Saturday, March 19, 2016

Coming Full Circle

A Bit of My DE Shaving History

I got interested in DE (double-edge) shaving when I came across my dad's long-abandoned Gillette Slim Adjustable razor. It was in a cabinet in my mom's home. 

This discovery led to some experimentation and research. Initially, my research was a simple Internet query for "the best DE razor." This returned a blog article (long since lost; I haven't been able to find it again) that reduced this naive question and its amazingly complex potential answer to a gross oversimplification: the blogger said that the best razor was the Merkur Classic (33C) and the best blade was the Personna Super (the USA-made lab-blue) blade.

Not knowing any better, I bought them both.

My inexperience with DE technique led to dissatisfaction with this Merkur-Personna combination, and the lab-blue blade in the Gillette Slim was certainly not an improvement at that time.  So that began a not-uncommon quest for the "best" razor-and-blade combination for me.

Coming Around Again

The past few weeks, I've returned to Personna Super blade in earnest. Also, as I've previously mentioned, these days I don't rotate through blades one after another. Instead I stick with a given brand and model of blade until I have exhausted the combinations and have thoroughly analyzed its performance in most shaving situations.

I do think that the Personna Super blade is good. It's sharp and durable. However, it's almost too sharp for my skin -- having an unrelenting tendency to open weepers despite my due care. So I've returned to some milder razors including the Merkur Classic and, most notably, the Weishi 9306-F, the mildest razor in my stable.

I have found that the 9306-F is actually the best razor for me when paired with a Personna Super blade that is new or new-ish. As the blade enters the last part of its useful life, I will switch to the Merkur Classic razor to compensate slightly for the degradation of the blade's sharpness.

This is not to say that the mild razors won't shave close. My testing has proven that with these instruments I am able to still get a close shave without much additional effort. The fact remains, however, that mild shaving character doesn't mean harmless. If I pursue the shave closeness that I prefer, I can still easily open small weepers despite my best efforts to shave carefully. These weepers tend to be tiny and often disappear without any special treatment such as the alum block or styptic pencil, but they are evidence that even mild razors with very sharp blades deserve respect and call for good shaving technique.

Back to the Front Lines

So the Merkur Classic and the Weishi 9306-F once again remain close at hand in my shaving laboratory. Previously parked with other reserves, well behind the front lines of my daily skirmish with facial stubble, they have been called up as a good tactical approach when paired with very sharp blades.

So if you have some blades in your inventory that may be a bit too sharp or with an edge grind that is just a bit too irritating for your skin, if haven't already done so, consider experimenting with a very mild razor to compensate. The Merkur Classic is one such instrument, and the Weishi 9306-F is even slightly more mild.


Happy shaving!

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