Saturday, October 18, 2014

Weekly Shave Review: Polsilver Iridium Blade

This is the fourth of my weekly shave summaries This week I have used a Polsiler Super Iridium blade. The blades are each wrapped in a single wax-paper-like wrapper, and then packaged five blades in a cardboard box as shown. I like this kind of packaging, which is bio-degradable, and encourages the user, by not providing a slot for used blades in a plastic container, to put the used blade in a blade bank for eventual recycling rather than in the landfill.
The Russian-made Polsilver Super Iridium blade.

Reminder: I have very sensitive, thin skin with lots of angles and dips -- paired with a moderately tough beard. It's challenging to get a close, comfortable shave. Shaving gear must be chosen with care, which is why I use Merkur razors (the 33C mainly and occasionally the 15C) as my main instruments. Variables in my shaves often include blade choice (usually both coated and sharp), shave prep and post-shave skin treatment.

Unless otherwise specified, all shaves this week were with my minimalist beard preparation. That is, pre-shave prep was limited to splashes of cool water on my beard, cool water brush soak, a shave soap, and a cool-tap-water shave. The shaves this week were also limited to a single razor head, the Merkur 33C, with either its factory handle or as Frankenrazor II, using the Maggard MR3B "big-boy" handle.

What I Learned this Week:
The Polsilver Super Iridium blade is sharp and smooth, and would be a perfect blade for me perhaps if I were using an even milder razor such as the Wilkinson Sword Classic, or if I had just a bit tougher skin. As it is, I think the blade is just a bit too sharp to be ideal for me, which is not surprising; I would have predicted that with what I know about my favorite blades and the general character of the Polsilver. Also, all other things equal, the Polsilver has a higher price, which would reduce my enthusiasm even if it were as well suited to my beard. Still, I'm sure some others will find it to be an ideal blade for their circumstances if both their beard and skin are a bit tougher than mine.

My latest prototype shave soap, #10C, is proving that the additional effort to find the perfect formula is paying off. Its richer lather takes an extra few seconds to create and is more creamy than frothy, but gives a great shave with natural additives to minimize the drying effects of some other soaps, and has no added fragrance or unnatural ingredients to irritate the skin or the olfactory.

With my normal Merkur 33C shave head, a three-pass shave is best done in the usual order: WG, XG, AG. Reversing the final two passes, with against grain in the second pass and cross grain in the third, causes undue irritation.

Noxzema classic-clean cleansing cream is a pleasant and effective shave butter when applied with wet hands onto a wet beard. Though I prefer to use a brush to apply shaving lubricants (soaps), I like the outcome and fragrance that a Noxzema shave provides.

Next week's blade looks to be the Gillette 7-O'clock Super Platinum blade manufactured in India, which I suspect will be a better choice for my beard and skin.
All-natural shave soap #10C whips to a slick creamy consistency
reminiscent of high-quality, but lower-density soft-serve ice cream.
Fragrance free, it is formulated for those with sensitive skin.
First frost last night; heating season is upon us here in Michigan. Using this week's blade, Polsilver Super Iridium, in my stock Merkur 33C razor, along with my latest shave-soap prototype, SS#10C, I took a three-pass shave. The outcome was very close, very smooth. There were a few weepers. After the cool-water rinses, I felt little irritation, so I used the alum block to see if it could indicate more subtle skin upset -- and it did, but not much. After the third-pass rinse and alum, two weepers remained that then disappeared with a touch of styptic. Initial impressions of the Polsilver Iridium blade is that it is slightly sharper than last week's Bluebird, but very smooth as well. Again, just based on this first shave, on my skin, the Polsilver is maybe just a touch sharper than I need, bringing with it just a touch of unwanted irritation -- not much mind you; I'm splitting hairs, but that's my first impression. Diverging from the minimalist approach after the shave, I applied some subtly-fragranced Nivea after-shave balm for sensitive skin as an acknowledgement to the cool weather and the dry heat in the house.
The stock Merkur 33C with the factory

The Polsilver blade in the stock 33C again, but today the lather is Arko shave stick. A three-pass shave with a fussy third pass yielded in a very close shave with some minor irritation that was revealed for the most part by the after-shave alum rub as well as a few minor weepers, which disappeared with the alum application. Used Neutrogena balm for sensitive skin after the shave. After the Neutrogena balm settled in and dried up, my shave is very hand friendly.

Frankenrazor II: Merkur 33C head
mated with the Maggard MR3B
"big-boy" handle. The handle alone
weighs 63 grams.
Used Frankenrazor II today just for fun, with the third-use Polsilver blade, and back to my custom shave soap #10C. Three passes with a fussy third pass left a close shave but some irritation as revealed by the alum rub. Serious cockpit error (too oblique an oblique stroke produced a cut on my neck under my right ear, and the shave opened some repeat weepers from previous shaves. Styptic on the cut & the two weepers made them disappear to the eye. My sense continues that the Polsilver is a high-quality blade but just a touch too sharp to hit my shaving sweet spot. Used a splash of witch hazel after the alum; then finished with a cool water rinse, and capped the shave with some Gillette balm for sensitive skin.

Though I prefer the process of brush
and soap, the Noxzema cream applied
with the hands onto a wet beard  is an
excellent shave butter. It's also a nice
after-shave wash. 
A cool-water-and-Noxzema-only minimalist shave today -- of course with the fourth-use Polsilver blade -- and Frankenrazor II once again. Three passes, not much fussing. The shave was comfortable and extremely close, which is very pleasing to the hand, but the alum-block rub after the shave (as an irritation indicator) did reveal slight irritation -- a sensation that quickly disappeared after I rinsed the alum off with more cool water. (There were also two residual weepers from previous shaves that disappeared with the first water rinse.) The Noxzema leaves a subtle coating on the skin that is difficult to describe. It gives a sense of an oil-based coating, but is not oily. It's almost like a subtle, protective sealer that will likely be helpful in cold weather. It also leaves a subtle, characteristic fragrance of camphor and eucalyptus that, though I found offensive as a child, I have grown to really like.

Minimalist, cool-water shave using Arko shave stick, the Merkur 33C classic razor (with factory handle), and the fifth shave with the Polsilver blade. After not using the Arko since Monday, the lemon fragrance was a bit strong and not as welcome to my nose today. Three passes with a fussy third pass. Uneventful, close shave, with three small weepers. Post-shave alum treatment revealed minor irritation in those places where I was fussing to get the closest shave. Washed the alum off with Noxzema and water to try to achieve that Noxzema finish coating that I was struggling to describe yesterday.

Minimalist, cool-water shave with my SS#10C and the 33C razor. Sixth shave with the Polsilver blade. Face lathered SS#10C, and had a thought that the best shave soaps require just a bit more attention to bring out their best rich, creamy lather. Used a three-pass shave, but the second pass was partially done against grain, which was irritating, a bad move. Also gave myself a nick and a weeper from careless stroking, which were treated with a touch of styptic after the third pass. Then an alum rub revealed irritation in the areas where the second pass was against grain. Washed off the alum using Noxzema. Twenty minutes after the shave, I applied some Nivea post-shave balm for sensitive skin.

I repeated yesterday's shave but with the normal three passes (WG, XG, AG) to see if the irritation of yesterday's shave can be eliminated by a less-aggressive, more-normal shaving process. As I suspected, the "normal" three-pass shave was better. I used non-fussy passes and got a close, comfortable shave. An alum rub -- just to test for irritation -- revealed only a minimal amount, and my after-shave treatment (beyond the alum rub) was just splashes of cold water. Shave soap #10C was slick, rich, and creamy -- world class -- and with no fragrance to irritate the skin or the nose.

Happy shaving!


  1. It was manufactured in Poland, but that has been moved to Russia. I do believe the brand is still sold in Poland.