Saturday, December 27, 2014

Weekly Shave Review: The Wilkinson Sword Blade

This is the fourteenth of my weekly shave summaries. This week, I'm using a German-made Wilkinson Sword Classic blade. (This is in contrast to last week's manufactured-in-India Gillette Wilkinson Sword blade.) This blade is triple coated with chromium, ceramic, and PTFE.

They come single wrapped and in cardboard boxes of five individually-wrapped blades.

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

Now called Grandad's Shave Soap
-- slick 'n creamy, for sensitive skin.
[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:
The German-made Wilkinson Sword blade is another that is sufficiently sharp and durable. I noticed no drop off in shave quality during the week. The blade may well be good for more shaves, but it's too inconvenient for me to go more than a week with a single blade; I take a new blade every Sunday morning. However, though this tripble-coated blade is comfortable, it is not as comfortable as other blades, and I probably wouldn't be buying more. 

My trash-or-treasure razor is a safe, comfortable instrument that can shave closely on hairs growing more straight out of the skin, with little grain. On hair with moderate to significant grain, it is difficult to get a close shave with the geometry of this razor. On the other hand, the holy-grail razor, as it's currently set up, can provide a very close shave, but, due to its positive blade exposure, needs to be handled with care.

Ah, but the Merkur 33 remains the go-to instrument. Comfortable and easy, this razor give a reliable shave in two or three passes. It won't get my face completely baby smooth, but it approaches that closeness without much effort, and with little risk of irritation and other unpleasantries.

Merkur 33C Classic
With the Merkur 33 razor, I did a three-pass shave using buffing strokes for all passes. I did get a big weeper near the corner of my mouth and a nick just on the underside of my chin. Only the weeper needed styptic. All the buffing with a new blade left my skin feeling slightly irritated, so after the cool-water rinse and the Noxzema wash, I used a little Gillette after-shave balm for sensitive skin supplemented with a few drops of vitamin-E oil. Overall result was a very close, and, ultimately, comfortable shave.

The Chinese "holy-grail" razor, which,
despite its appearance here, actually
has a "silver tone."
Today I did first and third passes with my experimental "holy-grail" razor in its first-adjustment orientation, not as it came from the factory. The second pass was done with my venerable Merkur 33. Close shave, but after the third pass, was left with much irritation and many weepers. The positive blade exposure in the Chinese "holy-grail" razor was obvious in the "feel" and sound of the shave, as well as the closeness and residual irritation. Used alum block over the entire face, followed by styptic in several places. Then a cool-water face wash (to remove the alum and styptic), followed by a Noxzema wash, and capped off with Gillette revitalizing gel supplemented by vitamin-E oil.

After the extreme irritation of yesterday's shave, which I attribute to a combination of the positive blade exposure of the "holy-grail" razor and the aggressive, all-buffing-technique of yesterdays shave, I went with the low-angle trash-or-treasure Chinese razor. Three passes and a bit of touch up produced a low-irritation shave -- despite that my skin was still sore in places from yesterday. The closeness of today's shave was not terribly close, revealing stubble when the hand is rubbed against grain. However, close enough with no contribution to the discomfort from yesterday. Shave ended with a cool-water rinse, a Noxzema wash, and some vitamin-E, vitamin-B5 and sunscreen face moisturizer supplemented with a drop of vitamin-E oil. My skin is still healing in some places from the damage of Monday's shave, but at least I didn't do more damage today.

Again today to allow my face to recover from Monday's shave, I did two passes with the Merkur 33, then a final pass with the trash-or-treasure (ToT) razor, which has an extremely mild shaving character, with very low blade angles and a slightly-negative blade exposure. A comfortable, blood-less shave was achieved with a bit of fussing on the third pass. The shave was not particularly close, because my ToT razor has such a non-aggressive shaving character. After the Noxzema wash, I used face moisturizer with a bit of vitamin-E oil.
The Lord L.6 razor head on the Maggard
MR3B handle for Thursday's shave.

Today's shave was with the Lord L.6 razor head for the first pass, then the holy-grail razor as a finishing instrument in the second, final pass. A water rinse and Noxzema wash followed along with a bit of touch-up stroking with the holy-grail razor. The shave was capped off with Nivea balm for sensitive skin to soothe the bit of irritation that I felt. There were also four tiny point weepers that disappeared with the post-shave rinses and wash. The closeness of this shave was baby smooth on my cheeks and very close elsewhere. Despite the minor irritation, it was one of the closer overall shaves that I've had.

Two passes today with the Merkur 33. The first pass was normal oblique strokes with the grain, and the second pass was mostly all buffing, mostly against grain except for my upper lip, which was cross grain in both directions. Very good shave: no irritation, one nick under my chin (due to cavalier buffing), and completely close enough. Water rinse, a touch of styptic on the nick, second water rinse, and a Noxzema wash. That was it. :-)

A three pass shave: the first two with the Merkur 33 -- with grain and against grain. Final pass with the holy-grail (HG) razor going for baby smooth. I opened a few weepers with the positive-exposure HG razor, and had a bit of irritation after the second and third passes.

For next week I'm shaving with a Russian Rapira blade.

Happy shaving!

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