Friday, February 17, 2017

Day One with the No-Safety Razor

First of all, the idea of practicing with a straight razor (or facsimile thereof) on a balloon turned out to be kind of a joke. It's easy to shave a balloon. I tried this yesterday when the razor arrived.
The Parker SRX: a disposable-blade straight razor.

I also lightly scraped my face with the razor minus the blade. Somewhat useful, perhaps, for developing some of the required muscle memory, but not entirely like shaving with an actual blade.

But true to my nature (impetuous, impatient), I did take a quick lather late yesterday afternoon and drew the razor (with blade this time) across my slight late-afternoon stubble just to give it a go.

My results were encouraging, but hardly a raging success. The process isn't too difficult on the planes of the cheeks, but gets more interesting as one moves to the less planar geography. It's also easy for the neophyte to make a mistake (duh!) -- even in the easy areas. My initial try yielded a couple of minor nicks and a weeper or two, but nothing of consequence -- but I didn't do a whole shave either.

After that, I went back to youtube and watched some more pro videos. I noticed when they tended to use the tip versus the middle versus the heel of the blade. I also notice the subtle oblique strokes that they use in which the blade edge is not quite perpendicular to the direction of the stroke.
To load or remove a blade the Parker SRX requires that one uses
a finger nail to separate the halves of the razor head, lift one half over
the brass pins and slide them apart as shown. This is a little tricky
at first but after a few tries started to become easier.

This morning I dove into my first full shave even before I had my first cup of coffee. I did a Noxema (classic) face wash. Then more Noxema and water left on underneath an applied warm wash cloth. Then Arko face lathered.

Lather drying during the shave is a challenge. At least one of the pros emphasized in his video that the actual shave should go quickly because of this problem. I assume that new amateurs like me need to re-lather a few times, which I did.

I did one-and-a-half passes -- all with grain for the most part. From there I called it a day: no follow up with a DE.

In all, my first shave was pretty crappy, to be honest, but that's about what I expected. It wasn't all that close and there were a few nicks that required some styptic. A highlight was my upper lip, which was shaved in a single pass about as closely as I normally get with a DE shave. In all, though, I escaped not much worse for wear.

It was fun, and not scary; it's not like I'm going to slice a vein or anything. I noticed that from yesterday's initial, tentative attempt to today's full shave my skill showed noticeable improvement. I'm going to continue to use this razor, though likely not doing a full shave every day. I will probably use it for some strokes every day to keep my skills current and improving.

Now, about the razor and its use: dry hands are important -- both the one holding the razor and the free hand that is manipulating the skin to get smooth, flatter surfaces. Also, like the pros, I chose to wipe used lather on a towel rather than rinsing with water, a practice more compatible with the concept of dry hands and razor.

Though I will likely use a blade for more than one shave, I can't imagine just leaving the blade in the razor between shaves. That practice seems to encourage too much water to linger on the gear, which encourages rust and a dull blade. So I removed the blade and dried both it and the razor, and stored the razor open and separate from the blade.

The razor itself is hefty; it's no light weight. The design of the razor head, with its pivoting split,is a good design for amateur home shavers because it allows us to use half-DE blades. If I were a pro and getting paid for my labors, I would use one of the slide-in designs because they seem quicker and easier despite their likely higher cost of razor and blades.

The razor is advertised as being stainless steel, but I don't know about that; it looks like chromed steel to me, which is different. This is a common false claim by both razor sellers and reviewers alike, who simply may not know the difference. Update: It actually is stainless. However, I didn't really care about that; at the time I ordered the razor I knew that if it were really stainless steel, it would likely be more expensive, which is was. Anyway, the razor is obviously protected to some degree against the ravages of water, and because it's certainly made of steel (of some kind) it's tough unlike those with aluminium or plastic scales. I will simply take good daily care of it by cleaning and drying, and it should last a good, long time.

That's it for now. Happy shaving!

1 comment:

  1. At least you know where you stand with the open blade. I've been refamiliarizing myself with the Rimei this week. Lost my stratum corneum, and been whacking off bits of my chin ever since.