Friday, August 15, 2014

One-Pass Shaves Lead to Thoughts on My Best Overall Razor

Given the fact of my much-written-about (by me) rather dry and sensitive skin, I have been experimenting with the daily one-pass shave. The idea is to be kind to sensitive skin by minimizing its contact with sharpened steel by having fewer every-day shaving passes, thereby getting a good and good-enough daily shave, while saving your very closest baby-bottom-smooth (BBS) shaves for special occasions as needed.

I have had very good results, and have learned more about the various razors in my stable, and which I will summarize in a future article. For today, I would like to briefly discuss today's nuance of razor-and-blade combination.

Yesterday, for example, I shaved with my most efficient and aggressive razor, a Merkur-brand slant, the 37C. However, the blade I used (Dorco ST-301 -- a fine blade) was at the end of its useful life, and went into my home-made tin-can blade-recycle bank after the shave. Though that shave was close enough to be adequate throughout the day, I had a few weepers that called for the use of the alum block, which, though it quickly eliminated the weepers, is a bit drying, and so I prefer to avoid its use whenever possible.

Today, I used the Merkur 33C Classic razor head without its factory handle, and instead used the heavier handle that I have often mentioned in the past. Into this razor I inserted an Astra SP that had been used for several prior shaves. I have had generally acceptable one-pass shaves with the 33C (with one exception that felt a little furry by the end of the day), and my one-pass technique with all straight-bar razors is to shave with all oblique strokes, and against grain below the jaw line, and cross grain above the jaw line. My previous one-pass shaves with the 33C have used Dorco ST-301 blades, which I think are a fine, reasonably-priced blade, and a good one with which new DE users can develop their shaving skills for the first few months.

Today's shave was satisfying both in the overall process and the result was completely close enough -- looking good and fairly smooth to the touch -- though obviously not BBS. The blade had its effect, being still within its useful life and not on its last gasping breaths.

So regarding blades and the one-pass shave, you may not want to push blade life. Though the one-pass shave puts less wear on a blade due to the stroke reduction from fewer passes, because you are asking for more efficiency from each razor stroke, the blade life in terms of shaving days may not change significantly.

Tomorrow, I think I'll put a new Lord Platinum Class blade into the 33C. The Lord blade is not my favorite, seeming a bit harsher than the other large-quantity blades in my inventory -- due, I believe, to the fact that despite its name, the Lord blade is uncoated.

[UPDATE: Although the packaging on the Lord Platinum doesn't specify any coating, I have seen conflicting information on the Internet. 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. !?!]

 (However, they aren't bad, and seem to get generally good reviews in Internet forums on shaving -- though this does vary depending, apparently, on beard type and razor choice.) This could be an interesting test because this recent series of one-pass shaves has brought me around to the sense that, properly used in a skilled hand, the Merkur 33C razor head (I specify head because I often use it with a handle heavier than that from the Merkur factory) remains the best all-purpose double-edge razor that I own -- better than the slant as well as the butterfly-door versions including the adjustable vintage Gillette. Further testing resuming tomorrow with the Lord blade may provide more information.

Happy shaving!

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