Most upvoted comment
[OFFICIAL ] Double edge kit suggestions – $100 or less(r/wicked_edge)
Leisureguy’s $100 Kit Recommendation, with Options
Here is my recommendation for a good kit that consists of lifetime-quality tools. Optional items are listed following the essentials. Prices are current as of 27 Jan 2013. Although some items are cheaper from independent shaving vendors, I am using Amazon since many want to start with that. This does make the list US-centric, however.
<Photo to come>
Brush – $26 including shipping – Your choice of either of two excellent brushes:
The Whipped Dog silvertip badger with your choice of resin handle (I like the octagonal best). The 22mm size is the best all-round size.
Shaving Cream – $21.35 including shipping – The 7-cream sampler from AlsShaving.com. You can get 3-4 shaves from each sample, and when you finish you’ll know those you want to buy by the tub. A really superb line of shaving creams.
Razor – $29.60 Amazon Prime – Edwin Jagger DE86BL Faux-Ebony handle. The Edwin Jagger head is of recent design and the best in its class—noticeably better than the Merkur head, for example. (See this post for a comparison shave.) Note the four biggest mistakes cartridge shavers make when switching to a DE razor.
Blade Sampler Pack – $18.95 Amazon Prime – 32 blade sampler pack – a good selection, mostly with 2 blades/brand. (The 1 blade/brand packs are useless: if you get a bad shave, you have no way of knowing whether the brand is bad or the blade just happened to be a dud—rare, but it does happen.) Read this post on why the blade sampler pack is essential.
Liquid Styptic – $3.09 Clubman Pinaud Dab-On Nick Relief – liquid styptics do a quicker and more effective job of sealing a nick than does a styptic pencil. My favorite, FWIW, is My Nik Is Sealed, and its rollerball applicator is much nicer than the Clubman’s felt tip.
Total: $98.99 including shipping if you have Amazon Prime.
Pre-shave soap – $4.04 including shipping: Clearly Natural Vitamin E high-glycerin soap; or for $2, Whole Foods 365 Vitamin E glycerin soap. Wash beard at the sink, using the soap and your hands, rinse partially with a splash, and apply lather (or rub the shave stick on your beard). Try using the soap a week, skipping it a week, then using it another week. This should enable you to determine whether it helps the shave. It makes a noticeable improvement in my shave.
Alum block – $4.94 Amazon Prime: Turkish alum block – If you suffer from skin blemishes (acne, razor bumps, or the like), this is not optional. Following the final rinse, glide the dry block over your wet skin. Set block aside to dry (not on a metal surface), clean up around the sink, and after a minute or two, rinse off the alum, dry, and apply aftershave.
Aftershave – I recommend you buy samples from Saint Charles Shave aftershaves of the aftershaves that seem appealing to you. Her aftershaves are first rate, and she makes both balms and splashes. Another source from which you can purchase samples is The Shave Den Shop.
Other soaps and shaving creams – I highly recommend the artisanal soapmakers listed below, many of which sell samples. Try, for example, the 7-cream sampler from AlsShaving.com, or soaps from Mystic Waters (scroll down at the link) and the Strop Shoppe (especially her Special Edition soaps).
If you have sensitive skin or your skin reacts to fragrances (reactions to sandalwood, menthol+eucalyptus, lime, and others have been reported—if your skin has any sensitivities, test new products by smearing a little on the crease inside your elbow joint and let it sit for 10-20 minutes to see whether your skin reacts), try Mystic Water Sensitive Skin (see this post for a complete list of ingredients) or Strop Shoppe’s Unscented Soap.
• Al’s Shaving
• Em’s Shave Place
• Ginger’s Garden
• Honeybee Soaps
• Kell’s Original
• Mama Bear
• Mike’s Natural
• Mystic Water
• Nanny’s Silly Soap Company (in the UK)
• Prairie Creations
• Queen Charlotte Soaps
• Saint Charles Shave
• The Shave Den
• The Strop Shoppe
Introductory guide to DE shaving – $12.95 print, $7.99 Kindle; available from all the Amazons (.com, .ca, .co.uk, .de, .es, .fr, etc. —even .co.jp) – Since I wrote the guide, I not in a position to recommend it (obvious conflict of interest), but take a look at the reader reviews from those who have actually used the guide; you can decide from those whether it would be helpful to you.
Special caution – Note the four most common mistakes cartridge shavers make when switching to a DE razor.