Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Blade versus Razor: Results Part Two

To summarize this multi-day experiment to this point:

My conclusions from those shaves are as follows:
  • My main premise remains that technique is the largest factor in getting a good shave as long as one is using a sharp and appropriately smooth blade. This is why I suggest new wet shavers start, not with a sampler pack, but instead with a moderately-priced but high-quality, coated blade such as the Dorco ST-301, which is both platinum and PTFE (Teflon) coated.
  • The uncoated Lord blade was a significant contributor to the harshness of the Father's Day shave. [UPDATE: It's not clear what, if any, coating is actually on the Lord Platinum. One Internet seller suggests a chromium coating; a shaving-forum poster suggests double-coated teflon. The packaging of the blade is silent on the issue. !?!]
So the question remains, how much did the Gillette TTO razor contribute to the harshness of the Sunday and Tuesday shaves?

So today, as promised, I put the once-used Dorco ST-301 blade into my Merkur 37C slant.

The shave was close and about as user-friendly as my shaves get. I actually only did two passes, WTG and a combination XTG/ATG, but got a close, comfortable result.

So, perhaps predictably, there are factors of both technique and choice of hardware that contribute to a good shave. However, given good equipment, technique is what will make or break a shave. So I continue to stand by my new-DE-shaver recommendations:

  1. Start with a good razor and you may never have deal with razor-acquisition disease. I think the best razors have a smaller blade angle and a well-textured handle to resist slipping when wet. This means Merkur-like two- and three-piece UTO razors such as the Lord LP1822L, or Merkur models 33C, 34C, or equivalents with similar shaving heads.
  2. Start with a high-quality, coated blade, but one that isn't terribly expensive. I continue to be increasingly impressed with the Dorco ST-301 blade, which is double coated as indicated above.
  3. Use this gear to learn intentional direct and oblique shaving strokes with the appropriately light touch. Shave in multiple passes. Perfect your technique. Learn about the quirks of your skin and beard. Become an expert in shaving your face, relying on skill with the equipment you have chosen.
  4. Then after months of practice, if you want to branch out and experiment with different blades or styles of razor, have at it. But after paying your dues perfecting your skill, you will have the experience to evaluate different gear more accurately, and will probably have less inclination to keep changing equipment in search of a good shave.
That's my opinion. What's yours?

Happy shaving!

ATG - against the grain
DE - double edge
TTO - twist to open, or turn to open
UTO - unscrew to open (and disassemble)
WTG - with the grain
XTG - across the grain

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