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SE blades: Easy Come, Easy Go

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One of your two SE razor blade options. That’s it.

I recently posted a blog entry about why I like shaving with a single-edged razor. Beyond the ease of use, retro/indie feel and possibly superior results, there’s one more factor in play:
I don’t have to give a second thought about blades.

Before I bought my first SE razor, I spent countless hours researching double-edged blades. Did I want to load the Feathers into my Edwin Jagger DE89 or the Gillette Russian Yellows with my Merkur Slant? Should I try Israeli Reds one week, then Crystals or Derbys the next week? The blade obsession was overshadowing the shaving obsession.

But when it comes to SE blades, you have roughly three options (not counting Injector blades – for those, find a non-chain drugstore and buy the Schick blades). One of those options can be tossed out right away: the Korean made Dorcos, which will cut your face into pieces. They’re dirt cheap and found in grocery stored, but don’t be swayed. They’re horrible.

You can go with GEM Stainless Steel Coated blades, which you can find at Walgreen’s. Or you can go with the blue, carbon treated blades you can find at CVS.

For the most part, that’s it. They may have different names on the package, but to the best of my knowledge, they’re all made by the same companies. Stainless or not. Period.

Even then, the thick blades that look like paint scraping tools (but aren’t) are all mostly the same. The variation in SE shaving is in the agressiveness of the razor, itself.

I’ve heard some aficionados claim that the blue blades shave better, but they literally rust in between shaves if you don’t take them out of your razor and dry them off completely. Yes, they rust in one day. That’s too much effort for me.

The stainless steel blades obviously don’t rust. I get about six shaves out of them, with days two through four being the best. Some people get eight shaves, but given how cheap these blades are (just pennies more than most DE blades), it’s not worth it to me to push it too long.

Andy Tarnoff

Andy Tarnoff

19 thoughts on “SE blades: Easy Come, Easy Go”

  1. I use a GEM Micromatic Open Comb with either the Gem Blue Star (carbon steel) or Gem Personna Stainless Steel blades. I draw no blood and get an aggressive close smooth shave. The razor uses a different cutting angle from the double edge razors. So a double edge razor user has a learning curve.
    As for the carbon steel blades, it is not hard to dry the blade after use. I find the carbon steel blades sharper than the stainless steel. Extra care is needed the first shave on a new carbon steel blade to not draw blood, but the smooth result is worth the extra effort.

  2. Ted Pettinicchi (TAP119 on B & B)

    I revisited my Gem G Bar with a SS Gem blade from a new package I’d gotten. Once again, I was underwhelmed. I just don’t think it’s aggressive enough for my beard. My whiskers are really tough but my skin’s sensitive; I got a mild razor burn from the G Bar. I went over the same areas on my neck multiple times but I still couldn’t get them smooth enough.
    I’ll keep the G Bar as part of my small collection as it reminds me of my grandfather but it will be just a display, not a worker.

    1. The Heavy Flat Top (aka G-Bar) takes some time to learn. I primarily use the MMOC and thought the HFT would be too mild from what everyone says. However, it just looks too cool so I had to have one. It has become my #2 razor, right behind the MMOC. I spent a solid week with it figuring out the angle that works best for me. It’s definitely not as efficient as the MMOC but I can still easily get a DFS+ with it and zero irritation.

  3. Larry U. (Snargle on B&B)

    I shaved this morning with a beautiful gold-plated Ever-Ready SE razor with the pat. 1912 head and a Gem stainless blade and had great results. Very easy, smooth shave, BBS all over, and no irritation. I have several SE razors, but the ones with the 1912 head are, without a doubt, my favorites. It’s all about a little practice and technique…actually, I find an SE to be easier to maintain the correct angle to my face than my DE razors. Another big plus is the sound of an SE razor plowing down those whiskers…sometimes I think I should be wearing hearing protection!

  4. I tried the Gem Blue Star blades and the blade rusted before I was even finished with the first shave. Tried the Treet blades and found them to be acceptable.

  5. Ted Pettinicchi (TAP119 on B & B)

    Gentlemen: a quick follow-up before I race off for my 11A-11P shift in the ER. I got a DFS from my Gem 1912 this AM. It’s BBS on my cheeks, but there’s some short stubble I can feel on my jaws. I was overly aggressive on my throat and had 3 small weepers.
    I’m going to try my G-Bar again for tomorrow’s shave and I’ll let you know.
    Yes, Ted Pella still sells the coated SE blades, but I didn’t wish to buy 200 of them.

  6. Are Ted Pella blades, the teflon coated blades still around? I don’t mean to complicate the lack of blade choices that are so appealing to you, but when I experimented with SE shaving, those were very highly regarded.

  7. Ted Pettinicchi (TAP119 on B & B)

    I acquired a Gem G-Bar because it was the type my “grandfather” (really a close neighbor) shaved with. I also acquired a Gem 1912. I really like the 1912 but I don’t get as close a shave with it as I do with my DE razor. The G-Bar is too mild; it hardly shaves me at all.
    This morning I’m using my 1912 with a new Gem stainless blade. I like using the 1912 when I haven’t shaved for a few days; it’s more like an open comb DE razor.
    I get nicks like everyone else at times, but I don’t become facial hamburger from my SE razors (as I had when using DE Feather blades). I agree with Andy; it’s in the technique. SE blades are thicker and stiffer than DEs so require more finesse with shaving angle to accomplish a good shave.
    For those of you above for whom SE shaving didn’t work, well, that’s why there are many different types and styles of safety razors. That’s why they make vanilla, chocolate & strawberry.

  8. I tried one of the old GEM’s and like above I felt like I was at the Red Cross getting ready to donate. I do shave with my old Schick Injectors and find the Schick blades in the yellow packages give me the best service, even over the Personna.

  9. Nice article, but you forgot the Valet SE-razor:
    There are blades for this model made by Feather, called “HANE” (FAS-10 for “normal” carbon and FHS-5 for stainless steel)

  10. I have a Gem pushbutton. I bought some Gem stainless blades and tried to shave. It was the bloodiest shave I’ve had in a long time. I tried to keep the head of the razor flat on my face or just a bit off of it. That was a few weeks ago, I haven’t gone back but I’m considering it. I just don’t know how much blood I can afford to lose. 😉

    1. Considering the fact that you only get one face .. some of these antiquated implements aren’t worth using IMO. I don’t care how cheap they are. On eBay they are pretty much giving those things away, probably because of what you just described. A transfusion shouldn’t be the normal next step after a “good” shave. (:

      1. I think it is a matter to technique and learning how to use the tool rather than the tool being a bad one. It takes more skill to shave with a SE and there is less instruction around. When I shaved the right side of my face was fine but the left and under the chin was a disaster. I hold my razor with my right hand and that may have led me to not getting the angle correct. I will try it again when I feel braver and don’t have to go to work for a few days in case I need to heal up.

    2. That is the downside of having only a few single edge razor blades. If none of the few blades available work for you, then you are out of luck. ASR makes Gem stainless and Gem, Pal and Treet carbon steel blades. Maybe one of the carbon steel blades would work better? Of course, they could all be the same blades with different packaging. Tis better to have shaved with a SE and bled than to never have shaved with an SE at all. Or something like that… 😉

    3. I shave almost exclusively with SEs and I don’t use any of them flat on my face. I would suggest changing the angle a bit like you would a DE until you get the desired result. Usually with SEs you can just go by the audible feedback they give.

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