There are some initial impressions which tend to stick, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. In the world of traditional wet shaving many newbies ask the inevitable question: “Which blades work best?” The answer is just as inevitable as the question, “Your Milage May Very. Everyone is different, you’ll just have to try them out for yourself.” In spite of the view that no two people will agree on the suitability of any blades, folks tend to be more open about which blades they dislike. Even as they are denied a list of possible usable blades, newbies are often barraged with lists of unusable blades. The problem with this is that folks tend to keep those bad first impressions of so-called unusable blades with them and then regurgitate those views to other newbies. Many blades eventually receive bad reputations, whether they are deserved or not, based solely on hearsay. One of the blades that is often listed as totally unusable is the Merkur Super double edge blade.
The Merkur Super double edge blade is often compared to a piece of sharpened tin can. In fact, the Merkur Super is often held up as one of the worst DE blades ever made. Due in large part to its poor reputation and high price (a ten pack of Merkur Supers will usually run between $7 and $10) most people do not even bother to try these blades unless they receive them for free. Many of these free Merkur blades are usually in the form of a sample Merkur blade, which is included with new Merkur razors. This is an unfortunate situation because the sample blade is often poorly packed and can become banged up before it is ever even used, giving the user a bad example of how a Merkur blade performs. And so it is that Merkur blades, rightly or wrongly, receive nearly universal disdain.
I myself held the unfounded view that Merkur Super blades were not even worth the effort to try, but I am a naturally curious person and was not content to accept this view without at least trying them out once. This morning I decided to bite the bullet and try out a Merkur Super blade. I’ve had two Merkur blades sitting in my sample tin for a while now, but I kept putting off using them and coming up with various reasons for this procrastination. The reality is that I didn’t want to waste a shave on a blade that I believed would perform poorly. The possibility that Merkur Super blades would live up to their infamy has kept me away, but there are a few nearly universally hated blades out there that I actually like, so I knew that Merkurs could do well for me as well.
To give these blades the best possible chance I broke out my Gillette black handle Super Speed razor, C.O. Bigelow shave cream, and my uber soft Every Man Jack synthetic brush. At the last minute (and after taking the picture) I decided to make it a superlather of Van Der Hagen Deluxe soap and C.O. Bigelow cream. Using my EMJ brush and superlather combo I created mountains of thick, creamy lather and did a three pass with the grain/against the grain/across the grain shave followed by a simple cold water rinse. I could almost hear the the Psycho shower scene “squeal” as I began my shave, but that ominous feeling quickly went away. As it turns out, I managed a Baby Butt Smooth shave with zero irritation and zero nicks. My skin was left ultra soft and smooth, even without any post shave treatment.
I’ve managed to get blades that I hate to perform by using perfect prep and ultra slick lather, but this is not what went on with the Merkur Super blade. It was an effortless shave thanks to excellent lather, but it was also a nearly perfect shave thanks to the Gillette black handle Super Speed razor and the Merkur Super blade…it was a case of everything working perfectly together rather than one product compensating for another. I know it’s just one shave with a single example of this often reviled blade, but if it continues to perform, then I will have to count myself among the dozen or so folks who have actually tried and like Merkur Super DE blades.
Pre: Hot shower and warm water splash
Razor: Gillette black handle Super Speed
Blade: Merkur Super
Brush: EMJ synthetic
Soap: Superlather of VDH Deluxe and C.O. Bigelow
Post: Cold water rinse