Saturday, February 13, 2016

Gillette Slim Redux

Months ago, I wrote off my vintage 1963 Gillette Slim Adjustable razor as not well suited to my face. However, almost as a warm up for the Easter season, it has been raised from the dead (as I saw it, anyway) and given new life.

This morning, with a tenth-use SuperMax Titanium blade installed and the Slim set to four (out of nine), I had a very good shave. It was enough to cause me to re-think my entire opinion of the Slim, and, for the time being at least, keep the razor on hand for more shaves.

What was different enough to resurrect the Slim, which had previously been dead to me?

Better technique, of course!

Specifically there are three factors that have rendered the Slim a useful member of my razor menagerie:

  1. Most importantly, I have conquered my tendency to press the razor against my skin later in the shave. This has been a long-standing problem for me. As I progressed safely through a shave and strove for a close finish, I would tend to unconsciously add pressure to my strokes. But no longer. I have finally cultivated the habit of maintaining that feather-light touch, and this has made a great deal of difference.
  2. I continue to abandon the multiple-pass approach, and instead use the region-oriented uni-pass method. In this process, there is only one major lathering step, followed by multiple re-wetting and re-lathering sub steps as one shaves each region of the beard to finished smoothness before moving on to the next region. The relathering is simply the process of swiping lather from the underside of the razor with a finger of the free hand, and re-applying it to the region of the face still being shaved.
  3. The re-wetting process is also key. I simply PAT (not rub) more water into the desired area. This patting method allows the most lathered soap to remain on the area being re-wetted. As you might suppose, water is a crucial element in the wet-shaving process -- much more important than the soap or cream. If you don't believe this, notice that you can comfortably shave an area in which the lather has been removed by previous shaving strokes; all you have to do is add more water, and the micro-film of residual soap on the skin becomes slippery and functional by virtue of the adequate wetting.

So going forward with my re-acquaintance with the Gillette Slim Adjustable, tomorrow I'll be repeating today's shave: same setting, same blade. After that, I'll probably use a fresh blade and dial the Slim's setting back to three.

Happy shaving!

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