Saturday, October 11, 2014

Weekly Shave Review: Bluebird Blade, Varied Shave Prep

This is the third of my weekly shave summaries, 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. This week I have tried a blade that is new to me, the Bluebird Hi-Stainless, from my many samples. As you can see from the photo, it is coated with chromium, ceramic, tungsten, platinum, and polymer. (Wow, now that's a mouthful of a coating!)

Reminder: I have very sensitive, thin skin with lots of angles and dips -- paired with a rather tough beard. It's challenging to get a close, comfortable shave. Shaving gear must be chosen with care, which is why I use Merkur razors (the 33C and 15C) as my main instruments. Variables in my shaves often include blade choice (usually both coated and sharp), shave prep and post-shave skin treatment.

As I did last week, unless otherwise specified, 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, Arko shave stick, and a cool-tap-water shave. The shaves this week were also limited to a single razor head, the Merkur 33C, with either its factory handle or the Maggard MR3B "big-boy" handle.

What I Learned this Week:

After again using both the stock (factory-provided) handle as well as the "big-boy" handle on the Merkur 33C razor head, I still have no preference, and see no significant difference in the shaving experience or outcome between the two set ups. I use the "big-boy" handle only for variety -- and I like its looks. The Bluebird blade is a performer, being sharp, smooth, and durable -- though I don't push durability of blades. If a blade is still good after a full week as the Bluebird was, it goes in the recycle bank anyway -- just to minimize keeping notes, mental or written; I use a new blade every Sunday morning. If I didn't already have a rather large inventory of blades to be used up, I would place a large order for the Bluebird blade; I have found it to be one of the best I've used so far, a list which includes Personna Super (blue), Astra Superior Platinum, SuperMax Titanium, Dorco ST-301 -- all good, sharp, coated blades -- and others.

Next week's blade looks to be the Polsilver Iridium-coated blade.
Frankenrazor II: Merkur 33C head
mated with the Maggard MR3B
"big-boy" handle. The handle alone
weighs 63 grams.
Frankenrazor II and the new Bluebird blade. Three passes, then a final buffing half pass. Two minor nicks (due to pilot error, obviously) that disappeared after a touch of styptic, no weepers. Very close shave. Because we're just now using the house forced-air heat, I applied some Neutrogena balm after the shave to smell good and to moisturize a bit. A hand-friendly outcome. Initial impression of the Bluebird blade is that it provides a shave similar to a Personna Super or an Astra SP. The Bluebird may be slightly more smooth (less irritating) due to its super-cali-fragil-istic-expi-ali-docious coating (intended to be a humorous reference to the 1964 movie, Mary Poppins). After all, three passes followed by fussy buffing can be tough on my skin, and I have pretty minimal irritation for such a close shave.

Second-use Bluebird blade in my factory-stock Merkur 33C as shown below. Totally minimalist shave using only cool water and Arko soap. Three passes plus a bit of finishing after. Got a very close shave as usual when I take my time.  The micro-weeper or two disappeared with the first splashes of cool water after the shave. The noticeable difference today was the unusually-minimal irritation post shave. Even better than yesterday. Truly a very comfortable shave -- not even much dryness despite the forced-air heating in the house, so I'm beginning to believe the reviews and the coating description suggesting that these are a very comfortable blade.

The stock Merkur 33C with the factory
The first two shaves with this Bluebird blade were as good or a bit better than my normal, so on this first mid-week shave, I feel I have the latitude to experiment with pre-shave prep. So I used Noxema as a pre-shave oil on a wet beard. Over that, without rinsing, I applied my shave soap, which today was a puck of my own SS#10B. Using the Frankenrazor II I did 3-1/2 passes and got another extremely close shave with NO perceivable irritation -- that is, without the use of the alum as an irritation indicator. None. The shave was so good, I wrote an article about it.

Today saw this week's Bluebird blade back into the stock 33C. Shave prep again, like Tuesday, included my usual cool water, the Noxzema, and SS#10B. I did the first two passes as yesterday. For the third pass, I used Noxzema ONLY, no shave soap; and the Noxzema-only pass was uneventful -- smooth as silk. (I may skip the shave soap entirely tomorrow for all passes.) After the cool-water rinses, I used the alum block to test for irritation, which was almost non-existent on my face, but there was some invisible irritation on my neck. Cool water rinsed off the alum, and a single touch of styptic eliminated a neck weeper re-opened from yesterday. In all it was a very good shave that's rewarding to the hand!

Since yesterday's Noxzema-only third pass was such a success, today I've tried a minimalist approach (cold-water-only beard prep) prior to applying with wet fingers only Noxzema cream as an alternative to shave soap for the entire shave. With the same Bluebird blade again in the stock 33C (using the factory-supplied handle) I took a rather quick three-pass shave. I followed the shave with the alum block to test for irritation, which was minimal. For a quick shave with no fussing, the shave was close with only one neck weeper that was closed by the alum. The Noxzema also seems to be less drying than shave soap, which reduced the need for moisturizing after the shave. Tomorrow I'll return to shave soap to get a good comparison with the Bluebird blade's end-of-week shaves to the first two shaves.

The penultimate shave with this trial Bluebird blade went very well. In addition to the blade in my stock Merkur 33C, I also tried my latest prototype shave soap, SS#10C, which performed well. I published a separate article on today's shave, which you can read by clicking here.  Today's three-pass shave was done with no fussing, and provided a good outcome with essentially no irritation. This may have been the simplest and best shave of the week, which speaks well of both the blade and my prototype shave soap.

The final shave with the Bluebird blade ended as it began, with Frankenrazor II, Arko shave soap, and minimalist shave prep. Three careful but not particularly fussy passes resulted in a truly close, comfortable shave, with no perceivable irritation. After cool-water rinses, I applied the alum block merely as an irritation indicator; and the only places where very minor irritation showed up after the alum was under my jawline and on my lower neck. Truly a good shave. After a full week's shaves, the Bluebird blade still had more good shaves in it, but it went in the recycle bank as usual in preparation for next week's review of the much-praised Polsilver Iridium blade. Tune in next week for the Polsiver shave summary.

Happy shaving!


  1. We have similar blade tastes. My current top rotation - Astra SP, Personna Red, Gillette Silver Blues, Blue Bird. Runners up - Voskhod, Rapira Stainless, Astra Stainless. Check out my shaving blog - :)

    1. Nice to hear from you, and thanks for the blade report. I did read your blog, and hope others give it a look as well. Happy shaving!