Monday, June 23, 2014

A Quest for Travel-Shaving Gear, Part One: Which Razor?

Once a year or so I travel via airplane on a short trip out of town. I like to pack light, so yesterday I started to give some thought to what shaving gear I would haul, and this morning's shave began the at-home tests of some prospective travel-shaving hardware.

I will pack two new, coated blades -- probably the Dorco ST-301. So several basic questions remain:

  • What razor to pack?
  • What shave soap or cream to use?
  • What pre- and post-shave products are needed?
Today my main focus was on razor choice.
My initial travel-razor options: left - Lord LP1822L; center - Weishi 9306-f TTO; right - the Wilkinson Sword Classic.

Since I always expect the unexpected, I figure that I won't travel with my favorite razors. This means that the Merkur 37C slant and my modified 33C will stay home.

Despite my poor shave on Father's Day with my father's heirloom Gillette Slim Adjustable, which is a twist-to-open (TTO) design -- and I've documented many times that I don't prefer TTO razors, my first thought was to revisit the Weishi 9306-f TTO and see how I like the shave these days. I hoped that the mild blade reveal and exposure might prove sufficient to offset the larger, more scraping, blade angle that TTO razors seem to have.

I was mistaken. Despite my normal shave prep including using my slickest shave soap, the first pass (with the grain using oblique strokes) with the Weishi was noticeably harsh. So harsh, in fact, that after that first pass I transferred the blade to the Lord LP1822L, which is an unscrew-to-open/disassemble (UTO) design. The Weishi TTO was out of contention as my travel razor.

I have long believed that the Lord shaves very much like my Merkur 33C, which I like a great deal. But today's first pass with the TTO razor may have sufficiently irritated my skin that any razor for today's second pass (across the grain) may have felt harsh. Anyway, the Lord razor certainly did feel harsh on this day, much to my surprise. 

Not needing or wanting to risk more harshness, I then put the blade into my Wilkinson Sword Classic, another UTO design known for its mild shaving characteristics. Using oblique strokes against the grain, this third pass was more comfortable. Though it's difficult to know just how much the moments delays between passes helped to let my skin calm down as I went back and forth to the closet to get alternative razors, the Wilkinson's mildness and comfort after two irritating passes has made me rethink the use of this razor both as a travel razor (probably) and also as a beginner's first double-edged razor.

Today's three-pass shave ended up to be a good, close shave -- not baby-bottom smooth, but good enough for every-day shaving, especially when traveling.

So the Wilkinson Classic will be my travel razor for the next trip. To be determined is what pre- and post-shave products will make the cut. Check back for upcoming articles.

Happy shaving!

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