Saturday, March 14, 2015

Weekly Shave Review: Derby Extra

This is the twenty-fifth of my weekly shave summaries. This week revisits the Derby Extra blade.

My shave soap again this week is from the second pre-production run of Grandad's Slick 'n Creamy Shave Soap for Sensitive Skin, which is being used for the initial offering of client samples.

Reminder about my skin type: 
  • Sensitive & thin skin, somewhat loose on neck
  • Lots of angles and dips -- paired with a moderately tough beard
  • Challenging to get a close, comfortable shave

Face care this week, unless otherwise specified:
  • Cool-water rinse only, prior to lathering
  • Grandad's shave soap lathered with a boar brush
  • (After-shave treatments are specified in each day's notes)

New/Different in This Week's Review:
  • The Derby Extra blade is the blade of the week.
  • I pulled out the Merkur 37 slant-bar razor for one shave.

What I Learned this Week:
  • The Derby Extra blade just doesn't seem to give a close, comfortable shave on my face irrespective of razor, technique, or phase of the blade's useful life. 
  • I could use the Derby Extra blade, but even when the shave is close and wound free, it leaves more irritation in its wake than others.
  • By the end of the week, I'm usually happy to be moving on to another brand of blade.
  • The Rimei RM2003 continues to prove its compatibility with my face. Slightly positive blade exposure offers closer shaves, while the low blade angle is generally face friendly. (The blade-bar span requires more study on my part before I can comment -- other than it isn't too large to increase the tendency to nip.)
  • The Merkur 33 razor will remain at hand in my bathroom cabinet for those days when my face needs a healing rest, when the blade is very sharp, or when I desire to sleep walk through a shave without much risk. (This isn't a slam on this razor; I really like it, and it's a great companion to my RM2003.)
  • My 37 slant-bar razor went back into the closet shoe box because I actually get closer, more comfortable shaves with the RM2003. The reason for this is probably related to 1) the fact that some terrain on my face such as under the jaw line and upper neck is best shaved cross grain with the razor head making oblique, not direct strokes -- and the slant is obviously poorly suited to this technique because the blade is already slanted in the razor head; and 2) the blade exposure, angle, and blade-bar span on the slant are unnecessarily risky and too likely to bite, when compared to the RM2003, which seems to have a nice combination of those design factors as previously mentioned above.

Next Week:
The Rapira blade is on deck for next week's shaves. I'm looking forward to revisiting this Russian-made blade.

This week's shave journal:

The Rimei RM2003 has slightly different shave character,
when comparing one edge to the other, due to slight differences
in blade angle and exposure, but not enough to be significant.
In the Rimei RM2003, the Derby Extra blade proved that it's sharp (like most other quality shaving blades). First two passes were uneventful even with a bit of fussing under the jaw line after the second pass. The third pass opened some weepers and left some irritation, and this pass was a bit fussy as well on the chin, jawline, and under. The shave left weepers on my neck, mostly, and one on a cheek. I finished the shave with a cool water rinse, some tea-tree lotion, then alum block to encourage the weepers to go away. After gear clean up, I applied some Nivea balm supplemented with vitamin-E oil.

The irritation & wounds are undoubtedly due to the slightly positive blade exposure co
mbined with characteristics of the Derby Extra blade (perhaps not as smooth and sharp as others). If I had to choose based on this shave between the Derby and a Feather, I'd choose the Feather blade! Tomorrow will definitely be with the Derby Extra in my Merkur 33 to have a recovery shave.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.7; Lower lip & chin - 4.8; Under jawline - 4.4; Neck - 4.0.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.38, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-3.0

Summary rating: 3.94**
Despite its greater blade angle, the
Merkur 33 has a negative blade exposure
and therefore provides a more mild
shave than the RM2003.


A three-pass shave with the Derby and the Merkur 33 with a little fussing under the jawline gave a pleasant shave marred by a re-opened weeper under the chin from yesterday. The shave finished with a cool-water rinse, styptic under my chin, and a splash of citrus tea-tree after-shave lotion. I rated the wound evaluation a bit high because the under-chin bleeding was really from yesterday.

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

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.12, Irritation-5.0, Wounds-4.0

Summary rating: 4.31**   

Three no-fuss passes (WG, XG, AG) with the 33 and the Derby provided a low-irritation, no-wound, but not-quite-smooth shave. Finished with a cool-water rinse and some Gillette after-shave lotion (blue bottle).

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.0; Lower lip & chin - 3.7; Under jawline - 4.0; Neck - 4.0.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-3.94, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-5.0

Summary rating: 4.22**  
The Merkur 37 slant.

On a whim, I pulled out the slant bar today and took a careful but not-fussy three-pass shave. Other than some troubling weepers on my lower neck, the shave was not bad, but not great, nor my favorite. Because the slant bar must be used with direct, not oblique strokes, it is very difficult to use on my upper neck and under jaw line due to the curving, dipping terrain. A straight-bar razor works much better because it is easier to make oblique strokes. Also, the Derby Extra seems not quite sharp enough nor comfortable enough to be a good match with the slant.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.7; Lower lip & chin - 4.2; Under jawline - 3.3; Neck - 3.3.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-3.90, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-3.0

Summary rating: 3.70**

Rimei RM2003

Three careful passes and nearly an additional careful fourth yielded a shave that only irritated the residual damage from yesterday's shave with the slant, but was actually fairly close and moderately comfortable when standing on its own. The moderate-only comfort, I think, was due to the blade, which may be dulling and losing its coating. The closeness of today's shave was only due to the fourth pass, but the blade itself continues to be unimpressive -- seeming neither quite sharp enough nor completely comfortable against skin. The instruments for today were the Rimei RM2003 razor and this week's Derby Extra blade. The shave finished with a cool water rinse and a Noxzema wash. That's it!

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.3; Cheeks - 4.2; Lower lip & chin - 4.5; Under jawline - 4.2; Neck - 4.7.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.38, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-4.7

Summary rating: 4.37**

With the Derby in the RM2003, three passes gave a close, wound-free, but initially-irritated shave. To soothe my skin, the cool-water rinse was followed by a Noxzema wash, and a tea-tree-lotion splash. Then later I applied a face moisturizer that included sun screen to meet the pre-spring day.

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

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.2, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-5.0

Summary rating: 4.35**

Pressed for time, I again used yesterday's gear (RM2003 and a final-shave Derby) to take an non-fussy two-pass shave (WG, XG). After the shave, I simply rinsed with cool water, and dabbed for a second on a single pinpoint weeper.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 3.0; Cheeks - 3.5; Lower lip & chin - 3.0; Under jawline - 3.0; Neck - 3.0.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-3.1, Irritation-5.0, Wounds-4.9

Summary rating: 4.03**

*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.

**Regarding the single-number overall shave rating: To give equal weight to shave closeness and harshness, I now double the shave-closeness rating, then add the values for closeness, irritation, and wounds, and divide that sum by four.

Happy shaving

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