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!

1 comment:

  1. I do it, too, from the other side. (Maybe I'll learn something that will make them not flay me.) Not begrudging that, or even the Amazon links -- Hey, I'm a member, I'm game. I went to check the SuperMax Platinums. So I read the reviews.

    And THAT is when I had the Charlie Brown moment. AAAARRRRGGGGGH! Because I just want to reply, "You don't know how to shave," "You don't know how to shave," "You don't know how to shave. Who are you, to judge this poor Indian blade?" But I know who they are. They are people who learned to "shave" with a cartridge.