Saturday, April 18, 2015

Weekly Shave Review: Gillette Wilkinson Sword Blade

This is the thirtieth of my weekly shave summaries. This week involves the Gillette Wilkinson Sword (GWS) blade -- again in various razors of increasing aggressiveness, but all still rather mild.

Like last week, my intended razors this week will progressively increase in aggressiveness of razor design. Starting with the Weishi 9306-F (the most mild), I'll move to the Dorco Prime (to continue distinguishing any difference from the 9306), then the Merkur 33, then the Lord L.6 razor head, and then finally to the Rimei RM2003. All of the three-piece razors will be used with the classic handle from the Merkur 33.

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 just getting comments from the initial users of the sample offering. I'm pleased to say that I've gotten positive feedback saying it's easy to later, slick and creamy, not drying, and rinses cleanly. I've also received suggestions for similar soap formulations with minor tweaks such as adding fragrance.

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 GWS blade, made in India.

What I Learned this Week:
  • The GWS blade is sharp and fairly comfortable for my face. I'm left with the impression that it's good, but not enough to make me rush to order a large quantity.
  • The Lord L.6 razor head (which comes on the LP1822L razor) was my favorite this week, shaving closely and comfortably.
  • The two TTO razors, the Weishi and the Dorco Prime, will go back into closet storage. They aren't bad for my beard, but the Merkur Classic, Lord L.6, and Rimei RM2003 razor heads shave a bit closer with no less comfort.

Next Week:
The Israeli-made Personna red-label blade is on deck.

This week's shave journal:

The Weishi 9306-F.
With a fresh GWS blade in the Weishi 9306-F, I took a fussy three-pass shave. Owing to the mildness of the 9306 and the less-extreme blade (as compared to last week's Polsilver), I did less damage to my skin, but not as close a shave. The only wounds were minor weepers in one patch of skin beneath my right ear where the grain is crazy and the skin slightly raised. I finished with a cool-water rinse, a splash of witch hazel, and finally Gillette after-shave gel (blue bottle) supplemented with three drops of vitamin-E oil.

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

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.02, Irritation-4.4, Wounds-4.4

Summary rating4.21**  (Not a bad shave. Not as close as I love, but with little skin insult.)

The Dorco Prime, visually
a twin for the Weishi.
A basic three pass shave with the Dorco Prime razor holding the second use GWS blade gave a slightly closer shave than yesterday. No new wounds but some from yesterday (and last week) were re-opened. After-shave treatments included a cool-water rinse, a splash of generic witch hazel, and application of Neutrogena balm for sensitive skin.

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

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.22, Irritation-4.4, Wounds-4.4

Summary rating4.31**

The Merkur Classic, model 33C.
Returning to the Merkur Classic razor for the third shave on the GWS blade, the plan was to make three generic passes to get a reasonable shave without unnecessarily opening the remaining-yet-invisible and still-healing weepers from previous shaves.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.2; Cheeks - 4.3; Lower lip & chin - 4.4; Under jawline - 4.3; Neck - 4.6.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.36, Irritation-4.2, Wounds-4.7

Summary rating4.41**  A nice shave.

The Lord L.6 razor head on the
Merkur Classic handle.
Like last week, I put this week's GWS Sword blade in the Lord L.6 razor head on the Merkur Classic handle. Three passes with just a bit of fussing at the end again resulted in a good shav. Finished the shave with a cool-water rinse, a splash of witch hazel, and some undoctored Gillete gel (blue bottle). I could really feel the blade this morning, but in a good way -- shaving but not irritating.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.7; Lower lip & chin - 4.3; Under jawline - 4.3; Neck - 4.3.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.32, Irritation-4.7, Wounds-4.3

Summary rating4.41**  A good shave this morning.  :-)

Yesterday's shave was so good, I decided to use the same gear again. So with the GWS blade again in the Lord L.6 razor head, three passes, with a bit of fussing on the third, resulted in a really good shave: close, comfortable, no wounds except for a single pin-point weeper under my jaw re-opened from a previous shave. Ended with the usual cool-water rinse, towel dry, and application of un-doctored Neutrogena balm.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.4; Cheeks - 4.9; Lower lip & chin - 4.7; Under jawline - 4.6; Neck - 4.6.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.64, Irritation-4.6, Wounds-4.9

Summary rating4.70**  A really good shave!!  Wow!  :-)

The previous two shaves have been so good, I'm doing it again with the Lord L.6 and today's sixth-use GWS blade. Three passes and just a little fussing ended in a pretty good shave with just three of the most minor weepers. Again finished with a cool-water rinse and application of Gillette balm (blue bottle).

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.8; Lower lip & chin - 4.7; Under jawline - 4.3; Neck - 4.7.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.50, Irritation-4.6, Wounds-4.0

Summary rating4.40**

Rimei RM2003 head on the Merkur
Classic handle.
For the final shave with this week's GWS blade, I used the RM2003 from Rimei. Three careful passes with some fussing gave a close shave but some new weepers, which disappeared with some judicious rinsing and a few dabs with some TP. Finished with a cool-water rinse, witch hazel splash, some tea-tree lotion, and Gillette gel (blue bottle).

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.9; Lower lip & chin - 4.5; Under jawline - 4.4; Neck - 4.4.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.44, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-4.0

Summary rating4.22**  (A good shave but not the best of the week.)

*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. Looks like you got through the week with one blade? Better than what I managed before it started pulling.

  2. I attribute the longevity of my blades in part to obsessive care. After each day's shave I rinse and thoroughly pat dry the blade, and thoroughly dry the razor as well.

  3. I attribute the longevity of my blades in part to obsessive care. After each day's shave I rinse and thoroughly pat dry the blade, and thoroughly dry the razor as well.