At long last, I have come back around to using my kettlebell to get a little exercise and movement during my servitude in the cubicle. I had the habit of doing it most days, but then I wasn’t around the office much, then…well, laziness and inertia and fatness stood in the way.

I’m please to find that I haven’t lost whatever knack I had for the k-bell in my absence. I can still pull off bottoms-up static holds in the rack position and so on.

I’ve been swinging the bell all this week, and it’s finally come to the point that I am getting sore. Ah, well, I’ll work through it. A few notes: It’s still a 24 kilo ‘bell by Apollo. I am still old fat and lame.(hoping to remediate at least one of those conditions to some degree.)

Shave Diary, Week of 8/16/15

Posted: August 22, 2015 in Shaving Articles
Tags:

8/16/15:

It appears that the three pass shave from the AS-D2 is going to allow a light stubble after 24 hours. I suppose this is not unexpected. These are not miracle machines, just handles for the application of sharp blades to one’s face. And, of course, the body seems to respond to shaving by growing the stubble at an accelerated rate. I suppose that’s probably not the actual process. I’m sure that it is the increased blood flow to the epidermis from the various stimulation, etc. Still.

I did my first four pass shave with the AS-D2 today. Proraso Green with the green pre-shave. Full baby’s backside smoothness, minimal irritation. I finished with the Rite-Aid store brand version of Aqua Velva (I actually compared the two in the store, and saw no real upside to the “real stuff”). Nice post-shave feel. No nicks, cuts, weepers, or razor burn. I have always been a fan of the Aqua Velva scent profile. As they once said, “There’s something about an Aqua Velva man.”

My sense is that I’ll skip the alum block most of the time. It just seems to irriate my skin a little more than I feel is warranted unless I’m staunching a cut.

I’ve noticed that the AS-D2 has no proclivity to shave off my mole, which is nice. It is very easy to do with a lot of shavers/systems, and turning the shave lather red is not really that much fun.

The third shave for the Feather blade went fine. I didn’t notice a really palpable loss of sharpness. There was no juddering around on my face or the like. Seemed to basically perform the same as when new. Nonetheless, I discarded it and gave the razor a disassembly and rinse. It is currently drying. There was no soap residue or other untoward gunk inside the razor. It fits very tightly together, and I typically swirl it around in my tupperware container of 91% alcohol and Lemon Oil. This stuff, in a sealable container, seems to really do a nice job keeping the water displaced, the soap scum denatured, and the metal lubricated. Of course, since the Lemon Oil has some petroleum distallates in it, the wise course is to rinse out the razor before you shave with it (which I always do anyway, as I like to get the surface warm before applying it to my face.)

***
8/17/15:

Tonight, I did my first shave with the Wilkinson Sword Classic blade. I did a “for the record” shave, using my established protocols for testing. I was using the AS-D2 razor, Proraso White, no preshave…

Let me cut to the chase. I got a really excellent shave with the Wilkinson blade. It proved to have good efficiency and speed on my face, while also being very comfortable. I was emboldened to try shaving techniques that can be iffy, like going sideways across my neck right at the fold line (one of the most sensitive areas, for me.) I experienced slight redness, but that area gets red just touching it with my fingers, so I have no negative feelings about the shave thus far. As I’ve mentioned before, though, it’s bad to jump to hasty conclusions. I’ve felt like the shave went swimmingly, then showed up with razor burn a few hours later. One never knows.

Still and all, I liked the shave a lot. The Sword blade appears to be a pretty simpatico match to the AS-D2.

Let me also say that I’ve been consistently impressed with the Proraso White shave soap. I have enjoyed all of the Proraso stuff I’ve picked up. The red has a scent that I’m over the moon about, and the green has fantastic face feel (it can actually fool you into thinking you’re having a better shave than is the case with all that menthol and eucalyptus). Both the green and red preshave are useful. I have used them in their stated rolls, but I almost think that they are better aftershave balms than preshave treatments. On days when I have a lot of time, I sometimes use them both before and after. But I digress. The White, sensitive skin soap makes lather very easily, and it seems tolerant of a somewhat wide range of water content. It’s slick and probably has a bit better cushion than the others. The smell, while probably the least interesting of the three varieties of classic Proraso, is still nice. The note that sticks out the most for me is tea tree oil, though my nose is probably not the nose of a cologne mixer.

Next, allow me to sing the praises of Thayer’s Medicated Superhazel. This stuff is fantastic. It has enough alcohol to act as a disinfectant and astringent, but it’s mellow enough to make it very comfortable. If you’re feeling a sharp sting from this stuff, your face is beat to catshit, my friend. It leaves a clean, smooth face feel, and the ingredient list is basically a Who’s Who list of good stuff for your skin. I especially like the lingering clove oil scent of it. It’s not meant as an aftershave specifically, I suppose, but boy, it works. It’s also nice for a simple refreshing face splash after a long day, or for anything else an alcohol-bearing witch hazel would work for. It will certainly be a continuing staple.

Finally, a few thoughts about alum. I was not bleeding, burned, or otherwise in need of anything with styptic qualities tonight (thanks to the smooth operation of the Wilkinson Sword blade), so I skipped the alum. This, I believe, will be my preference in the future. For my skin, I find it a little too astringent. It leaves my skin uncomfortably tight, and I’m invariably in need of some form of balm or lotion. With using the Thayer’s (or another aftershave) as an astringent, I don’t feel that way, unless I’ve had a traumatic shave for some reason.

Oh, post script: I modified my three pass shave tonight, and found that I was able to more efficiently knock down the last of the lingering stubble on the third pass by doing a kind of hybrid against the grain/across the grain pass. I also did a somewhat more scientific cleanup pass, using the left hand to locate the rough patches and the right to wield the razor (as Nick Shaves demonstrates in his YouTube videos).

***
8/18/15:

Off day thoughts. Still impressed with the shave I got from the Wilkinson Sword blades. In times past, I would have been reasonably happy with the result from a cartridge razor (one pass) shave that I have after 20 hours of new growth. No real point in shaving tonight, though I’ll have some stubble tomorrow. Still, as much as I enjoy shaving lately, you have to give your face a break sometimes.

Pleased to hear that one of my friends is getting into safety razor shaving. He just got his first DE razor and had a shave with it. I’m hoping he’ll have as good an experience as I did. I am determined to be a resource for people who are interested in trying it out. It puts me in mind of another friend and coworker who has asked my advice about shaving in the past (before I got into DE shaving). I should touch base with him and see if he’s interested in trying DE shaving on for size.

***
8/19/15:

I remain pleased with the Wilkinson Sword Classic razor blade. The shave for today was Proraso Red, with both preshave and soap being employed. Very nice three pass shave, resulting in excellent closeness. This blade appears to have an excellent synergy with the AS-D2. Speaking of that Feather razor, I continue to be very impressed with it. while it is expensive, the tolerances are perfect. There is no way for the blade to go in askew, wobble, or otherwise misbehave. I have yet to get a single weeper or nick with this razor. I think I’ll have to really hamfist things to do so. (Sounds like a dare…)

Finished up with Captain’s Choice Sandalwood. I like this stuff. Initial scent, to me, smells like gin, but it quickly settles into a very mild and understated sandalwood scent. It isn’t the very sweet and powdery sandalwood like the Proraso soap/preshave (not that I don’t love that…it’s a favorite), but rather a darker scent that is probably more akin to what fresh cut sandalwood actually smells like. I believe that Captain’s Choice builds all their aftershaves on a base of Bay Rum. There are certainly some details to the scent that make it more complex than certain other sandalwoods.

Overall, great shave. I actually couldn’t wait to get going with the shave tonight, as I had a good little stubble going, having skipped yesterday. I can remember, not long ago, when I would have likely been pleased to eek out the rest of the week with some facial hair, but the switch to DE shaving has my interest and enthusiasm high. I wonder if I’ll always feel like I can’t wait to shave, or if this will mellow as time goes on.

***
8/20/15:

My final test shave with the Wilkinson Sword Classic razor blade. I went with a full menthol lineup, with Proraso Green preshave and soap, following with RiteAid store brand Aqua Velva knock-off.

Great shave. I am not sure what I did differently, but I got really explosive lathering from the soap tonight. The Wilkinson razor really impressed me. Highest marks. Stands shoulder to shoulder with anything that the Feather blade did in the AS-D2. Certainly an option I might look into as a default, provided that some other blade in the test doesn’t impress me to an equal or greater degree. It is possible that’ll happen. I have some real heavy hitters, like all the Gillette blades, and I believe a Voshkod, all lined up.

There may be better razors than the Feather AS-D2 out there. It’s likely that there are some that equal it in fit and finish, performance, and overall quality being sold at equal or lesser expense. That said, the AS-D2 is the best razor I’ve ever seen in person. I know, I know. I need to get out more. I’m just saying that, if I had to take one DE razor to a desert island tonight, I would feel pretty okay about taking the AS-D2.

A parting thought about the off-brand Aqua Velva clone. This is not my first rodeo with fake AV. I actually found a small sampler bottle of similar type that was from K-Mart (from the 90’s, I believe). Every time, clone or the real thing, I discover how much I like the Aqua Velva smell and lingering face feel. For people just starting into wet shaving (with cartridge, safety razor, or straight razor), I just want to articulate that you don’t need the most expensive aftershave. As long as it smells and feels like you want it to, have fun. You might find you like the five buck stuff at the local drug store better than the exclusive brands. Or not.

The same goes with soaps, razor blades, brushes, anything. Most of my gear is fairly economical. Proraso products are reasonable. My Parker razor and Escali brush are very reasonably priced. None of the blades I have, even in small packages, approach a dollar a piece. Most are between $9 and $20 for a pack of 100. Yes, my Feather Seki Edge razor is the odd one out, likely costing more than all the other gear combined, but I purchased it as a result of making a conscious decision to spend that money and risk being disappointed. Does it shave better than my Parker 99R? Yes. No question. THAT much better? I can only make a subjective assessment there. For me, yes. Your economics and aesthetics may come to a different conclusion.

***
8/22/15:

I did the “for the record” shave with the AS-D2 and Gillette Silver Blue blades. Good shave, very close and comfortable. I continue to be pleased with the performance of the Proraso White soap. As I get more and more familiar with it, I keep getting better lather and more comfortable shaves. I finished with Old Spice. Nice short term burn, but no lingering discomfort.

My shave technique is still in some flux, as I find the most efficient directions to apply the razor. After so many years of essentially going on autopilot with a cartridge razor, I am enjoying leading the “examined life” again. Initially, I subscribed to the “one direction at a time” method, where I tried to adhere to compass points for each shaving pass. That resulted in the four pass shave I developed for the Parker. I think however, that the four pass wastes a little time and runs the razor over facial terrain that may not need another pass in that direction.

My current three pass methodology is to go with the classic, with the grain, downward pass first. I can’t see how, unless you have skin like resined leather, you would be well advised to do otherwise. Second, I do an across the grain pass from the ear toward the nose. I continue this pass to below the jawline, then do an upward pass to encompass the neck and under-the-chin area. I used to think of this as an against the grain pass, but it is probably close to an across the grain pass, given the growth of beard under my chin. The third pass is sort of a hybrid across the grain/against the grain pass. I go outward from the edge of my chin beard toward my ear, then follow the jawline upward to get that stubborn growth line next to my ear. I follow that second across the grain pass with a bit of clean up going straight upward, mainly near my goatee area. I also go outward and below the jawline with this pass, before another upward pass beneath my chin.

Typically, I will find that the only place that has any lingering growth to clean up is along the crease line on my neck. I lather that area and go over it in short diagonal strokes (with a very light hand). With the sensitivity of my skin in that spot, there’s no way to totally eliminate the irritation, but I can minimize it to a strawberry that fades within an hour or so.

I’m interested to see how the Gillette Silver Blue blade performs for the next two shaves. Thus far, very positive. I like to see that there are many brands and types out there that can give a good shave with my current equipment. After this blade test, I’m going to go back to the Parker and do a few blade tests with that razor. My instinct is to try the Derby Extra with it next, just so that I have the two purported ends of the sharpness spectrum covered (having already tried Feathers).

Testing Protocols:

1) Feather AS-D2 Seki Edge All Stainless Razor
2) Proraso White Shave Soap; no pre-shave treatment
3) Escali Badger Hair Brush, soaked in warm water with 30 second load of soap
4) Three Pass shave
a) With the Grain
b) Across the grain from ear toward nose
c) Against the grain (Cleanup as needed)
d) Lather after each pass
5) Comparative Baseline: Feather High-Stainless
6) All blades brand new
7) All grades assume the Feather is as stated below in subjective score
8) Grades (worst to best) Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Amazing

Feather High Stainless: (Baseline)

1) Sharpness: Amazing
2) Comfort: Great
3) Value: Good
4) Availability: Good
5) Country of Origin: Japan
6) Passes “First Shave Test?: You Betcha!
7) Longevity (# of shaves): 3 or more

***

Wilkinson Sword Classic

1) Sharpness: Great
2) Comfort: Great
3) Value: Good
4) Availability: Good
5) Country of Origin: Germany
6) Passes “First Shave Test?: Emphatic yes!
7) Longevity (# of shaves): 3 or more
8) Notes: This blade provided a really good first shave. No discomfort, great closeness. I also noticed really good residual closeness. Unlike a few shaves I’ve had in the past, I had no phantom irritation show up hours later. The second shave was just as good as the first with this blade, allowing me to get a killer shave in three passes, with only the most minor of cleanup. The third shave still saw this blade getting excellent results and cutting cleanly. I think that I detected a minor deterioration of the edge, but I could have pushed the blade for a few more shaves (perhaps going for good shaves, rather than ultimate closeness as the edge lost its sharpness). In the three shaves, I always felt that the Wilkinson was a smooth cutter, forgiving of experimental angles or going over known trouble spots. Certainly recommended for a mild razor like the Feather AS-D2. I think that this blade performs equally as well as the Feather Hi-Stainless, any slight deficit in sharpness made up for in smooth comfort. It’s good to see an old, storied brand in the shave business still putting out a good product.

Shave Diary – Week of 8/9/15

Posted: August 16, 2015 in Shaving Articles
Tags:

8/11/15:

First shave with the Kai blades. I am beginning my systematic and pseudo scientific study of DE razor blades. Also, first time using the Razor Rock Alum on my face.

Razor: I like the blank razor. Looks cool. Goes into the handle without issue, even blade exposure.

Lather: I got another good lather from the Proraso White. No issues.

Shave: Fairly typical four pass shave. Cut open my mole…again. It has been an issue for three straight shaves. Excellent closeness, good during-shave comfort from the Kai. Thus far, they seem to perform somewhat similar to the Personna. These Kai blades will have to show me something for their significant cost.

Post Shave: The Alum stopped the bleeding and did a good job telling me where the skin was irritated. Tightens the skin, no question. I let it sit on my face for a minute, then used the Thayer’s Medicated Superhazel as a balm

Later: Still feeling some skin activation. I will have to see if this is an issue with the Alum, or if the shave was more abrasive than I thought.

After: I believe that there was some residual irritation that I’d given myself from having shaved with a straight razor the day before. Also, I think that going with both the alum and the Thayer’s astringent, I didn’t do myself any favors. I used some Proraso Green pre-shave on the face, and that seemed to decrease the irritation and tightness. Two astringents – not a good idea for me. In the future, if I use alum, I’ll use some sort of lotion after it’s dried. Thayer’s has enough residual moisturizing, but not when used in combination with the alum. I may find that the alum isn’t the best thing for me, unless I’m actually sealing cuts and weapers.

***
8/12/15:

Off Day observation: Terrible razor burn from the shave yesterday. It’s funny how you don’t know how badly you’re beating up your skin at the time of the shave. Sure, you can see it sometimes, and feel it a bit when the astringent goes on your face, but in the end, it’s often the next morning that tells the tale.

Such it is for today. This may be the worst razor burn I’ve ever had. Not cuts or weapers, but my neck has a red ring all around the front, ant my right cheek down near the goatee line is actually still painful to the touch. I really had high hopes for the KAI blades, too. They are, sadly, a very bad fit for the Parker 99R, it appears. I got a less than stellar shave, and wicked irritation. Basically worse than my first ever straight razor shave. By a lot. I am going to have to take multiple days off to let things heal. This experience actually spurred me to purchase another razor, which is coming in later in the week. I will use it as a secondary tester for the blades that I felt had promise, but failed hard in the Parker. More on that later. For now, I’m just moisturizing my face and shaking my head.

***
8/14/15:

I got home to find my new razor in the mail. A Feather Seki Edge AS-D2 All Stainless razor. The packaging, with the thick and elegant purple box and the closed cell foam insert, looked good. The razor looked good. I had to shave with it.

Oh, man. With a Feather blade loaded in and Proraso Red on my face, I went to work. First, it is true that this razor takes more of an angle than many other double edged models. Once you get enough inclination to start getting into your hair growth, though…this thing is efficient. By efficient, I don’t mean aggressive. It is anything but that. With the razor burn just fading from my adventures earlier in the week, I didn’t need any more hatchet jobs done to my face. And I didn’t get one.

This is the smoothest thing I’ve ever used to shave with. You can hear it working, but you can’t even feel it on with the grain or across the grain passes. Even against the grain, it is very gentle. You can attempt weird angles and shave after the lather’s been used up, no problem. It makes my Parker feel very aggressive and rough by comparison, even using blades that are a good match. I think the razor, even with Feathers, would be as difficult to cut yourself with as the best cartridge razor, while far gentler to your face.

I ended up getting as close as I can get with a 4-pass shave with the Parker using only 3 passes with the Seki. It may, at this point, become wise to bifurcate my razor blade test into two groups. Here’s my thinking: I’ll try the blades on the sharper side of the spectrum with the Seki, and the ones on the milder side of things with the Parker. I think I can now infer clearly enough that the Parker will require a mild to moderate razor (witness its good performance with Personnas, which are moderately sharp and known for good smoothness). If the Seki razor can make a Feather (known as the killer ninja death machine blade of ultimate perilousness) feel very smooth, any blade on the sharp end of the spectrum should work fine. That said, my initial impression is that I may, for my own purposes, have eliminated much of the need for exhaustive blade testing. The general consensus seems to be that you’ll want to use the sharpest blade you can use without nicks, cuts, or irritation. They don’t come any sharper than Feather, so perhaps additional testing will prove to be superfluous, at least for me. Not for science, though. In order to do great science, I’ll have to subject my epidermis to a lot more experimentation.

***

8/15/15:

I had a bit of stubble today – not so much that it would have been particularly offensive or non-work appropriate, had a needed to show up there – but some. A three pass shave is not quite as close as a four, even with Feather blades, it seems. I shaved in the early evening (@6:30), and used the basic method that I created for my shave tests. Proraso white, 30 seconds of brush loading, warm wet face but no pre-shave. Of course, I was going with the Feather AS-D2 with the Feather blade (shave two), rather than my Parker 99R. I did another three pass shave with a little cleanup. With the grain, from the ear to the nose cross-grain pass, and an against the grain pass. Again, very comfortable. Minor irritation from the trouble spots that I’d hamburgered the prior Monday, but no more redness on my classic left side of the neck area than usual.

I used the alum again. I do like the initial feedback and the wound-sealing/astringent qualities, but by the time it dries, it makes my face feel too tight and odd. I have to wash it back off. I was headed to the shower anyway, having just cut my hair and done a beard trim, so off I went…

After the shower (I know, I’m weird, I like to shower after the shave better than before), I dried off and tried out some Classic Scent Old Spice. I had never used Old Spice before, oddly enough. I felt that I should, just for the sake of honoring the timeless classics. It actually has quite a nice face feel, and I like the scent. I’m sure I smelled it a lot as a youngster, but it wasn’t one my dad ever used. Stinging wasn’t bad, residual moisture and comfort was good. Not sticky or tacky, but hydrated and smooth. A keeper. Glad it wasn’t a bust, like Pinaud Clubman was – that was way too intense and “bright” for my taste. Couldn’t dig it, couldn’t find anyone in my circle of friends who dug it either.

The scheme I mentioned in my earlier post seems solid. Mild razors will be tested in the Parker 99R, and the ones on the sharp end of the spectrum will be tested in the Feather AS-D2. I’ll give the Feather blade one or two more shaves, then go on to another blade. Probably the Wilkinson Sword Classic. From there, I’ll probably go to the Parker and test, let’s say, the Derby Extra. At least, that’s the current plan.

Cheers,

Patrick

Testing Protocols:

1) Feather AS-D2 Seki Edge All Stainless Razor
2) Proraso White Shave Soap; no pre-shave treatment
3) Escali Badger Hair Brush, soaked in warm water with 30 second load of soap
4) Three Pass shave
a) With the Grain
b) Across the grain from ear toward nose
c) Against the grain (Cleanup as needed)
d) Lather after each pass
5) Comparative Baseline: Feather High-Stainless
6) All blades brand new
7) All grades assume the Feather is as stated below in subjective score
8) Grades (worst to best) Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Amazing

***

Feather High Stainless:

1) Sharpness: Amazing
2) Comfort: Great
3) Value: Good
4) Availability: Good
5) Country of Origin: Japan
6) Passes “First Shave Test?: You Betcha!
7) Longevity (# of shaves): 3 or more
8) Notes: The AS-D2 is a mild razor that requires additional angle of contact to the skin in order to bring the blade to bear. The blade carriage and angle of attack appear to make this a very forgiving shaver. I would anticipate that it would be rather difficult to dial in so much angle that this razor would become overly aggressive. At the same time, the very sharp Feather High Stainless blades go through the hair with almost no feeling of a blade touching your skin at all. On the downward pass, one can hear the blade cutting and not feel a thing. It’s really quite something. My surmise, early in the game as it may be for this testing protocol, is that this razor would not be very efficient with a dull blade. It has been engineered with the Feather High Stainless in mind, and thus provides an excellent shave with said blade. It would be a self-defeating mechanism for Feather to have done it any other way, but sometimes business are dumb like that.

So, to boil it down: This is a super sharp razor blade (the sharpest, by nearly everyone’s estimation). With a mild, forgiving shaver like the Feather All Stainless, it is an ideal fit. I have had no nicks, no cuts, no weapers, and only the most minimal irritation with this razor/razor blade combo. Most of that is residual from an adventure in really bad synergy between razor and blade earlier in the week. With a very aggressive razor, I could see your reaction being very different with this blade. The combo in play is pretty efficient and very comfortable, and I’ll take that. Much like the Personna Lab Blues in a more aggressive razor, this combination allows for a comfortable shave while still yielding excellent closeness.

Cheers,

Patrick

Testing Protocols:

1) Parker 99R Shaver
2) Proraso White Shave Soap; no pre-shave treatment
3) Escali Badger Hair Brush, soaked in warm water with 30 second load of soap
4) Four Pass shave
a) With the Grain
b) Across the grain from ear toward nose
c) Across the grain toward ear
d) Against the grain
e) Lather after each pass
5) Comparative Baseline: Personna Lab Blue blades
6) All blades brand new
7) All grades assume the Personna is “Good” in subjective score
8) Grades (worst to best) Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Amazing

***

KAI Stainless Razors

1) Sharpness: Good
2) Comfort: Poor
3) Value: Poor
4) Availability: Fair
5) Country of Origin: Japan
6) Passes “First Shave Test?: NO (Sadly!)
7) Longevity (# of shaves): N/A
8) Notes: I really had high hopes for the KAI razors. I am a big fan of the Kershaw knife brand, which is a subsidiary of KAI. Unfortunately, these razors have a lot of knocks against them. Thus far, they are the worst performers in the test. They are the most expensive blades by far, for one thing. At the price, which is more than double what a lot of other brands charge, they have a lot to live up to. For me, they did not do so. I got an unparalleled level of irritation, such that I will need to lay off shaving for multiple days to allow the razor burn to subside. Compounding the problem, I did not get a spectacularly close shave to go with all that pain. I get a much closer shave with the Personna, with little to no irritation, and equal closeness with the Shark Super Chrome, albeit with some razor burn (a small fraction of what I got with the KAI). At this point, I see no way that they would be viable daily shavers with this razor. Even with very elaborate preshave rituals, I think I’d have to either do shoddy one-pass shaves or deal with stubble in order to preserve my face. This is one of the blades that I will give another whirl with a different razor in the Last Chance Rodeo, sometime down the line.

Additional editorial:

This was the razor that solidified my feeling that I need more than one razor to test all of these blades. I believe that the blades on the high end of the sharpness/aggresiveness spectrum will not end up being comfortable with the Parker 99R. Thus, I will bifurcate these tests and concentrate my efforts with the Parker on the blades at the lower end of the spectrum in terms of aggressiveness. I will henceforth come out with another, concurrent test that will use the Feather AS-D2 razor, and use that one for the sharpest/most aggressive blades. There will likely be some overlap in regards to blades that could work with both razors. I am enthusiastic to see how things progress.

Cheers,

Patrick

1) Parker 99R Shaver
2) Proraso White Shave Soap; no pre-shave treatment
3) Escali Badger Hair Brush, soaked in warm water with 30 second load of soap
4) Four Pass shave
a) With the Grain
b) Across the grain from ear toward nose
c) Across the grain toward ear
d) Against the grain
e) Lather after each pass
5) Comparative Baseline: Personna Lab Blue blades
6) All blades brand new
7) All grades assume the Personna is “Good” in subjective score
8) Grades (worst to best) Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Amazing

***

Personna Lab Blue

1) Sharpness: Good
2) Comfort: Good
3) Value: Good
4) Availability: Good
5) Country of Origin: USA
6) Passes “First Shave Test?: Yes
7) Longevity (# of shaves): 3 to 4 comfortable shaves. Minor loss of sharpness on shave 4
8) Notes: The Personna are my default razor choice for this test. They provide good, close, comfortable shaves for me, and are reasonable in price. If I can’t find a blade I like better, these will be my long-term go-to. Interestingly, I’ve let a few friends try the Personnas, and they have both torn their faces up with these blades (they were unable to quote what razors they were using, but I suspect they may have been Merkur and/or Edwin Jaggers). Goes to show that there is no one magic blade for everyone. All other blade reviews will be graded in comparison to the Personna blades.