My One-Pass ShaveFollowing through on yesterday's plan to give my skin a relative rest, today I took a one-pass, with-grain shave. I used (for the first time) a vegan soap from Dr. Jon"s Handcrafted Soap Co. (which lathered easily, offered a rich, protecting lather, and had a pleasant bouquet), a SuperMax Titanium blade with several shaves on it, and my Parker Variant razor set on 1, its least aggressive setting.
The outcome was.... well, mission accomplished in that I have a clean-shaven look and no skin insult at all. The shave was mediocre, of course, when comparing to a multi-pass shave; but I knew that would be the case before I started. The shave was "good enough for government work," as some might say.
During the shave, I applied the straight-razor technique of skin stretching to both encourage the follicles to stand more upright and to provide a flatter, firmer surface on which the edge might ride. As with a straight-razor shave, this skin stretching may have improved slightly the closeness of the shave, it's certainly no substitute for multiple passes from multiple directions.
I finished the shave with a splash of witch hazel followed by Black Bot balm from Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements, which I mentioned yesterday.
Choosing Today's RazorWhen I was deciding what setting to use on the Variant razor, I contemplated the issue of razor aggression. Today was a no-brainer because I was aiming at minimal skin insult rather than closeness of shave. In fact, when considering my choice of razor, I had five options at hand:
- A vintage hollow-ground straight
- A push-to-open barber straight (using a replaceable half-DE blade)
- My Parker Variant DE
- My Ming Shi 2000S imitation Futur
- My Gillette Slim (code I-1: 1963)
Large Blade-to-Guard Gaps and Razor Aggression
- The more negative the blade exposure (that is, the more it lies within the protective cove of the top cap and safety guard), the less likely the razor is to nip and irritate. However, this also limits its ability to easily offer a very close shave, which will require more passes and perhaps more pressure of the razor against skin.
- Generally speaking, the smaller the blade angle, the less it scrapes and the more it slices. A less-scraping angle usually means a less irritating razor (when all other things are the same).
- A smaller blade-guard span means there is less opportunity for skin to bulge into the protective cove between the top cap and the safety guard, meaning, again, less opportunity for irritation or nicks.
- A smaller blade-guard gap limits the length of hair that the razor can easily shave. Bigger gaps and open-tooth-guard designs allow for more easily shaving longer whiskers.