I see a lot of questions throughout the day and even throughout the years from both new shavers and veterans alike. the infamous question of “Is this blade any good” ? or, what blade should I try next is on every forum I would venture to say daily. Truth told there is no right or, wrong answer here as every persons skin and make up is different therefore blades act differently based on every individual. I posed the question though about Derby Extra blades specifically; why because they seem to be a blade that has an odd reputation either as horrible or adequate….. there we go we are back to that individual preference thing already !!! Well here is my take on Derby Extra blades and take it for what it’s worth, YMMV and try them and come to a conclusion for your needs but lets cover at least a few basics to give you an idea of the blade overall.
Derby like almost every manufacturer comes in a multitude of ways, 5 packs in a dispenser, 10 packs in a dispenser or 100 packs in 5 blade increments in the same plastic dispenser or, little matchbox as I call them but there are 20 in a box. Now matter how you get them each blade is individually wrapped and has the Derby logo in green ….the exception is when you buy a razor Derby is a common free blade with double edge razors. The blade than may come in a waxed paper neatly folded protecting the blade, and you from injury. The packaging is easily on par with the likes of Astra SP, Gillette or, Wilkinson Sword to name a few. Let’s call it the industry standard.
Derby blades are manufactured usually, but not always in Turkey. This is not in my opinion a good or, bad thing it’s just where the facility is located. To some shavers even myself to an extent like origins as some blades within the same brand can vary dramatically based on where they were made. The packaging on the box reads: Derby Extra Super Stainless; on the front it reads Chromium, Ceramic, Platinum, Tungsten and Polymer coated edges. Well I’ll be completely honest, I don’t know if this is a mixture of metals and polymers that they use on the EDGE ( that is important ) or, If they label the box this way and there are different styles of Derby blades you can get. A prime example for comparison is the Personna 74 vintage blade that is a Tungsten steel blade. I want to say the “Extra” on the label is the mixture of everything I listed as to my knowledge there are no other Derby blades to buy so I believe they use a mix of those ingredients on the blades cutting surface to make it #1 more comfortable and #2 last longer and finally to make the blade actually cut keener than just a standard carbon steel blade, also it removes the worry to an extent as they are also stainless steel so rust is less of a concern.
Sharpness and Comfort
This is again a huge matter of personal opinion, BUT the general consensus is that Derby falls under the mild-light medium sharp or aggressive blade scale. Ladies or Gents with sensitive skin this may be your go to blade when paired correctly with the appropriate razor. This is also a great blade for men and women that have very fine to medium thick hair follicles. For some this blade will be too mild as one of the goals of traditional wet shaving is to minimize blade exposure and therefore have less irritation, and a more comfortable shave. Do not let anyone including me EVER tell you a blade will or, will not be “for you” only you can decide if this blade meets your personal needs…… you are a one of a kind custom you know ! Simply put usually the duller a blade is the more tugging and irritation you can have. The Sharper a blade is the more likely you are to over shave and have irritation. WHAT !!! so what does this mean ? it means there needs to be a comfortable middle of the road… this is a common theme with straight razor shavers as if the blade is to sharp as I said you will be red and too dull and your ripping hair not cutting. In the next section I talk about my personal opinion I feel that Derby’s like most blades are comfortable, actually very comfortable, but last less time than blades that cost a bit more. but again YMMV you are unique and the only way to know yourself is to try them out, read below about the price, and I think you’ll agree it’s at least worth a try.
My personal opinion
Okay here we get to the brass or, stainless steel tacks of this review or overview… I have been wet shaving since I was 14, and am now 37 years old. I started using Derby Extra’s in my rotation which is quite large about 3-4 years ago. Is it my go to blade the answer is no. Derby extra then must be my least favorite blade then ? the answer is no again. This is where it becomes complex, and individual. If you are an everyday shaver with normal growth that is not growing a full beard over night or, are a gent or lady with super thick hair Derby may be perfect as it is a milder blade also, in my opinion…. it will for most people take away a day or two worth of growth with zero irritation in most cases (If the blade is for you) remember don’t ever let anyone say this blade or any is for you…. it is a matter of trial and error.
Longevity and Price point
Here is another important factor to some, again myself included. I can without a doubt justify and recommend starting off with a 5 pack. most places sell a 5 pack for around $2….. this will let you see if this blade is even worth trying. Let’s say it is “for you”, a 100 pack cost me $9.99 and I received free shipping to boot as I combined it with other items. so that is $.09 a blade ! compared to others like Feather or Gillette Silver Blues for example which are excellent blades that are known to be sharper that are $1 per blade. The value is there without a doubt simple math solves that one. How long will they last again this is a personal thing only using them will say how long for you personally each blade will last. I average 2-3 shaves maybe 4 at times. This is average for most blades though for me 2 shaves and toss it for a new or, different blade is standard practice for me, you may get much longer or shorter usage.
So are Derby Extra blades for you …… I don’t know ! Are they a beginners blade ? they are a great place to start as a baseline; yes they can be used for that. Better to start mild and get more aggressive than to start with a Feather and slice yourself to pieces ! My final take on Derby Extra is they work for me, and I really feel for $9.99 even if you use them once that is 100 shaves for $9.99 ! the price alone is a motivator, and who knows it may just be a blade you really enjoy, I know I do for 2-3 shaves, and NEVER be ashamed to say they work for you not everyone needs to use a Feather or Voskhod blade. A sharper blade doesn’t mean a better shave, the correct blade and razor combination makes you a smarter shaver. – Aaron