Saturday, August 1, 2015

Saturday Summary: Razor & Blade Evaluations on Shifting Sands

As you may already know, given my delicate dermis and wiry but only moderately-dense facial/neck hair, I've come to settle on the best razors for my skin and beard, which are the following Techs and Tech imitations (paired, by the way, with virtually any handle that has good knurling; I'm currently just alternating between two vintage Gillettes: the c. 1948 ball end and the 1965 stubby travel handle):
Don't build a house here.

  • c.1948 Tech
  • 1965 Tech
  • modern Rimei RM2003
As far as blades go, my list of preferred blades includes the following and more:
  • Personna reds
  • Bluebirds (though pricey, and if ever again available)
  • Gillette Silver Blue (also pricey)
  • Personna Super (lab blue)
  • Astra Superior Platinum
In fact, about the only coated blade that I've tried that I strongly dislike is Derby Extra. 

I'm firm and confident in my razor preferences. Yet I've come to mistrust my own previous preferences about blades -- especially my recent experiences. Can you guess why?
Three legs of gear for a good shave: razor,
blade, and lather.

Here's a clue: the basic gear for a shave is a three-legged stool (it's a metaphor, not a literal statement). If one keeps changing the third leg of his stool, the sitting experience is going to vary.

That's exactly what I've been doing lately. I've become so comfortable with my razors and the two-pass shaves that I've been taking, that I've turned away from a consistent, daily use of my own Grandad's shave soap for sensitive skin.

After all, Grandad's shave soap is anything but pretentious. It has no fragrance. Though it lathers easily, it doesn't explode with deep lather like, say, Arko does. It just does the job of facilitating a good shave over sensitive skin.

So lately, being uber comfortable and confident in my choice of razor, I've returned to using random combinations of shave sticks on a daily basis including Arko and, perhaps more significantly, Palmolive.

So for most of the last two weeks, I was evaluating a Rapira Platinum Lux blade, but varying my brand and mixture of shave lather (mixture due to the saved, dried lather left in the un-rinsed brush)  -- forgetting that some lathers provide a different and inferior shave experience. Some of my Rapira shaves were a bit irritating. But it occurs to me now, was this due to blade or lather?

I've been trying to level my house on shifting sands (another metaphor). I quickly forget that it's a three-legged stool: razor, blade, and lather. (And yes, I know, there's also technique, beard prep, and other factors, but I'm talking about choices of product/gear at the moment.)

So I was going to write today about the Rapira blade being sharp but not the smoothest-shaving edge in the cabinet. But now I have to ask, or is it? My slightly-irritating shaves may have been due to mediocre lather formulations, not the blade at all. I can't say because I wasn't recording the soap product that I was using for the shaves that were less than ideal.

Ah, well, live and learn. At least I got eleven full days of use from the Rapira blade. And this morning I'm back to the third shave with the Dorco ST-300, which I foolishly arm stropped prior to first use.

More shifting sands.

Happy shifting shaving!


  1. I don't think those legs carry quite the same weight. From my washed-up edge maintenance trials, contrasted with prolonged use of a freely degrading edge, I'd say that two of those legs are edge and technique. (Straight razors are all about the former, but there's enough play in a safety razor to work with just about any flat piece of steel, at least if you're willing to leave a little shadow.) The over-engineered razors from about mid-century are just damaging one of the stool's feet.

  2. I like the Rapira Platinum lux blades but they were to sharp for me at least I think that was the case. They caused some irritation. The Personna Reds and Vikings sword blades seem to do the best for me. I liked bluebirds but after a lot of testing I had to even say they weren't as good as personna red.