  10. I was thinking of saving up for a pot of M de C soap but took a punt on a 1 Kilogram block of Vitos Shaving Soap (Super). It’s a croap, so was easy to mould into an old D R Harris wooden bowl. This is a traditional Italian soap for barbershops, based on tallow but with added glycerine (the Super bit!) and the mandatory almond oil.

    Well, this stuff is excellent. Super easy to build a lather that lasts well on the face and in the bowl. Cushioning is first rate and it washes off face and razor easily. I can’t speak for the slickness as I use a pre-shave oil that would make any soap slick. What really blows my socks off is the state of my skin after the shave. I sometimes alum, sometimes not, and the lightest of toners or balms leaves me feeling great all day. Did I mention £16 for five times the weight of a pot of M de C soap costing more than £45? My only gripe is that I have no excuse to try another soap for the next 5 years or more.

  11. Fun article. I will agree to disagree about the Futur; admittedly, the learning curve was steeper with the Futur than with the other razors. And now it seems to me that shaving proficiently with the Futur makes it easy to shave with just about anything else. Once I learned to use the Futur properly and found a blade that works great for me, I found I really, really, really appreciate the Futur (wide open and loaded with GSBs). I currently own three different razors, two of which I’ve purchased in part on Mantic59’s recommendation: the aforementioned Futur, plus the OneBlade (of which I’m on iteration 4: a hybrid after going through three (3) Cores) and – a new addition – the Parker Adjustable Injector (the two latter razors are the ones I tried based in part on Mantic59’s reviews). The OneBlade and Parker are nice and I use them regularly, but neither shaves as close as the Futur, particularly when dealing with stubble that’s any older than about a day and a half. The Futur’s big blade gap holds a lot of shaving cream/soap and rinses clean quickly, so I can do an entire pass without rinsing (by using both sides of the head), making for faster super-close shaves. In a pinch, I can settle for a single, WTG pass of the Futur to get through the day if I’m really short on time in the morning; the Futur is so effective at at mowing down stubble that a single pass is almost as smooth as a single pass with a Harry’s cartridge (which is a four-blade-per-pass setup). And, I get a whole week’s worth of great (BBS) two- or three-pass shaves from a Futur/GSB combo, with minimal (i.e., none…) blade care beyond leaving the razor and blade to air/drip dry in my razor stand; after that week of BBSs, I can get a second week of clean, smooth DFSs prior to needing to replace a blade. The Futur is a great daily shaver, and a monster (in a good way) on two-day (or more…) stubble. The Parker I like just fine. On its most aggressive setting it still seems diametrically opposed to the Futur in terms of aggressiveness, but the results of a three pass shave are nice: a comfortably clean DFS if I use the right shaving soap or cream, though it takes a long time to get that done (the Parker requires very frequent rinsing to unclog the blade gap), and the result of a three-pass shave is a not-quite-BBS unless I want to do a fourth pass and a lot of polishing. But the Parker’s blades are easy to load and unload, and have a reasonable lifespan – about a week of slow DFSs with little babying of the blade (air/drip dry). The OneBlade straddles the difference in the Futur and Parker in terms of aggressiveness. Don’t get me wrong, I very much like the results of a two- or three-pass shave with the OneBlade and get a BBS result easily enough. But that reliably-easy BBS only holds true for day old beard and with a brand-new blade. On a two day or older beard, the OneBlade has a really tough time giving me a comfortable DFS, whereas on the three or four occasions per year that I have a four or five day beard, the Futur with a fairly fresh GSB obliterates 4-5 day stubble on the first pass. And, a single shave with the OneBlade on 2-day stubble is enough to render the OneBlade’s Feather blade unusable for a second shave (and pretty uncomfortable by the third pass of the blade’s first shave). Even under ‘tackle just a day-old stubble’ conditions, the OneBlade’s Feathers are only reliably good for one BBS (when the blade is new), one DFS (on the blade’s second shave), and one tolerable shave (on the blade’s third shave). And that’s with a lot of babying of the blade (pull the blade from the razor after shaving, fully dry the blade and inside of the razor head with a towel or tissue, put the blade back in the razor upside down to use the flip side of the edge on the next shave, etc…. all sorts of effort to get just three shaves out of a single dollar-a-piece blade). I’ve tried storing the Feather in baby oil (with the Feather both inside and outside the razor) to keep oxygen off of the edge between shaves; I’ve tried blow-drying the blade; I’ve tried living with a crappy, tuggy shave on day four. Ugh. As already mentioned above (and by plenty of others before us), the short lifespan and high price of the Feathers can be frustrating. So, I love the results of the OneBlade on not-bad stubble with a brand new blade. And the other two-thirds of the time, I enjoy the OneBlade and try not to think about the price. In contrast, the Futur with the GSBs seems bulletproof: it devours even relatively tough stubble quickly, comfortably, under just about any conditions, and can do it for a couple weeks at a time when loaded with a $0.25-a-piece GSB. Closer shaves achieved more reliably, for about a twentieth of the per-shave cost of the OneBlade. So, yes, I’ll agree to disagree that the Futur is overrated. YMMV. 😀

  12. I liked Martin de Candre shaving soap initially — easy, abundant lather — but as I used a greater variety of good soaps — particularly true ultra-premium soaps such as Declaration Grooming’s Milksteak soaps and Phoenix Artisan’s CK-6 soaps and Grooming Dept soaps (I particularly like the Mallard formula), I relized that MdC is very drying soap that left my skin feeling not so good — and definitely requires an aftershave balm.

  13. didn’t some type of design protection expire for Merkur, like their patent? So it was anyone’s stab at copying the Futur?

  14. I may be on my own on this but find the one blade gives me a below average shave and then it needs a blade change after one shave. TBH it’s the worst razor I own, don’t know if this is because it’s just the basic core but I couldn’t risk the outlay for a genesis to be this disappointed.

  15. You listed the Muhle R41 as overrated in this article but yet in a separate article you wrote on best DE razors you list it as the best aggressive razor. Which one is it? Are you saying the best aggressive razor is overrated as well? Then how is it the best?

    1. The R41 can be a good razor and over-rated at the same time. If you truly have really tough stubble it can be useful. But as I said in the article it’s “reputation” is actually unsuitable for most shavers.

  16. MDC scents are often regarded as best in category, something you didn’t mention. This is part of the reason their soaps stay relevant in 2021 with lower cost soaps with equal or better performance being available and why it maintains a high rating and large following. Also, MDC soaps are insanely easy to get nowadays. Anyone with a credit card can go on West Coast Shaving, Maggards or Pasteurs Pharmacy and buy their products. Requoting a previous article’s contents written over 5 years ago and passing it off as a current fact is not only lazy, but inaccurate as well.

    1. I’ve kept track of MdC over the years. Yes, it’s available in more scents now but if you keep track of inventories it’s often out of stock. Yes, it’ll come back for a while then sell out again.

      1. Hello Mark
        Respectfully I’d also have to disagree with you on MDC as being overrated. First of all their a great family that’s been making soap for a long time so I respect them as a family and a brand! Many modern soap makers have tried to copy their formula and not one has been able to and I’ve talked to several of the top soap makers and they all agree and have deep respect for the brand. Also as a soap maker who also uses the same jars as they do which btw they were kind enough to share the company they buy theirs from with me in France cost at least 4 to 5 times what most soap makers use. They give you 7 oz of soap that not only lasts forever but it maintains it’s integrity from start to finish. Again something that some brands don’t. The amount of the soap and the weight of the jar also increases the cost of shipping it to vendors across the globe. Their soaps scents although I don’t have their formulas do not have the smell of using cheap synthetic fragrance oils which a lot of people like myself appreciate. Their soap offers nice cushion and good slickness without over super fatting their soaps which is very common in many modern soaps that leave the face oily after a couple of hours. Post shave is the only area I think MDC is lacking but that can be taken care of easily with a good skin food enriched post shave moisturizer. I also don’t believe in belittling or calling a product overrated as it’s hard enough to run a successful business in this environment we are living in today . I also see soaps on your top 10 list that would be a lot lower on mine and a bunch of my shaving friends and there’s also some excellent soaps not even mentioned on the list and the list was discussed on several shaving forms and many agreed that you missed a bunch of top rated soaps on your list and included some that would not be on theirs. With so many followers as you have I would never post anything to hurt a brands reputation or hurt them financially by saying negative things about that brand unless that brand was doing things like deceptive marketing or cheating customers.

        Also take note by proclaiming MDC overrated one person agreed with you although they never even used the product!
        That’s not good!

  17. I really like you giving an honest no BS opinion. Sometime there are so many fans of a product because of sentiment or cost that it can be hard to get honest advice! Keep up the great work. 👍🏾

  18. Hi Mark,
    Excellent column! I especially like your thoughts on MDC soap, one that I haven’t used. I did buy a puck of expensive Klars soap, and found it not to my liking. Perhaps, in some column you would discuss inexpensive shave soaps that make the ones in the $20+ range appear (somewhat) over priced. IMHO there are a bunch of good ones costing $5-10. For me, these include Soap Dudes, Soap Opera shea butter disks, the revamped Colonel Conk, and Herb’s Daughter Wild Whiskers. I’m sure there are a lot more out there.

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