The Art of Shaving brand has been hugely responsible for an increased awareness of high-end shaving products for men. With this has come resurgence in the actual art of shaving, using classic double edge safety razors and straight razors with a brush to apply the shaving soap or cream.
Over the past three decades disposable and cartridge razors have been the major players in the market. While The Art of Shaving sells expensive handles for cartridges they also offer options for the classics: safety and straight razors. I’ll tell you now, don’t waste your hard-earned money on a $100+ shaving handle that uses cartridges. Throw your cartridge razor in the trash (where it belongs) and try one of the classics instead.
Why throw away your new Mach 3? Because cartridge razors are much more expensive over time and provide an inferior shave. Sure the handle only costs ten dollars, but the cartridges are where the cartridge razor brands make most of their money. On the other hand, a quality safety razor may set you back $40 but a 10-pack of razors for it will only cost around $5.
If you’ve been using a cartridge razor from either The Art of Shaving or your local drug store I’m going to assume you won’t be comfortable putting a straight razor to your neck just yet. With that in mind, I’m going to ease you into finding some alternatives to The Art of Shaving by introducing you to some of the best brands (both affordable and expensive) that offer quality safety razors.
If you own a safety razor from The Art of Shaving then you already have your hands on my first alternative to The Art of Shaving, Merkur. The Art of Shaving actually contracts with Merkur to produce its safety razors. This means you can buy a Merkur and get the exact same razor for less money!
If you want to skip directly to my top razors I have two posts on the subject; one covering safety razors and the other on straight razors. Otherwise use this as a jumping off point into doing some research into the top safety razor brands.
Merkur is a German company, who makes what is likely the most widely used safety razor, the Merkur 34C HD. Emil Hermes founded in 1896 in the German region of Solingen. In 1996, Dovo, another company from Solingen purchased Merkur. Merkur remains one of the best shaving brands around, which is why The Art of Shaving sources products from them.
Since 1973, Parker has been producing high quality shaving products. They also offer quite beautiful ox horn and water buffalo handles (models 11R & 12R respectively). I’ve heard plenty of good things from this brand and they have been expanding their lineup in recent years to include shaving brushes and shaving soaps.
Edwin Jagger is another brand that is a great alternative to The Art of Shaving. The company was established in 1988. Founder, Neil Jagger, designs each piece, so you can rest assured that when purchasing one of their razors you are getting a well thought out and beautifully crafted piece of equipment.
Muehle has an interesting history dating back to 1945 when the company began making shaving brushes. Muehle continued to design high-quality shaving products until 1973, when the company was nationalized. After the collapse of East Germany in 1990 Muehle was again free to produce great shaving products. Since then, they have continued design beautiful shaving tools.
Another German brand (damn they’re great at manufacturing quality goods) and my final suggestion for an alternative brand to The Art of Shaving is PILS Founder Werner Pils founded the brand in 1980 and today they make one hell of a double edge razor. The design of their razor fits my personal style the best of all the brands mentioned here so as soon as I’m in the market for a new razor I’ll be picking up a PILS.
As with fashion and everything else in life, the only way we expand our horizons is by trying new things. Give a classic shaving tool a try and I promise you won’t regret it. If you’re interested in the potential savings of using a straight razor or safety razor over a cartridge system check out this great shaving cost comparison on sharpologist.com.
Stay true to yourself. Be kind to others. Define your own style.