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!

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