Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Gillette Slim Adjustable Seen with Fresh Eyes

I have opened my mind, and then re-opened my eyes and taken a fresh look at my Gillette Slim Adjustable razor.

To finally evaluate this fine instrument fairly I had to give up several prejudices, which are listed below:

  • I had to abandon the concept of the three-pass shave as standard
  • I recognized that when this razor was designed and sold, a one-pass shave was (and still should be, in my opinion) considered a standard shave
  • Despite my sensitive skin, I had to become open to making a first pass with grain using a more aggressive razor or an adjustable razor on a more aggressive setting than I would use making multiple passes with a single razor
  • I had to become committed to using short, slow, oblique shaving strokes
  • I had to become comfortable with my usual shave having only two complete passes (with grain, then against grain)
As I've written before, when I'm wrong I'm wrong (a Yogi-Berra-ism?). So here are a list of things on which I have misjudged and unfairly maligned the Slim:
  • When used properly, it does not shave unduly harshly 
  • Its lowest, least-aggressive setting can work well as a finishing razor
  • It can give a completely adequate shave when making only a single, with-grain pass (that is, in my definition, a standard shave)
The irony of this whole realization is that my Slim was inherited from my father, and was my first double-edge razor. Since that time, I have acquired many other razors. Yet, I now believe that if I were better informed when I first received the Slim, I would have never had to acquire any others.

Today I used my Super-Max Titanium blade for its twelfth shave! My first pass was with gain and had the Slim set on six (of nine), shaving in an anti-raking stroke pattern. That initial pass was adequate for going about my business of the day, though I did open a weeper or two. I do like a closer shave, however, so I dialed the Slim back to a setting of one and made a second pass largely against grain, and then made some touch-up strokes on my chin, jawline and upper neck.

Minor irritation was addressed with my favorite after-shave astringent, which is a tea-tree lotion, followed by moisturizer, and capped with a bit of Aqua Velva Ice Blue lotion.

Tomorrow I'm going to repeat this shave with the Slim dialed back to five for the first pass, which may be the ideal initial setting for my face and beard.

Happy shaving!


  1. Okay, I see why you use the Slim as the aggressive razor in your two-razor shave -- it's overclocked. Which I would agree is the correct configuration, but my survey of Gillette marketing indicates the blade lifter is nearly flush with the baseplate on "factory" setting 1.

    Confusion can be traced all the way back to the origin, however, as a German instruction diagram seems to show BOTH ranges -- "1" in the lewer range (note edge of blade resting on baseplate), and "9" in the higher range (baseplate aligned right next to the side clips).

    It seems to me the design intends user selection, but marketers didn't know what to make of it.

  2. It's unfortunate that the Slim on "1" in the upper range isn't quite mild enough for your taste, because the range change is too much of a pain to be doing with a blade in the razor and soapy wet hands.

    Another one-razor option would be to untwist the Weishi slightly. Lots of people think the Super Speeds were meant to be adjusted that way, and that tradition goes all the way back to the Old Type.