Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Very Aggressive Razor for Sensitive Skin?

In a comment to my article on debunking YMMV, a reader, shawnsel, suggested that some very aggressive razor designs such as the Muhle R41 can provide a very close, low-irritation shave.

I have not had the opportunity to experience this myself because I don't have such a razor in my stable. Though I recall that the Re,Mei razor, my trash-or-treasure razor, when new had a very aggressive set up with a huge blade exposure, large blade gap, and large reveal. It was such an aggressive design, however, that I was reluctant to use it fearing significant nicks and cuts; I actually described it in one review as "a straight razor masquerading as a safety razor."

In modifying that razor, by moving the safety bars up toward the blade, it simultaneously reduced the exposure, gap, and angle of the blade. Not only did the reduced exposure and gap, making its shaving character more mild, the smaller blade angle allowed it to provide a very low-irritation shave in addition to reducing its tendency to bite.

So for those of you with sensitive skin that is easily irritated, a razor with a large blade exposure (that is, with the blade edge up above the shave plane formed by the top cap and safety bar) can be used with the handle at a larger angle to the face. This handle-away shaving angle makes the blade more parallel to the skin, which is another way of saying it reduces the effective blade angle of the razor. (It also tends to lift the safety bar off the skin, thus reducing the safety-razor protection, and making the experience closer to a straight-razor risk.)

Because a small blade angle is a less-scraping and more-slicing orientation, it tends to be low on skin irritation. So if you have skin easily irritated and can manage the instrument to shave and not cut, the outcome can be a fine shave. It seems to me that the same persons who find this approach appealing, would also be good candidates for using a straight razor. (I am not included in this group.)

Happy shaving!


  1. We had a miscommunication on what I meant by "steep angle", but I replied on the prior post.

    Additionally though, did you get photos of your Re,Mei razor before modifying it? It is generally considered about a 2 or 3 on a 10 point scale of aggressiveness. As it is manufactured from thin, stamped metal ... I wonder if yours was possibly bent in shipping or simply came defective? Most people would not consider the average Re Mei razor to be anywhere near the aggressiveness of a 10 on the scale (often defined by the 2011 version of the R41)


    1. Ha ha, no, the Re,Mei razor I received was undamaged but was the most aggressive set up that I've personally seen to date (but I haven't seen the R41). Unfortunately I took no photos of the razor with a blade inserted. I've ordered another, though, and it will be interesting to see its characteristics. This time, I'll do an article with appropriate photos.