Saturday, September 27, 2014

Weekly Shave Review/Summary: the Astra SP Adventures

Arko: the go-to shave soap
this week.
Going forward for a while, I'm going to provide a weekly shave summary, and during a given week, will, to some extent, limit shave variables to better be able to evaluate some shave components such as blades or shave prep on my moderately tough hair and my sensitive skin. Over time not only will I use the blades from my larger inventories, I will also be using blades from my many samples.

All shaves this week were with my minimalist beard preparation. That is, pre-shave prep was limited to splashes of cool water on my beard, cool water brush soak, and a cool-tap-water shave.

This week's blade:
Astra Superior Platinum
What I Learned this Week:
With a mild-shaving razor and an adequate blade, an unhurried three-pass shave can give a comfortable shave, while trying to cut corners with less than three passes can sometimes be harsh. The Astra SP blade can give a good shave on a tough beard and sensitive skin if used with care in an appropriate razor. Also, varying the weight and dimensions of the handle seemed to have no effect on razor performance or shave quality. I do enjoy using the heavy handle, and will continue to alternate with factory-original handles.

Merkur 33C, new Astra SP blade, Arko shave stick. Two passes (cross grain & against grain). Third pass buffing & finishing. Very smooth, comfortable outcome.

Merkur 15C, same Astra blade, Arko shave stick. Two passes (cross grain & against grain). Minor buffing after. Shave looked good, but not as close as yesterday. Also some skin irritation.

Frankenrazor II: Merkur 33C head
mated with the Maggard MR3B
"big-boy" handle. The handle alone
weighs 63 grams.
Frankenrazor II (just for variety), same Astra blade, Arko shave stick. Quick three passes (WG, CG, AG), a little careless -- nicked myself (requiring styptic) & a couple of weepers. Close, not quite baby close. Not much irritation today.

Wanted to give Frankenrazor II another try to see if I could give myself a better shave. Same gear and process as yesterday. I took just a bit more time today, and got an even closer shave and with no post-shave styptic required -- nor anything else for that matter: no alum, no balms, no irritation. A very satisfying shave.

The small blade reveal on the 15C,
most importantly combined with the
limited blade exposure makes this razor
very face friendly, while the open comb
offers almost unlimited capacity.
Today I chose to give the 15C razor head another go, but this time instead of the standard handle, I used the 63-gram Maggard heavy handle -- sort of a brother-of-Frankenrazor shave. Same blade and pre-shave as the other shaves this week. Like yesterday, I took my time with a three-pass shave (WG, CG, AG), and did get a very close, comfortable shave, but marred by a couple of small weepers. They might have disappeared with splashes of cool water, but this morning I gave them a touch of alum. After that, to off set the drying effect of the alum and to have a nice just-shaved aroma, I rubbed on some Neutrogena after shave balm. Another really good shave that both looks good and is rewarding to the hand.

The 15C with the factory handle.
With the stock handle back on the 33C head, and five shaves already on the Astra SP blade, I used my normal, minimalist cold-water prep, Arko shave stick, and a three-pass shave, which yielded a good shave. There were two weepers in the first pass, which I believe to be residual, re-opened, from yesterday. In any case, no post-shave products were used, just splashes of water. There also seemed to be no difference in razor performance with the lighter, original-equipment handle.

Final shave on the Astra SP blade of this week (into the recycle bank after) -- today in the stock Merkur 15C open comb. The usual minimal shave prep and three passes gave a comfortable shave similar to yesterday. To achieve this, I did a bit more buffing on my third pass. Could be due to the blade being a bit less sharp paired with the mild-shaving 15C. Shave still looks good and is satisfying to the hand. No post shave products used -- just splashes of water.

Happy shaving!

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