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


  1. A politician who had been a businessman helped me brainstorm a slogan for my pathetic flea marketing. "It's like bowling, on your face" I said. "Put the fun back in shaving," he suggested. Just wait, though: I'm going to come up with a playable game. Inspired by both of you.

    I was shaving with Rapira SS this week. It gave me an ASTONISHING BBS, when I used a two-hand technique. Holding the skin back, not just on my neck, but everywhere, directly behind each stroke. (Well, wherever that was actually possible.) I think that's what happens when you get near the lower limit of acceptable sharpness. Closer, deeper... but technique has to revert to straight-razor style.

    The mechanical advantage provided by DE razors has limits.

    1. I use the two-handed technique daily for part of my shave. Without fail, when shaving horizontally across my neck, using the free hand to tighten the skin really helps. Occasionally I'll do it when shaving against grain under my jaw line as well.

    2. Regarding promoting the razors, one never knows what will hook a given person. I got interested in DE shaving because of the economy and lower waste, but what hooked me was the close shave. A friend of mine both enjoys the process (fun) and the close shave. I think with a quadruple-pronged approach, fun, thrifty, ecologically responsible, and close, you can't miss. Though, it certainly won't hook everybody. :-(