Skip to content

More Desertions From The Razor Blade Wars?

Listen to this article

Not very long ago finding a new old-school single blade safety razor in a retail outlet in the United States was virtually impossible.  Mutli-blade cartridge razors of many different varieties were all that could be found.  But it looks like we’re seeing a modest resurgence of the old school kit.

The Bad Old Days And The Badder Old Days?

The grand-pappy of the modern razor was invented about 100 years ago and popularized by Gillette.  The story is a well-known one so I won’t bother repeating it here (READ about it on Wikipedia if you like).  And things moved happily along, with evolutionary improvements to the design, until the 1970’s.  Then, suddenly, two blades became the rage (the fact that profitable patents for the single-blade designs were expiring had nothing to do with it.  Nope.  Nothing to see here.  Move along).  Then three.  Then four…five…six.  Each iteration locking the shaver into a manufacturer’s “walled garden” design.  To be sure, other improvements also came: head pivots, skin pre-tension fins, lubrication assistance, etc.  But everyone remembers the number of blades…and their cost.
And over the past few years there has been a bit of a rebellion: shavers “deserting” from the razor blade wars by moving back to older designs (or at least not upgrading to the latest design).  And a few niche’ players are now taking advantage of the situation to show mass-market retailers that older designs still have a market…and incidentally make some profit of their own.
Between about 1980 and 2000 probably the only place to find a “new” safety razor was new-old-stock (NOS) caches from businesses (like antique shops).  As the Internet gained popularity you could find niche’ sources (including NOS on eBay) and artisan specialty sites.  A few specialty stores (like the Art of Shaving and cutlery shops and beauty supply stores) also started to carry safety razors.  But the large manufacturers still held a stranglehold on shelf space in mass-market outlets.
micro touch one bbb
That all changed late last year when the stranglehold was bypassed with the “as seen on TV” route and the Micro Touch One razor.  Rather than get space on the shaving isle they took space on “end caps” and shared space with products like “The Picket Hose,” “Flex Seal,” and “Tag Away.”  And–quite possibly to the surprise of the retailers–the razors sold.
Now it seems like the gates have been opened.  I’ve been keeping pretty close tabs on widespread availability with sightings in the smallish-city in Texas where I live as a guide.  I’ve seen Micro Touch One razors in the local Walgreens…and get sold.  Then they recently appeared at a nearby Bed Bath Beyond…and they’re selling.  And now I’m seeing a second razor, Van Der Hagen’s “Traditional Safety Razor,” at my local Walmart, adjacent to the “regular” shaving section no less!  In fact, I got the last razor on the shelf (which I will review soon).
vdh razor
I asked Marty Van Der Hagen about how well the razors are selling.  His reply? He said the response has been “phenomenal…. We initially added the safety razor to one of our higher end sets…to complete the traditional shave experience, but decided to offer it as a stand alone product to see how it would sell. The sell through has exceeded all of our expectations.”
So there you are.  Maybe they are not the highest quality razors on the market but they certainly are a good value and possibly a “gateway” product to a much better shaving experience.  And they are selling….


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

9 thoughts on “More Desertions From The Razor Blade Wars?”

  1. Compared the van der hagen side by side to my mint condition 1953 Gillette super speed. Nearly same weight, same design with the exception of a few minor differences. Obviously not quite the same quality, but very close, and that says alot. The super speed is highly rated still, so the van der hagen should do well.

  2. The Micro Touch One and the Van Der Hagen are both obviously the exact same, rebranded Weishi razor.
    The Weishi is a decent product, though, and at the prices these things are offered it’s an acceptable buy. You might as well go with the Micro Touch One box; it includes a neat little razor stand, which the Van Der Hagen does not have.

  3. Hate to say it but Rick from Pawn Stars tv ad got me interested in a DE. I bought the razor in the ad from CVS. It didn’t open and close right so I bought the Van Der Hagen from Target before I took this one back. To my surprise they look identical. I really think its a Van Der Hagen in the Micro Touch box. Anyway, I love the razor. Have tried the Dorco blades that came in the Micro Touch box and the blades that came in the Van Der Hagen box. Dorco blades are lower end but work ok. VDH blades which are made in Germany work much better. You can find them at Target. By the way, I hate to shave but this whole DE experience has made me enjoy it so much.

  4. And, oddly, the Walgreens in my neck of the woods outside of Baltimore just recently stopped carrying both GEM SE and house-brand DE blades. Just vanished ’em.

  5. I have enjoyed joining the “Disposable Diaspora” as a 2014 New Year’s resolution (probably one of the few I’ve actually kept)! Me and my Merkur Long Handle and Perma Sharp blades are happy, healthy, and BBS. And an added pleasant surprise was giving a nice home to a 1959 Gillette Red Tip I found cleaning out the wife’s grandfather’s basement.

  6. I do hope it comes back this side of the Atlantic. So far I can get Wilkinson Sword handle & blades in a major pharmacy but not yet in supermarkets. Even in France I could only see Gillette DE blades in the supermarkets. In the supermarkets it really is just the cartridges that rule the roost.

  7. Hooray!! I’m just glad I have almost 200 blades thanks to a sample pack I bought with my first de razor, Merkur 180 long handle, and liking Wilkinson so much I bought a 100 of ’em. The curiosity about the Feathers I heard so much got me so I bought 30 of them. Just finished my first shave with one (carefully!) and wow, what a shave, but lessons learned – that’s one sharp blade! A couple war wounds but not serious, but I love it, smoothest shave EVER, seriously. Face is glass smooth, not just bbs. I have a new favorite. Anyway, getting back, I saw DE blades in Wally World last night too and thanks much To the Pawn Shop gentleman for the Micro One. Hope everybody wakes up to wetshaving and dump the 50 blades per shave. Only thing, I do hope the prices don’t go severely up with the popularity. Like I said, glad I have 200.

  8. I got the Van Der Hagen razor and I really like it. It’s pretty smooth and pretty mild. I have since upgraded to the Mercur 34C HD. I like the Merkur but I find the Van Der Hagen is a little more precise on getting close to my moustache. It’s a little lite so you gotta be careful not to press too hard but it’s a good razor. I’m looking forward to your review.

  9. I was in your “smallish” city this past weekend and noticed for the first time some DE blades at the local Target and a week or so ago I also found some at my local dollar store and Walgreens (they had been a no show at Walgreens for almost a year), at very reasonable prices except Walgreens which was way overpriced. Tho no razors were to be found I was pleased to see that in a pinch I could at least buy blades to hold me over til I placed an online order. I think that retailers are starting to do a little homework and see that though maybe not big movers, they still sell. Neither of these were name brand blades of course, but hey since Wally world decided to remove all of their Wilkinson’s from the shelf, I’ve seen nothing anywhere.

Comments are closed.