Saturday, February 14, 2015

Weekly Shave Review: The Personna Lab-Blue Blade, the Lord L.6 et al, and Rating Gradations

This is the twenty-first of my weekly shave summaries. This week is another blade previously reviewed: the Personna Super, the so-called lab-blue blade, which is manufactured in the U.S.A. and listed as being "comfort coated," having a PTFE coating.

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 rinse only, followed by Grandad's shave soap lathered with a boar brush. After-shave treatments are specified in each day's notes.
The Lord L.6 razor head with a Maggard MR3B handle is my
go-to razor this week instead of my customary Merkur 33C.

New in This Week's Review:
I am using a Lord L.6 razor head on the Maggard MR3B handle as my go-to razor this week. My thought is that, since the L.6, though mild, is just a slightly more aggressive design than my preferred Merkur 33, I might inch closer to the perfect shave if I give this another thorough, open-minded series of evaluation shaves.

I will also, like last week, be using the Gillette Slim with the same Personna red-label blade for some, not all, final passes this week.

Gillette Slim Adjustable.
I am also continuing to use my new shave-rating system, which is briefly outlined at the end of this article, and on which an entire article has been written for This week though, I've incorporated an additional gradation, which is using tenths of rating points. Each additional tenth of a rating point represents about 10% of the shaving area in question. For example, if I'm rating cheeks for closeness of shave, and about 40% of that area is smooth in all directions, then I would rate that a 4.4.  This will add more objectivity to the evaluations, which last week I was struggling (and not succeeding) to provide in discriminating between shave subtleties.

I've also included a one-number average rating for the shave. This make rough comparisons easier, but also allows for appreciating the nuances, which are available in the smoothness breakouts and the three-category breakouts as well.

What I Learned this Week:
The X-pass shave process has been a failure. I get a closer and more comfortable shave with the normal three passes.

The US-made Personna lab-blue blade is top drawer right out of the package. ....

A non-fussy three-pass shave (WG, XG, AG) with the Lord L.6 and the fresh Personna-blue blade provided a superior shave this morning. Though the L.6 has a negative blade exposure similar to the Merkur 33, the blade gap of the L.6 is slightly larger, thus giving it a slightly more aggressive shave character. This worked well with the lab-blue blade giving a shave that was as good as any of those of last week. This shave was so good and pleasant, the post-shave treatment was simply a couple of cool-water rinses and application of Gillette after-shave lotion for sensitive skin (the white bottle) supplemented with three drops of vitamin-E oil. (No styptic, no alum, no Noxzema wash.)

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.5; Lower lip & chin - 4.4; Under jawline - 3.6; Neck - 4.4.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.2, Irritation-4.4, Wounds-4.9

Summary rating: 4.50

Using the Personna blue blade in the Merkur 33 razor head today for all three passes -- and getting very fussy with the third pass, I got a good, close shave this morning. After the shave, just a cool-water rinse, towel dry, and application of Gillette after-shave lotion (white bottle) supplemented with vitamin-E oil.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.7; Lower lip & chin - 4.6; Under jawline - 4.1; Neck - 4.4.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.3, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-4.9

Summary rating: 4.40


The two-pass X-shaving pattern
of Tuesday's shave.
Today again with the L.6 razor head, the Personna blue blade, and the heavy Maggard MR3B handle, I tried a new shaving-pass pattern. Instead of the usual three passes, I tried a two-pass X pattern, in which the first pass is a generally-diagonal direction, a compromise between with-grain and cross-grain directions. The final pass is the complimentary direction, a compromise between cross-grain and against-grain directions. It would have been a fair shave, but right out of the gate I carelessly gave myself a significant nick on my Adams apple, which cast a pall over the entire event. I will try this X-pattern shave again tomorrow. The shave ended with styptic and dabbing of TP on the big nick, then a Noxzema wash, then Gillette lotion with vitamin-E oil.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.0; Lower lip & chin - 3.8; Under jawline - 3.6; Neck - 3.8.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-3.8, Irritation-4.5, Wounds-3.0

Summary rating: 3.77

This week's Personna-blue blade was in the Merkur 33 today for an X-pass shave -- the least-fussy shave since I can't remember when. Neither terribly close nor comfortable, I finished the shave with a cool-water rinse, a Noxzema wash, and Neutrogena balm supplemented with vitamin-E oil.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 3.0; Cheeks - 3.6; Lower lip & chin - 3.0; Under jawline - 3.0; Neck - 3.2.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-3.1, Irritation-3.0, Wounds-3.5

Summary rating: 3.20

Today was the first two passes with my Lord L.6 razor head paired with the lab-blue blade of the week and coupled with the heavy Maggard handle. The third and fourth passes were a return to the Gillette Slim on three for pass three, and on four for pass four, with the Personna red-label blade that already had several passes under its belt. The fourth, nearly full pass (didn't shave my neck a fourth time) yielded several weepers, but the irritation was only moderate, and the shave close. Finished with cool-water rinse, Noxzema wash, alum rub, and a touch of styptic on two pinpoint weepers that I kept opening with my post-shave fussing.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.3; Cheeks - 4.6; Lower lip & chin - 4.8; Under jawline - 4.2; Neck - 4.0.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.4, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-3.0

Summary rating: 3.80   Despite the low summary rating, I value closeness and low irritation, and I think this shave was pretty good.

A generic three-pass shave with the Lord L.6 razor head and the Personna lab-blue blade, both on the heavy Maggard MR3B handle would have given a nice, no-blood, no-irritation, no-fuss shave except for a careless stroke on the third pass under my chin, which opened a nasty cut (*&^%$#@!!!).

After the cool-water rinse and first aid for the cut, I finished with a Noxzema wash capped off with Gillette after-shave lotion (blue bottle) supplemented by vitamin-E oil.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 3.6; Cheeks - 4.0; Lower lip & chin - 4.0; Under jawline - 4.0; Neck - 3.6.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-3.8, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-3.5

Summary rating: 3.77


The Rimei RM2003 used for Saturday's shave.
A Rimei RM2003 razor arrived yesterday, and this one appears to be shave worthy with no significant defects. So I used that for today's shave. I took a non-fussy three-pass shave and, even with the seventh-use Personna blue-wrapper blade, the shave was close and comfortable. Three small weepers were the only wounds, and only one of those needed just the slightest touch of styptic. I can't explain it, but despite being a mild-shaving razor, the shave was pretty darned close. The shave ended with a cool-water rinse, a Noxzema wash, and Neutrogena balm supplemented with vitamin-E oil.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.2; Lower lip & chin - 4.4; Under jawline - 3.6; Neck - 4.0.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.0, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-4.0

Summary rating: 4.00  (Actually a nice shave despite the week-old blade and the mild, inexpensive razor.)

Next Week:
For next week I'm returning to the Israeli-made Personna Platinum red-label blade. Still in search of the optimal shave, next week I'll be using my new Rimei RM2003 razor.

*Rating Key:
Closeness -- a separate evaluation is done for each of these five areas: a) upper lip, b) cheeks, c) chin, d) under jaw line, and e) neck; then these five are averaged together for a single closeness rating. The following are the scale criteria:
5 – Smooth when rubbed against grain & other directions
4 – Smooth across grain but not against grain
3 – Smooth with grain only
2 – Not smooth to touch, but appears adequately clean shaven
1 – Not smooth to touch, and stubble apparent

5 – No perceivable irritation
4 – Minor irritation just after the shave, disappears quickly with time or applied balm
3 – Minor irritation that lingers for more than an hour but less than six
2 – Irritation that is perceived throughout the day
1 – Visible razor burn

5 – Absence of any wounds
4 – Pinpoint weepers only
3 – A total of three or less nicks, small cuts, and larger-than-pinpoint weepers
2 – A total of four to six  nicks, cuts, and larger-than-pinpoint weepers
1 – Worse than 2, above (first aid, quick!)

Regarding use of tenths of rating points: For closeness or irritation, each additional tenth of a rating point represents about 10% of the shaving area in question. For wounds, it represents gradations within a rating. For example, if I have, say, six pinpoint weepers only, I might give a wound rating of 4. However, if I only have one wound, which is a pinpoint weeper, that would likely get a rating of 4.9.

Happy shaving!


  1. They are a great blade, smooth and sharp with decent longevity.

    I typically get a week out of them, and along with my other blades in rotation I think I am good for about 20 years haha.

    Although, I have stopped using soaps though and gone back to canned Barbasol, for the convenience.

    1. Mike, thanks for your sharing your thoughts. Much appreciated.

      I do want to add some things about canned foam/gel. Literally thousands of cans of this type of product are sold every day in the USA. That means that thousands of empty cans go to landfills every day! This is a waste of raw materials (in the can packaging) and, more importantly, adds more unnecessary material to our trash stream. Unfortunately, too many of us bring this disposable-product/disposable-packaging mentality to virtually every aspect of our lives, and it means looming disaster for our environment and many living things (especially humans).

      I encourage all who read this to become aware of such issues. Drive smaller and more ecologically-friendly vehicles. Encourage development and expansion of effective public transportation. And give more consideration to the fact that our world isn't a trash can! Every item that you "throw away" is simply relocated to another place in your living space. Nothing is thrown away, it's merely relocated out of your view. And eventually this will become more obvious as we reap the consequences of our thoughtless habits. Reduce, reuse, recycle! Shaving soap is more convenient in my opinion because I don't have to slather it on with my hands. If someone doesn't agree, then they may need some instruction on face lathering rather than bowl lathering. More importantly, shaving soap is much more ecologically responsible!!!