Monday, November 17, 2014

Baby Smooth Versus Close and Comfortable

If I had tougher hide on my face and neck -- especially if it were round and smooth, there would be no compromise between closeness and comfort of shave. I would take no prisoners. Every day's shave would be baby smooth and my skin would likely not complain a bit.
With the smooth, round face and neck contours that Johah
Hill has in this photo, it would be easy to remove his beard
with a high-capacity, high-risk razor.
If only....
Lots of contours, folds, and loose skin make his beard a
mine field if using a high-capacity, high-risk razor.

But the reality is, my skin has a limited tolerance of scalpel-sharp steel passes. Further, it's thin, not terribly tight, and has depressions within depressions. I choose my razor, blades, and lathers with care to try to get the smoothest daily shave possible without causing unsustainable irritation to my epidermis.

My anointed razor is my oft-mentioned Merkur 33, the so-called Classic model. Of all the razors I've tried, this one has the head design that, with good shaving technique, allows the blade to shave nearly baby smooth on those flat or slightly convex surfaces, but without irritation. Other razors, such as my Merkur 37 slant or my Gillette Slim Adjustable, have a combination of blade exposure, blade-bar gap, and blade angle that can shave close, but is much more likely to irritate and nick.

My blades are always coated for smoothness. My shaving lather is always slick and creamy, and whenever possible, also not drying after the shave.

I admit to a bit of annoyance with those who have skin smooth, uniform, and tough like an over-stuffed Thanksgiving turkey breast, and smugly make shaving videos implying their superiority because they can shave with a slant razor, or a Muhle R41, or some other wickedly-capable razor and be like: "What's the problem? Anyone should be able to do this."

Well, not everyone is over stuffed. Some of us have skin in some places that's a little closer to the skin folds of a blood hound's muzzle.

So for some of us, we do have to compromise -- especially if we only have one or a limited number of razor and blade combinations from which to choose. For example, with my Merkur 33 and most of my regular blades such as the Astra Superior Platinum, I get a good and sometimes near-great shave, but can't quite get there all the time, because we have to live with our skin in the hours after the shave. However, if I put a SuperMax Titanium blade in my ever-so-slightly-more-aggressive Lord L.6 razor, and use my best shave soap, the shave can be elevated to near perfection. But there is still that slight compromise between absolute perfection and excessive stroking, which leads to irritation. We also have to be ready to do it all over again tomorrow. This requires foresight and forbearance. We draw a line in the sand, and say this has to be good enough.

And it is.

Happy shaving!

1 comment:

  1. When I was working on "pumpkin face balm" (see my comment to Thanksgiving post) I put some pure vitamin E on my face as an attempted emulsion. The entire next day, my face was oozing the stuff, which seemed to me more suitable to a burn victim than a shaver. Oil generally, I have found, is a relatively poor lubricant for shaving, but this stuff is a veritable drag fluid. One of the bloodiest shaves I ever had was when I left a lather too thick. So I suspect that your attempts to protect yourself might actually be counter-productive. I'd lose both the Noxema and the E, go with a few drops of olive or canola instead. (I love my 50/50 castor/argan, but that's a lot of oil to commit to without some preliminary testing.)