Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Round Two: Arko vs. Slant Bar

Yesterday the first use of the Arko shave stick pitted against my Frankenrazor provided a wonderfully comfortable shave. A greater test of its lubricating powers comes today with a slant-bar-razor shave. The question to be answered is can the Arko shave stick protect my face from irritation and weepers when challenged by the most aggressive, capable razor in my bathroom cabinet?
The featured player in today's performance was the Arko shave stick, which is unwrapped at upper right. The supporting cast features the mighty Merkur 37C slant-bar razor.
This shave, like yesterday, was minimalist, so there were no pre-lathering products, no hot water used at any point, and no after-shave products except splashes of cool water.  Also, remembering that the Arko stick can be used with moderation -- meaning that one doesn't have to smear the dry soap over the entire wet beard -- this morning I only rubbed the stick on less than half of the area of my well-wetted beard, that is, just on my cheeks and chin, neglecting below the jawline, upper lip, and near my ears.

Initially, for a couple of seconds whipping the soap with a wet brush, the lather appeared thin and inadequate. Then it bloomed to the slick, rich lather of yesterday's shave. Because I used less soap on my face, it was easier with a bit more attention to get adequate and appropriate hydration of the lather.

I took 1-1/2 passes, but fussed over the tune-up half pass to the extent that the shave nearly became two full passes.

The result was very close to baby smooth everywhere. The key issue, though, is residual irritation, and in today's shave there was as little as I get with such a close shave and the slant-bar razor. I did get three small weepers, which disappeared on their own after a few rinses with cool water. Given my skin and preferred shaving technique, I would expect this is due to the hyper-aggressive design of the slant razor, and wouldn't expect any shave lubricant to completely eliminate this issue. It's more of equipment choice and stubborn cockpit error. Like yesterday, I would give the Arko very high marks for giving a comfortable shave both during and after.

The residual clean lather in the brush was still generous, and, like yesterday, I squeezed it into the same re-purposed Greek-yogurt cup to dry and be used another day; being conservative, I hate to rinse perfectly good shave soap down the drain.

Tomorrow it's back to Frankenrazor with Arko soap again, but with a twist. Tomorrow I'll either go full-on light-travel mode and try the Arko shave stick without a brush -- that is, just using wet fingers to make lather, or I'll try a first test of just using the dried, left-over lather from previous Arko shaves. Stay tuned.

Happy shaving!

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