Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Tale of Two Razors

Having sorted through my stable of shaving hardware, I have been now only alternating between two razors. This is because these two I most prefer, though they require very different shaving technique. These two razors are the Merkur 33C, the so-named Classic, but with the heavier Chinese handle (as described in this previous post: click here) and the Merkur 37C, the slant (as discussed in this previous post).

My two best and favorite shavers: on the left is the Merkur 33C Classic head on a heavier, inexpensive, Chinese-made handle; on the right is the Merkur 37C slant-bar razor.
The commonalities of these razors are as follows:

  • Cosmetically, they are both chrome plated
  • They are reasonably heavy
  • They are both not twist-to-open designs, and instead are unscrew-to-disassemble types
  • They offer very close, clean shaves when used with appropriate technique
  • Both have adequate texture on the handle to make them secure in the fingers when wet and soapy
  • Both razors offer comfortable three-pass shaves when used with a high-quality shaving soap such as my custom-made "Thick, Slick, and Creamy" shaving soap -- and optimal lather.
The significant differences in these razors are explained below:
  • Straight- versus slant-bar design
  • The 33C has a smaller blade reveal; the 37C has a larger reveal. (The blade-reveal characteristic -- among others -- is explained in this article -- click here.) 
  • The 37C slant calls for shaving strokes that are strictly parallel to the handle, which then takes best advantage of the designed blade slant -- neither increasing nor decreasing the effective slant angle.
  • The 33C, by contrast, being a more mild shaver with a straight bar design and a limited blade exposure (meaning that the blade edge is well protected by the top cap and safety bar), lends itself to oblique shaving strokes (such as the so-called Gillette slide), where the stroke direction is not perpendicular to the cutting blade. (This oblique stroke makes the blade effectively sharper, partially simulating the cutting edge of a slant-razor design.)
Regarding these last two bullets, above, because the 37C slant is a much more efficient-shaving design, extra care and a good lather is the rule of the day to eliminate nicks/weepers as well as to closely shave the minor depressions and irregular contours of the face. This latter issue requires extra attention because the slant design, which (as already mentioned) calls for handle-parallel shaving strokes, means one shouldn't slant the razor head to accommodate small depressions and valleys in the skin surface.

With the 33C, on the other hand, it is not only natural to slant the head in relation to stroke direction to make the blade edge effectively shorter to handle depressions in the skin, but the mild having characteristics are, in general, much enhanced by making oblique shaving strokes for the entire shave. This I now do with every 33C shave. I get a close comfortable shave most effectively by always using the equivalent of the Gillette slide with every stroke.

That's my story for today. Happy shaving!

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