Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Voskhod Blade, a Pre-War Tech, and Two-Pass Shaves

This has been an interesting shaving week. This week's blade was the Teflon-coated Voskhod blade, which like most Russian-made blades (in my experience) is sharp and durable. After a full seven days of use (and my usual obsessive drying after the shave), it remained sharp with some life left.

Every week I feel a little guilty putting a not-fully-used-up blade in the recycle bank, but, as I've written many times, trying to extract the last good use from a blade after seven shaves makes the usage bookkeeping too difficult, so I call it good after seven and move on.

This coming week's blade is a German-made Wilkinson Sword blade.

A generous reader was kind enough to send me a pre-war (presumably; there are no date codes on this one) Gillette Tech razor to try. Unfortunately, it arrived with its bubble-wrap-lined paper envelope torn, and through which the handle was apparently lost in the mail. The good news is that the two-piece razor head was still enclosed. When I return it, I will use packaging more bullet proof to ensure the safe return of what remains.

I plan to alternate shaves between the Tech and my other favored razor heads, the Merkur Classic (33C), the Lord L.6, and the Rimei RM2003. So every other day I'll be using the Tech. Eyeballing the Tech razor head with blade installed and comparing it to my just-mentioned favorites, I would estimate that, compared to the 33 and the L.6, the blade exposure and span are slightly more aggressive on the Tech, and, not surprisingly, I would also characterize its shaves as slightly more aggressive than both. (Correction: I think the span on the L.6 might be bigger and the Tech, but because the exposure on the L.6 is less, this accounts for the slightly-milder shave of the L.6 -- though both are mild when compared to many other razors.)

I've only had two shaves with the Tech, and both were close, producing a couple of weepers -- even on the first pass, which is unusual for me -- and even with a final-use blade. I haven't yet done back-to-back-day comparison shaves with the Tech and the Rimei, but I expect their shave characters to be similar; they certainly seem to have similar blade-edge positioning when I eyeball them side by side.

Tomorrow, with the fresh Wilkinson blade, I'll be using the Merkur. Then the Tech, of course, on Monday, and likely the Rimei on Tuesday. I'll be sure to report on this, so stay tuned.

This week I've been again experimenting with shave-pass sequence; that is, either a two-pass (with grain, then against grain) pre-work shave, when I'm pressed for time, or a three-pass shave, with grain, then against grain, then across grain. This has been working well for me and I plan to continue this pattern for a while.

Well, I guess that's it for now. I've got to get a good breakfast before my 8:45 tennis match. Happy shaving!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Weekly Shave Reivew: Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, Personna Blue, & More

After a week of shaves with my Merkur Classic razor stowed in the closet, and tiring of the nicks and minor cuts that I've been getting from my too-quick morning shaves before  work, I pulled out a very mild razor from the closet shoebox, the Weishi 9306-F TTO. I took a couple of three-pass shaves with the Weishi, and got satisfactory results. Of course, my complaint with the Weishi always was the same as that with the Merkur Classic: I could get a nearly-smooth shave in three passes, but not the baby-smooth-in-all-directions smoothness that I love.

Yet there is something to be said for having a shave that doesn't have to be like walking on eggs, afraid at any moment for a nick, cut, or weeper. The Weishi did the job, but left a bit of unnecessary residual irritation. This is why I appreciated the Merkur Classic: I could get an easy, safe shave that was nearly completely smooth even against the grain, and with no skin irritation. I realized that I missed the old, familiar instrument; it may actually be true that absense makes the heart grow fonder.

So I made a new decision. I decided that on work days, when I have no need for the absolute closest of shaves, the Weishi would be good enough, but the Merkur Classic would be better. So back into the shoe box went the Weishi and out came the Merkur Classic -- once again taking its proper place in my bathroom cabinet as my work-day go-to razor. And actually, not even just on going-to-work days; this morning's shave was very satisfying, and I was very happy to have the old Classic back in hand.

This week was also one in which I returned to the familiar USA-made Personna Super (lab-blue) blade. It remains a blade to rely on: sharp, comfortable, durable, and not at all expensive. After a week of shaves, it still had several good shaves in it, but as is my custom, after a full week of shaves, the blade goes into the recycle bank so that I have simple razor-blade-use tracking: every Sunday gets a new blade.

This coming week is once again a Voskhod PTFE-coated (Teflon) blade from the sample pack I bought months ago.

By the way, this morning I made the perfect shaving lather from my Grandad's shave soap for sensitive skin. Normally because I'm in a hurry before work, I make lather that's just a bit wet, which is perfectly fine; I get a good, slick coating and the outcome is uneventful.

However, today, took the time to start with my brush not quite so heavily loaded with water. I had the luxury on a non-work day to add water to my lathering bowl by shaking a few drops at a time off my fingers that I had dipped into the water-filled cup that I initially used to wet the brush in preparation for lathering. The result was an extra-rich, stiffer-than-normal lather. It didn't make any difference in the shave, but it was just slightly more a luxurious experience.

That's it for now.  Happy shaving!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The 15-Minute, Three-Pass Shave

Since I've gone back to a nine-to-five job (actually seven-- to thee thirty), I've been shaving quicker.

On a typical morning, I'll put my old-fashioned oatmeal with a frozen-berry medly in the microwave (on half power) for 12 minutes. Then it's off the bathroom for my morning shave.

In 12 minutes, I typically get in three passes, but about then the microwave beeps done, and while the oatmeal cools, I do my clean-up routine, which takes another couple of minutes. That includes disassembling the razor and press drying the blade with a square of TP (as I mentioned in my last post), drying the razor with the TP as well, then squeezing out the lather from my brush into my lathering bowl, then generally tidying up the bowl, and stowing my gear until tomorrow.

My shaves have been close, but I've had the occasional nick or minor cut due to haste. I'm getting better, however.

Oh, and if you're curious about the breakfast, to the oatmeal and cooked berries I add a pre-cooked legumes from the refrigerator -- usually I prefer chickpeas or black beans because they are relatively tasteless -- to supplement the grain and get my full compliment of essential amino acids. Then I add a couple of tablespoons of ground flax seeds, which provides an adequate amount of the essential omega-three fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid, and then a handful of raisins. I usually top off this delightful mixture with some oat milk.  Mmmmm.

Happy shaving!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

More on Gillette Slim and Merkur Vs. Personna Blades

Regarding the Slim....

Gillette Slim Adjustable made in 1963
Yesterday morning I wrote that I was keeping the Gillette Slim Adjustable razor in the cabinet as an as-I-feel-like-it alternative to my new BFF razor head, the Lord L.6 and the next-in-line Rimei RM2003. Yet after considering yesterday's shave with the Lord L.6 on a heavy handle and comparing that to the Slim's shave of the previous day, the inexpensive three-piece Lord design is noticeably less irritating -- so much so, that the Slim went back into the closet shave box; I'm only keeping it as a keep-sake in remembrance of my dad -- for the time being anyway; I may auction it at some point.

Lord L.6 razor head on the Maggard MR3B handle
So the shifting sands of my preferences continue, and my two bathroom-cabinet razor heads (for my beard) are simply the L.6 and the RM2003. For now I will use both on the heavy, fat Maggard MR3B handle.

I do still keep the tame Merkur open-comb razor, the 15C, in the cabinet for when I feel the need to trim up my hairline at the back of my head and the hair on the back of my neck.
The Personna lab-blue blade is sharper, smoother, and less
expensive than the Merkur Platinum blade, IMO.


Blades Merkur Vs. Personna

This morning's shave was with a fresh Personna Super blade, the lab-blue with the so-called comfort coating. After last week with the Merkur blade, I wrote that it was as good but more expensive than Personnas. Today I amend that by saying the Personna is better -- and this isn't even my favorite Personna, which is the red label from Israel. I think the lab-blue blade is sharper and smoother than the Merkur.

So there's no way I would purchase the more expensive Merkur blade.

Those are my thoughts for today. Happy shaving!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

New Sheriff in Town and the Merkur Platinum Blade

What's in the Cabinet...

There's been a changing of the guard; there's a new sheriff in town. For over a year I've been proclaiming the Merkur Classic razor, the model 33C, as my favorite. Yet this week I've moved it to the shaving box in my closet: banished. It hasn't done anything wrong; it still gives a mild shave, very face friendly. Yet it doesn't shave as closely as my Lord L.6 razor head or my Rimei RM2003. So I traded its space in the cabinet and substituted the Gillette Slim Adjustable razor once again.

In my first shave of the week with the Slim, I started with a setting of five (out of nine). That was too aggressive for my skin and its topography, so by the third pass I had dialed back to three, which is about right for me. The Slim gave me the slightly-closer shave that I can't quite get with the Merkur unless I press a bit too much, thus making bad shaving habits. However, the shave was a bit harsh, leaving my skin slightly irritated -- not enough to show, but I could feel it.

So this morning using the same blade but in the Lord L.6 razor head with a heavy Maggard MR3B handle (yes, I pulled that back out of the closet as well), I got a shave with the same closeness, but with less irritation.

So the Lord L.6 is my new BFF, with the Rimei RM2003 and the Gillette Slim as in-bathroom-cabinet back up.

The Week's Shaves with the Merkur Platinum Blade

I found the Merkur Platinum blade to be as good as my Personna (lab blue and red label) or my Astra Superior Platinum. I got a week's worth of fine shaves, with no significant degradation of shave quality. (Do remember, however, that I'm obsessive about blade care. After each shave I remove the blade, and, with a square of TP, press dry both sides of the blade while it's sitting on a dry wash cloth -- no wiping, just a gentle press dry. I'm convinced that this reduces micro oxidation at the blade edge, contributing to better blade life. I also dry the razor with the same TP square to contribute to razor life as well.)

But would I buy the Merkur blades instead of just trying samples that came with my Merkur razors? No. The reason is that they are too expensive. I can get the same results with the above-mentioned competitor blades for less investment. I'm always the frugal shaver, an economic man.

Next week I'm back to the US-made Personna lab-blue blade from my regular stock.

Well, that's it for today. Happy shaving!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Catching Up

I've been away working a new office job, which has eaten up my time and motivation for doing daily Grandad posts.

Yet I have been enjoying my daily shaves. Last week was the made-in-India Gillette 7 O'clock blade, which I found to be more than adequate, but with a tendency to nip a bit.

I have been shaving with my Lord L.6 razor head with increasing regularity. It is not quite as mild as my Merkur Classic, but I get a closer shave, which I like a lot. With the L.6, I just have to be more careful so it doesn't open weepers or nick on the second and third passes.

This week's blade was the SuperMax Titanium, and today I got the final shave of the week using the Rimei RM2003 razor. This is a blade of which I have a large inventory, and though not the smoothest of my blade cache, it isn't a bad blade, and I got some very good shaves in the second half of the week.

Tomorrow I'm using one of the sample Merkur blades that came with one of my Merkur razors. I avoided using these blades for the longest time because they're kind of pricy to purchase, I have other blades that I think are just fine, and so I thought, what's the point? I believe I've used one of the Merkur blades previously, but off the top of my head I don't remember how I felt about it. I may have written a review on it, but I don't want to take the time to look just now.

I've developed a routine razor rotation lately. Typically on Sunday and Monday, with the first two shaves of the week on the blade, I'll use the Merkur Classic. Tuesday through Thursday are often shaves using the L.6 razor head with the Merkur Classic handle. Then the last couple of shaves of the week are with the RM2003 razor head again with the Merkur Classic handle. This routine allows me to store just the various razor heads in my bathroom cabinet and use the single handle for all.

I have also many times mentioned that I keep the Merkur 15C open-comb razor and handle in the cabinet for use when the back of my head and neck starts to look too raggedy, and I'll shave the hairline and neck using bath soap and water as a shave lubricant.

By the way, if you were one of those who ordered a sample of my shave soap, please email me your comments if possible. I'm trying to decide whether there's sufficient interest for me to offer a three- or four-ounce puck for purchase. If you might like one of the remaining samples, there are just a few still available, and info on that can be found here.

A local antique emporium has a couple of single-edge razors for sale -- a Gem and an Ever-Ready. I was tempted to try the brass Ever-Ready (the Gem looked to have a bent guard comb), but took a pass for now because the blades are available in only limited variety, are more expensive than DE blades, and the razor is probably too aggressive to be right for my face. But it was quite a temptation; RAD is still an issue against which I continue to struggle. For now, another bullet dodged.

That's it for now. Happy shaving!