Saturday, April 11, 2015

Weekly Shave Review: The Polsilver Iridium Blade with Various Razors

This is the twenty-nineth of my weekly shave summaries. This week discusses the sharp, coated Polsilver Super Iridium blade in various razors of increasing aggressiveness -- but all still rather mild.

My intended razors this week will progressively increase in aggressiveness of razor design. Starting with the Weishi 9306-F (the most mild), I'll move to the Dorco Prime (to continue distinguishing any difference from the 9306), then the Merkur 33, then the Lord L.6 razor head, and then finally to the Rimei RM2003. All of the three-piece razors will be used with the classic handle from the Merkur 33.

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 just getting comments from the initial users of the sample offering. I'm pleased to say that I've gotten positive feedback saying it's easy to later, slick and creamy, not drying, and rinses cleanly. I've also received suggestions for similar soap formulations with minor tweaks such as adding fragrance.

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:

New/Different in This Week's Review:
  • The Polsilver Super Iridium blade, made in St. Petersburg, Russia
  • The day-to-day incremental increase in aggressiveness of each day's chosen razor's shave character, though all typically mild to suit my sensitive skin

What I Learned this Week:
  • The Polsilver Super Iridium blade is just a bit sharp and irritating for my sensitive skin, making any attempt at the close shave that I prefer difficult to do without minor blood appearing.
  • After about a week of shaves (seven shaves), the blade seems to be dulling slightly and to the point where I might get a shave without weepers, but it's too much trouble to go through a week of spoiled shaves just to eventually get to some that I can really appreciate.
  • The Polsilver's sharpness and tendency to irritate my sensitive skin combined with its higher price makes it one that I won't buy in bulk, and am just using the remaining blades from my five-pack sample. (I've given a couple away to friends to try.)
  • The difference in shaving character between my Weishi 9306-F and the Dorco Prime TTO razors is too close to call. For me, I think I have to work just a little too hard to get a close shave with either, and, ironically, the mildness of the razors may encourage more pressure against skin engendering just a touch more irritation and a few more weepers than razors with just a little more aggression in their basically-mild character.
  • Though I tend to think of the following razors in this increasing order of aggressiveness (though all are extremely mild shavers) -- Weishi 9306-F, Dorco Prime, Merkur Classic (33C) -- they all shave about the same. Yes, there are variations in the daily shave, which are likely random; but they each offer similar capability for a close shave. Of the three, however, I prefer the Merkur Classic, which seems the least grating on my skin.
  • The Lord L.6 razor head is slightly more capable than the Merkur Classic. The indication for this is the closer shave that I get on my cheeks with the L.6. However, for my face, the overall best razor with a very sharp blade such as the Polsilver remains the Merkur Classic (33C), offering the best compromise between potential for closeness, and risk of wounds and irritation.
  • The Rimei RM2003 razor head is too much razor for my face, when paired with this Polsilver blade.
  • For optimal shaving, I need to slow both the rate of my strokes as well as the speed of each individual stroke; that is, I need to counteract my natural tendency to hurry.

Next Week:
The Gillette Wilkinson Sword blade is on deck.

This week's shave journal:

The Weishi 9306-F.
With the fresh-from-the wrapper Polsilver blade in the Weishi 9306-F razor I took a careful three-pass shave (WG, AG, XG -- no that's not a typo: I shaved against grain on the second pass and cross grain in the third) with some additional fussing including an against grain fourth pass on my upper lip. Even with the mild razor and some careful shaving, the ultra sharp Polsilver blade opened a number of minor weepers and minor cockpit error caused a nick under my jawline. The shave ended with the usual cool-water rinse, a splash of witch hazel, a touch of styptic on one weeper and on the nick, a splash of tea tree after shave lotion, and some Gillette balm (blue bottle).

Closeness details: Upper lip - 5.0; Cheeks - 4.5; Lower lip & chin - 4.7; Under jawline - 4.0; Neck - 4.2.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.48, Irritation-4.5, Wounds-3.5

Summary rating4.24**  (Once again like last week, a pretty nice shave with a rating lowered by some minor second- and third-pass wounds.)

The Dorco Prime, visually
a twin for the Weishi.
Just like last week's Monday shave, I took three passes, with the last being very fussy. Today I used the Dorco Prime razor trying to compare the closeness of the shave on my cheeks with yesterday's shave. Finished with a cool-water rinse, witch hazel splash, and Neutrogena balm. Very difficult to judge for sure, but I don't think the Dorco Prime is shaving much closer than the Weishi; the difference on the cheeks may be due to the essentially double against-grain pass that I took today.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.2; Cheeks - 4.7; Lower lip & chin - 4.5; Under jawline - 4.2; Neck - 4.0.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.40, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-3.5

Summary rating4.08**

The Merkur Classic, model 33C.
Today was a three-pass shave with some fussing on my upper lip, which resulted in a minor nick (*&^%$#@!!!). This spoiled an otherwise fine shave. Though sharp, I seem to consistently find the Polsilver blade just a bit irritating. I closed out the shave with the usual cool-water rinse, a touch of styptic, and that was it. I'll apply some moisturizer with sunscreen before I leave the house.

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

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.44, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-3.9

Summary rating4.20**  A pretty good shave spoiled by that nick on my upper lip.  :-(

The Lord L.6 razor head on the
Merkur Classic handle.
Today per the week's plan, I had the Polsilver blade in the Lord L.6 razor head on the Merkur Classic handle. Three no-fuss passes resulted in a good shave a bit closer on my cheeks than previous days though not quite baby smooth. Finished the shave with a cool-water rinse, a single touch of styptic on a small but prolific weeper, and some un-doctored Neurtogena balm.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.8; Lower lip & chin - 4.5; Under jawline - 4.0; Neck - 4.0.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.26, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-4.0

Summary rating4.13**

Rimei RM2003 head on the Merkur
Classic handle.

Completing the five-razor seqence, today was the Rimei RM2003 head on the Merkur Classic handle -- of course, with the fifth-use Polsilver Super Iridium blade. This combination of razor head and blade is probably too aggressive for my skin. Three non-fussy passes gave a fairly close shave, but lots of weepers, which required styptic treatment. The irony of this blade-razor combination is that, being too aggressive, I really don't get much closer than with other alternatives because I have to be gentle to avoid excessive blood loss. I finished the shave with a cool-water rinse, a witch hazel splash, styptic pencil, and some Gillette lotion for sensitive skin (white bottle).

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.7; Lower lip & chin - 4.8; Under jawline - 4.6; Neck - 4.6.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.54, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-3.0

Summary rating4.02**  (A good shave spoiled by significant weepers.)

After yesterday's blood letting, I returned to the trusty Merkur Classic razor to take the sixth shave of the week with the Polsilver Super Iridium blade. Three simple passes gave an acceptable shave, but unfortunately with some weepers from yesterday reopened. I should emphasize that these wounds are painless; I only know they've occurred when blood appears. The shave was finished with a cool-water rinse, a witch hazel splash, and application of Nivea sensitive-skin balm.

Closeness details: Upper lip - 4.0; Cheeks - 4.1; Lower lip & chin - 4.8; Under jawline - 4.2; Neck - 4.7.

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.36, Irritation-4.0, Wounds-4.0

Summary rating4.18**

Still trying (and failing) to not re-open weeper wounds from previous shaves, I took the final three-pass shave (with fussing on the final pass) with the Polsilver in my Merkur Classic (33C) razor. I topped the shave with a cool-water rinse, some tea-tree after-shave lotion, then some Neurtogena gel supplemented with three drops of vitamin-E oil.

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

Rating this day's shave*:     Closeness-4.48, Irritation-4.6, Wounds-4.0

Summary rating4.39**  (By far, the best shave of the week, but still diminished by the recurring weepers.)

*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!


  1. No go for the Merkur open comb?

    btw, I like the Gillette WS blades. Used them in my Merkur OC with good results.

  2. Interesting - as someone with a similar skin type to how you've described yourself, I've been waiting for this review to see if you enjoyed the disocovery of these blades as much as I have.

    I've tried Feathers, Personna Reds and Med Prep, Derby, Astra SP, and Polsilvers, and find the latter to be the best balance of smoothness and sharpness. I've given them a go in both the Bevel and the AS-D2.

    I know it's always the case of YMMV, but now I'm wondering what your favourite blade is - I'll be looking through your reviews to find that answer!

  3. Due to the two preceding comments, I'm writing my Sunday, April 12, 2015 article on my current preferences. Thanks.