- On Father's Day, I shaved with my dad's old razor, a 1963 Gillette Slim Adjustable, and a new Lord Platinum (actually uncoated) blade. I got a close but harsh shave, which I initially attributed to the razor. This is because I have found that, generally speaking, TTO razors hold the blade in a shaving angle that is a bit large, and causes a bit more of a scraping motion on the skin.
[UPDATE: This hypothesis of TTO razors generally having a larger, more-scraping blade angle has been proven incorrect. Some have a slightly larger, others slightly smaller blade angle.]
- The two days later, on Tuesday, I took the same razor, with the same setting, put a new Dorco ST-301 blade in it, and shaved with that set up. I was trying to see whether the harsh Father's Day shave was due to razor, blade, or a combination. Using the same basic techniques, the shave was better though still not as comfortable as usual. I attributed that to the uncoated Lord Platinum blade, which is definitely the weak sister in my normal four-blade rotation. Upon further reflection, the harshness of that Tuesday shave may also have been due, in part, to the lingering dryness and irritation of my skin from the previous days' shaves. (As regular readers know, I have dry and sensitive skin, which is always an issue to be addressed. It remains a reason why I perform cool-water shaves, believing that hot water compounds the dry-skin problem.)
- My main premise remains that technique is the largest factor in getting a good shave as long as one is using a sharp and appropriately smooth blade. This is why I suggest new wet shavers start, not with a sampler pack, but instead with a moderately-priced but high-quality, coated blade such as the Dorco ST-301, which is both platinum and PTFE (Teflon) coated.
- The uncoated Lord blade was a significant contributor to the harshness of the Father's Day shave. [UPDATE: It's not clear what, if any, coating is actually on the Lord Platinum. One Internet seller suggests a chromium coating; a shaving-forum poster suggests double-coated teflon. The packaging of the blade is silent on the issue. !?!]
So today, as promised, I put the once-used Dorco ST-301 blade into my Merkur 37C slant.
The shave was close and about as user-friendly as my shaves get. I actually only did two passes, WTG and a combination XTG/ATG, but got a close, comfortable result.
So, perhaps predictably, there are factors of both technique and choice of hardware that contribute to a good shave. However, given good equipment, technique is what will make or break a shave. So I continue to stand by my new-DE-shaver recommendations:
- Start with a good razor and you may never have deal with razor-acquisition disease. I think the best razors have a smaller blade angle and a well-textured handle to resist slipping when wet. This means Merkur-like two- and three-piece UTO razors such as the Lord LP1822L, or Merkur models 33C, 34C, or equivalents with similar shaving heads.
- Start with a high-quality, coated blade, but one that isn't terribly expensive. I continue to be increasingly impressed with the Dorco ST-301 blade, which is double coated as indicated above.
- Use this gear to learn intentional direct and oblique shaving strokes with the appropriately light touch. Shave in multiple passes. Perfect your technique. Learn about the quirks of your skin and beard. Become an expert in shaving your face, relying on skill with the equipment you have chosen.
- Then after months of practice, if you want to branch out and experiment with different blades or styles of razor, have at it. But after paying your dues perfecting your skill, you will have the experience to evaluate different gear more accurately, and will probably have less inclination to keep changing equipment in search of a good shave.