Saturday, December 6, 2014

Weekly Shave Review: The Merkur Super Blade

This is the eleventh of my weekly shave summaries. This week, I'm finally using one of the sample platinum-coated Merkur Super blades that came with my Merkur razors. I had avoided the blade previously because they seemed to get mixed reviews and were high priced compared the the DE blades that I prefer. However, it is time to give the Merkur blade its day in the sun -- or, rather, it's week in the razor.
Now called Grandad's Shave Soap
-- slick 'n creamy, for sensitive skin.

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).

[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.

Merkur 33C Classic
What I Learned this Week:
Despite a weak start, by the end of the week I found the Merkur Super blade to be adequately sharp and smooth. It's strange though that the shaves have gotten better as the week has gone on; I seem to be growing accustomed to the feel of the blade as it shaves, and the outcomes (such as Friday's and Saturday's shaves) have been as good as any. For the price, however, I can say that I won't be buying any of these blades. I can get as good a shave with blades significantly less expensive.

Three passes with a fussy final pass yielded slightly better than my typically-close shave when using the Merkur blade in my Merkur 33 razor. The blade gave unusually loud auditory feedback as it shaved, though it seemed to tug a little at the whiskers leading me to think that it wasn't quite as sharp out of the wrapper as some other blades. I also got a few more weepers than normal as I made that third fussy pass. Only two needed a touch of styptic, however, following my cool-water rinses and the Noxzema-and-water wash. The shave is pleasing to the hand with no significant irritation.

Another use of the Merkur blade in the Merkur 33 razor gave a close shave that felt a bit irritated after the shave, rinse, and the wash with Noxzema. The shave was close because I used a very fussy third pass that was probably equivalent to taking a fourth. A couple of weepers disappeared without styptic or alum. After the Noxzema wash I used an inexpensive soothing balm supplemented with vitamin-E oil, which completely soothed the minor irritation, leaving a close shave that is appealing to the hand.

I actually took a second shave today in the afternoon to test my modified Ri,Mei razor paired with a used Astra blade (not this week's Merkur). The shave was encouraging enough to warrant more shaving with the Ri,Mei. I had minor irritation, which was more likely due to the second three-pass shave of the day -- that is, too many razor strokes -- rather than due to issues of specific razor or blade.

Ri,Mei razor, with stamped-steel baseplate.
Today I took a spontaneous detour from the plan and put a new Personna red-label blade into my Ri,Mei razor to give it another go with a better blade. Overall it was a mild shave, reasonably close and comfortable. A fussy third pass created some weepers on my mid and upper neck that took some styptic. Otherwise it was a comfortable shave that finished with water rinse, Noxzema wash, and after-shave balm supplemented with drops of vitamin-E oil.

Today I shaved with the Merkur blade in the Ri,Mei razor, which is more aggressive than the Merkur 33 but with a smaller blade angle. A non-fussy three-pass shave left me acceptably smooth and not irritated except for the five or so weepers, which after a cool-water rinse, got a styptic treatment. I followed this with a Noxzema-and-water wash, and after-shave lotion supplemented with vitamin-E oil.

Lord L.6 razor head with the Maggard
M3B handle, which isn't currently
With the Merkur blade in the L.6 razor head, I took a two-pass shave, in which the Merkur blade tugged just a bit, but gave a completely acceptable shave. I created three weepers on my neck, where I got just a bit fussy trying to get a little closer on those areas where the highly-directional hair lays down and also grows in inconsistent directions over fairly thin, loose skin. After a Noxzema-and-water wash, the weepers got a touch of styptic, and then, after rinsing the styptic off, I applied balm supplemented with vitamin-E oil.

Back to the Merkur-blade, Merkur-razor (model 33) combination today, with Grandad's shave soap. Good three-pass shave that became excellent with touch up during the post-shave Noxzema-and-water wash. Styptic applied on four weepers, and the shave was topped off with Nivea balm supplemented by vitamin-E oil.

The final shave with the Merkur platinum-coated blade was in the Merkur 33 razor with minimalist cool-water prep and Grandad's shave soap. One of the better shaves of the week in that it was close with minimal weepers -- just one -- after three passes. No styptic, no alum. The cool-water rinse was followed by a Noxzema-and-water wash, and then Neutrogena after-shave balm supplemented with three drops of vitamin-E oil.

For next week I'm shaving with a Voskhod blade.

Happy shaving!

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