You should first read yesterday's article. Then based on your skin and beard characteristics, you should then have a general idea of the capability and face-friendliness of a razor that will work best for you.
Now we continue:
Harshness versus Capability
- In two razors with equivalent blade reveal (how much blade is visible when viewed from above the top cap) and equivalent blade exposure (how well the edge is protected within the cove of the top cap and safety bar or comb), the angle of the blade in relation to the shaving plane may affect the amount of scraping that a blade does on the skin, making a given razor more or less harsh. That's why I tend to favor many unscrew-to-open razors over butterfly-door designs; I think, in general, the butterfly-style razors scrape a bit more, the unscrew razors a bit less. As I mention below, this perceived extra scraping of the butterfly-style razors may, alternatively, be due to the micro scallops on the safety bars, which will more greatly reduce the amount of lather on the skin as the blade passes as compared to a typical unscrew-to-open design.
- The slant razors might be categorized generally as high capacity, but only moderate harshness. There are several reasons for this. On the Merkur 37C slant, with which I am very familiar, the blade exposure is neutral, that is, the blade edge is about even with the mouth of the protective cove of the top cap and safety bar. This makes the potential harshness of the shave moderate. Yet the slanted blade and the large gap between the edge and the safety bar offers exceptional shaving capacity. So used properly, this razor can offer a reduction in shaving passes to eliminate a significant volume of hair with the possibility of low irritation.
- Mild straight-bar razors can be used with oblique strokes to increase the effective blade gap and the effective sharpness of the blade, while still maintaining a mild-shaving character.
|An oblique stroke, in which the |
stroke direction is not perpendicular
to the blade edge.
So Let's Get to It
Yesterday's article listed four categories of razor-type suggestions for those with tougher skin, and four suggestions for those with sensitive skin. The following will help you translate those general suggestions into specific razor choices.
Relevant Razor-Design Aspects
Determining Razor Capacity
- Blade-bar span(for straight-bar and slant razors). The larger the span between the blade edge and the safety bar [measured along the shave plane], the more hair the razor can mow. (Since open-comb razors have no bar, open-comb razor have virtually unlimited capacity!
- Safety-bar design or open comb. Since the safety bar precedes the blade in a razor stroke, the more the whiskers are allowed to stand tall as the blade approaches, the better they can be cut down. So open-comb razors or safety bars with larger scallops or teeth will tend to support larger razor capacity.
Determining Razor Harshness
|Exaggerated blade angles: angle at left will be less harsh;|
at right will be more scraping, more harsh.
- Blade exposure. The top cap or butterfly doors of a razor combined with the safety bar or open comb form a shaving plane, between which sits the blade edge. How much the edge sits below or above that plane is a key factor that influences aggressiveness of the razor design. An aggressive razor will shave closely more easily, but also poses more risk for nicks, cuts, weepers, and irritation.
- Blade-bar span. The larger the span the greater the capability, but also the more likely that a bump or wave of skin can get in front of the blade edge causing irritation or blood loss.
- Blade angle. The more the blade is aligned with the shaving plane, the more it will tend cut more, scrape less. (The actual blade bend is irrelevant; what matters is the blade angle in relation to the top cap and base plate.)
- Blade reveal. When you look down onto the top cap or butterfly doors of a double-edge razor, the amount of blade that is exposed is the blade reveal. The more the blades are not covered by the razor top, the more chance they may vibrate (as subtle micro-vibrations) while shaving, which may contribute to shave harshness.
- Edge slant. This is only seen in slant-bar razors and can get complicated. Suffice it to say that in a slant-bar razor, the twist in the blade gives the edge a varied blade angle along its length, thus giving varied harshness long the edge as well. This is offset to some degree by a varying blade span -- at least in the Merkur-brand slants -- as well as the edge slant itself. Bottom line is that the slant-head razors might be categorized as moderate harshness (when properly used: light pressure and direct strokes) -- despite their high capacity.
- Safety-bar design or open comb. As stated above, the safety bar or comb precedes the blade in the razor stroke. Either will, to some degree, remove some protective lather from the face. Larger gaps (between the scallops or the spaces between teeth) in a safety bar or comb allow more protecting lather to remain on the skin as the blade edge arrives. Therefore bigger scallops or space between comb teeth may encourage slightly less harshness.
But Which Specific Razor?
|Maggard razor head on the MR#B handle.|
|Merkur 33C razor head showing blade exposure.|
|Gillette Slim set to 1.|
|Gillette Slim set to 9.|
be a contributing factor to the slight additional harshness of these butterfly-door designs.
Weishi 9306 series of razors. A twist-to-open, butterfly-door-style razor, with small blade reveal, exposure, and blade-bar span. A low capacity razor but can give a harsh shave, again possibly due to blade angle. Like virtually all butterfly-door-style razors, the safety bars have tiny slits, thus wiping away most lather before the blade, which may also be a contributing factor to the slight additional harshness of these butterfly-door designs.
|Wilkinson Sword Classic.|
Wilkinson Sword Classic. A unscrew-to-open, two-piece razor. Small blade reveal, span, and negative exposure. Face friendly but small capacity. Paired with the right blade for beard and face, probably adequate for daily shaves for just about anybody if extreme closeness isn't a requirement. A very close daily shave may require additional passes that, day after day, might take its toll on sensitive skin. Could be a nice finishing razor following a more capable instrument for the first pass. A drawback to this razor's design is the safety bar, which is lacking teeth or scallops of any kind. This may tend to squeegee away more lather from the skin just prior to the blade pass, perhaps making the shave slightly more harsh than otherwise.
Attention shoppers: If you have an interest in acquiring any of the razors mentioned above, use the search box below to find offerings in Amazon: