Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Thanksgiving Shave

Today was the 13th shave with that same Gillette Silver Blue blade that started out so harshly.

Yet despite its rocky beginnings, today's shave with that blade was actually quite good.

Starting with my c.1948 Gillette Tech, I took an all-oblique-buffing (but with rather slow strokes) first pass using my now-familiar anti-raking stroke pattern.

Then I switched the blade into my uber-mild Weishi 9306-F one-piece (TTO) razor -- my one and only true finishing razor. With it I took an against-grain pass, once again with oblique-buffing strokes and the anti-raking pattern. Then I finished with multiple clean-up strokes after re-wetting my face and re-applying, as needed, used lather from the razor's underside.

(If you're considering shopping for the Weishi 9306-F,
clicking on the graphic, above, gives you an easy path to follow.)

The result was a close shave (not quite baby smooth), with only two pin-point weepers and very little irritation as indicated by my alum block.

So my daily post-shave blade care seems to be paying off. It entails pat drying the blade and then stropping the edges on my oiled palm before inserting into the razor for the next morning shave.

Of course, despite the longevity that the blade appears to be capable of delivering, the first week of shaves is not very good on my skin and beard: too irritating and prone to wound. This means that I won't be buying any additional blades of this brand to replace those in my little sample inventory. However, it has been an interesting experiment to see if a blade that is so poorly matched to my face can be improved over time, which has been the case.

So today I'm thankful for the following:
  • My post-shave blade care, which contributes to improving my shaves over time
  • My Weishi 9306-F razor, which offers a very low-risk option, when I want to obsessively take many passes and clean-up strokes
  • My alum block, which closes tiny wounds, indicates and calms irritation, and does other good stuff too like drying oily skin (which mine is NOT, so when I use it, I apply it to my damp face, let it do its thing, then rinse off and towel dry, after which I apply my desired lotions and balms. Typically I will apply an after shave to smell nice, then a moisturizer/sealer as a finishing treatment.)

(If you're interested in alum, the graphic, above, links to what I believe is the best value
available for an alum block, and includes a nice plastic case.)

So to you I say, "Happy Thanksgiving and happy shaving!"

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Merkur Open Comb (15C) and the Gillette Silver Blue Blade

Today was my eighth shave with the Gillette Silver Blue blade. Today I used it in my Merkur 15C open-comb razor.
            The Merkur 15C open-comb, three-piece razor            

The razor is very good; the blade is definitely improving.

The first four shaves with this blade -- even in my most face-friendly razors -- were harsh: both irritating and wounding. However, I didn't quit. Every day after the shave I would perform my customary blade care as follows:
  • Dry the blade by patting, not wiping
  • Stropping the dry blade on my oiled palm
By the fifth shave, I noticed real improvement, although my face was pretty beat up from the previous shaves. It was from this shave that I began to alternate razors from day to day, alternatively using the Gillette Tech (c.1948) or my Merkur 15C. 

The 15C by Merkur is becoming one of my favorites. Originally when first acquired, I found the 15C to be fine except for third passes against grain. Now since I don't do three passes very often, the 15C has proven to be a real performer. For example, this eighth shave started with the 15C and a with-grain, all-buffing first pass. Then for my second and final pass, still with 15C, I shaved from various directions -- both across and against grain.

With the combination of the 15C and seven previous shaves on the Silver Blue blade (each followed by the afore-mentioned blade care), I finally got a close comfortable shave from the blade. I attribute this to both the seasoned blade and the 15C, which is a clearly a more mild shaver than the c.'48 Tech.

Many months ago, I suggested in an article that the Merkur 15C may be the best all-around razor, about which I was only partially serious. However, today I'm still not uncomfortable reiterating that suggestion. Though because of its mildness it may not easily yield totally baby-smooth shaves on some faces, it brings the following benefits:

  • Mild enough for sensitive faces and to safely shave any body hair
  • Open comb design easily accommodates hair of any length, which makes it good for body hair, beards, trimming edges of wooly growth, the back of the neck, etc.
  • Can shave closely
  To order a 15C, you can click on the graphic at left.

Happy shaving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Gillette Silver Blue Blade Today

This morning was my fourth shave with the current Gillette Silver Blue blade.

A few days ago I finally called it quits with the Bluebird blade after its 26th shave. Its last shave was comfortable, but I wasn't getting a close shave; I was working too hard for too little results. When I saw that the blade on deck was the Silver Blue, I was a little concerned.

I recalled that on my face the Silver Blue blade was harsh. So I started by putting it in my mildest first-pass razor, the Merkur 33C Classic. I then finished that first shave's second (which was also the final) pass with my Weishi 9306-F -- my usual finishing razor. That shave and the two day's shaves that followed were irritating and produced weepers, even though I was careful and continued to use mild razors: the 33C or the Lord L.6. Same results: harsh.

After each shave I have performed my usual oiled-palm stropping. My hope is that the repeated attention to the edge will make it performance more mellow on my mug.

So with renewed hope and optimism this morning, I resolved to take a standard shave with this same blade -- that is, one pass, with grain -- using my c.'48 Tech. After I completed that first pass, I had a couple of weepers on my chin, and the shave was not close enough under my jaw line. So I took a few against-grain strokes in that area, which, sadly, opened a few more weepers and fanned the flames of irritation, which I still feel as I type these words.

I really don't like this blade, and it appears it doesn't like me either. Nonetheless, after the shave I gave the blade its due care and put it back into the Tech.

I'm going to take a true standard shave tomorrow. My intention is to give this blade more time to see if it becomes more suited to my face after a break-in period. Even if it does get better with time, I will not use another one because the wounds and irritation from its early shaves are just not worth it. So I add this to the short list of blades that are currently on my don't-use list:
  • Feather
  • Derby Extra
  • Gillette Silver Blue
  • Gillette 7 O'Clock Black (India-made)
Happy shaving (better than mine, I hope)!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

My Ranking of Relative Mildness of My Preferred Razors

Due to my somewhat fragile, sensitive skin, I focus on suitable razors, which therefore tend to be of rather mild shave character.

These mild razors tend to be face friendly, but even so, can give a very good shave. Perfectly baby-smooth shaves may be out of my reach due to both 1) the angle of my my beard grain, which tends to be rather extreme in relation to the plane of my skin, and 2) the general fragility of my skin. Yet I still can get very close shaves -- nearly baby smooth -- when I choose to.

My razors that I keep close at hand have stabilized to six, which are listed immediately below:

  • Weishi 9306-F
  • Merkur 33C Classic
  • Lord LP1822L
  • Merkur 15C Open Comb
  • Gillette Tech c.1948
  • Rimei RM2003

These razors are listed above in order from most mild to relatively most aggressive. I emphasize the word relatively because all these razors are on the mild side when compared to some of the double-edge options that are available.

All of the razors in the list above are three-piece razors except for the Weishi, which is a one-piece design (with butterfly-type doors). So for several of these razors, I actually keep only the razor heads in my bathroom shaving drawer. The two handles that I keep in the drawer are the ball-end Gillette Tech handle and the classic handle from my Merkur razors (the handles from the Merkur 33C and 15C razors are essentially the same: chromed, well knurled for good grip, classic diameter, and relatively short at about 3 inches.)

I will now briefly explain the shave character and my use of these razors.

Weishi 9306-F

This is my final-pass finishing razor, when I want a very close shave. I tend to use it for against-grain passes and touch-up strokes. I may use it (rarely) when I choose to use a remaining Feather blade, which tends to irritate and wound my skin.

Merkur 33C Classic

I would typically use this with a new blade for passes before my final against-grain pass. The Merkur Classic razor has a negative blade exposure (blade edge is within the protective cove of the top cap and safety guard/bar -- that is, it's below the shave plane) and a modest blade-bar span (the distance between the blade edge and the safety bar/guard). 

Lord L.6 Razor Head

The L.6 razor head comes with the Lord model LP1822L razor. Often misidentified in shaving forums (and in my early blog articles) as being a clone for the Merkur 33C razor head, it is in reality a touch more aggressive owing to its safety-bar cross-section profile. This profile provides a larger blade-bar span, which accounts for the slight difference in shave character from the 33C. I use this razor head infrequently, but when I do it's because I want a razor of shave character between the 33C and my Merkur 15C open comb.

Merkur 15C Open Comb

I use this razor often as a first-pass razor when I take my two-rrific two-pass shave. The zero-span design of the open comb combined with its negative blade exposure and moderate blade angle (which is about the same as the 33C and L.6 designs) makes it work on my face for with-grain and across-grain strokes. It has never worked well on my face for against-grain passes, where it tends to be a bit irritating and prone to wound.

It is also an excellent razor for shaving body hair such as the back of one's neck. I use it for this regularly, without a single hitch. The open-comb baseplate accommodates hair of pretty much any length. (But you're still going to have to clear away accumulated shaved hair from the razor as you shave longer hair.)

Gillette Tech c.1948

This version of the Tech (and, to my knowledge, all that came later) is slightly more mild that the pre-WWII Techs. Yet it's no lap cat of an instrument. Mild, yes, but capable as an all purpose shaver. Slightly more aggressive in nature than the 15C, I would most often use this for shaves with a slightly-used blade that were going to be a single with-grain pass or that might stop with a second across-grain pass. Occasionally with it I'll do a with-grain first pass, and against-grain touch-up strokes and stop there.

Rimei RM2003

This is a fine razor head that may be ideal for those who think the c.'48 Tech is a touch too mild. This razor may have a slightly larger blade blade exposure or span than the '48 Tech. I am unable to measure this, but after long use, I'm clear that the RM2003 shaves slightly more aggressively than the '48 Tech. I will use this as a first-pass or only-pass razor. Even with a well-used blade, I can get tiny weepers from a cross-grain pass with this razor. So this one I tend to use with grain only, and it makes for a good standard shave when I'm pressed for time. If I choose to take a second pass after the RM2003, I will typically switch to the Weishi 9306-F. 

These are my six go-to razors. Of these, I find myself using the 15C open comb or the '48 Tech most often for solitary or preliminary passes, and if I want a close, safe finish, I'll usually transfer the blade into the 9306-F for that final against-grain pass and subsequent touch-up strokes.

To purchase any of the currently-manufactured razors discussed above, you can click on the links below:

L to R: Wiesh 9306-F, Merkur 33C Classic, Lord LP1822L (L.6 razor head)

L to R: Merkur 15C Open Comb, Rimei RM2003

Happy shaving!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Case for Multiple Razors....

My previous article on the 23rd shave with a Bluebird blade raised a point that I don't believe I've mentioned for a long time: reasons for owning multiple double-edge (DE) razors.

Too many of us own many DE razors because of the trial-and-error process in our first couple of years DE shaving.

Yet there are reasons to acquire and keep some razors with different shaving characteristics. These include shaving longer hair, using different razors for different passes in the same shave, and matching razors to the characteristics of a given blade at a given point in its life cycle.

To some degree, these multiple-razor arguments also fit for owning adjustable razors such as the Progress, Future, and Vision models from Merkur, or the vintage Fat Boy and Slim adjustables from Gillette.


For shaving long hair such as removing or trimming a beard or mustache, or cleaning up the back of one's neck between haircuts, or removing long neglected body hair, an open-comb baseplate can do the trick. Regular readers of my blog know that my favored open-comb razor is the Merkur 15C. I like this one because it's a mild shaver, not too likely to bite, but completely adequate as both a long-hair shaver and a regular shaver if one likes a mild razor.

Merkur 15C Open-Comb Razor

Other razors that are good for shaving longer hair are the slant razors such as the Merkur 37C. These types of razors have large capacity -- in part owing to their toothed safety-guard design, which are essentially very deep, square-topped scallops -- but may be more harsh on sensitive skin than a mild open-comb razor. Also potentially adequate for shaving longer hair are the razors with a large blade-bar span. These, however, are potentially even more likely to bite than the slant designs. Of course, any adjustable razor on its more aggressive settings are likely to be equivalent to non-adjustables with large blade-bar spans. The only difference is that most adjustables on an aggressive setting will also have a rather positive blade exposure, which are more likely to wound; while non-adjustable razors with a large blade-bar span may or may not have a positive blade exposure. This means that a non-adjustable with a large blade-bar span but a less-positive blade exposure may be desirable for those who want large capacity (such as those who shave infrequently) but have skin that is easily wounded.

Left: 37C slant, Right: 39C slant (longer handle but less expensive -- go figure!)

Another argument for owning razors of different shave character (or adjustables) is matching the shaving character of a razor to a given brand of razor blade. Notoriously sharp and unforgiving blades such as Feather brand might work best in a very mild razor, in which the blade is less likely to nip.

Perhaps even more compelling is matching the razor's shaving character to the point of a given blade's life cycle. For example, my preferred blade, the Personna Platinum Chrome, when fresh out of the wrapper may give me the best shave in my mildest three-piece razor, my Merkur 33C Classic. Yet on its fourth shave, it may perform best in my Lord L.6 razor head, which has the same blade angle as the 33C and a larger blade-bar span, but still has a negative blade exposure. The eighth shave on this blade may be best in my Merkur 15C open-comb razor, and the fifteenth shave may be optimal for my face in a Gillette Tech or Rimei RM2003.

Left: Merkur 33C Classic. Center: Lord LP1822L w/L.6 razor head. Right: Rimei RM2003

Similarly, using a Gillette Slim adjustable, the first shaves might be set to one or two, the fourth shave to three or four, the eighth shave to five, and so on.

The final argument for multiple razors is using different instruments (or different adjustable settings) for different phases of a single shave. When using non-adjustables, I may still select a given razor on a given day according to blade-life-cycle considerations. However, for the final pass of a shave, I frequently choose my mildest-character razor, the Weishi 9306-F as a finishing razor that is the least likely to bite (but still will, if one gets cavalier and careless). Some even use three razors for a given shave, using a progressively milder razor for each successive pass.

Weishi 9306-F

The adjustable razors fall slightly short in this matching-razor-to-phase-of-shave approach, only in this respect: adjustable razors may not adjust mild enough to match the character of the 9306-F for use as a finishing razor.

Happy shaving!

Monday, November 9, 2015

The 23rd Shave on a Bluebird Blade

This morning was my 23rd shave with a Bluebird blade. TWENTY-THIRD SHAVE!!!  :-D

Above: The only currently-available 
Bluebird offering on Amazon.

What I've found is that this well-used blade doesn't cut less effectively, when used appropriately, but rather it is less dangerous. I seem to get less skin irritation, and I can use techniques such as buffing strokes that might be ill advised with a new blade.

Take this morning, for example. I used my open-comb Merkur 15C razor for most of the shave. I lathered well with my own, proprietary soap, and made the first pass with slow oblique buffing and an anti-raking stroke pattern. I did not rinse the razor for the entire pass, which left more than ample lather on my face and under the razor to eliminate the need for more brush-to-face lathering. I simply re-wet my face with water and used my hand to spread the used lather uniformly again.

Above: Link to buy a
Merkur 15c open comb razor

Second pass was largely across grain above my jaw line, and against grain below my jawline. Again this was with slow oblique buffing strokes and anti-raking stroke pattern. Also once again I didn't rinse my razor, merely re-wet my face, and again spread the residual lather from face and razor uniformly over my face.

Then I took a third pass against grain with the 15C.

Not quite satisfied, I transferred the blade into my finishing razor, the Weishi 9306-F, and, after again wetting and spreading the now-thinning residual lather (having sufficient water is the key), did a fourth pass, once again against grain.

The Wieshi 9306-F is a 
terrific finishing razor.

The result was an extremely close, surprisingly comfortable shave. A post-shave alum rub revealed surprisingly little latent irritation. I rinsed the alum off with a witch hazel rub, dried my face, and applied the last of my Nivea balm for sensitive skin. Then some unscented moisturizer over my entire face (except for my nose).

Had I done this process with any new blade, you can bet that I'd have likely had weepers and skin irritation galore. I think that the old blade plays a key role -- but not just because it's old.

I must reiterate that I groom the blade after each shave by first rinsing and drying it, then oiling my palm and stropping the blade on that oiled area. Also, the open-comb Merkur razor, though having infinite shaving capacity due to its open-comb baseplate, is obviously a mild shaver. Paired with a fresh blade it is far from my favorite razor as a final-pass instrument, but I find it excellent for with-grain and across-grain passes. Yet, with a well-used, well-seasoned blade like today's Bluebird, it was comfortable but not dangerous even on my against-grain pass.

And for the ultimate in safe finishing razors, the Weishi 9306-F is unparalleled. Though I don't like this for most early passes in a shave, I might be tempted to give it a try when using a new blade ill suited to my face such as a Feather brand.

Tomorrow I'll be using this same Bluebird blade in my vintage Gillette Tech razor. It's unlikely that I'll take four passes, but I do expect the shave to be face friendly. We'll see....

Happy shaving!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Flirting with the Dark Side

This morning I shaved with a disposable razor. I wanted to compare the two-track, more-modern-style razor with the double-edge (DE) razors of which I have become so fond.

Today's disposable was a pivoting, two-bladed cartridge-style razor with a lubricating strip and a four-inch handle, manufactured by Gillette. I would estimate that the per-razor cost when bought in a package of ten is about 40 cents (US).

I pretty much shaved in my usual way. The difference between how I used this razor today and how I might have used it years a go is that I probably used a much lighter pressure this morning. Oh, and I also used a buffing stroke for the initial pass and an anti-raking stroke pattern, both of which I would certainly not have done in by-gone days.

I started with a standard shave; that is, one pass, with grain. In the past I would have stopped here. So after I took my standard shave, I gave it a feel with my hand. It was not better than a standard shave with my DE razors; I don't think it was even as good.

I then took a second pass after re-wetting my beard but not re-lathering; there was more than enough residual lather on my face from my buffing-stroke first pass -- in which I didn't rinse my razor. Ever aware of the possibility of in-grown hairs with these cartridge razors, I took my second pass across grain.

Still not quite close enough to suit my mood this morning, I again re-wet my beard (there was still enough lather) and made some touch-up strokes on chin, upper lip, under jaw line, and on my neck.

After that I considered the shave acceptable and cleaned up my gear after applying to my face some witch hazel, then some Gillette after-shave gel (blue bottle).

On the positive side, this razor probably shaved a bit closer than the DE in my most troublesome area, which is under the jaw line. It also was a very low risk shave as cartridge razors tend to be -- yielding low irritation and absolutely zero wounds.

On the negative side, for all the work I did, the shave wasn't all that close on my cheeks, upper lip, and neck. I'm assuming that the lack of an against-grain pass in those areas is a significant limiting factor -- but the risk of in-grown hairs makes the against-grain pass not worth the closer shave. [UPDATE: Since writing this article, I have shaved against grain with this type of razor, and had good results. For me, at least, the risk of in-grown hairs was less than anticipated.Further, this razor is about twice as costly as my preferred blade, the Personna Platinum Chrome (the red-label blade), and about four times as costly as my various second-tier blades: Astra SP, Personna Super (lab blue), Dorco ST-301, SuperMax Titanium, Lord Platinum Class, etc. Also, the ecological load is higher, with all the non-recyclable plastic to discard. Additionally, the blades of the cartridge razor are much harder to maintain for longevity. I don't know how many good shaves I can get from this disposable twin-bladed razor, but I wonder with some doubt if it can match the twenty-plus quality shaves that I'm currently getting from my favorite DE blades.


To maintain today's disposable, I first rinsed and then shook and blew out the moisture from the twin blades. I then arm stropped the razor head, which, of course, only manicures one side of each blade edge. I then dunked the razor head in mineral oil for a few seconds, and set it in a reused Greek-yogurt cup to drain prior to long-term storage for my next use (if ever).

In sum, I was somewhat surprised by the poor standard shave that I formerly considered completely acceptable. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.

But was it awful? Actually, now that I know what a good shave is and isn't, it was still a bit of a challenge to use effectively, which was fun. However, I wouldn't go back to this razor for regular use. I would use it on trips where I was traveling by air and was only using carry-on luggage.

In all, the close shave, economy and ecological friendliness of the old-school DE razor has me hooked. Just for fun though, I may some time pick up a small quantity of disposable single-blade, non-pivoting razors to give those another test shave and see how they compare to the DE design.

Happy shaving!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

My Ideal Shave: Not Perfect, But....

If a perfect shave is one that is truly baby smooth with no skin wounds or irritation, then I'll never have a perfect shave. My skin is too damage prone, my topology is too angular and curvy,  and my beard is too grainy to achieve the perfect shave as defined in the preceding sentence.

Instead of obsessing about the ideal of the perfect shave, I've made peace with my shaving obsession by focusing on the concept of my ideal shave.

My ideal shave is nearly smooth in all directions, when I don't press too firmly -- especially against the grain of the beard. Also my ideal shave is wound free and with minimal irritation that quickly fades after the shave.

I had a nearly ideal shave this morning, marred by a single pin-point weeper, but which disappeared quickly with rinsing. I then applied my favorite after-shave lotion -- a citrusy-smelling tea-tree potion -- and some inexpensive (dollar store) fragrance-free moisturizer for men.

The way I achieve my ideal shave has been documented, but I'll run through it quickly one more time:

In a mild but not mildest razor, I put a blade compatible with my skin and beard. My favorite blade is the Personna Platinum Chrome (the Israeli-made red-label blade). However, this morning, I used a Bluebird blade with 18 shaves already on it (18!!!). This morning's razor was my c.1948 Gillette Tech, but other razors work as well. The list includes the Rimei RM2003 and the Merkur 15C open-comb razor.

Left: Merkur 15C open comb razor. Right: Rimei RM2003 razor

The Merkur open comb and the Rimei RM2003 both work well for me when I do with-grain or across-grain strokes. Both can open the occasional weeper if I'm not extremely careful when shaving against grain.

I always make the first pass largely with grain, which on my face and neck means strokes that are vertical -- that is, downward on most of my beard, and upward on my lower neck.

Then for my second pass, I transfer the blade to my one-piece Weishi 9306-F razor, which is the mildest shaver that I own and a terrific finishing razor. With this razor I make a second pass on my re-lathered face using strokes generally in the opposite direction from the first pass. Since this is largely against grain, I make the strokes rather slowly so as to not nip skin. Also, for the record, I make all my strokes oblique, and I also generally use an anti-raking stroke pattern.

Weishi 9306-F options from Amazon.

I will generally complete the shave without re-lathering, but will re-wet and shave as needed in my problem areas under my jaw, mid neck, point of chin, etc.

Happy shaving!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Lathering Without a Brush

On Mondays I have a rather long day, ending with an university class that I teach in the early evening. So I like to get a close shave on Monday mornings so I have little shadow in my class.

Today I decided to take my close Monday shave without a shaving brush. I simply wet and washed my face, rinsed off the bath soap, then rubbed on shave soap and "lathered" with wet hands. The word lathered is in quotation marks because, when I don't use a brush to make shaving lather, the so-called lather is more like a creamy film, and not really much like lather at all.

However, it is wet, and it is slick. Using my 17th-use Bluebird blade in my c.1948 Gillette Tech razor, I took a with-grain pass. That pass consisted of my usual oblique strokes in an anti-raking pattern. I did not rinse the soap off my razor, and merely kept shaving on throughout the pass.

For the second pass, which was a combination of across and against grain, I just re-wetted my face using the soap still present.

Then I finished by rinsing with cool tap water, applying more soap from my soap stick to my now-smooth face, "lathering" that soap with wet hands, and doing a final clean-up pass against grain.

The result was a close shave with three tiny pin-point weepers. The outcome wasn't especially close, however, and was about the same as those days when I skip the cross-grain pass and limit the shave to just with grain and against grain. The benefit of those days is typically fewer wounds.

In all not a bad shave despite the absence of thick lather. Tomorrow I may again forego the brush and take a standard shave or my more common two-pass shave.

Happy shaving!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Two Blades at Once?

Based on a reader's comment, I gave some thought to shaving with two DE blades mounted in a three-piece DE razor.

This was purported to have been tried by soldiers -- sort of a do-it-yourself Trac II razor.

My initial thoughts were as follows:
  • Similar to shimming a razor, it will change the geometry of the razor head making it a more aggressive shave.
  • The two stacked blade edges are likely too close together to create beneficial hysteresis, and may in fact inhibit the effectiveness of the blades.
So yesterday I stacked a couple of slightly-used blades in my mildest three-piece razor, the Merkur 33C  Classic.

An examination down the edge confirmed two things:
  • The razor geometry was made more aggressive due to the lower blade having a more positive blade exposure.
  • The blade edges were so close together that it was difficult to even distinguish them; they appeared as one blade.
As an initial experiment, I took this two-blade set up and shaved the hair on the back of my neck, which has always been rather insensitive and not susceptible to being easily wounded.

The outcome was no skin damage, but not a particularly close shave -- certainly not an improvement over my usual back-of-neck shave with my Merkur 15C open-comb razor and a single blade.

The Merkur 15C open-comb razor.

But this morning I went ahead and tried a standard shave with the two-blade set up. Bottom line, it wasn't an improvement. After about a 1/3 first pass, I went back to my Tech with a 16th-shave Bluebird blade.

Using that standard set up, I finished the shave with oblique, slow buffing strokes in an anti-raking pattern for two full passes. First pass was with grain; second pass was against grain. Then I took a few touch-up strokes and wound up with a very close, comfortable shave.

Happy shaving!