Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What's In the Cabinet Now?

One of my favorite blades.
My stable of razors continues to morph a bit, although the theme continues to stay the same.

The theme for me is mild: mild blade angles, mild blade exposures, mild blade-guard spans. As the sultan of sensitivity, I need coated blades that are still quite sharp: coating for comfort, sharpness to handle my beard, which is somewhere in the range of average to just slightly heavy.

The business end of the Merkur 33 Classic.
I continue to use up the sampler packs, which I selected with some care to avoid obviously poor choices. The only clunker in the group for my face are the Derby Extras, which I will pass along to my teen-age son. For me, they seem not quite sharp enough.

The Merkur 15C open comb.
But in terms of razors, what is the same and what is changing?

Constants are the Merkur razors, the 15C open comb and the 33C Classic. Both of these are three-piece designs. The 33 is always available for a potential face shave. On the other hand, I have given up on the 15 open comb for my face, but regularly use it to trim the hair line on the back of my head and to shave the back of my neck.

Rimei RM2003.
Another constant is the Rimei RM2003 -- the dirt-cheap gem, which I use with some regularity.

Lord L.6.
Recently I pulled out the Lord L.6 razor head, which comes as part of the LP1822L razor -- the one with the longer aluminium handle. I leave the handle in my closet-storage shaving shoe box, and use one of my other, more durable handles with this L.6 head. Having similar design aspects to the Merkur 33 except that the
Dorco Prime.
L.6 has a larger blade span, it gives a fairly mild shave too, but the larger span positions its shave character between the 33 and the Rimei.

The newest addition to my at-hand razors in the cabinet has been the Dorco Prime TTO. I have been evaluating it for about a week, and it has opened my eyes to the possibility of this mild instrument. I believe that it has earned a spot in my go-to stable of razors, and either this, or its twin that I already owned will stay in the bathroom cabinet. More on this in a day or so, when I publish my full-on review of the Dorco Prime Starter Set.

Happy shaving!

Monday, March 30, 2015

With What Does a Real James Bond Shave?

Within the last year, on a lark I checked out from the local library a relatively new James Bond novel, written by Jeffery Deaver. Now I'm not a huge fan of Bond books or movies, which I find at times both silly and disappointing on several different levels; I read this one just to keep a finger on the pulse of near-pulp fiction. In fact, in my view the only memorable thing about Deaver's Bond was that at some point in the story he shaved with a double edge razor and commented that he likes the "challenge" of a DE shave.

Author Deaver: Bond wannabe? Wimp?
This stuck in my mind. I don't remember the plot, any characters except Bond of course, but I remember that silly line that he likes the challenge of DE shaving. This struck me as more ridiculous than many of the action sequences, or the way women fall at his feet (and he's never shown at the clinic getting treatment for his various sexually-transmitted diseases), or his excessive alcohol consumption that would surely ruin his health before he lived six decades -- and we're not even discussing the many orthopedic injuries that would have surely left Bond partially disabled even before he became fat, developed type 2 diabetes, and cirrhosis of the liver.

I suspect that when Deaver wrote that line, it was he, himself, who believed that DE shaving was somehow dangerous. Either Deaver was a recent convert to DE shaving or had been fantasizing about it -- or is a total wimp and actually does shave with a DE and thinks he's doing something REALLY dangerous.

In a recent Bond film (I can't recall with certainty which one off the top of my head, but I'm sure it was Daniel Craig playing Bond, and I would guess the film was Casino Royale), Bond shaves with a straight razor. Now this fits Craig's Bond, I think. This most recent Bond incarnation (that is, Craig playing Bond) has slightly more near-surface pathology, his soft underbelly is more easily seen through his damn-the-torpedoes carapace, and a viewer gets glimpses of the insecurity that lies within the extreme tough guy. Craig's Bond shaving with a straight just feels right. This is a guy who needs to constantly prove, display his toughness.

Laying it on the line for a... lay? Moneypenny shaves Bond with a straight in Skyfall.
Craig's Bond kicks it up a notch when he lets Moneypenny shave him in the Skyfall film. Now there's a tough guy -- letting an untrained, inexperienced hottie shave him just for the sexual thrill. (Or maybe she went to barber college before joining her Majesty's secret service.)

Another Bond who shaved within our view was Connery's Bond in the 1964 film, Goldfinger. A prisoner on the plane (with Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore in the pilot's seat, as I recall), Bond used his Gillette Slim Adjustable razor to do a one-pass shave in the plane's lav. This, too, makes sense to me; it feels right. The Slim was cutting-edge shaving technology (pun intended) in '64, and Connery's Bond, if he were to shave himself, would just get to it and then move on to the girl or the more bone-jarring action sequence.

Connery's Bond had a customized Slim, of course!
In fact, absent any direct evidence, I envision most of the other Bonds shaving with the most recent shaving technology -- or getting a shave from a convenient barber. The barber shave is sufficient manly luxury in which any Bond would indulge when possible -- and it offers the plot possibility that he might be confronted by a barber with dangerous instrument near Bond's neck, working for Bond's current adversary. But when he shaves himself, these other Bonds probably couldn't bear to use anything but the most modern, quickest. shaving method. Anything to appear modern and efficient. The more blades the better, when available. Or if it's a Bond incarnation who preceded multi-bladed cartridges, there was always the less common injector razor as Roger Moore's Bond uses.

Because I have a personal aversion to electric razors, I do have trouble imagining any Bond shaving with an electric. Yuck! However, my prejudice aside, I would grant the possibility that somewhere in the long Bond lineage, one of those characters might have thought that an electric shave fit the bill and would most likely help get the girl.

That's my take: Grandad. Shave Like Grandad. ;-)

Happy shaving!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Coming Tomorrow...

Tomorrow's article discusses what type of razor James Bond would use to shave.

See you then.

Happy shaving!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Weekly Shave Review: The Dorco ST-300 and ST-301 Blades

This is the twenty-seventh of my weekly shave summaries. This week discusses the Dorco ST-300 platinum-coated blade, which is made in Vietnam. This ST-300 blade comes double wrapped.

My shave soap again this week is from the second pre-production run of Grandad's Slick 'n Creamy Shave Soap for Sensitive Skin, which is being used for the initial offering of client samples.

Reminder about my skin type: 
  • Sensitive & thin skin, somewhat loose on neck
  • Lots of angles and dips -- paired with a moderately tough beard
  • Challenging to get a close, comfortable shave

Face care this week, unless otherwise specified:

New/Different in This Week's Review:
  • The Dorco ST-300 blade is the blade of the week.
  • I dusted off the Weishi 9306-F TTO razor and used that with this blade -- in addition to my usual Merkur 33 and Rimei RM2003 razors.

What I Learned this Week:
  • I don't sense a great deal of difference between the Dorco ST-300 and ST-301 blades.
  • The grind or coating on this ST-300 blade is just the slightest bit irritating to my skin -- not one of the best matches to my face, though not bad either.
  • Alternating daily between a mild and slightly more aggressive razor is a good approach for my skin because I so easily get weeper wounds whenever I go for a very close shave, which is frequently.
  • With the ST-300 blade, preferred razor heads for me continue to be mild: Weishi 9306, Merkur 33, Lord L.6, and Rimei RM2003. (Though all are mild, the preceding list is also arranged in order of relative aggressiveness from mildest to most.) 
  • Final two shaves of the week were with the Dorco ST-301 in the Dorco Prime razor, and though the razor is very mild, I got two of the best shaves of the week. 

Next Week:
The Dorco ST-301 blade is once again on deck for next week's shaves but this week will be in the Dorco Prime razor. This will help to give a comparison of the two blades. I will also during the week, give a review on the Dorco Prime starter set.

This week's shave journal:

Weishi 9306-F TTO razor:
a very mild shave.
Used the Dorco ST-300 blade in the Weishi 9306-F TTO razor this morning for a real twist ;-). Three passes with just a bit of fussing was the process today. Some unpleasant tugging on the final (against-grain) pass. Finished the shave with splashes of witch hazel, then tea-tree after-shave lotion. After that, Gillette gel (blue bottle) supplemented with vitamin-E oil.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.2; Lower lip & chin - 4.5; Under jawline - 4.0; Neck - 4.0.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.14, Irritation-4.8, Wounds-4.8

Summary rating4.47**  (Not as rewarding of a shave as the rating would indicate because I value closeness.)

Merkur Classic (33C).
Today the ST-300 was in the Merkur 33 Classic razor. Three passes, no fussing. Better shave today with the 33 than yesterday with the 9306 -- no tugging to speak of. Finished the shave with water rinse, witch hazel rub, and Gillette lotion (white bottle) supplemented with vitamin-E oil.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.2; Cheeks - 4.4; Lower lip & chin - 4.5; Under jawline - 4.0; Neck - 4.1.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.24, Irritation-4.8, Wounds-4.5

Summary rating4.45**   (Again a fair shave that seems over rated because it wasn't as close as I really like.)

Rimei RM2003
Today the Dorco ST-300 was in the Rimei RM2003 razor. I took three generic passes and got a good, bloodless shave. Going for the gold, I took an extra half pass -- mostly on my neck, chin, and below the jawline, and got very close but opened some weepers. :-(  Finished the shave with cool-water rinse, witch hazel splash, and Neutrogena balm supplemented with vitamin-E oil.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.8; Lower lip & chin - 4.9; Under jawline - 4.7; Neck - 4.7.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.62, Irritation-4.5, Wounds-4.0

Summary rating4.44**  (The most rewarding shave of the week so far, despite the mediocre wounds rating.)

L.6 razor head on the
Merkur Classic handle.

Three passes and just a bit of fussing around the chin and jawline using the Lord L.6 razor head on the Merkur Classic handle gave a close shave. However, there was the usual price to pay of weepers and in this case a bit of irritation. The shave ended with a cool-water rinse, a splash of generic witch hazel, and some Neutrogena balm (straight with no supplemental additives).

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.3; Cheeks - 4.5; Lower lip & chin - 4.5; Under jawline - 4.2; Neck - 4.1.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.32, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-4.0

Summary rating4.16**

Today the Dorco ST-300 was back in the Merkur 33 razor head -- today with the Rimei handle (I don't know why). Three passes gave a fairly close shave although I keep opening invisible wounds from previous shaves; I should probably take a few days and just do some two-pass shaves to let my skin heal completely. Finished the shave with the usual cool-water rinse, a witch hazel splash today, some styptic on the repeater wounds, and then some Gillette lotion (white bottle).

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.2; Lower lip & chin - 4.1; Under jawline - 3.5; Neck - 4.7.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.10, Irritation-4.6, Wounds-3.0

Summary rating3.95**

Dorco Prime razor: suspiciously similar to
the Weishi 9306?

Taking a mild razor, the Dorco Prime (which upon initial inspection appears as a twin to a Weishi 9306), and a new ST-301 blade from Dorco, I used a divergent process this morning. I took a two-pass shave (WG, AG) and fussed some on the second pass. The rationale for this approach was that the razor, being of very mild character, might be less inclined to bite and more likely to shave closely if I gave it a whack at slightly longer stubble on the second pass. I did, in fact, get a closer shave in two passes than I otherwise might in three, but I did get a bit of irritation and some weepers (likely due to the closeness of the shave and the aggressiveness of the second pass). I finished with a cool-water rinse, a splash of witch hazel, some Nivea balm, topped off with a light rub of two drops of vitamin-E oil.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.7; Lower lip & chin - 4.5; Under jawline - 4.6; Neck - 4.5.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.46, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-4.0

Summary rating: 4.23**  (This might be a good process for late-to-work mornings.)

Same hardware as yesterday, but with a four-pass shave (WG, XG1, XG2, AG). Very close shave but with some expected irritation from so many passes. Finished with cool-water rinse, witch hazel splash, tea-tree after-shave splash, then Neutrogena after-shave balm.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.8; Cheeks - 4.8; Lower lip & chin - 4.6; Under jawline - 3.8; Neck - 4.7.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.54, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-4.7

Summary rating4.45**  (In all, a really good shave.)

*Rating Key:
Closeness -- a separate evaluation is done for each of these five areas: a) upper lip, b) cheeks, c) chin, d) under jaw line, and e) neck; then these five are averaged together for a single closeness rating. The following are the scale criteria:
5 – Smooth when rubbed against grain & other directions
4 – Smooth across grain but not against grain
3 – Smooth with grain only
2 – Not smooth to touch, but appears adequately clean shaven
1 – Not smooth to touch, and stubble apparent

5 – No perceivable irritation
4 – Minor irritation just after the shave, disappears quickly with time or applied balm
3 – Minor irritation that lingers for more than an hour but less than six
2 – Irritation that is perceived throughout the day
1 – Visible razor burn

5 – Absence of any wounds
4 – Pinpoint weepers only
3 – A total of three or less nicks, small cuts, and larger-than-pinpoint weepers
2 – A total of four to six  nicks, cuts, and larger-than-pinpoint weepers
1 – Worse than 2, above (first aid, quick!)

Regarding use of tenths of rating points: For closeness or irritation, each additional tenth of a rating point represents about 10% of the shaving area in question. For wounds, it represents gradations within a rating. For example, if I have, say, six pinpoint weepers only, I might give a wound rating of 4. However, if I only have one wound, which is a pinpoint weeper, that would likely get a rating of 4.9.

**Regarding the single-number overall shave rating: To give equal weight to shave closeness and harshness, I now double the shave-closeness rating, then add the values for closeness, irritation, and wounds, and divide that sum by four.

Happy shaving!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Dorco Prime Gear Arrived!

The Dorco Prime starter set arrived yesterday with its twist-to-open razor, 30 ST-301 blades, and a really nice storage/travel case for the razor.

I'm going to be using this gear today, and for the next few days, though it all seems somehow familiar.  ;-)

I'll be publishing a review next week.

For me this morning, I have to sign off. I'm giving an exam in a week in my university class on introduction to nutrition and health, and though I don't need to prepare for my lecture this morning, I do need to tend to the practical matter of printing and duplicating the exam papers for next week.

Happy shaving!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Safety Razors and Narrow-Angle Shaving

In the past, whenever I pondered the role of the safety bar or comb on a DE razor, I always assumed that the configuration of the razor head would be to hold the blade edge pretty much at or slightly below the shave plane.

This, of course, is not a terribly aggressive set up -- at least not when compared to many of the razors available today. It is, however, the only type of safety razor that I will use both because of my sensistive, susceptible skin and because I like the idea of relative safety in my safety razors.

I have been somewhat surprised to learn that some DE razors have such a positive exposure that the user is able (and perhaps required) to tilt the handle further from the face such that the safety bar or comb isn't even in contact with the skin while shaving. In this usage, the razor's top cap becomes a sole pivot line about which the razor is rotated to adjust how closely the blade edge contacts the skin.

This narrow-angle (of blade to skin) shaving technique can only be done with DE razors that have significant positive blade exposure (that is, the blade edge significantly exposed above the shave plane formed by the top cap and the safety bar or comb). This means that the safety bar is taken out of the equation, and doesn't serve as a safety bar at all. In fact, if the razor were used as a safety razor was intended -- that is, touching the shave plane against skin -- the blade would be prone to removing significant dermis along with whiskers!

Basically, these uber-aggressive razor designs become a small straight razor, not a safety razor. Instead of pivoting the unguarded straight razor on its curved back, the user is pivoting the unguarded (and so-called) "safety razor" on its top cap.

Now, I admit to always having a slight hankering to shave with a straight razor. Yet I don't. This is because 1) I know that it will inevitably lead to nicks and cuts, and 2) it is unnecessarily expensive for the initial investment of gear including strops and honing blocks. I also don't think I'll get any better shave with a straight than I get with my DE -- all things considered including closeness.

But, of course, to each his own. Maybe I'd be going in the direction of uber-aggressive DE razors and narrow-angle shaving if my skin contours were rounder, my skin tougher. But things are as they are.

I'm unlikely to ever shave with a straight razor, and equally unlikely to start using non-safety safety razors -- that is, performing narrow-angle shaving with a DE design that has a significantly-positive blade exposure.

If you are one of these guys shaving with an incredibly aggressive safety-razor design, I'd love to hear how you got started with it, and what keeps you in that game.

Happy shaving!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Odds 'n Ends Wednesday

Here's what's going on in my little world today:
The box, front and back, for the Dorco Prime starter set.
  • I have some new gear arriving soon from Dorco USA. Dorco is offering a new double-edge wet-shaver starter set called Dorco Prime. The set consists of a twist-to-open razor, a supply of blades, a travel case with mirror, and all boxed suitably for giving as a gift.
  • I will be publishing a review of this gear in the future, so stay tuned. If you want a preview and some other reviews of the product, you can always go to the Dorco Prime web site.
  • In addition to my Rimei RM2003 and Merkur 33 Classic razors, which have been my go-to instruments for several weeks, I've again taken my Lord L.6 razor head out of moth balls. With a larger blade-bar span than the 33, I want to again give it some exercise. I like my 33, but I'm returning to the L.6 to see if I can shave just a touch closer without so much fussing. As usual, I'll discuss that in my Saturday weekly-shave-review article.
  • The snow has been gone from the tennis courts here in Metro Detroit, though it still lingers in patches elsewhere that don't get much sun. The temperatures have been cool, but warm enough for hardy tennis aficionados like me to get out and return to outdoor play. Yesterday on a sunny, 41-degree (F) day, I played a two-set match in the late afternoon against one of my regular local foes. The force was with him yesterday, and though I didn't play badly, I need to be more patient on key points and I will likely prevail more frequently.
  • With more exposure to wind, sun, and cool temperatures, I've been applying balms, moisturizers (with sunscreen) and vitamin-E oil after my shaves just to help keep my face protected. As we get into summer, it is also my custom to wear large-brimmed hats to keep sun off my face and neck.  By the way, even in the heat of the summer I wear long-sleeved workout shirts that breathe well, wicking moisture away and keeping me cool while I play tennis. The main benefit from these shirts is to reduce the UV exposure on my arms.
  • Now that outdoor tennis has arrived, I've been playing less table tennis, which is a game that I started playing seriously late this winter at a couple of local centers that cater to serious TT players. In the near future, I've a project on the slate to custom make a TT table for my garage to meet my specific storage requirements.
  • The reduced-fat, whole-foods, plant-based dietary regimen has been going well. It appears that this diet is still the go-to plan if you seek to avoid heart and artery issues over time. This is compared to the standard American (western) diet and to the Atkins (low-carb) diet. One can lose weight on the Atkins diet, but the circulatory-system risks are higher on Atkins than even on the standard western dietary pattern.
Happy shaving!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How a Razor's Gap Dimension Can be Useful

I am on record as saying that the blade-bar (or blade-guard) gap as defined in a recent article (click here) is of little value in understanding the shaving character of a razor. I still assert this is true. The good news about the gap is that it's relatively easily measured using a feeler gauge.

This image is from the following web page:

Okay, easily measured, little value: so who cares?

Well, I've thought of a way to put that information to good use. The razor's gap dimension -- something that can be measured with some degree of accuracy -- can actually be used to determine the dimensions of the important aspects of razor design, which have been previously unobtainable to any reasonable degree of accuracy. These aspects are blade exposure and span.

The key is to begin with a good side-view close-up photo of a given razor head with the blade installed and with the camera lens pointed directly down the blade edge. Although measurements can then be taken directly off a computer monitor, it is probably best to print a hard copy of this side view.

Then with a pair of dividers and a high-quality ruler, measurements of the gap, span, and exposure are made.

Once those relative measurements are made, they can then be converted to absolute measurements using an adjustment factor derived by comparing the known actual gap dimension to the gap measurement as taken from the side-view enlargement.

So kudos to those behind the razor blade-guard-gap database, which can serve as the foundation step and can potentially, eventually be converted to a matrix of dimensions on DE razors' big three characteristics: span, exposure, and angle. If that ever becomes a reality, we will all then have a better handle on the shaving characteristics of various razors and how they compare to each other.

Happy shaving (and measuring and comparing)!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Why Does the Rimei RM2003 Shave So Well?

What I consider to be one of the best bargain-basement razors available is the Rimei RM2003 razor. It isn't the best because of its quality, which is spotty. However, when I'm on my game, it gives me one of the best shaves, on average, of any razor in stable of a dozen or so.

The Rimei RM2003.
Now, I get it, this is a pretty mild razor, when compared to some razors that could be featured in a Halloween-fright movie, wielded by a psycho in a hockey-goalie mask. But for those who shave daily and have sensitive or otherwise easily-threatened dermis, the RM2003 can be not only a face-friendly choice of instrument, it can give a wonderfully close shave while also being super wallet-friendly as well.

There are other mild razors out there. The two that I reference most often are the Merkur 33 Classic (not to be mistaken for its more aggressive cousin, the 34HD) and the Lord LP1822L (which has the L.6 head). These razor heads, the 33 and the L.6 shave similarly because their big three design characteristics -- blade exposure, span, and angle -- are somewhat similar. Both have about a 30-degree blade angle. Both have a fairly negative blade exposure. Where they differ slightly is in blade-bar span -- the L.6 having the larger span and thus being slightly less mild than the 33.

When one compares these two razors to the RM2003, it appears (because quantitative measurement is very difficult) that the RM2003 compares as follows:
  • Blade angle is slightly smaller (this can be measured pretty accurately)
  • Blade exposure is not as negative (on my RM2003, the exposure is actually slightly positive)
  • Blade-bar span appears greater than the 33, less than the L.6
The smaller blade angle will contribute to a less-scraping cut, which therefore contributes toward a less-irritating shave, but when combined with a relatively-positive blade exposure, than means a closer shave due to the exposure, but less irritating due to the angle.

The blade span being only moderate, when combined with a relatively-positive blade exposure makes for a closer shave with only a relatively moderate tendency to nip.

So for guys with a mug that doesn't respond well to moderately-aggressive to down-right lock-up-the-women-and-children-aggressive razors, the Rimei RM2003 may have the premium design specs for a close and comfortable shave for the fragile faced. On top of that, it's the least expensive of any DE razor that one expects to actually use regularly.

Happy shaving!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Myth Busting: Exfoliation while Lathering

According to the all-knowing Wikipedia (, exfoliation is defined as follows:

Exfoliation involves the removal of the oldest dead skin cells on the skin's outermost surface, and has been used for many years to help maintain healthy skin. Exfoliation is involved in the process of all facials, during microdermabrasion or chemical peels at medical spas. Exfoliation can be achieved through mechanical or chemical means.

Further, Wikipedia goes on to discuss specific methods including mechanical means:

This process involves physically scrubbing the skin with an abrasive.[5] Mechanical exfoliants include microfiber cloths, adhesive exfoliation sheets, micro-bead facial scrubs, crepe paper, crushed apricot kernel or almond shells, sugar or salt crystalspumice, and abrasive materials such as spongesloofahsbrushes, and simply fingernails.[6][7] Facial scrubs are available in over-the-counter products for application by the user. People with dry skin should avoid exfoliants which include a significant portion of pumice, or crushed volcanic rock. Pumice is considered a good material to exfoliate the skin of the feet. Microdermabrasion is another mechanical method of exfoliation.


Within the DE shaving community, there is this persistent assertion that using a shaving brush (most are soft) as part of the lathering process "exfoliates" the skin.  The reality is that unless one lathers with a loofah, scotch-boy scouring pad, a sand stone, steel wool, facial-scrub brush, etc., there isn't any exfoliation taking place.

The actual exfoliation likely takes place during the act of shaving itself -- you know, the scraping of sharpened steel against one's face. 

From now on, whenever you find yourself about to repeat this myth -- either spoken or in writing -- that it is the shaving brush that is exfoliating skin, quickly slap yourself across the face and shout, STOP, (which is a behavior-modification technique). There are far too many myths in the DE world without repeating this one, which is so obviously false and silly.

Happy shaving!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Weekly Shave Review: the Rapira Blade

This is the twenty-sixth of my weekly shave summaries. This week revisits the Rapira Platinum Lux blade, which is made in Russia.

My shave soap again this week is from the second pre-production run of Grandad's Slick 'n Creamy Shave Soap for Sensitive Skin, which is being used for the initial offering of client samples.

Reminder about my skin type: 
  • Sensitive & thin skin, somewhat loose on neck
  • Lots of angles and dips -- paired with a moderately tough beard
  • Challenging to get a close, comfortable shave

Face care this week, unless otherwise specified:

New/Different in This Week's Review:
  • The Rapira Platinum Lux blade is the blade of the week.
  • I pulled out the open-comb Merkur 15C razor for a face shave on Tuesday instead of just reserving it for a back-of-neck shave only.

What I Learned this Week:
  • The difference between last week's Derby Extra and this weeks Rapira is noticable both in comfort on my skin and also in the removal of whiskers. The Rapira seems better in both categories on my beard.
  • Despite being a mild razor, the Merkur 15C open comb seems to irritate my skin, and I'll continue to reserve it for trimming longer hair such as at the back of my neck.
  • With a sharp, durable blade like this Rapira, the Rimei RM2003 razor remains my preferred instrument for a close, comfortable shave.
  • The Merkur 33C Classic razor is my close-second go-to razor (and sometimes still my first choice). It doesn't generally shave quite as closely as the RM2003, but is usually slightly more forgiving.
  • Alternating the 33 and RM2003 razors may be optimal for my skin because of their differing natures despite both being rather mild razors.
  • Adding water only for touch ups in the final pass helps to get a close shave.

Next Week:
The Dorco ST-300 blade is on deck for next week's shaves. I have never used this blade before -- only its cousin, the ST-301. They are reputed in some circles to be the same blade, but this seems illogical to me. (After all, why sell the same blade in the same markets under two different identifiers? Although, since I come from Detroit, I have to admit that the auto companies did something similar to that for years. Remember so-called badge engineering? Yet even then, they weren't selling identical products, just cars with the same underlying architecture, but often different spring rates, tires, wheels, trim, and interior appointments.) Since I am very familiar with the ST-301, I'm interested to see if I can sense any difference compared to the ST-300.

This week's shave journal:

Despite its ~30-deg. blade angle,
the Merkur 33 has a negative blade 
exposure and therefore, combined 
with its modest blade-bar span,
provides a mild shave.
With the new Rapira in my trusty Merkur 33, I took three generic passes (WG, XG, AG) and then some buffing after and got a lovely, rewarding shave. On the third pass -- only due to my carelessness -- I got a small nick under my jawline, and during the buffing got the smallest weeper, both of which disappearing after the second post-shave water rinse. After the water rinses, I finished with Neutrogena balm for sensitive skin because I like the smell.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.8; Lower lip & chin - 4.5; Under jawline - 4.4; Neck - 4.7.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.56, Irritation-5.0, Wounds-3.8

Summary rating: 4.48**

Rimei RM2003
A non-fussy three-and-a-half-pass shave with the Rapira in the RM2003 went swimmingly until I decided, against normal practice, to shave against grain on my upper lip, which left weepers behind (and didn't actually much improve against-grain smoothness!). Other than that tactical error, the shave was very good. Finished with a cool-water rinse, alum block on the upper lip, and some Gillette Gel (blue bottle) to make me smell like Gillette Gel.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.7; Lower lip & chin - 4.4; Under jawline - 4.0; Neck - 4.2.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.26, Irritation-4.6, Wounds-3.8

Summary rating4.23**   

Merkur 15C open-comb razor.
Today for a change up, I put the Rapira in my Merkur 15 open-comb razor. Three passes and just the slightest fussing under the jawline yielded just a bit of irritation and two minor weepers. (The 15C is just a bit rough on my skin.) A cool-water rinse and Nivea balm supplemented with a couple of drops of vitamin-E oil completed the shave.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.0; Lower lip & chin - 4.6; Under jawline - 3.0; Neck - 4.0.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-3.92, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-4.3

Summary rating4.04**  

Merkur Classic (33C).

Back with the Rapira in the 33, three plain passes due to limited time. Cool-water rinse, then tea-tree lotion, followed by Gillette lotion (white bottle) supplemented with vitamin-E oil. Two minor bleeders under the jawline. In all, not bad for a rushed shave.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.8; Lower lip & chin - 4.4; Under jawline - 3.0; Neck - 4.3.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.10, Irritation-5.0, Wounds-4.0

Summary rating4.30**

Rimei RM2003 side view with blade.
Again using the RM2003 and the Rapira blade, three passes with a fussy third gave a good shave. Finished the shave with the usual cool-water rinse, some tea-tree lotion, capped with Gillette gel (blue bottle) supplemented with vitamin-E oil.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.4; Cheeks - 5.0; Lower lip & chin - 4.3; Under jawline - 4.2; Neck - 4.0.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.38, Irritation-5.0, Wounds-4.5

Summary rating4.57**  A very nice shave.

Same set up as yesterday. And three no-frills passes. Capped the shave with cool water and some Gillette lotion (white bottle).

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.2; Cheeks - 4.7; Lower lip & chin - 4.2; Under jawline - 3.0; Neck - 4.0.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.02, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-3.5

Summary rating3.89**  A couple of large weepers under my jawline and on upper neck sunk the summary rating, but actually is a pretty good shave otherwise.

Three passes (a very fussy third pass with added water as lubricant) with the Merkur 33 and the final shave on the Rapira blade. Finished with cool-water rinse, tea-tree after-shave lotion for a bit of a burn, and Nivea balm supplemented with vitamin-E oil for soothing protection,

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.7; Lower lip & chin - 4.7; Under jawline - 4.2; Neck - 4.0.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.32, Irritation-5.0, Wounds-4.8

Summary rating4.61**  Nearly as good a shave as I can get with the 33 razor.

*Rating Key:
Closeness -- a separate evaluation is done for each of these five areas: a) upper lip, b) cheeks, c) chin, d) under jaw line, and e) neck; then these five are averaged together for a single closeness rating. The following are the scale criteria:
5 – Smooth when rubbed against grain & other directions
4 – Smooth across grain but not against grain
3 – Smooth with grain only
2 – Not smooth to touch, but appears adequately clean shaven
1 – Not smooth to touch, and stubble apparent

5 – No perceivable irritation
4 – Minor irritation just after the shave, disappears quickly with time or applied balm
3 – Minor irritation that lingers for more than an hour but less than six
2 – Irritation that is perceived throughout the day
1 – Visible razor burn

5 – Absence of any wounds
4 – Pinpoint weepers only
3 – A total of three or less nicks, small cuts, and larger-than-pinpoint weepers
2 – A total of four to six  nicks, cuts, and larger-than-pinpoint weepers
1 – Worse than 2, above (first aid, quick!)

Regarding use of tenths of rating points: For closeness or irritation, each additional tenth of a rating point represents about 10% of the shaving area in question. For wounds, it represents gradations within a rating. For example, if I have, say, six pinpoint weepers only, I might give a wound rating of 4. However, if I only have one wound, which is a pinpoint weeper, that would likely get a rating of 4.9.

**Regarding the single-number overall shave rating: To give equal weight to shave closeness and harshness, I now double the shave-closeness rating, then add the values for closeness, irritation, and wounds, and divide that sum by four.

Happy shaving

Friday, March 20, 2015

One Pass.... or Three?

The question is often asked: what's the best DE razor? This question is even more complicated than many assume.
A pass. (Oops, not a shaving pass. ;-)

It isn't complicated by merely differing beard hair toughness. No, there's hair density. And hair angle. And grain variation or uniformity. And skin contours. And skin thickness. And skin dryness. And skin sensitivity. You can probably think of other factors as well; I can.

There's also another obvious variable that many of us overlook -- I certainly did, which is preference for the number of passes in a shave.

I'm sure that there are folk out there who may have a preference for any number of pass variations from one to four or more. I, personally, fall into the three-to-four category depending on my choice of razor and blade on a given day, the condition of my skin (healthy or healing), and the time I wish to dedicate to the activity. Previously, I tended to assume that most guys are like me, but, like any assumption, that clearly proved to be wrong in many cases.

For example, take a friend of mine, whom I not long ago introduced to DE shaving. I had initially suggested razors that might give him really good three-pass shaves. I was really wracking my brain trying to recommend razors that wouldn't be too risky as a starter razor, yet would provide that near-baby-smooth finish in three passes.

It turns out he's a one-and-done kind of guy. What he prefers is a more aggressive razor that can shave reasonably close in a single pass even at the risk of a few nicks or weepers. And he doesn't shave every day as I do; he'll skip a day or two between shaves. (Which, in my opinion, is a mistake for any man with gray in his beard.)

I'm sure there are lots of one and dones. Probably plenty of those who prefer two and through. As I said, it's three for me.

These kinds of basic preference variations explain why my afore-mentioned friend really likes his Merkur 34HD, while I was trying to recommend a milder razor like the Lord L.6 or the Merkur 33 Classic. (I eventually provided him with an L.6 as well as the Rimei RM2003. But because of his proclivity for one and done, he steadfastly prefers the 34HD.)

Because I love a near baby-smooth shave (near baby smooth is about as good as I can get without unreasonable damage to my skin), I'm a committed three-for-me shaver. So the combination of my beard, skin, and close-shave preference makes me favor rather mild razors as they might lie on the great spectrum of razor aggressiveness. So, not surprisingly, my favorite razors are the Merkur 33, the Lord L.6, and the Rimei RM2003. All slightly different, but all lap cats rather than wild cats.

I have another friend that I tried, unsuccessfully, to convert to DE shaving. A few years ago, unknown to me, he bought a Pomco slant-bar razor, which is a vintage razor that was manufactured by Dovo-Solingen (Merkur), and is similar but not identical to their currently-manufactured slant-bar razors. He repeatedly cut himself up due to impatience, lack of instruction, and insufficient due dilligence; and he put the razor in storage for good. Later I found out about this and hooked him up with the ultra-mild Weishi 9306 TTO, thinking that such a pussy cat of a razor would be just the thing to rekindle his interest in DE shaving.

Yet it was quite the opposite. Turns out he is a one-and-done kind of guy as well. He doesn't have the time and patience for multiple passes, so he really didn't like the 9306 and currently remains quite closed minded about giving DE shaving another go.

So instead of the old airline-stewardess question: coffee, tea, or me? (Wait, I guess it was actually coffee, tea, or soda? -- but the former is more mellifluous and compatible with my question to those who shave, which follows:)  One pass, two, or three?

Happy shaving!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Guy Walked into a Bar....

This guy, Johnny Fingers, walked into this bar — a small, quiet joint in Detroit off Michigan Avenue near Griswold. And Johnny Fingers was his real name;  yeah, I know, it sounds like some mob nickname, but, I swear to God, that was his real name. He was a tough guy, but not with a gang. Just tough and independent.

Anyway, it was dark. The lights were low and not much daylight coming through the few small, colored windows in the walls, and the front door on the place was an old-time wooden front door with the painted-over stop-sign-shaped port hole. There was a smoky haze hanging in the air ‘cause this was long before they banned smoking in bars. It smelled faintly of stale beer and strongly of cheap cigars. At the bar there were a couple of guys hunched over their beer, separated by half a dozen stools.

There were nine small tables in the place, and an ancient pool table tracked with cigarette burns along the rails. All the tables were empty except for a couple that were pushed together near the back in the farthest corner from everything else. There were eight men crowded around the ad-hoc meeting tables, and there was a guy, Big Joe, sitting at the end, like he was in charge, with his back to the long wall.

Now Johnny Fingers was old-school construction. Like I said, he wasn't in a gang and he didn't run a criminal enterprise exactly, but he was known to be tough, not known to accept orders he didn't like, and never much afraid to break somebody’s arm — or head — to remove a roadblock to a construction deal. His company did paving primarily, and some foundation and excavating work, but they were big. It was hard to drive around the city in the summer without seeing them working on something -- road improvement or preparing the foundation for some new project going up.

The guy at the head of the tables was Joe “Big Joe” Bonnadao. He’s a player in Bonnaday Construction, which had a finger in just about every type of project from high-rises to asphalt. Bonnaday was everywhere; the biggest firm in the tri-state area, dwarfing the others including Fingers' outfit, and was reputed to be connected not only with wise guys but with honchos in the city and Wayne County as well, knowing everything that’s happening even before the mayor does.

Big Joe looked kind of soft at five-eight, 310. He always dressed nice, that day wearing a dark green sharkskin suit and expensive-looking Italian shoes.  He wasn't gonna be winning any marathon races on that day or any day, but he didn't have to;  if he wanted you to lose, it always seemed to happen. Looks can be deceiving.

Anyway, so Johnny Fingers walked in late, pulled the nearest empty chair -- the old, wooden kind with the round wooden seat and the back made of bent wood and curved like a light bulb. He put the chair down, backward, and straddled the seat, resting his arms on the chair’s curved backrest. Johnny is taller but lighter than Big Joe; he’s gotta be 6-4, but he was a hard 240 like he played linebacker for the Lions: big shoulders, narrow waist. He placed his chair outside the others ringing the table, and on the right side of Bonnadao, his back to the front door. He just dwarfed the chair, smothered it.  Big Joe would've had to turn to acknowledge Johnny Fingers, but he didn't turn. He just kept talking and looking down the coupled tables. He said, “Ok, to restate for any late comers, here’s how the project bids are going to come in for the Townsend project…“

Bottom line was that Big Joe made it clear among other things that Finger’s outfit is slated to get a small piece of this project pie, scraps is how Johnny Fingers must've seen it. According to Big Joe’s vision of how this was to go down, Fingers’ outfit was a subcontractor and not in on the initial bid, which would be covered by Bonnaday Construction.

There were a few morose faces around the table, but quiet, including Johnny Fingers, who had this dark expression, kind of glowering, but he didn't say anything. You could almost see the “f*** that” in his eyes;  but he just listened like a big, pissed-off clam all hunched over the back of that chair. The meeting broke up, Big Joe having made it clear how this thing is gonna be. Fingers just left and never said a word.

So some time went by. The bids were coming in but the outcome announcement was still weeks away. Johnny Fingers got in his Eldorado one morning going to work, turned the key, and the explosion broke windows two blocks away.

The word was that the company formerly owned by Johnny Fingers — when he was still intact — had submitted a bid on the project, an attractive bid, but then after Fingers’ unfortunate incident, the remaining principals found an error and retracted their bid, and never resubmitted prior to the deadline. They did get some work as a subcontractor though. Funny thing, it turns out Bonnaday Construction got the contract just like Big Joe had laid it out in that bar.

After, the story got around that somebody asked Big Joe his opinion about the cause of Johnny Fingers' demise. Big Joe shrugged and with a straight face said, “Dunno.  Guess he had some kind of hearing defect.”

That’s how business was done in Old Detroit.


Grandad lived and worked in Old Detroit. He wasn’t a big guy and he wouldn't break your arm -- or your head -- but he was tough. He shaved with a straight, then later, when his hand wasn't so steady, he switched to to a TTO safety razor. He would have liked the shave soap named after him: simple, no perfume, but effective, with a velvet touch around dangerous objects. Good for tough guys -- and sensitive guys too.

That's how business is done in New Detroit.

Happy shaving!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Slightly Updated Instructions for Use of Grandad's Shave Soap for Sensitive Skin

Puck Consistency & Wrapping
It is a soft soap, having the malleable consistency of modeling clay. It is white, and the sample comes flattened into a small pancake of soap (about 1/4-inch thick for shipping in an envelope rather than a box to keep packaging cost down), and the pancake is wrapped in a simple rectangle of wax paper.

To remove the soap from the wrapping paper, simply slide a butter knife between the soap and the paper. The tacky soap can be rolled into a ball and pressed into your favorite mug or bowl.
The is the unwrapped soap pancake, which can be separated
from the wax paper with a butter knife. Again, the razor and
nickel aren't included; they're just to show sample size.

Lathering the Soap
When the puck is new or if you never re-use clean lather, the following steps should work:
  1. Wet your brush. (The soap likes water, so it isn't necessary to shake much or any water out, but this will depend on your brush and your water. If you prefer to face lather, to keep the mess to a minimum, it may be best if you give the brush a shake or two, and then as you lather, if it is too pasty, you can always add water.)
  2. Swirl the wet brush on the soap cake for 20 to 30 seconds: one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, three-Mississippi, etc. The exact duration depends on many factors, but 20 seconds is a good starting estimate.  The time to load sufficient soap on your brush will also vary by the size of the soap cake/puck. As the supply in your mug/cup diminishes, it may take longer to load sufficient soap onto your brush. (If you decide to save, dry, and re-use clean lather, you can reduce the swirl time for subsequent shaves.)
  3. Whip into a lather for about 30 to 60 seconds. I find this works best in a larger (5" diameter) lathering bowl, but also works well face lathering. (As I said in step 1 above, if you face lather, it may be better to shake a bit more water out of your brush initially, and add water appropriately as you make lather.) Make sure you have added sufficient water, which this soap accepts readily. The lather will be rich, smooth, and creamy. Remember, because of the superfatting, the lather is not stiff, but creamy.
A morning's clean, left-over lather to be dried
and re-used for tomorrow's shave.
Using the Lather
The soap works well for me using cool water for the entire shave: in my brush for lathering, on my face as shave prep as well as for between-pass rinses. If you like warm or hot water, great! Remember, this lather is creamy and soft, not dry and stiff, so if you're getting rich, creamy lather, that's how it should be. If the lather is thin and frothy, load more soap onto your brush. If the lather is pasty, add more water (remember, this soap likes water). When I apply the lather to my face, I usually finish by painting with my shave brush for a thin, even, semi-opaque layer.

For more information on the soap including how to get a sample, click here. For information on how to obtain a normal-sized quantity (four onces or about 113 grams) of the soap, email me now, or hang on and I'll post an article about that in the near future.

Happy shaving!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Where My Trash-or-Treasure Experiment Went Awry

I have bought three of the silver-toned Chinese-special razors. The first was a real lemon, from which I tried to make lemonade by reshaping the unplated, stamped-steel baseplate of the razor. (The second and third were not prize winning instruments by any stretch either, but at least I more or less knew what I was likely getting.)

My first silver-toned lemon of a razor, from which I tried to make lemonade.

My correction on the first razor (and, in fact, all that followed) was intended to reduce the ridiculously-large blade exposure and at the same time, reduce the blade angle and blade-bar span. I tried this with two additional razors of the same ilk, to try to achieve different blade gaps (and more to the point, blade spans) and angles with each. (I used three different razors because once a given razor is tuned up to a specific setting, it is too much trouble to reshape the baseplate for a different blade span and angle.)

The fly in the ointment of this approach is that as I modified the baseplate to adjust the safety-bar position in each razor, the basic adjustment is to change the blade-bar span. As this span is reduced, it also reduces the blade angle and the blade exposure.

For making a face friendly shave, I thought that a smaller blade angle would be helpful; and I still believe that to be true. With these baseplate adjustments (as I just said in the previous paragraph), this also reduces the blade-bar span -- which, happily, is also a face-friendly adjustment.

But as the angle and span are reduced via these adjustments, the blade exposure also become less and less positive until at some point it becomes increasingly negative. Because, when simply bending the safety bar up or down, there is only one independent variable (pick any one of the three), which simultaneously determines the other two, there is no guarantee that one can tune the razor to have the optimal combination for a close yet face-friendly shave.

With the first razor, I created a low blade angle that I thought would shave well, but at that setting, the span and blade exposure were too small and negative, respectively, to give an easy, close shave. With subsequent razors, larger blade angles produced spans and exposures that shaved more closely, but with a bit too much irritation; it wasn't any better than any of my other razors.

The reason why the Rimei RM2003 is a bit better than my previously-favorite razor is that its razor head has a smaller blade angle and blade span, paired with a slightly positive blade exposure. The result, a close shave but from a blade that is making a less-scraping pass against the skin. Thereby the shave is relatively close, yet also comfortable.

Happy shaving!

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Morning After: a Shaving Distraction

Stan took his second cup of coffee with him into the bathroom. He was tired. It had been a fitful night interrupted by the rarest of his rare dreams... of Joey. Those dreams were always simple and personal. He: desperate, passionate, aggressive; she: receptive, loving, warm but ever ambivalent, never committed.

He eyed himself in the mirror, eyes red, tired. Dreams remembered usually meant less rest.

In the darkness of the early morning, his wife and children still in their beds, he laid out his equipment and supplies with the obsessive precision of a surgeon. The dry washcloth at the far left for dis-assembly and drying of his razor. He set the three-piece razor, with the blade already mounted after yesterday's shave, on the washcloth. Then at the front of the sink, a hand towel folded in half on its short side, making a long, narrow band of terrycloth, which he then folded again with half a twist so that it could hug the front curve of the sink and yet lay straight along the counter edge to catch the drips of water from his shave.

Between the cloths he put the lathering bowl closest to the counter edge. Next in toward the mirror was the small cup with the shaving soap, and closest to the mirror was the small cup with water, in which he soaked his shaving brush while he lifted and rubbed water into his beard. He took a swallow of his coffee.

He tried to ignore the memory of her dredged up by the dream as he swirled his wet brush in the soap cup hearing the transformed slushing sound of the well-laden brush. The first time he had seen her she walked with those long, languid strides -- slender and sultry even on that cold winter day.

He transferred his brush, heavy with water and soap, to the lathering bowl. He swirled his brush and as the lather built, he felt her presence as though they were still together. The night's dreams left him with the lingering sense that they were always connected even since before time.

As he lathered and made his first pass, he focused his attention in the present. He rinsed with warm water, and took another long drink from his coffee, which was beginning to cool.

The second re-lather, shaving pass, and rinse done, he felt his face and studied it for moment in the mirror. So many years had gone by since he had pursued her, gotten to know her, forced himself into her world that should have never intersected with his. They should have passed uninterrupted, but now even 40 years later, it was bizarre that he was still rocking in her wake. He never could decide whether their ineluctable separation was miraculous serendipity gone awry, unfulfilled, or simply his meaningless obsession that -- even ignored and neglected -- would not wither and mercifully die.

He finished the cup of coffee, which was becoming too tepid to be enjoyable.

He lathered and completed his third pass. After the rinse he used his hand to enjoy the smoothness of his face. She had never stroked his cheek after a shave. She had never known the things that were truly his gifts. In their time, she had actually hardly known him as though he were a cardboard cutout of himself; and he wondered now, still under the influence of their meeting while he slept, if he ever really knew her beyond her magical essence that still teased and tempted him in a rare dream.

And yet though they had both moved on so long ago, there was some quiet, nagging, intangible link still apparently there -- even if only in his own troubled psyche. As he went through the rinse and the drying processes of his shaving instruments, he wondered if she too, against her conscious will, sees him on the occasional night.

He wondered if she too ever has to make sense out of the morning after.

Happy shaving!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

More Thoughts on the Near Death of DE Shaving

An anonymous comment on my previous article about the near death of DE shaving served to stimulate thoughts for today's article.

I remember in the early 1970s when I got the heavy, gold-toned Gillette Trac II handle and cartridges as a gift. I never shaved much with any other device. From the original Trac II, I eventually migrated to the various pivoting designs of the two-bladed shaving head, with occasional forays into the realm of the single-edge disposable such as those offered by Bic.

I never moved on to the three-blade (and more) designs. I guess that I felt I was getting an adequate shave from two.

I looked upon my Dad's Gillette Slim Adjustable that was then resting unused in the bathroom cabinet as one might examine a fossil fragment in a museum. It never occurred to me to give that instrument a try.

But it's good that I didn't, or I might have been permanently discouraged from the DE choice. Obviously my Dad -- a long-time user of the Slim -- felt that the Trac II gave him a better shave. And of course, 40 years later, I find that the Slim is hardly the ideal DE razor for my mug. Fortunately, there are other razor and blade options that were generally unavailable in the 1970s.

But to slightly dispute an opinion of Anonymous commenter, in-grown hairs were an issue with the dual-bladed cartridges. Even though I am not particularly prone to getting in-grown hairs -- especially with a DE razor -- I can remember both my dormitory roommate and I getting and discussing in-grown hairs as a result of shaving with the Trac II.

I also think that many men like me never had any shaving instruction and never even considered doing multiple passes during a single shave. I remember that the issue my roommate and I discussed was shaving direction; that is, should we shave with or against the grain? It never occurred to us that we might do both: first with, then after, against.

Also, given that we had no significant experience with other razors, the cartridge-based designs allowed us to, pretty much, press razor firmly against skin with relative impunity.

So the popularity of the cartridge razors was due in part to the safety and adequacy of a single pass. What I never understood until I tried a DE razor was the marvelous closeness that could be achieved in multiple passes. All those years, I was getting a mediocre shave, but didn't realize it. In this case, ignorance was bliss.

When I finally broke out my Dad's vintage Gillette Slim in this new century, the closer shave (even despite the irritation) combined with the slightly greater challenge of the DE shave as well as the long-term economy and greater eco-friendliness of the process, I was hooked.

Happy shaving!