Friday, May 16, 2014

Razor-Review Journal: Merkur 37C Slant, Day 3

Today is the third shave with the Merkur slant-bar razor, but today I've put in a new Astra SP blade. Maybe a different blade will give a less-harsh shave.
The Merkur 37C slant (right) flanked by the Wilkinson Sword
Classic razor. The Wilkinson is a beautiful shaver, and
inexpensive, offering a mild blade exposure with high
rigidity, meaning a comfortable shave.
With that said, I must repeat that I'm not blessed with tough, thick skin over plump, rounded contours of face, chin, and neck, which are a wet-shaver's dream. To the contrary, my skin is thin, not particularly tight on my neck, and tends to get dry and irritated in various places. Making matters worse, my features are somewhat angular rather than round. On the flip side, my facial and neck hair is tough, moderately thick, and grows in various directions. So the challenge with this slant razor isn't just to get a close shave; I can do that with most DE razors. Avoiding irritation is the real challenge here, and that's the reason I'm exploring shaving with a slant-bar razor.

I'll get on with the shave and return to the keyboard to give you my report on this morning's shave....

When I put in a new Astra SP blade, I took the twice-used Dorco 301 and put it into my Wilkinson Sword Classic razor, which I had shipped over from Europe a couple of months ago.
Both the Merkur 37C and the Wilkinson Classic are two-piece razors. The Wilkinson has an all-plastic exterior with a metal bar inside the handle (to add mass, I assume). The Wilkinson is surprisingly high quality despite its plastic composition, and is very inexpensive. To clamp a blade in a two-piece razor, leave the top cap and blade as shown, then slide the baseplate-handle assembly down onto the threaded rod and tighten in place, with handle up.

Okay, so I must be a slow learner: I used the 37C to make a first pass with the grain (WTG), no problems. But then, deviating from the plan, I decided to use it to make my second pass against the grain (ATG) on my lower neck, thinking that the Astra SP blade would be up to the task and achieve ultra smooth without a third pass.

Not a complete success. Even though my pressure with this razor is getting very light, I still managed a couple of low-neck weepers, which I think are the same patches getting scraped repeatedly day after day. So I finished the second pass cross grain (XTG).
Hard to see from this picture (sorry), but the Wilkinson top cap completely covers the end tabs of the blade. It captures the blade firmly with surprisingly uniform exposure. It gives a good shave in general if you shave every day or have a light beard. It really excels as a final-pass finishing and buffing razor.

Then further deviating from the plan, I used the Wilkinson Classic, a very nice and mild shaver, to perform the third pass ATG.

All in all, a nice shave: close, comfortable, but marred by the weepers. I rinsed with cold water, then witch hazel as usual. Applied after-shave balm with a couple of drops of Jojoba oil this time. No razor burn; very little visible irritation and limited to lower neck, where I foolishly got a bit aggressive with my choice of shave direction.

For the next couple of days, I will not go for the perfect shave, but will simply make two passes, first WTG and then XTG, with a less aggressive razor -- probably my Merkur 33C classic. This will give my lower-neck skin a break to heal completely, and then after that I'll resume the 37C evaluation, day four.

Happy shaving!

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