Saturday, October 25, 2014

Weekly Shave Review: Gillette 7 O'clock Super Platinum (Black)

This is the fifth of my weekly shave summaries This week I have used a Gillette 7 O'clock Super Platinum blade, manufactured in India. These are also known as 7 O'clock Blacks.  The blades are each double enclosed in translucent wax paper inside a black-and-orange-printed, unwaxed-paper wrapper, and packaged seven blades in a cardboard box as shown. Though the double wrapping on the blades may be a bit excessive, I like the simple cardboard boxing, which encourages the user, by not providing a slot for used blades in a plastic container, to put the used blade in a blade bank for eventual recycling rather than in the landfill.
The featured blade this week: the 7 O'clock blacks made
in India.

Reminder about my skin type: I have very sensitive, thin skin, somewhat loose (on the neck when shaving cross grain), with lots of angles and dips -- paired with a moderately tough beard. It's challenging to get a close, comfortable shave. Shaving gear must be chosen with care, which is why I use Merkur razor heads (the 33C mostly but also the 15C) as my main instruments. The handles that I pair with these razor heads are either the stock factory handle or a fatter, heavier handle from a currently-discontinued Maggard MR3B razor. Other variables in my week-long blade-evaluation shaves often include different shave soaps and post-shave skin treatments.

All-natural shave soap #10C whips to a slick creamy consistency
reminiscent of high-quality, but lower-density soft-serve ice cream.
Fragrance free, it is formulated for those with sensitive skin and
sensitive noses.
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, a shave soap, and a cool-tap-water shave. The shaves this week were mostly with the Merkur 33C razor head, either paired with the factory handle or a heavier, third-party handle. I did use the Merkur 15C open comb razor head for Friday's shave.

What I Learned this Week:
The Gillette 7 O'clock Super Platinum blade right out of the wrapper is a good one in my favored razors for my skin and beard. I got close comfortable shaves that were initially among the best I've had. The durability of the blade is not as good as some other blades reviewed in previous weeks: still sharp but shaving a bit harshly by the end of the week perhaps due to degradation of the blade's coating.

My latest prototype shave soap, #10C, continues to give a great shave without the drying effects of some other soaps, and has no added fragrance or unnatural ingredients to irritate the skin or the olfactory.

As we enter heating season, I am coming to like a Noxzema cleansing-cream face wash post shave, which leaves a subtle, protective-feeling coating on my skin as well as a fragrance that I've come to like.

Next week's blade looks to be the Russian-made Gillette Silver Blue blade.
With this week's blade, the 7 O'clock black, in my stock Merkur 33C razor, and along with my Arko shave stick, I took a three-pass shave, then added a fussy final half pass. The first pass was extremely confidence inspiring, but after the third pass, I realized this blade wasn't quite as sharp as the previous weeks', and it therefore wasn't shaving quite as closely -- thus the extra half-pass clean up. When done, I had no perceivable irritation, but after an alum rub, irritation was revealed, which was a bit more than last week's average, I would say. Also three small weepers were present; two of which took a touch of styptic. I washed the alum off with Noxzema and cool water; the idea being that I could leave that subtle, waxy residual coating that would act as a sealer against the dry, heated air indoors, and the cool air outdoors that I will experience in my tennis match later on this morning. The shave itself was, ultimately, as close as last week. Later-in-the-day update: Though I shaved before 7 am this morning, as I write this update at nearly 5 pm Sunday, my shave is still pleasing to the hand, so it may be a little better shave than last week.
Merkur 33C razor.

The 7 O'clock black blade in the stock 33C again, but today the lather is my proprietary SS#10C. A non-fussy three-pass shave had some excitement in the second pass cross grain, when I didn't pull my neck skin tight enough and had some irritation and minor weepers due to my pilot error. Third pass against grain was uneventful. Cool-water rinse and alum rub indicated irritation on my neck, not surprisingly. After that I used a water-and-Noxzema wash and rinse to remove alum residue, acquire that Noxzema smell that I've come to like, and leave that subtle, waxy, minor-protective coating. Despite the simplicity of the shave, the result is still pleasing to the hand.

Frankenrazor II: the Merkur 33C razor
head coupled with the Maggard MR3B handle,
which is, as of this writing, out of production.
Used the Frankenrazor II, with the third-use 7 O'clock black blade, and, once again, my shave soap #10C. Three passes and no fussing yielded a good shave. Alum rub revealed a bit of irritation in a few spots, but a Noxzema wash and an hour of time passed left my face smooth, comfortable, and pleasing to the hand.

The fourth-use 7-O'clock Black blade was again in Frankenrazor II for this morning's shave, but I deviated from my minimalist shave today. I used a Noxzema-and-water prep layer under my shave soap formulation #10C for each pass. I then took a non-fussy three-pass shave, with modifications to the across-grain and against-grain directions on my mid neck, seeking a closer, more comfortable shave in that area. The neck pattern didn't work out as planned; I got a few weepers and irritation (indicated by the post-shave alum rub) there, but the overall shave was otherwise fairly close and comfortable, but not as close as yesterday. After the alum rub, I did a final face wash with Noxzema. More fussing or a fourth pass would have yielded baby smooth on my cheeks. The Noxzema pre-lathering applications smelled good, but didn't seem to add to the quality of the shave.

Arko shave stick lubricated this day's shave with the fifth-use 7 O'clock black blade in Frankenrazor II. I took an essentially four-pass shave, experimenting with shave directions again on my neck. A close result everywhere except lower neck, where I was treading somewhat carefully. Yet I wonder if the blade isn't beginning to  fade given today's attempt to shave very closely, which required four passes. Also, the alum rub revealed irritation on face and neck,which isn't surprising given the excessive passes today, but a contributing factor may be the dulling of the blade. Finished the shave with some Gillette sensitive-skin balm.

Merkur 15C razor head paired with
the Maggard MR3B handle.

I used my open-comb Merkur 15C razor head on the MR3B handle, the sixth-use 7 O'clock black blade, and SS#10C. Three non-fussy passes gave a close shave but with some weepers and minor immediate skin irritation -- and I didn't need alum to indicate the irritation. Used a touch of styptic on two weepers and a bit of alum rub on my chin and under jaw line for its soothing effect. A post-shave Noxzema wash and application of Nivea sensitive-skin balm finished off the shave with good results. I still wonder if the coating on the blade is fragile as compared to some of my other blades, and has worn off during this week of shaves, while the blade remains sharp, thus yielding a close shave but with more irritation than earlier shaves.

Today's shave used the stock Merkur 33C razor and the Arko shave stick to finish the week as it began for a final comparison shave. The harsh shaves of the past few days have left the most sensitive areas of my beard a little tender. So today's shave was with no fussing, and only two passes. After the second-pass rinse, there was no perceivable irritation. An alum rub further revealed almost no irritation as well. Then I took a Noxzema-and-water wash to smell nice and as a sealer on my skin. It was a close-enough and very-comfortable shave to finish the week.

On to the Gillette Silver Blue blade next week.

Happy shaving!

1 comment:

  1. Man, that Friday razor sure is sharp-looking! Jealous.