Monday, September 4, 2017

Safety of Sneaking Up on Baby Smooth, a Chinese Blade, and Futur Tips

Today's theme is safety. In the past week or so, I've tried some new things -- a new shaving process and a Chinese-made blade. I'm also elaborating on safe handling of Futur-style razors including the original Merkur Futur as well as imitators like the Ming Shi 2000S (one of my favorite razors) and the Q-Shave. Let's begin....

Sneaking Up On Baby Smooth with an Adjustable

Deviating from my usual daily one-lathering shave, today I tried a multi-lathering, increasing-aggression shave with my Ming Shi 2000S adjustable. I also included a shave-prep change -- a simplification.

The No-Fuss Shave Prep

I used an inexpensive sandalwood soap for my shave this morning. It's hardly a premium soap, but it's adequate. Consistent with my pre-conceived concept, I believe that even mediocre soaps are not only up to the task, but don't require extensive pre-shave preparation as some would suggest -- even with our hard Metro-Detroit water.

So this morning I even skipped my usual initial splash and rub with cool tap water. Instead, I first pulled out the soap puck and brush ahead of all other shaving gear. Using cool tap water, I loaded the brush with soap and face lathered to a wet, not-super-thick foam. Leaving that sit on my beard, I then pulled out the remaining gear for today's shave.

Then I re-wet the brush and again face lathered right over the existing lather already on my beard. The concept underlying this process is that it is time rather than temperature that is key in prepping a beard for shaving.

The Shave

Then I put a Derby Extra blade (with one previous shave on it) into my 2000S, set it to one (its lowest setting) and did a first pass with vertical (largely against-grain strokes). I then rinsed and felt for closeness of shave. No wounds were present  but definitely could've used more aggression.

So I reset the 2000S to two (out of six) and repeated the process: re-lathering and shaving largely against grain, with some directly-against-grain strokes on my upper neck and under jaw line. Still no skin injury, but also not close enough.

Long story short, I repeated this rinse-lather-shave process with subsequent settings of three and then five. I did ultimately get a few weepers on my neck, and though the shave was close, it wasn't baby smooth (which is very difficult for me to achieve without extensive insult to my skin).

What did I learn? Well, I confirmed that extensive prep processes aren't necessary. Ditto for warm/hot water. In the future I might start with the 2000S on two (of six) and then simply jump to a setting of four -- thus taking a two-pass shave for a good, but not perfect, daily shave.

Using a Ming Shi Blade

When I received my Ming Shi 2000S razor from Maggard Razors (a dependable vendor) it came with a packet of five Ming Shi blades. In the past up until last week, any time I received Chinese blades, I set them aside and did not use them. But last week I thought I'd start a leisurely rotation through my freebie Chinese blades to see if they're trash, treasure, or something in between.

Bottom line on the Ming Shi blade is that it was an uneventful shave. Bear in mind that I'm not a blade aficionado. I don't obsess about blades despite much ballyhoo in DE-shaving writings and videos. The fact is that it was perfectly fine and NOT the horror show that I thought it might be.

Safety Tips for Futur-Style Razors

I've mentioned these before, but many haven't seen them or didn't take them seriously. So pay attention!

Changing the Blade in a Futur-Style Razor

Removing the Blade:
  1. Put a wash cloth or other protective pad on the counter (to protect the razor's finish).
  2. Set the inverted razor (top cap down) onto the wash cloth.
  3. While holding the ends (that cover the short blade tabs) of the top cap with one hand, pull the handle upward to separate it from the top cap.
  4. If the blade is stuck in the top cap, simply turn it over (so that the blade is facing the counter and the convex surface of the top cap is closer to the ceiling) and, from a few inches above the wash cloth on the counter, simply drop the top cap onto the wash cloth. This will usually cause the blade to release from the top cap without you having to try to pry it out and thereby damaging either the blade edge or your fingers.
Inserting a Blade:
  1. Place the top cap, with pins upward, onto the wash cloth on the counter.
  2. Lay the blade onto the top cap.
  3. Press the handle assembly onto the inverted top cap (and blade).

Changing the Razor Adjustment When Blade is Installed

Picture that you're mid shave as I was this morning and you want to change the setting of your Futur-style razor. Don't grab the razor head as you turn the handle! This is just begging for a nasty cut due to slippery wet or soapy surfaces.

Instead, while holding the razor handle, with the adjustment indicator upward so it can be viewed, press the safety bar of the razor onto the counter -- ideally onto a wash cloth pad on top of the counter -- with the handle of the razor near parallel to the horizontal counter surface. Then simply turn the handle to the desired setting. 

Happy (safe) shaving!

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