Friday, December 12, 2014

A Finishing Razor for a Bloodless Baby-Smooth Shave?

My shaving reality is that using my favorite razor, the Merkur 33C, and one of the better-matched blades for my face and beard, in three passes along with some extra fussing I can get near to a baby-smooth shave. But there is a cost.

To get my best shave with the 33, which has a negative blade exposure*, I probably have to use a bit more pressure and lots of extra strokes after the second pass to get that truly remarkable shave. The typical cost of my closest shaves is a few weepers. It would be really great if I could get as close or closer without any blood shed at all.

A major contributing factor to this cost of a remarkable shave is my particular beard and skin. However, because it's much easier to change my shaving gear than my face, the logical direction to look is how I can adjust my shaving gear or process to address this close-shave-but-weepers challenge.

So this brings me back so a solution that is similar to an idea that has been discussed before. The old idea was a specialized razor for each pass, which I first read about on However, I don't think this different-razor-for-each-pass approach is necessary in my experience. The 33 is virtually perfect except that it doesn't get quite close enough for the ideal baby-smooth finish. The solution might be to find a razor with a less-negative blade exposure -- perhaps neutral or just slightly positive -- but still has a rather mild shaving character for just the final pass.

A couple of my razors come to mind as possible finishing razors. One is the trash-or-treasure razor, the Chinese Re,Mei, which I modified to have a very small blade angle (~26 degrees), but which has a very large (~2.3 mm) blade gap, and a slightly-positive blade exposure. Another possibility is my vintage Gillette Slim Adjustable, which, when set on one, has a smaller (~1.4 mm) blade gap but a slightly positive blade exposure and a blade angle of about 31 degrees. The Re,Mei razor is more likely to nip because of its huge blade gap, positive blade exposure, and small blade angle (which is more slicing). However, its general irritation factor would be reduced due to the small blade angle. The Gillette, on the other hand, is less likely to bite due to the smaller blade gap, but might be a bit more irritating because of the slightly-larger blade angle, which tends to scrape a bit more.

After pondering this for a minute, I will try the Gillette first for a few days. Then give the Re,Mei a try. I'll let you know the outcomes.

Happy shaving!

* Blade exposure is the design aspect of a DE razor that determines whether and how much the blade is protected within the cove formed by the razor's top cap and safety bar. If the blade edge is within the cove, under the shave plane formed by the top cap and safety bar, the blade exposure is negative. If the blade edge is above the shave plane, outside the protective cove of the safety bar and top cap, the exposure is said to be positive.

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