Friday, November 28, 2014

Weekly Review: the Derby-Extra Blade (DOA), Then Astra SP

This is the tenth of my weekly shave summaries This week I started with a Derby Extra blade made in Turkey, but it seemed DOA (dead on arrival) out of the package, so I quickly switched to an Astra Superior Platinum blade, which is manufactured, I believe, in St. Petersburg, Russia. Then like Lazarus rising from the dead, I resurrected the Derby blade and tried it in a slightly more capable razor to see if that improved the shave.
Now called Grandad's Shave Soap
-- slick 'n creamy, for sensitive skin.

My shave soap this week is the first pre-production run of Grandad's Slick 'n Creamy Shave Soap for Sensitive Skin (formerly called SS#11P1).

Both the Derby Extra and Astra Superior Platinum blades are single wrapped individually.

[Reminder about my skin type: I have very sensitive, thin skin, somewhat loose (on the neck when shaving horizontally), 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.]

Unless otherwise specified, all shaves this week were with my minimalist beard preparation.

What I Learned this Week:
I don't think I'll spend any money buying Derby Extra blades in bulk. The new blade I used for my first shave didn't seem defective, but it did seem not sufficiently sharp, tugging at my whiskers during its several passes of the week. It was not even particularly comfortable against my skin, which was a disappointment as well. Its replacement for the other shaves this week, the Astra Superior Platinum blade, was sharp and gave me a good, reliable shave, but not quite as comfortable on my skin as my most compatible blade to date, the Personna red-label blade from Israel. The Astras tend to leave little weepers in their wake when I go for a very close shave -- especially on my mid and lower neck.
Merkur 33C Classic

As usual, my initial shave of the week was with the Merkur 33 razor. I had been really looking forward to another trial with a Derby Extra blade because of its apparently-complex, multi-molecule coating (chromium, ceramic, tungsten, platinum, and a polymer - presumably PTFE) and its inexpensive price. However, maybe because I was spooked by many negative reviews, during the first pass, the brand-new blade seemed to be uncomfortably tugging at my whiskers. So rather than risk insult to my skin from too many passes or too much pressure, I recycled the blade and put in a new Astra SP blade as described above. Second and third passes went well, with one weeper and one little nick -- both of which disappeared from my neck with the cool-water rinse after the shave. I then did a cool-water-and-Noxzema wash, followed by some after-shave balm supplemented with a couple of drops of vitamin-E oil. Initially I felt a hint of irritation post shave, but after the rinse, wash, and balm, am left with a fairly close and comfortable result: a very good but not quite excellent shave.

Same shave gear as yesterday with the Astra SP blade: the Merkur 33 and Grandad's shave soap. Two weepers and, like yesterday, extremely minor irritation after the cool-water rinse. The result of the shave was very close, and the minor irritation disappeared after a few minutes. I finished the shave with some after-shave balm supplemented with vitamin-E oil. Today's shave is very pleasing to the hand.

A quick shave today: two passes with the Astra blade in the 33. Not a bit of irritation and not a single weeper -- nothing to mar a good-enough shave, a looking-good shave, a going-to-work shave. Post shave I did a cool-water rinse, a Noxzema-and-cool-water wash, and some Neurtrogena after-shave balm with added vitamin-E oil as a protectant against cold winds outside. A little later, after re-thinking my limited shave, I did a third pass on my neck to get a closer shave that wouldn't rub sharp remaining whiskers against the collar of my shirt. My face was sufficiently closely shaved to not require further attention. My neck was mildly irritated from this last pass, and left two small weepers. These disappeared after I topped off that final half pass with a cool-water-and-Noxzema wash.

Two passes -- largely with oblique strokes -- using the resurrected Derby Extra blade in the Lord L.6 razor head (and the heavy Maggard MR3B handle) still tugged a bit on my whiskers. Neither of these two passes was particularly close despite the slightly higher capacity of the L.6. A final third pass with the Astra SP blade in the stock Merkur 33 razor was a nice finish for the shave. Cool water rinses and a Noxzema wash finished were the after-shave treatments. The Derby blade, though risen from the dead for this shave, was more like a zombie than fully alive.

Back to the Astra blade in the 33. Using Grandad's Slick 'n Creamy shave soap, I took a three-pass shave that was close and comfortable but with several small weepers, most on my neck. A few cool-water rinses followed by a Noxzema-and-cool-water wash followed the shave, and then a small nick under my jaw line got a touch of styptic. Today's shave is pleasing to the hand.

Due to my carelessness, a minor cut along my right jawline and a few weepers on my right mid neck marred an otherwise close, irritation-free shave in three passes plus a bit of clean up. The Astra blade in the 33 razor performed as usual, and the damp, slick, creamy lather of this morning's Grandad's shave soap allowed for a fussy third pass. I followed the shave with the usual cool-water rinse and a water-and-Noxzema wash. Then the cut took a couple of dabs of styptic and the weepers got a touch as well.  After equipment clean up, I rinsed the residual styptic off my skin and was good to go.

Final shave of the week with the Astra SP in the Merkur 33 razor. Three passes with Grandad's shave soap gave a close shave with no irritation. I did have two small weepers that got a touch of styptic after the cool-water rinse. Then a Noxzema-and-water wash finished the shave.

For next week I'm shaving with the long-awaited Merkur blade made in Germany.

Happy shaving!

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