Saturday, January 24, 2015

Weekly Shave Review: The Dorco ST-301 Blade, the Merkur 15C and other Misadventures

This is the eighteenth of my weekly shave summaries. This week is another blade previously reviewed: the Dorco ST-301 blade, which is made in Korea.

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

[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.]

The shave prep this week, unless otherwise specified, was a cool-water face wash using a mild bath soap that has been superfatted with some additional fatty acids such as olive oil or shea butter.

Merkur 33C Classic
What I Learned this Week:
This has been a shave week to forget! Ugh!

Starting with a more irritating shave from the Dorco ST-301 blade in my Merkur 33 than I had anticipated based on previous experience, the week really went into the dumper when I put this blade into my Merkur open-comb razor (the 15C) for two days. This blade-razor combination really did some damage to my skin. Then I put the 301 into my Lord L.6 razor head, which was still a bit too aggressive for my beat-up face. Finishing the week on Saturday with my one-good-edge Rimei RM2003 razor (to be soon replaced by the seller with a defect-free razor, I hope), I ended the week with the residual irritation and weepers starting to calm down.

This blade wasn't as good this week as I remembered. I went to my last ST-301 review, and I liked it much better then. Actually, the shaves with last week's Lord Platinum Class blade were better, which I never thought I'd be writing. Perhaps a bad blade this week?

I'm going to write a separate article about the 15C open-comb razor, which has always been not aggressive in its design, yet always manages to generate more irritation and weepers than my favored razor. It is a paradox that I'll soon explore soon in this blog.

For now, the Dorco blade is on double-secret probation, and when it next assumes front and center in my rotation, I'm going to approach its use with extreme care and face-friendly razors.

Baseline shave of the week with the 33 razor. Two passes, but the second was so fussy that it was basically a third. A moderately-close shave, with some weepers. Only cool-water rinses after the shave before applying some Nivea after-shave balm supplemented with vitamin-E oil.

Second shave with the ST-301 blade in the 33 Classic. A fussy shave that was disappointing with the several weepers in its wake. Cool-water rinses followed up with styptic touch up, then a cool-water wash with Noxzema. Finished the shave with much-needed Neutrogena balm supplemented with vitamin-E oil

Today I used warm, body-temperature water for the shave and initial wash with olive-oil superfatted bath soap. Same hardware as yesterday, taking two passes -- the second being a bit fussy. Re-opened some weepers from yesterday. :-(  Warm water rinse, then a Noxzema wash followed by a touch of styptic on the three weepers. Finished with Gillette lotion supplemented with vitamin-E oil. Moderately close shave. The blade felt a little harsh today on my skin, but didn't pull whiskers. Might be just some residual tenderness from yesterday's rather rough shave.

Merkur 15C open-comb razor.

Today, due to someone liking my Amazon review of the Merkur open-comb 15C razor and the resulting email in my inbox, I was inspired to give this razor a go for this morning's shave. Again today the blade felt harsh on my face but didn't pull. Two passes, the second being against grain but then fussy too, left me not quite satisfied. After the rinse and Noxzema wash, I left the Noxzema on and did a third three-quarter pass, which left me satisfied with the closeness of the shave.

Despite being a fairly mild shaver, the 15C open-comb razor allows me to feel the blade slightly more than my favorite 33C. This makes the potential for weepers a bit higher, and today I had two. After a touch of styptic, these disappeared, and then I used some after-shave balm supplemented with vitamin-E oil to complete the shave.

Used the 15C razor like yesterday with the fifth-use Dorco ST-301 blade. The ST-301 in the 15C doesn't work well for me -- at least  not this week. Not only is it more difficult to get as close a shave as with the 33C razor, the 15C open comb also seems to create more weepers. This morning I took a fairly careful three-pass shave (WG, XG, AG) and had to use the alum block, then styptic on the weepers that didn't close with just alum. Then I used witch hazel, then another touch of styptic, then a cool water rinse to remove any residual alum and styptic (if these are present when washing with Noxzema, a gritty precipitate forms), then a Noxzema wash. Finally after a few minutes, I returned to the bathroom to apply an after-shave lotion supplemented with vitamin-E oil.

A close shave today with the Dorco blade in my Lord L.6 razor head. Minimalist beard prep and three passes (WG, XG, AG) left several weepers -- likely due to the 15C shaves of the prior two days. Cold water rinses, a Noxzema wash, touches of styptic, and some Gillette lotion supplemented with vitamin-E oil finished the shave.
The Rimei RM2003 -- the good model,
if you can get a defect-free version.

With my face still healing from the Wednesday-through-Friday shaves of this week, I put the Dorco blade into my one-defective-safety-bar Rimei RM2003 razor and shaved with only the good edge. A two pass shave added no appreciable injury, but did inflame some not-yet-healed patches from earlier shaves this week. Cool water rinses were followed by some administration of styptic. After a bit of gear clean up, I rinsed off the styptic, had a Noxzema wash, towel dried, and applied some Neutrogena balm supplemented with vitamin-E oil.

My defective, one-sided Rimei RM2003 acquitted itself well, offering a close, well-behaved, reasonably comfortable shave despite my beat-up face from earlier shaves this week. I actually am looking forward to the arrival of my replacement, a non-defective version of this razor. I think it could truly be a keeper, a daily shaver.

For next week I'm returning to the SuperMax Titanium blade.

Happy shaving!

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