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!

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