The Derby Extra razor blade has impressed me. Big time. I really didn’t feel like it would do so, after reading reviews and hearing the general impression of it. The book on the Derby is that it’s very smooth, and not very sharp at all. The smoothness part: confirmed. The knock against its sharpeness, to me, is not quite as true. Now, I do feel that the blade was starting to show a little deterioration after 3 thorough shaves, but hey, these are about as cheap as DE blades come. You don’t expect them to last in the same way as the premium price brands. That said, the third shave was great. Probably one step down from that “best shave ever” smooth that you will sometimes get, but damn, really excellent. Better than I knew that shaves could get prior to going with the traditional shave gear. I won’t step all over the review (that will already be out by the time this posts), but I’m just tickled.
Other thoughts: Proraso shave soap is just good stuff. I have the white, green, and red, and all of them work wonderfully. I would say that the red may be *slightly* less protective, but the smell is so awesome. The green has that strong menthol happiness that I enjoy so much, and has great protection. The white probably has the best protection, with a nice lemony scent, and a light menthol hit. All of them lather so damn easy and have such creamy suds that I can’t see how anyone would dislike it. That said, I have heard that some people can’t get along with Proraso for one reason or another. Big world. Lots of folks. Opinions vary. Mine certainly have not. If you’re not allergic to it, and can find a scent you like, the Proraso’s highly recommended.
I can now say without fear of hesitation that my day-to-day favorite aftershave is the Renewal Rite-Aid Aqua Velva knock off. A few reasons. 1) It is a dead ringer for Aqua Velva, but cheaper, and with a better dispenser (more controllable flow). 2) Menthol. They are not shy about the menthol, and I love that chill shot on my face. 3) Scent doesn’t become cloying, and gradually fades. Not the case with some other scents, that can end up being just a bit too much after a while. 4) Face feel. This AQ clone seems to hit the magic amount of glycerin, so that your face feels protected and smooth, but not oily or tacky.
I shaved with the Merkur 39C and had a nice maintenance shave, then went into a new test blade, the Super-Max Platinum. The first shave went well, with me using Proraso White and the fake AQ I mentioned above. I have face lathering pretty much down pat at this point, and that’s helping me have good shaves with regluarity. I feel like that eliminates one variable with these tests. If the blade doesn’t perform, I believe it’s *mostly* on the equipment at this point.
I ran through a trio of test shaves with the Super-Max Platinum, and came away with a good respect for that blade. Although I don’t think it would unseat the Personna as my favorite middle-of-the-road blade, it provided good shaves and didn’t draw blood. If those were the most convenient blade to purchase at some point in the future, I wouldn’t shy away from them.
Generally a good week shaving. The Palmolive classic shave cream continues to impress. I think it may be in contention for the most protective lather I’ve worked with. Very comfortable. One interesting thing – I think that it may actually take longer to lather than a few of my hard soaps. It takes a good amount of water titrated into the soap to get it to the best consistency. That said, if it takes longer to work with, it’s only by a matter of, say, one minute during the course of the shave. I wish that I could get the stuff at “home market” prices, instead of having to pay for the import from Europe (which still leaves it as somewhat affordable, if not the outright steal it is in the EU countries). Ah, well. One cannot have all of the things. That’s what they keep telling me. I did see that the shave stick version of the Palmolive was available for a better price. I’ll have to give that a go when my supply of cream dwindles.
A general thing I’ve noticed is that all of the traditional soaps are very efficient. You can get a lot of shaves from one tube/puck/etc. If you’re not compelled to do Great Science and try all the brands, traditional wet shaving is fairly inexpensive. On paper. The urge to try stuff is a siren song that few can resist. We keep trying to find “it” after we already have “it” in our hand. Because we’re a little crazy. Sigh. It is fun, though.
The Super-Max Stainless Blue razor blade was kind of a dud. I stopped the test after the second shave. It just wasn’t justifying my additional time, as I’d already had a sub-par second shave with it. Neither sharp nor smooth, it could only be termed an iffy choice. At least, as far as I could see.
From there, I went on to try a Wilkinson Sword in my Merkur 39C…which was fine, up to a point. Doing a full three pass shave flirted with irritation, however. I’ve been on the fence about a full three pass shave with the 39C, and I suppose I still am. The Feather razor is just better for that purpose. I don’t hurt myself. The Merkur, however, is always a bit of a gamble going beyond two passes. In point of fact, I should to a non-critical two pass shave every time with the 39C. It’s what I bought the damned thing for. It’s just that I sometimes get carried away. Well, the good thing is that I didn’t bleed much, and I can take a day off of shaving to allow myself to recuperate. I believe that, on balance, the Personna blades are the way to go with the big Merkur. Or…maybe the Derby Extra, provided that I decide to get more.
…and that’s about it for this round. See you further on down the road.