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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Weekly Shave Review: the Gillette Wilkinson Sword Blade

This is the thirteenth of my weekly shave summaries. This week, I'm using a Indian-made (as it says on the box) Gillette Wilkinson Sword blade. This blade is, according to some Internet sellers, platinum coated; the packaging itself doesn't specify coating so I'm skeptical about that. They come single wrapped and in cardboard boxes of five individually-wrapped blades.


My primary shave soap again this week is the first pre-production run of Grandad's Slick 'n Creamy Shave Soap for Sensitive Skin (formerly called SS#11P1).

Now called Grandad's Shave Soap
-- slick 'n creamy, for sensitive skin.
[Reminder about my skin type: I have very sensitive, thin skin, somewhat loose (on the neck when shaving horizontally), 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.]

Unless otherwise specified, all shaves this week were with my minimalist beard preparation.

What I Learned this Week:
The Gillette Wilkinson Sword blade is one of those that works for me. Sufficiently sharp yet comfortable on sensitive skin, they are also a sufficiently durable blade. At the best price on ebay, they seem like a very good value if one is willing to wait for them to arrive.

Regarding shaving technique, the Merkur 33C razor used with buffing strokes on all passes may yield the closest shave that this razor can offer, while still keeping the risk of blood loss very low.

Merkur 33C Classic
Sunday:
With the Merkur 33 razor, the first pass was without incident. The perilous second pass nicked my mid neck, and on both passes I could feel the blade cutting -- pulling just a bit -- but was sharp enough. For the third pass I put the blade in my low-angle, modified Chinese razor. This pass was a little fussy, and opened up about four weepers, which each got a touch of styptic. The overall shave was moderately close but not nearly record breaking. Irritation was low. After a couple of cool-water rinses, I washed with Noxzema, and that was it.

Monday:
Lord L.6 razor head with the Maggard
MR3B handle, which is currently offered
only in all chrome, identified as the MR3.
With the Gillette Wilkinson Sword blade in the Lord L.6 head and a heavy, fat handle, I did a non-fussy three-pass shave. First pass uneventful. Second cross-grain pass a challenge as well, with a slight weeper on my lower neck and two minor cuts under my jaw line while making j-hooking strokes. Third pass was uneventful. A touch of styptic handled my shaving errors. A cool-water rinse washed away most of the residual styptic, and a Noxzema wash capped the shave. Typically close, very comfortable with little post-shave irritation. After repeated appreciation of the shave by rubbing with my hand, three hours after the shave I applied some after-shave balm supplemented with vitamin E.

Tuesday:
Merkur 15C open-comb razor.
Today was a fussy shave by any definition. Four passes, first and third with the Merkur 15C open comb, second pass with the Merkur 33C, and final pass with the modified ReMei (low blade angle) -- and all using the same Gillette Wilkinson Sword blade of the week. A comfortable shave, but for all the trouble of switching blades, not significantly closer than a normal three-pass shave with the 33C. Three weepers, all opened using the 15C razor, disappeared with cool-water rinses. Finished off the shave with a Noxzema wash and Gillette balm supplemented with vitamin-E oil.

Wednesday:
Two passes using the Merkur 33 and a final, somewhat fussy pass with the modified (low blade angle) Re,Mei razor -- all, of course, with the Gillette Wilkinson Sword blade of the week. Used Arko shave stick this morning. Three weepers disappeared after the water rinse and the Noxzema wash. Again finished the shave with a balm, this time Neutrogena brand, supplemented by vitamin-E oil. No irritation after the shave, but only average closeness -- a good shave, not great.

Thursday:
A basic three-pass shave with the 33 razor and Grandad's soap provided a good shave. No nicks, no weepers. After the usual cool-water rinse, I finished with a Noxzema wash and some Gillette gel supplemented with vitamin-E oil.

Friday:
Same shave process and equipment as yesterday but with a third pass that was mostly buffing. One tiny weeper on my chin and the slightest nick on my upper lip disappeared quickly with styptic. The usual rinse and Noxzema wash was followed by Nivea balm supplemented with vitamin-E oil. A very good shave due, largely I think, to the buffing of the third pass.

Saturday:
Closing this week's shaves with the same gear I've used for the past two: the Merkur 33 razor, Grandad's shave soap, and cool-water, minimalist shave prep. Three passes using mostly buffing strokes for each gave a good shave -- on par with the past few days, which is as good as I believe I can get with the Merkur 33 razor. I re-opened the nick on my upper lip from yesterday and had one low-neck weeper, but both of these disappeared with cool-water rinses. Finished the shave with a Noxzema-and-water wash, during which I did a bit of final buffing. Really good shave!

For next week I'm shaving with a German-made Wilkinson Sword blade (in contrast to this week's Indian-made Gillette Wilkinson Sword blade).

Happy shaving!

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