I have an old Gem Micromatic, exactly like the one in the third photo in the bakelite case here: http://wiki.badgerandblade.com/Micromatic
I used this once a really long time ago. It was awful. Now, I wouldn't hesitate to chalk that up to bad technique or a cheap blade. But does anyone use these daily? Is there a secret I'm missing?
I did a lot of reading last night, and this morning gave it another go. There are some things to learn about safety razors before just diving in, it seems. Damn this thing shaves close. No nicks or cuts, no irritation.
For those interested in today's recipe for success:
- Pre-shave oil seems to be The thing. I've never used it before, nor did I have any. So I raided the pantry and used some sunflower oil (based on the ingredients in some of the DIY shave oil recipes I found). I worked it in and let it sit for a minute before moving on.
- Went back to the badger brush and old fashioned shave soap. I can't remember what brand of soap is in my little lather pot. The brand has long since worn off the puck. The badger hair brush is another must, as it works the lather into, around, and under your stubble.
- Hottest of hot water. It was still from the tap, but I made sure the lather was piping hot, as well as the razor.
- Angle. This is the biggest thing I needed to learn, and would have continued hacking up my face had I not read it. There is a distinct happy angle for these razors. Too far one way and you're not cutting anything. Too far the other and you're brutalizing your skin.
- Followed up with a bit of ye olde Bay Rum aftershave.
I apologize if I'm preaching to the choir. But if you've tried an old school safety razor and hated it, give it another go. You might just fall in love.
I have been shaving every other day with one of three Micromatics for the past year. I have two clog-prufs and one classic. As long as I'm careful, I can avoid cuts and achieve some of the closest shaves.
In my opinion, the trick is to keep the head flat against your skin. I also recommend applying virtually no pressure. Finally, make sure to wet your face before applying a quality shaving soap.
If I wet my face for 30 seconds before applying col. conk's shave soap and remember to use the techniques above, I get the best shaves every time.
P.S. Carbon steel blades cut closer but rust easily and wear out sooner. My favorites are the Gem Blue carbon blades.
It's funny, however I got the micromatics in a bulk estate purchase. I honestly didn't know what they were until I found Badger and Blade. Since trying them out, I have never touched a double-edge razor or cartridge razor for normal shaving.
The SE blades are thicker than DE blades and seem to shave closer as well.
SE razors are really amazing though. Keep purchasing blades so that ASR keeps producing them!
I have one of these GEM micromatics. I first learned how to use a safety razor with it a few years ago. I'd say it's not the most user friendly right out of the gate. There are definitely more forgiving razors out there but you'll be hard pressed to find a SE safety razor that gives you a closer shave once you get the hang of it.