Saturday, May 21, 2016

Razor Rotation: A Bad Idea for Some....

Tuning my blade-razor combinations has been a big help in perfecting other details of my morning shave.

The blade-razor tuning began with turning a common phrase and concept on its head. The phrase commonly used is razor rotation. For those of us with sensitive skin, the whole idea of rotating through razors is just so wrong!

This is because this razor-rotation approach implies several ideas, and of these, there is one key thing that is just not true for me and for many like me, who have sensitive skin:

  • With a given blade, there are several razors in one's possession that will provide an optimally-close shave. This is true. I can take most of my razors, and by altering my shave process to work best with each one, I can get an extremely close shave.
  • With a given blade, there are several razors in one's possession that will provide a comfortable, wound-free shave. This is true. Generally speaking, with any given blade that I have used, I can get a comfortable shave with many of the razors in my humble assortment. However, it is equally true that with many of these instruments, I may have to limit my shave to a single with-grain pass.
  • However -- and this is a big however -- generally speaking for a given blade, there is only a single razor that affords the best combination of closeness and wound-free comfort.
Therefore, it makes little sense to rotate through my razors on a day-to-day basis. Let's say that I'm using a SuperMax Titanium (SMT) blade for example, and I might use that for seven shaves. Using the razor-rotation approach, I might take my seven shaves using my Weishi 9306, Merkur 33C, Gillette Tech (c. 1948), Lord LP1822L, and my Rimei RM2003. With the Weishi and Merkur razors, I'll get a comfortable shave, but one that is difficult to achieve my preferred degree of closeness. With the Tech and the Rimei, the shave will likely be close but is likely to have a few weepers; this becomes increasingly true if I were to use more aggressive razors such as my Merkur 37C slant. The LP1822L is really the best razor to pair with the SMT blade -- at least for my mug. 

So in this example, if I took a new SMT blade and rotated through the razors mentioned in the preceding paragraph -- Weishi, Merkur 33, Tech, Lord, Rimei, and Merkur 37 -- my shave outcomes would likely be 1) not close enough , 2) not close enough, 3) some avoidable wounds, 4) ahhhh, just right, 5) some avoidable wounds, 6) some avoidable wounds, and 7) not close enough (using the Weishi again). So by rotating through my razors for this blade, over the course of the week I would get one good shave, three shaves that were not as close as I prefer, and three shaves with more wounds and irritation than I think acceptable. Doesn't sound too ideal to me...

A better approach is to not rotate through my razors, and instead choose the best instrument for the blade. In this case, I might use the Lord LP1822L for the first six shaves (and maybe all), or I might go with a slightly more aggressive razor for the final shave. In any case, done properly, I would get seven good shaves.

So looking at this rationally, for me (and others with sensitive skin and skin contours) rotating through razors while using a single blade is kind of counter productive.

That's not to say that having multiple razors is a bad idea. As I've written before, different blades definitely perform differently with different razors. For example, although my LP1822L is my best razor for the SMT blade, my Merkur 33 is the go-to razor for a Personna red-label blade. Also, different shaving processes may call for different blade-razor combinations. For example, a quick standard shave (that is, one pass, with grain) using the SMT blade might be optimal with the Merkur 37C slant or my Gillette Slim Adjustable set to six, while my normal shave process recommends the LP1822L.

I do acknowledge that if your beard surfaces have the contours and firmness of a bowling ball, then perhaps the razor-rotation approach is workable. But for those of us with sensitive, contoured skin surfaces, the idea of rotating through one's stable of razors doesn't make much sense. 

Happy shaving!

1 comment:

  1. For the last five years, I have used the same razor (almost) every day, and I think that gives me better shaves than if I would rotate razors regularly.