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!

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