The Bittersweet Road

Posted: February 2, 2017 in Shaving Articles
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As we pursue a hobby, we will gather more and more data, more opinions, and deepen our knowledge of our chosen passion. As we gather more experiences, we are well served to go back to some of the products and techniques we have used in the past. We’re smart to re-evaluate the assumptions we formed when we first started up, to see if they’re still true (at least for us, at that given moment – what works and makes sense and feels right is often a moving target).

I’ve found that, for the most part, the “software” elements I started with have continued to be viable. Proraso soaps? Heck, yeah. They’re still good products and I fully endorse them. Arko, Palmolive, Cella…and on and on. These soaps work. I could live with any of them as my primary lather for a good while without having anything to complain about.

Now, brushes have been another matter. After finding the Plissoft/Plisson knot, I’m spoiled. The brushes I started with have become give-aways and loaners. The newer natural hair brushes I’ve picked up have had a tough time keeping their roster spots, even if they cost many times what a Plissoft does.

And on to razors. It didn’t take me all that long to discover that my first razor, a Parker 99R, was not perfect for me. It worked, and was of good quality. I found myself able to shave with it, and get good results. Better than I ever had with a cartridge. Better than I knew to expect, in point of fact. Still, as I learned more, I found that I came back to it less and less. In the end, I chose to give it to a friend who was just getting into DE shaving. I feel good about the whole experience. I “grew out of it”, and was able to pass it off to the next “youngster” in the hobby.

The Feather Seki Edge AS-D2 has been, in large part, formative to what I believe a double edged razor can and should be. Those of you who have carefully read my articles over the long haul may have detected that my mentions of the AS-D2 have waned a bit over the last several months. Yes, I’ve been in a bit of a buying frenzy for razors, and you have to try all your new stuff, but there is something else occurring here.

One of the things that has been at work is simply experience. I’ve used a lot more razors, shaved a whole lot more times. I know more about what works, and how good shaves can be. I have managed to procure a large sample set of razors. A preponderance of these have been vintage in nature, and I’ve found that, on balance, it is darned near impossible for anything to endear itself to me more than an old Gillette twist-to-open. They just work for me, in all the ways. But old razors haven’t been my only source of new experience. I’ve been sampling some new gear, as well. I try to learn, at least a little, every shave. Sometimes from a positive experience, sometimes from a part of my face that needs some attention with they styptic pencil. The unexamined life is not worth living, after all.

When I recently went back to the AS-D2, I found that…it just wasn’t quite as dear to my heart as it once was. Is it still beautifully conceived and built? Yes. Is it still a great shaver? Yes. But no longer my favorite, no longer the sine qua non of my repertoire. After having been “shaving around” with so many other razors, I found that it didn’t hit the closeness/comfort quotient as well as some.

It isn’t that I’m having feelings of remorse over buying the AS-D2. Far from it. I’ve just had to confess to myself that, for various reasons, it has been surpassed in my heart. My old ’58 TV Special Gillette can do certain things that the Feather simply can’t. My Slim Adjustable can do several. Newer razors like the Merkur Futur or the Razorock Hawk can deliver closer shaves.

Is it a little sad? Yeah. A little. But I have to chalk it up to experience. I also have to remember that I might feel differently in a year, or a month. Another thing to keep in mind is that, for anyone else in the world, my current opinion may be worth no more than the hot air leaving a fool’s mouth. And that’s okay, too.

Cheers, and happy shaving.

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