Thursday, February 19, 2015

Blade Durability and Razor Design

I've come up with a new hypothesis to be tested. It is that when shaving with razors of different blade exposure, blade longevity may be affected. Specifically, when using a razor with negative blade exposure (that is, blade edge is below the shave plane, within the cove of the top cap and safety bar), one might get a greater number of comfortable shaves from a given blade than when using a razor with a more aggressive, positive blade exposure (that is, blade edge lies above the shave plane determined by the top cap and safety bar).

What got me to have these suspicions is the shaves with the my newest BFF razor, the Rimei RM2003. During the week, perhaps I am imagining it, but it seems as though the shaves are degrading ever so slightly as the mileage on the weekly blade increases. I have not noticed this previously when using other razors. I looked this morning at the RM2003's approximate head-design specs. Although the two edges of the razor don't appear to be quite identical (what do you expect from a US$4 razor?), it can be generalized to say that the razor has a slightly positive blade exposure, but a low blade angle. It also appears to have a moderate blade-bar gap. The combination of low-ish blade angle and small-ish blade gap may explain its face-friendly characteristics, while the positive-ish blade exposure may account for the ability of the razor to shave surprisingly closely -- given its face-friendly nature.

So if the blade is making just a bit more contact with skin during the morning three-pass shave, it is possible that some of the protective coating on my blades is being abraded away more quickly than with my previous regular-use razors, all of which tended to have a negative blade exposure. This abrasion may explain the slightly faster blade degradation that I might be sensing.

So I might alter my shave routine in the following ways:

  1. I might continue to go for the gold every morning with a three pass shave, but change blades twice per week, Sunday and Wednesday, instead of just once weekly on Sunday.
  2. I might once again try the X-pass shave pattern using oblique stroke to see if it works better for my beard with this new, face-friendlier razor, and keep my current blade-replacement schedule to once per week.
  3. I might just do a two-pass (WG, XG, no AG) shave as my normal daily shave, and only go for the brass ring on special days, and still change the blade only once per week. (I probably won't be able to do this just because I do love that extra smoothness that comes from that third, AG pass.)
I think for tomorrow's shave, I'll be trying option #2, above.

Happy shaving (and question everything)!

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