For the first time in a while, I dusted off my Escali badger brush for my shave. I was starting with the first test shave for the Trig blade in my AS-D2. I used the Proraso White preshave, following with the Palmolive Classic shave lotion. I don’t believe I’d used that combo before, certainly not with the Escali brush.
The Escali brush is softer and doesn’t grab soap from a hard puck as fast, but since this was a tube-based lotion, it was no problem. Perhaps I use a bit more Palmolive than I strictly need, but I always have more than enough thick, rich lather with it. It worked great with the badger brush, and I found that I was able to get ideal lather, much akin to yogurt in consistency. Between the pre-shave and the excellent slickness of the Palmolive soap, I set up the Trig blade to have its ideal chance to shave without incident.
Which it did. I would say that it was good, if not great, in terms of performance. Initial thoughts are that it perhaps isn’t quite as sharp as the Treet blade that I tested previously (both are made in Pakistan, which is why I make the comparison). Still, solid performance.
I wonder if there is a subtle change in my perceptions during these tests. As they go on, I get more comfortable with the peripheral equipment and improve my technique, thus giving successive blades a better chance to shine. At the same time, I suppose my “bar” gets raised higher in regard to comfort, closeness, ease of use, and so on. It’s harder to impress me at this point, especicially since I’ve tried several of the highest-regarded blades on the market already.
If you look at market reviews from those who purchase DE blades, it looks like the bulk of the reviewers who care to write in really like pretty much any blade they buy. This could be for a variety of reasons. For one, only a few blades I’ve tried have outright failed in terms of shaving. I’m not saying that they’d fail other people, but I just couldn’t get a decent shave with them.
I imagine, with modern production being what it is, there’s a good chance that most blades should be relatively consistent. I’m guessing that, in this day and age, getting a thin piece of metal pretty sharp is not the largest technical hurdle ever. Billions of dudes shave. Dudes have been shaving since antiquity. But I digress. Another reason that the good reviews seem to abound for most every blade is that, if you want to take enough time to write something, you either love the product, or hate it. Who writes a review about being kind of tepid about something they bought? Those people probably need to find a nice outdoor hobby. Also, it’s easier to write a glowing review than a scathing one. We’re taught as a society to feel a certain discomfort if we have to voice a negative opinon. (This, however, is something that some Internet Jerkfaces of Jerkitude have managed to unlearn, voicing only negative, destructive, and generally asinine opinions, all the time, about everything. You have my blessing to do bad things to these people, if you find them.) Wow. I digressed again. Sorry about that. Let’s see if I can get back on track.
Final thought about glowing reviews on ALL THE THINGS. Confirmation Bias. You can look it up. Basically, it’s a psychological response that causes us to accept or be prone to the acceptance of an idea that we want to believe going in. You see it all the time. People will like a thing if enough other people tell them that they’ll like it. Not everyone, but if you don’t encounter something with a critical eye, even strong minded people can fall prey to this. If you’ve purchased something, admitting that it’s not that great isn’t fun, easy, or psychologically satisfying. Because razor blades are not expensive, buyer’s remorse is unlikey to kick in. If it shaves your face and you’re not bleeding at the end, you’re probably going to be pretty happy with it. Final (no, really this time) thought: Often people will have far less than encyclopedic knowledge of all the other products that compete with the one they review. If you’ve only tasted Mr. Pibb, you’re likely to think that Mr. Pibb is the best soft drink in all the land. People who have been to a few soda fountains in their day may have a more informed opinion. (Note: I am not trying to make anyone who loves Mr. Pibb feel that they have anything to feel self conscious about. They do, but I’m not about to press the point in this forum.)
Am I immune to these downfalls? No. That’s why there is a formula to how I test products. I try to comment on all the products in the same way, test the products with a certain protocol, and take into account the same factors in each review. Perhaps you can take a small measure of assurance that I’m engaging in this mental fiddle-faddling about whether I’m being consistent. Hey. I’m trying. This is not Popular Science here. Just a weirdo risking his facial epidermis on a voluntary basis.
I continued on and finally finished the test of the Trig blade, though my day to day shave has been with the 39C Merkur. I have found that I can go against the grain beneath my chin with the 39C, if I’m rather circumspect about it. The two pass shave has continued to be my go-to for this blade.
The newest test blade is the Derby Extra. I won’t steal the thunder of the upcoming review, but suffice it to say that I was very pleasantly surprised by the Derby. I hadn’t expected it to be a good match with the AS-D2, but I have thus far been proven to be a poor prognosticator.
Finally, I have to say that the Arko soap has to be about the highest yield soap in my collection. I shave and shave with it, always ending with well more lather than I need, and it appears that I’m not even wearing the puck down yet. It has to be the budget, no frills choice champion. While I think that the Proraso soap is a bit better in a few areas, the Arko’s price and awesome yield make it the clear penny-pincher’s choice. It provides great lather, and really has no downsides for me.