Saturday, October 31, 2015

Saturday Summary: Third Quick Shave, 15th Shave on Bluebird Blade

Today was the 15th shave on a Bluebird blade. Though currently difficult to find, it is a performer. However, the good news is that my favorite blade remains the Israeli-made Personna Platinum-Chrome Stainless (the red label blade), which I find to be optimally sharp, comfortable, and durable.

I have been testing a shave technique that I call the quick shave. Today was my third shave this week using this technique.

It's relatively quick because it only involves lathering the face with a brush once, doesn't rinse the razor much during the shave, and only uses one razor and blade -- though there is more than one pass involved.

Because the first pass is with-grain oblique buffing, I prefer to use a mild razor such as a post-WWII Tech, a Lord LP1822L (which has the L.6 razor head), Merkur 33C, or Rimei RM2003.


I apply a not-too-thick coating of a rich shave lather on a wet beard, and buff the first pass using an anti-raking stroke pattern. I don't take the time to rinse the lather off the razor, and simply complete the first pass leaving much lather in the razor and on my shaven face.

Then I wet my hand and re-moisten the lather still on my face, re-spreading it evenly and thinly on my beard and neck. Then I take my second pass across or against grain as appropriate using oblique strokes and again with an anti-raking pattern.

This morning I repeated the re-wetting of my face and took some clean-up strokes under my jaw line.

In all it was a leisurely-paced shave that still only took about 13 minutes including set up and clean up.

It was a moderately-close shave that was also comfortable and perfect for a Saturday.

Happy shaving!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Best of Grandad: You May Have a Problem with Your Shaving Hobby if....

You may have a problem with your shaving hobby if....

  • You own more razors than pairs of socks
  • You shave more regularly than you shower
  • You fantasize more about shaving than you fantasize about your significant other
  • Your friends complain when you discuss shaving and shaving gear
  • You have a razor-blade inventory that will last ten years -- for you and all your friends -- and you're still buying sampler packs
  • You go to all your favorite on-line shaving forums more frequently than you read the daily news
  • You can't wait for the holidays.... to give shaving gifts to your friends
  • You shave more than once per day.... because you want to
  • You have constant, visible razor burn
  • You have found the perfect razor, blade, and shave-prep combination.... and you still want to try more gear
  • Your facial skin is irritated.... from you admiring your shave with your hand
  • You admire photos of shaving lather posted on the Internet
  • You snuggle with your significant other only so she can appreciate the closeness of your shave
  • Your shaving supplies overflow from the bathroom into one or more closets
  • You have specially-built shaving-gear racks in your bathroom.... one for razors, one for brushes, one for after shave... 
  • You always walk down the shaving aisle in a store to see if there are any new products
  • Family members, when you are discussing your shaving, gently turn the conversation to 12-step programs
What are the other signs that someone may have a problem with their shaving hobby?

Happy shaving!  ;-D

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Quick Shave

For the past two days I've done a quick shave, which is a variation on the standard (one-pass, with-grain) shave. The quick shave is characterized by the following aspects:

  • Simple beard wetting with splashes of cool tap water
  • Face lathering only once
  • First pass of oblique buffing, with grain, in an anti-raking stroke pattern
  • Face re-wetted with tap water but not re-lathered for second, clean up pass (there is enough residual slickness from the first lathering to give a good clean-up pass)
  • Clean-up pass done across and against grain with same razor as first pass
Both shaves were done with rather mild tech-type razors; today's shave, specifically, was done with the Rimei RM2003 razor, which is a modern version of the old Gillette Tech.

The outcome was a comfortable, fairly quick shave that was close enough to look good all day.

The shave was topped off with after-shave lotion to smell nice, and then some fragrance-free moisturizer for skin conditioning.

Happy shaving!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sharpologist, Finishing Razors, and Two-rrific!

If you missed my article on Friday, October 23, 2015 that was published on, you can read it here:

There is one minor correction I would like to make in that article, which I discovered after I had written it. It deals with the Weishi 9306-F one-piece razor (that is, it's a TTO design). In that article and in other places I have stated or implied that the 9306 shaves the same as others that are visually identical. This list of 9306 twins includes the Dorco Prime, Van Der Hagen, and MicroTouch One razors.

I can confirm that though visually indistinguishable, the Dorco and Weishi one-piece razors are not identical. The Weishi is milder, and is therefore a better finishing razor, while the Dorco is a better all-purpose instrument.

Since I haven't had the pleasure of actually shaving with the Van Der Hagen or MicroTouch razors, I can't comment on their specific shaving characters.

This morning, following my own advice as presented on, I had a two-rrific shave. I used my c.1948 Gillette Tech for the first, with-grain pass, and the Weishi 9306-F for the final, against-grain, finishing pass and clean-up strokes. For the entire shave I used a tenth-use Bluebird blade.

This morning's shave was excellent, top drawer. Close, comfortable, and good looking (how could it not be?) All I needed to put a capstone on the shave was some after-shave lotion to smell good, and some unscented moisturizing lotion to help keep father time at bay.

Hope your shave this morning was every bit as good.

Happy shaving!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Multi-Bladed Cartridge Razors versus Double-Edged Razors

There is a reason that the pivoting, multi-bladed cartridge razors exist. The reason is not as simple as the cold-hearted greed of western razor developers, who seek to develop new, patent-protected products to thwart direct competition and thereby keep profit margins high -- though that is what many would have you believe.

It is true that cartridge-razor sellers do try to maximize profits (of course!), but it is by offering razors that will have unique features and benefits that their customers will appreciate.

The fact is that Gillette and others do extensive product research and development, and that includes panels of shaving testers, who evaluate and compare existing products to new ones being considered for release to the public. The panels of test shavers evaluate these products and truly find them (that is, the ones that make it into the stores) superior in enough aspects that the razor marketers feel confident selling these new-and-improved products.
The Dorco Pace-7 razor:
the world's first seven-bladed design.

What makes the two-, three-, four-, five, and even seven-bladed cartridge razors superior in some respects is the concept of hysteresis, which is the dependence of a system's output on past and present inputs. In terms of the multi-bladed cartridge razor heads, this hysteresis is a blade in the razor that first arrives at a hair shaft extending the hair outward as it cuts, and subsequent blades engaging the hair shaft before it can retract completely into the skin. This sequential extending and trimming of a hair with a single razor stroke allows the blades to be positioned in the razor head so that they generally have very light contact with the skin surface. Further, pivoting-head designs have evolved so that it is very easy for the user to maintain the razor head in optimal orientation on the skin for the best shave. These same pivoting features make it difficult for the user to exert enough force of cartridge against skin to make the shave unduly hazardous or harsh.

All in all, this means these cartridge razors give a very good shave in a single pass.

That doesn't mean that they are without drawbacks, however. They can be pricey. They can clog easily and be difficult to unclog. They may have a shorter useful life span than one would prefer in order to get the best utility from the investment in the instrument. They are also made of plastic, are disposable by design, are not recyclable, and therefore have a small but negative environmental impact. [UPDATE: They also tend to encourage in-grown hairs.]

They also make getting a close, comfortable shave easy -- no challenge at all. Many men -- most probably -- would see this as a benefit. To others, who enjoy the game of seeing how good of a shave they can get due to their own skill, this virtually-guaranteed, easy, comfortable shave is something of a drawback. It turns the morning shave from a focused, zen-like minor challenge, a daily game, into a quick, mindless, boring daily chore.

Now I, for one, am a confirmed double-edged-razor user. I think it's fun and a small daily challenge to see how good my shave can be (and it's always adequate). I also like the economy of the process as well as the fact that my razors will last virtually forever, and the blades are both long lasting and recyclable.

Is double-edged shaving for everyone? I don't believe so. It clearly does have its place in the market, however -- as do the various cartridge-razor options. As the old saying goes: you pays your money and you takes your choice.

Happy shaving!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Starting Sideways

The planned cross-grain, single-pass shave didn't work out well despite my slow, careful, oblique strokes. It was a bit more harsh than I'd hoped. I did half my face using that method, then returned to the trusty with-grain pass to complete the first one. This was all with the seventh-use Bluebird blade in my c.1948 Gillette Tech.

Then wanting a little better shave, I took a second pass, all cross grain, to finish the shave.

Tomorrow it's the same gear and with-grain first pass. I may stop there with a standard shave, or I may again take a second pass, cross grain like today with the same razor.

I capped today's shave with a bit of alum on my lower neck, where irritated from the cross-grain start. Then a bit of Aqua Velva musk after shave, topped with some moisturizer.

Not a bad shave despite the weak start.

Happy shaving!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Today's L.6-9306 Two-Pass Shave

Paradoxically, today's shave, which was basically the same process as yesterday -- the only differences being 1) the Lord L.6 razor head for the first pass rather than the Merkur 33, and 2) using far fewer buffing strokes in that first pass --  was not as close, and created just the slightest bit of irritation.

It was still a good shave -- just not great.

What I make of this outcome is that the L.6, having a larger blade-bar span, allows more contact between the blade edge and the skin surface, which likely riles the skin to a slightly greater degree. The slight irritation caused me to not work as diligently on the final pass with the Weishi 9306-F, thus reducing the closeness of the shave.

Tomorrow I will use the same blade, the seventh use of the Bluebird, in my c.1948 Gillette Tech. The plan is to make a single pass, but this time that pass will be cross grain.

The focus of this plan is optimize the standard shave, which is a single-pass shave. The key to tomorrow's approach is using a medium-mild razor with roughly cross-grain, oblique strokes.

More to come. Stay tuned.

Happy shaving!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Redefining a Great Shave

Some of us, who have prioritized a baby-smooth shave as the ideal, the goal, we have paid a price. We of the sensitive skin have paid for our incredibly rewarding to the hand, close shaves with burning skin, wounds, occasional rash, and countless after shave treatments to try to mitigate those costs of our daily obsession.

The other day I applied most of my skin-calming methods after a particularly rough shave, and these included the following:

  • Witch hazel rub
  • Alum block rub
  • Styptic pencil application
  • After-shave lotion
  • After shave balm
  • Skin moisturizer
Today, on the other hand, I had a great shave that required nothing really. I just applied some Aqua Velva after-shave lotion for its bouquet, and then some unscented moisturizer as a nod to father time.

What made this shave great was that it was close enough to feel rewarding when rubbed with a hand, but there was no irritation, no wounds -- none at all.

I achieved this outcome with a slight switch in gear. The shave began with the Bluebird blade that I've used for the previous four days. Nothing remarkable about that. In fact, I've found this particular blade to be sharp and irritating in the preceding shaves. The difference was in the first-pass razor.

Today for the first pass, I returned to the venerable old friend, the Merkur 33C Classic. An extremely mild shaver, I was able to make the entire first pass using oblique buffing strokes, with grain of course, but using an anti-raking stroking pattern; that is, stroking out of rather than into the lather.

Then for my second, final pass and a few additional touch-up strokes, I used the mild Weishi 9306-F against grain.

The outcome was very much close enough, and simply very clean and healthy feeling. No burn, no irritation. It was the very definition of a great shave. 

Tomorrow I will try a similar shave using the slightly-more-aggressive Lord L.6 razor head for the first pass. I will not likely do as much buffing due to the L.6's larger blade-bar span, but everything else will be about the same. The burning questions are whether this shave will be closer, and will the irritation be as low? Stay tuned.

Happy shaving!

Friday, October 16, 2015

From the Crash and Burn Department: Feathers Don't Fly for Me

After today's shave -- the second with the current Feather blade -- my Weishi-Dorco razor-comparison experiment has temporarily ground to a halt. The reason is the blade.

Yesterday's maiden shave with this latest Feather blade was a two-pass event, both with my mildest of mild razors, the Weishi 9306-F. The shave left my skin irritated and with a weeper on my chin. After stropping the first-use Feather on my oiled palm, I put it in the Dorco Prime razor ready for the next day's (today's) first pass. Then today after the initial pass with the Dorco Prime, the blade went back into the 9306 for the finishing pass.

I had hoped today's shave would be more face friendly due to several factors:
  • The blade might have become ever-so-slightly less sharp due to the minor wear and tear of the initial shave.
  • The blade might have become slightly more smooth due to the oiled-palm stropping that it received after its first use.
  • The first pass today was made with the Dorco Prime razor, which, though mild, is seemingly slightly more aggressive than its fraternal twin, the ultra-mild 9306, and this first pass might have knocked off just a bit more stubble, leaving less to be removed with the finishing, against-grain pass.
  • The finishing pass was made with the 9306, which is the mildest razor I own, and is usually a fine instrument for the second of two passes.
Unfortunately, none of these factors seemed to help enough. My shave this morning was a poor one, with much irritation, and several weepers.

To try to remediate my injured dermis, I went to the following lengths after today's shave:
  1. After the initial cool-water rinse, I applied alum to try to calm the skin and stop the minor bleeding of the weepers. The skin felt more calm, but the weepers continued to weep.
  2. So I applied styptic pencil to the wounds, which did dry them right up, but left my skin feeling uncomfortably stiff and tight.
  3. Then after cleaning my razors and blade, I applied a rub of witch hazel to my face and neck.
  4. Then after the witch hazel dried I applied a rub of my preferred after shave lotion, which is a nice smelling tea-tree mixture.
  5. Then after that dried, I rubbed on some strong-smelling Gillette after-shave gel -- the ubiquitous one in the blue plastic bottle.
  6. Then after that dried, I rubbed in some 3-in-1 moisturizing lotion, and I did this several times in the following hour.
After about two-and-a-half hours, things calmed down leaving only the slightest residual sense of irritation. However, this morning's proceedings convinced me to ditch from my rotation all the blades that I know will give me an uncomfortable shave. This includes Feather, Gillette Wilkinson Sword, Wilkinson Sword, Derby Extra, and Gillette 7 O'clock (black).

For tomorrow's shave, I took out one of my few remaining new Bluebird blades and put that into the c.1948 Gillette Tech. With that set up I will take a standard shave (single pass with grain), and then depending on how my face feels, I'll either stop with that, or take a final pass with the Bluebird in the 9306.

Happy shaving!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Weishi Versus Dorco Prime, Day 2

Yesterday I made a two-pass (with grain, then against) shave with the Dorco Prime razor using a Personna Super blade for its 19th and final use. In only two passes, with no extra clean-up strokes, the shave was surprisingly close, and more than I expected from the Dorco Prime razor.

Today, I pulled out the Weishi 9306-F, the fraternal twin to the Dorco Prime, and I put in a new Feather blade and took the same two-pass shave. Despite the new Feather blade, the shave required some touch up below my jaw line and on my mid and upper neck.

That done, the shave was almost as close as yesterday's with the Dorco Prime. Interestingly, there was as much lingering irritation a few minutes after the shave today as there was yesterday -- perhaps even a touch more on my lower neck.

I suspect that the likely slightly-greater mildness of the Weishi 9306, rendered the shave not as close despite the post-second-pass strokes. The irritation of yesterday I would be tempted to attribute to the combination of the old Personna blade in the Dorco; the old blade may be slightly irritating and, additionally, may not be an ideal combination with the Dorco as a finishing razor. Today's irritation I would think is due to the Feather blade itself, which I've never found ideal for my skin, in combination with the possibility that the Weishi is taking a smaller bit on the first pass, thus leaving just a bit too much stubble to make a comfortable second pass.

The experiment continues tomorrow testing these preliminary conclusions. Tomorrow I will start with the Feather blade in the Dorco Prime razor, then will go into the Weishi 9306-F for the finishing pass. My expectation is that this shave will be closer than today's and slightly more comfortable. My reasoning is that the Dorco will remove a bit more beard on the first pass than today, making the finishing pass more comfortable with the Weishi. The question for which I have no preliminary answer is whether the Weishi as a finishing razor can get close enough under my jaw line and on my upper neck to eliminate the need for additional clean-up strokes.

Again stay tuned, same bat time, same bat channel.  Happy shaving!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Weishi Versus Dorco Prime: A Closer Look and Another Trial

This morning I had a two-pass shave with the Dorco Prime one-piece razor. It happened to also be the nineteenth shave on a Personna Super (lab blue) blade. The shave outcome was surprisingly close -- and without any touch-up strokes beyond the second pass! Visually the shave looked terrific, though I could feel some general skin irritation, which I am tempted to chalk up to a combination of the old blade and the close shave.

This shave got me to thinking about the similarities and differences between the fraternal-twin razors, the Weishi 9306-F and the Dorco Prime.

Though slightly misaligned in this photo, when stood on end side by side, the
Dorco Prime and the Weishi 9306-F razors are the same length and visually
indistinguishable. So much so that I had to put a small square of blue tape
on the end of the Dorco to visually tell it from the Weishi. The only other
certain way to tell them apart is to weigh them.

These razors look identical from their size, design, finish -- even the slight disuniformity in the way the butterfly doors button down. Yet they are clearly fraternal and not identical twins. Despite appearances, the Weishi is about one gram heavier (57g vs. 56g), and the Weishi butterfly doors open just a bit wider to give blade insertion and removal just a bit more room.

When both the Weishi and the Dorco razors are closed with blade, they both
have the same harmless closure quirk, in which the butterfly doors don't both
close to the same degree. This can be seen here in the right doors on both razors.

Yet what about their all-important design characteristics of blade reveal, exposure, angle, and blade-bar span? It is these aspects that will determine the bottom line, which is how they shave. Are those shaving characters the same or different? Based on today's reunion with the Dorco, I am tempted to say that they are different.

Eyeballing is unreliable, but I don't have really good alternatives, so for today, that will have to do. The blade reveal -- that is, how much of the blade is exposed outside the top cap -- is similar, but the Dorco Prime may, just possibly, have a slightly larger reveal. Unfortunately, assessing blade angle (in relation to the shave plane formed by the top cap and safety guard), blade exposure (how protected -- or not -- the blade is within the cove of the top cap and safety guard), and blade-guard span are difficult no matter what method at hand is used. For now, I'm not going to try.

I have to simply rely on my approximate-at-best assessment of the relative shaving characters of the razor. This morning, I rated the Dorco Prime razor as positive for the first pass, with grain, and neutral for the second, against-grain pass. This neutral rating was because I got a couple of pinpoint weepers, which would be unusual to get using the Weishi razor, which I think is the best finishing razor that I own. This is trending the opposite of how I prefer to use the Weishi, which is normally exclusively as a finishing razor on the against-grain pass and for subsequent touch-up strokes.

So the plan for the forseeable future (that is, the next few days) is to alternate from day to day between the Weishi and the Dorco TTO razors, using each as both a first-pass and finishing razor. From those shaves, I should be able to determine if they're about the same or if the Weishi is truly the milder of the two. That means that tomorrow the Weishi is at bat -- but equipped with a fresh Feather blade. Of course, I will continue to use the Feather blade until it nears the end of its useful life, the length of which will be determined in due time.

My prediction, my hypothesis, for this little razor experiment is that the Dorco is actually a slightly more aggressive razor than its legitimate fraternal twin, the Weishi 9306-F. (I use the term legitimate because both razors are likely made by the Weishi factory, but only the Weishi carries its actual manufacturer's name.)

Stay tuned. Happy shaving!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Aesthetics of Razor-Handle Combinations

Many users of three-piece double-edge razors use a non-original-equipment handle with their razor head for reasons of heft, balance, length, girth, grip or some combination of those characteristics.

I am on record as not caring much about weight or balance, the importance of which in the minds of others I tend to attribute to a lack of awareness of true razor-design characteristics that actually matter in determining the quality of a shave. (I could be mistaken, however, in that attribution; but that is still what I tend to believe.)

My current razor drawer: I like both the tidiness of it
and the variety in color and visual textures.

I choose my handles only on the basis of their grippiness in wet, soapy fingers and one other, as-yet-unnamed characteristic: aesthetic appeal.

I have to admit a certain affinity for the drama of contrasting intensities of color; I really like combinations such as black and tan, dark brown and beige, navy-blue suits with brown belt and shoes (a classic combination rapidly disappearing from public awareness) and, as it turns out, gold and chrome razors. Since I acquired my first vintage, gold-toned Gillette Tech razor (I own two) and began using its handle on my chrome-plated razor heads, I found that combination strangely appealing. So for no other reason than that I think it looks good, I will combine, as my whim dictates, a chrome-plated razor head with the gold-toned handle of the vintage Tech. I will also on occasion combine the gold-toned Tech razor head with the classic, knurled, chrome-plated handle of the Merkur 33C or 15C or, less frequently, with the chrome-and-black handle from the Maggard MR3B razor.

One of my favorite combinations: a chromed razor head on a gold-toned handle.
This open comb is the Merkur 15C and the handle is from a Gillette Tech c.1948.

This one goes the other way: the gold-toned
Tech head on a classic-sized Merkur handle.

Another visually-interesting combination is the lithe Tech head on
the massive, heavy, chrome-and-black Maggard MR3B handle.

Happy shaving!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Linking Razor Performance to Blade Used in Two-rriffic Shaves

Yesterday's article and this morning's very good shave gave me an idea for a new experiment. Yeah, sure, I gave you a list of razors that might work well on sensitive skin for a first-pass razor, or as an only-pass (standard shave) razor. But this morning, it also occurred to me that different blades work differently with various razors, and that I probably should start sorting that out.

So I've added a new wrinkle to my blade-wrapper record keeping. In addition to using hash marks to track the number of shaves on each blade, I'm also tracking the general character of the comfort of the blade when paired with different razor heads. For the comfort rating, I'm keeping it simple: it's either desirable or not.

The blade wrapper will now have the following information:

  • Month(s) and year of use
  • Hash marks representing the number of shaves  the blade completed
  • Two columns of razor head types
Each of the two columns listed on the blade wrapper represent either first-pass or finishing-pass use.

I've also added a couple of razor heads to the first-pass list. My first-pass list of razors now includes the following razors or razor heads (for three-piece razors, I'm only using one of two handles: the gold-toned, ball-end vintage Tech, and the Merkur classic handle, which comes with the 33C and 15C models):
  • Merkur 15C open comb
  • Rimei RM2003
  • Gillette Slim Adjustable (set to about four of nine)
  • Gillette Tech c.1948
  • Maggard, 1st generation straight-bar razor head
  • Weishi 9306-F
  • Lord L.6 razor head (from their LP1822L razor)
My candidates for the finishing pass remains very short and unchanged from yesterday's list:
  • Weishi 9306-F
  • Gillette Slim Adjustable (set to one of nine)
On the blade wrappers, I will simply put a plus (+) or minus (-) sign to rate the quality of the pass with that razor. The criteria for acceptability is rather simple: did I get a wound-free (or nearly so) shave with little to no irritation? If the answer is yes, then a plus sign is recorded; if no, then the razor-blade combination gets a minus sign for that shave.

The plan is to better specify which first- and finishing-pass razors perform best with which blades.

So far, the Merkur 15C open-comb razor has performed well with the Personna Super (lab-blue) blade in a one-pass or first-pass role. The 9306 was its usual self, working well as the closer. Others have not been as good for the first pass, though my memory is vague as to specifically which -- hence the justification for this new tracking. I'll keep you informed as appropriate.

Happy shaving!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Best 1-2 Razor Combinations for Sensitive Skin

If you love a close shave every day, but have found that your face won't tolerate three-pass shaves day after day, perhaps my two-rriffic shave concept is for you. The idea -- as I've explained previously -- is to use a mild/moderate razor for the first, with-grain pass, and a very mild finishing razor for the second, against-grain pass and any additional touch-up strokes.

But what razors to use?

If I were a newbie DE shaver on a budget, I would begin with my oft-recommended Rimei RM2003 razor for an investment of about US$5. This would be my first-pass razor -- and it would also be my only-pass razor as I began the process of learning to shave DE style.

Then as budget allowed, for a second-pass finishing razor I would get the Weishi 9306 razor or one of its twins such as the Dorco Prime razor. (Other apparent but unconfirmed twins to the Weishi 9306 are the Van Der Hagen and the MicroTouch One -- I feel like I'm forgetting one other, but maybe not.)

Razor candidates for 1-2 combinations include the following:

My personal favorites for first-pass razors:
  • Vintage Gillette adjustables set on three to six out of nine
  • Vintage Gillette Tech 
  • Rimei RM2003
  • Merkur 15C open comb
  • Maggard straight-bar razor head (first generation -- despite imperfect blade centering without adjustment)
  • Virtually any other mild-moderate razor -- the key aspect is that you can consistently shave with grain without irritation or wounds
My personal favorites for second-pass razors make an even shorter list:
  • Weishi 9306 or equivalent
  • Vintage Gillette adjustables set on one out of nine

Other one-razor, two-rriffic possibilities include the modern adjustables from Merkur, but since I've never used any of these, I don't know if they will adjust to a sufficiently-mild setting to be both a good first-pass and then an ideal finishing razor. Maybe those who use the Progress, Futur, or Vision razors can comment with their experience and perhaps compare the lowest setting on these razors to the Weishi 9306 or the Gillette adjustables set to their mildest option.

By the way, my two-rriffic shave this morning, with my 14th-use Personna Super in my Merkur 15C and the 9306, was a top-notch shave. 

Happy shaving!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Lucky 13th?

Today I had a nice shave with the 13th use of a Personna Super (lab blue) blade.

It was a two-pass shave with just a few extra touch-up strokes under the jaw line. The first pass was largely with grain using vertical, oblique strokes. The second pass was largely against grain, again using vertical, oblique strokes.

Post-war Gillette Tech for my first pass

As has become my custom, both full passes were made with an anti-raking-stroke pattern, in which the razor shaves from lather to the edge of the shaved area. This is the opposite of the common shaving pattern, in which the strokes start at the edge of the lather and stroke inward toward the unshaved area.

Mild-shaving Weishi 9306 one-piece as a finishing razor

This was also a two-rriffic shave, in which I used a c.1948 Gillette Tech for the first pass, and a Weishi 9306-F for the second pass and touch-up strokes.

It was a rewarding, close shave.

As usual, I put the blade away for tomorrow's shave after patting it dry and palm-stropping with an oiled palm.

Happy shaving!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tracking Blade Usage

Do you keep track of how many shaves you get from a blade?

For simplicity, I used to skip the bookkeeping and simply use a new blade every Sunday morning. (I shave daily.)

But as I realized that I had been recycling perfectly good blades with much life left in them, I decided to extract more usage out of each blade. Along with that, I wanted an idea of how many reasonable shaves I was getting from my various blades, so I developed a simple way to track shaves. I keep the paper blade wrapper in the bathroom cabinet along with a small pencil. With every shave, I add a hash mark on the wrapper, which I've already dated with month and year.

This way, I can easily keep a record of shaves on various blades just by keeping the old wrappers in a small envelope.

Because my daily shaves will vary between a standard shave (one pass, with grain) and up to 3-1/2 passes on occasion, I considered tracking passes instead of shaves. However, I felt that was too complicated, and decided to keep things simple as described above.

Happy shaving!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

On Badger and Synthetic Brushes

An anonymous commenter asked this:

"Speaking of sacred cows, what is your view on badger brushes i.e that they are best for lathering up your face. What about synthetic brushes?"

Opinions vary, and I've never used one of those wildly-expensive brushes; I own Van Der Hagen (VDH) boar, Tweezerman badger, and Omega Syntex synthetic-bristled brushes. All available for less that $15.

My opinion has changed over time, as well. My VDH brush was my first and favorite once the boar bristles were broken in, which yielded soft tips but still nice backbone to the knot. Then I liked the Tweezerman when I was still in my bowl-lathering phase because it wasn't a bit oversized as is the VDH, and it was soft. Then I went back and forth between the two.

My Omega Syntex is currently my favorite. Initially the bristles were coarse on my skin, but with use have become more face friendly. I now exclusively face lather, and the Syntex is very good for that. It holds water nicely (due to water tension; the bristles don't actually absorb water) but dries easily. It has lost next to no bristles over time, which I can't say about either the VDH or the Tweezerman.

Still, all three are fine. Yes, I prefer the Syntex. The Tweezerman badger doesn't have the backbone, the VDH is a bit large (bigger isn't necessarily better), and both lose the occasional bristle. The Syntex with its rather narrow-diameter knot, quick-drying, bristle-holding design is the one I like a little better. Though the past week or so, I've returned to the Tweezerman badger just for fun, and it's performing completely adequately.

Bottom line, I have several personal brush-buying rules:

  • No reason to pay even $20 for shaving brush.
  • Don't buy large brushes; they just make it more difficult to control the lather on my face.
  • Badger bristles can be soft, but are certainly not necessary and I don't consider them a luxury or a self indulgence. The really expensive ones I just chalk up to the temptation for a fool and his money.
  • I go for no-fuss, easy-care, get-the-job-done brushes at lower price-point regions. (I don't regret the purchase of any of my low-end brushes.)
Just one man's opinion.

Happy shaving!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Today's Shave: Number Ten on a Personna Super Blade

Today I went for a very close shave because I'm teaching an evening class and didn't want to have much of a shadow at that time.
I don't really wear a tie when I teach.

The shave began with my Personna Super (lab blue) blade with nine shaves already done. It went into my c.1948 Gillette Tech for the first pass with the grain of my beard. I used all oblique strokes in an anti-raking stroke pattern. The outcome was an acceptable standard shave: looked good but not rewarding to the hand, no wounds, no irritation.

Then I transferred the blade into my Weishi 9306-F imitation Super Speed razor, re-lathered, and took a second pass against the grain except, of course, for my upper lip, which I shaved cross grain. Again this was with oblique strokes and an anti-raking stroke pattern. The outcome was a close shave, with no wounds and no appreciable irritation.

The spirit moved me to go for the gold and take a third pass with the 9306, with oblique strokes in an anti-raking pattern. So I lathered for the final time. Though this pass was again entirely against the grain, many were coming from slightly different angles under my jaw line and on my chin to get the closest possible result.

The shave was close, but I did get a solitary weeper near my right cheek and some post-shave irritation which quieted down after less than an hour. (If I did a three-pass shave every morning, my face would soon become rather raw.) My after-shave skin treatment was a splash of witch hazel prior to cleaning up my razors and blade. After that I applied a splash of my tea-tree after-shave lotion, which has that very pleasant citrus bouquet. I capped the shave with a generous application of the Canadian-made three-in-one men's moisturizing lotion that I got at Dollar Tree (for a dollar, of course). The nice thing about this lotion is that it dries smooth, not sticky, and has no fragrance to overpower the delicate lingering reminder of the tea-tree lotion.

Happy shaving!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Discussion of Cowspiracy Dismissals

JackOfShadows, an occasional commentator on this blog site (thanks!), has called into question some points I wrote on shaving because I encourage readers to view the movie, Cowspiracy. I appreciate his comments, which I'm sure were well intentioned. (Remember, too, that I'm the question-everything guy.) So his comments give me a reason to share more thoughts on the topic.

If he will forgive me this wayward thought, his questioning of my points on shaving in yesterday's article because of my promotion of Cowspiracy is exactly the same kind of absolutism that is rejected in his twice-cited article entitled "Cowspiracy & The Building Blocks of an Absolutist Position", which can be read at

I have read articles criticizing Cowspiracy, and I have read rebuttal articles criticizing the criticism. The cited article against absolutism actually only rejects the notion suggested by the movie that one can't be an environmentalist unless he is a vegan. And the writer is correct in that statement; it is a bit extreme. A more defensible statement might be that one can't be an environmentalist unless she has become more of a vegetarian and encourages others to adopt more of a vegetarian diet. Okay???!!!

Yep, this movie has a viewpoint. And yep, this movie may not have some of its facts exactly right. However... the main points that it makes are essentially correct, which is that large-scale industrialized animal farming (as opposed to  someone's homestead having a pet cow, Bessie, a chicken, Cluckie, and a pig, Annabel, which all eventually end up on the dinner table) does the following:
  • Significant contribution to water waste (If the 110-gallon figure cited as a more accurate amount needed to raise the meat in your quarter pounder instead of the 660-gallon figure cited in the movie leads one to dismiss the fact that this is a horrific waste of water to make 1/4 pound of protein food, it isn't MY thinking that's a problem.)
  • Significant contribution to climate change (And if animal-food production isn't a larger contributor to climate change than all transportation put together, but is merely a second or third leading contributor, does that render the larger point insignificant? I think not.)
  • Is leading to the destruction of the Amazon rain forest, which is literally the lungs of Earth, in which much carbon dioxide is converted back to oxygen (NO ONE disputes this.)
  • Encourages overall land usage that may not be the wisest and most efficient in the long term
The idea proposed by the movie, Cowspiracy, is not new. In the 1970s there was a book published entitled Diet for a Small Planet, and a sequel entitled Recipes for a Small Planet, which encouraged vegetarianism to support a sustainable world-wide food supply. Although these books did not cause me to convert to vegetarianism, they were not wrong and were merely ahead of their time.

As a university-trained registered dietitian-nutritionist and university instructor, I can say that most folk in the western world (now also in the westernizing, developing world) eat WAAAAYYYY more protein than is needed. If everyone learned new ways of preparing plant-based foods -- especially plant-based protein -- rather than consuming our standard western diet, we could save some money, be healthier individually, and support a healthier planet.

Unfortunately, when someone comes along and challenges our favorite beliefs (whether that's our beloved animal-protein-rich diet or the idea that all Merkur DE razor heads have the same shaving characteristics, which they do not!) we tend to react in exactly the same absolutist manner that the article (cited by JackOfShadows) opposes. We say, "Well, that idiot got this fact and that fact wrong, so obviously I can ignore his entire point." Many tend to react this way especially when their familiar eating habits are called into question.

The same thing happened when the movie, "Forks Over Knives", was released. There was a small storm of criticism, critiquing the rigor of the science. In fact the critics were both right and yet missed the forest for the trees. Yes, the causal link in the science behind this movie and its point of view is vague. However, the ultimate conclusions are indisputable: if you exclusively eat a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food diet, your existing artery disease will stop and, over the long term, may actually improve! This is known and proven, yet critics will dismiss the movie because it hasn't laid out an air-tight and complete explanation of the process of this health improvement. Are there other ways to get the same result? Maybe, but we don't know what they are. If you were sent home to get your final affairs in order after your doctor says that your artery disease has progressed beyond the fixes of modern medicine, would you consider the one remaining PROVEN alternative? Or would you dismiss it because a critic doesn't like the way one of the scientists has drawn certain conclusions when viewing epidemiological data? Duh! In fact, that's exactly what happened to some folks in the Cleveland Clinic experiment by Dr. Esselstyn: they were literally given months to live, and, those who fully complied with the diet, were still kicking nearly two decades later!

The significant reason to view Cowspiracy is to open a dialogue, a conversation -- and your mind -- to the greater risks of the standard American diet. The movie should get you thinking, not cause you to stop thinking in a reactionary pique. 

Okay, so don't give up your favorite filet mignon or whatever. Just eat it less frequently. Learn to prepare tasty meals using plant proteins rather than animal foods. You haven't given up your automobile, have you, even though we know that en masse, cars are contributing to the peril of the planet? I do hope you drive a smaller, more efficient car, and are more thoughtful about the driving that you still do, however. Same with diet: okay, don't become a vegan. Do eat smaller animal-food portions and less frequently. 

Again, your pocketbook, your arteries, and the rest of the planet as a whole may thank you.

Happy shaving!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Goring the Sacred Cow

I must admit that I'm something of an iconoclast (that is, one who questions cherished beliefs). This morning I was thinking about the different shaving techniques and approaches that I've tried that run counter to common thinking. Below is a short list (probably incomplete) of those that I've challenged and for which I've found workable alternatives.

  • A standard shave might best be considered one pass, not three.
  • It isn't necessary to buy expensive new or vintage razors to get a great shave.
  • Extensive pre-shave beard preparation is not necessary; just rub some water into the beard two or three times prior to lathering, then lather well with well-wetted lather.
  • Hot water isn't necessary for a great shave -- and may contribute to rinsing away precious skin oils. I've been shaving for over a year with water directly out of the cold-water tap, with good results.
  • One doesn't have to soak a natural-bristled shaving brush prior to the shave. Just run some water into it -- perhaps into your cupped hand around the brush -- to wet it, then lather adding water from the tap as necessary to get the desired lather consistency.
  • Oblique strokes aren't an advanced shaving technique; simply angle the razor edge slightly off perpendicular to the direction of your shaving stroke. Easy-peasey!
  • You don't have to make shaving strokes like you are raking leaves off your face; the anti-raking pattern may be slightly better -- meaning shave away from the lather, that is, stroke from the unshaven portion of your beard toward the beard margin or the just-shaved areas.
  • Buffing strokes (with keeping the razor on the face for the non-cutting return stroke) can work well for a single pass (standard) shave.
  • One can make a first pass against grain if one shaves daily, uses slow, short, oblique strokes, and a moderate to mild razor.
  • Even easier against-grain shaving is to make a second pass against grain and skip the across-grain pass altogether.
  • One doesn't have to rinse the shaving brush after shaving; just put it to dry overnight (or longer, if you wish) full of lather.
  • Oiled-palm stropping can increase the life and smoothness of your blades.
  • Eating animal-based foods is selfish, short-sighted, and very bad for the future of the planet and, therefore, the human race as well. (Please, please watch the movie, Cowspiracy.) Animal-based foods may not be too good for your health, either.
Happy shaving, and, perhaps, parting with cherished beliefs!

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Maggard Shave & Cowspiracy

I saw the documentary-feature film, Cowspiracy, this week. It is an entertaining, eye-opening movie that gets to the dirty little secret about climate change and the reality of our food system and eating habits.

This movie is so important for future generations that I'm having my university class on foodservice management watch the film in class next week. It is available on Netflix.

What is interesting to me is the ubiquitous selfishness and resistance to change of human beings. If something isn't an immediate dire threat, we tend to keep our heads buried in the sand -- or somewhere else, where the sun don't shine.
If you care about your children's and grandchildren's world and the life they may have to lead, you might give the movie, Cowspiracy, a view and consider actually taking some action regarding your personal choices -- which might not only be good for the world, but also good for your health as well.


After about a year, I finally broke down and had my first shave with the original Maggard razor head mounted on its MR3B "big boy" handle. Although both the original Maggard head and MR3B handle have been discontinued, Maggard has produced a second-generation safety-bar razor head that is reported to self-center the blade much better than the first-generation razor head. This lack of self-centering had been the primary reason I've kept the Maggard razor head in the razor-storage shoe box in my closet.

Actually, after adjusting the blade to be appropriately straight in the razor head (hmmph!), I had a close two-pass-plus-some-clean-up-strokes shave. Nearly baby smooth, though I did have three small weepers that took a swipe of styptic, I did find the razor head together with its fat, heavy handle to give a good shave.

Maggard has also added an open-comb razor head along with that second-generation straight-bar razor head (which they keep insisting on calling a closed-comb razor, which, of course, is a misnomer). They are noted for their excellent customer service, their razor handles, their straight razors, and a wide array of shaving accessories. They have a store in the city of Adrian in southeasterern Michigan, and can be found on the web at

Happy shaving and stop ignoring the cowspiracy!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Buffing Standard Shave #2

This morning, like yesterday, I took another standard shave using the oblique buffing strokes with the grain and an anti-raking stroke pattern. Once again I used the mild, vintage Gillette Tech, c.1948, for the shave and put my sixth shave on the Personna Super (lab blue) blade. (If you don't have a vintage Tech, the same shave can be had from a new Rimei RM2003 razor, which can be acquired very inexpensively.)

Today was just a little different because I took advantage of the buffing and anti-raking pattern, which left a reasonable amount of lather on my skin. So I used this during my first pass to make additional clean-up strokes against grain under my jaw line and on my neck.

The outcome was a pretty-close shave in a single lathering. I'm good to go for the day, and, if yesterday was any indication, won't develop a shadow until after business hours.

Happy old-school standard shaving!