Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Vintage Gillette Excels in a Good One-Pass Shave

I'm still exploring the possibilities of the one-pass shave as an adequate daily shave. Yesterday's shave with my Merkur 33C Classic was adequate, but in the evening felt more stubbly than I'm accustomed to -- however, it still looked okay; but if I were going out to a more formal occasion, I might have taken another one-pass touch-up shave prior to leaving for the evening.

Today I pulled out my heirloom Gillette Slim Adjustable razor and put in it a twice-used Dorco ST-301 blade.

New conclusions about an old razor: This Gillette Slim Adjustable, despite being far from my favorite razor for multiple-pass shaves, performs well when making a one-pass shave. In the intitial trial it was better than the Merkur 33C in this process, and as a result, may take its place with my Merkur slant as the two instruments that I use in my regular razor rotation.

As you may know from reading my articles, I favor two- and three-piece UTO (unscrew-to-open) razors over TTO (twist-to-open, butterfly-door) designs. This is because I feel that the UTO razors give a slightly more aggressive angle to the blade resulting in slightly less scraping and less irritation after multiple-pass shaves. But in thinking about today's shave, since I'm experimenting with the performance envelope of the one-pass shave, I wondered if perhaps I have not appreciated the adjustable TTO as a good option for a good-enough daily one-pass shave.

This, I found, is where the Gillette adjustable TTO really shines. I got a very good one-and-a-half-pass shave.

As you may know, the Gillette Slim Adjustable has a one-through-nine adjustment range; one being least aggressive and nine being lawn-mower open. I set the razor to four, which by eye-ball assessment is a neutral blade exposure -- meaning that the blade edge is about even with the shaving plane determined by the top and the safety bar; it's neither enclosed in the protective cove, nor is it aggressively exposed.

I used a few cold-water splashes on my whiskers as a shave prep. Taking my newest one-ounce test puck of shave soap #10A, I wet the brush with cold tap water, and loaded the brush with soap for about 15 seconds. (I find any new, unused soap puck requires a few seconds more to whisk sufficient soap.) Then I face lathered to a flat, slick, creamy, opaque layer and began the shave.

I may not have had enough coffee because I had intended to use oblique strokes for the entire shave, but I started against the grain on my lower neck with direct strokes. Despite my mental lapse, this went great. Then, also against the grain with direct strokes, I shaved my upper neck and also, my most sensitive skin, below my jaw. This too wasn't bad, though I did get one small weeper.

After that, I finally woke up and started using oblique strokes, with which I shaved cross grain on my cheeks, chin, and upper lip. After a cold-water rinse and some touch-up strokes under my jaw and on chin and upper lip. I did a final cold-water rinse, with my face feeling surprisingly smooth.

The weeper got a touch of styptic pencil, and I finished by cleaning up tools and sink.

The net result is a surprisingly smooth shave; not quite baby-bottom smooth, of course, but satisfying in both appearance and feel. No after-shave balms or moisturizers were necessary, and I once again did not use the alum block either.

Now I think I understand what the designers of the Gillette adjustables might have been thinking as they evolved their designs. As a result, the Gillette Slim may replace my Merkur Classic and join my Merkur slant as one of my two daily go-to razors. Though to be fair, I used the Merkur Classic shaving with with-the-grain strokes, and the Gillette was cross grain and against the grain, so more evaluation may be required to make a final decision.
The Merkur 33C Classic is a three-piece straight-bar razor, which is a nice all-around razor. However, as a one-pass instrument, even using oblique-stroke technique, it does not seem to provide as close a shave as the Gillette Slim Adjustable. Further trials will tell.

Tomorrow, I plan to use my Weishi 9306-f non-adjustable TTO in a one-pass shave to see how it performs. My expectation is that it will be similar to the Merkur Classic, but that's the hypothesis to test.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Happy shaving!

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