A revealing two-razor shave
Razor requests shaped the shave today, along with my new $20 silvertip badger shaving brush from WhippedDog.com. Let’s start with that.
As you’ll note at the link, Larry offers two models: a brush with a plain resin handle (above) for $20, and a brush with a Firehouse Pottery handle, which can be made with a primary color and an accent color (color samples on pottery at the link). I cannot find a page to select colors of the resin handle, so perhaps it comes only in that color.
Not to put too fine a point on it, WhippedDog.com is a poorly designed Web site, possibly reflecting the proprietor’s interest in function over appearance. (For straight-razor novices, his “sight unseen deal” is the way to go: a secondhand straight, honed to shave readiness, but with cosmetic flaws—discolored scales, for example—that have no effect on performance. The razor, along with the Poor Man’s Strop (novices inevitably ruin their first strop, it seems), gets a straight-shaving novice off and running and lets him see if this way of shaving is for him.)
Unfortunately, in a Web site the interaction design is the function, and this one is not good. (I’m not talking about the graphical prettiness of the pages, I’m talking about how the site works.) I mention this partly because I’m sensitive to these things (The Wife is a an interface-interaction designer) but also because I’m having a little trouble this morning finding things.
Back to the brush: extremely nice feel, soft but working up a good lather quickly. Minor flaws but: this is a silvertip badger brush for $20! And the flaws are far from show-stoppers: knot is slightly assymetrical, and lost a few more bristles on first use than is common, but badger brushes frequently lose a few bristles at first. In terms of performance: no complaints whatsoever.
Martin de Candre is a first-rate shaving soap, a killer to buy here because of shipping. (But: Father’s Day is coming up. I’m just sayin’.) I got the usual wonderful lather, and proceeded with the first pass, using the Elite Razor shown above: a white quartz with gold lacings, built on the long-handled Merkur: a two-piece razor with the Merkur Classic head. As I began the first pass, I realized that this is really a razor where you can let just the weight of the razor do the cutting: the quartz handle provides definite heft. It carries an Astra Superior Platinum blade.
Very nice pass—two small nicks, small enough that the alum block after the shave was enough to quell them.
So, rinse, relather—I do like the brush—and a pass with the Gerson, holding a Swedish Gillette blade. The Gerson is just a rebranded Mühle Sophist (in this case, with a buffalo horn handle) and rather obviously so. Same head as the Elite Razor—Mühle/Edwin Jagger used the Merkur Classic head before switching to the new design.
At least I thought it was the same head until I took the first sidestroke (I was using it for the second pass, which is XTG). Holy moly, this thing was smooth, and it wasn’t just the blade: I took a closer look and realized this razor does indeed have the new head—you can tell, for example, from the studs: the new head’s studs are blunt and flush with the bottom of the baseplate, the Merkur studs are rounded and protrude a little. A totally different feel this morning, quite distinctly better by a significant margin.
I’ve said repeatedly that the new EJ/Mühle head is better than the Merkur Classic (at least for me), and this shave was more or less a blind test and the difference is distinct. I was surprised.
Needless to say, I stuck with the Mühle for the third pass as well. Then a rinse, the alum block, and a splash of the TOBS aftershave. Great shave, and I am going to emphasize more that novices should start (at the “Better” level) with a Mühle or Edwin Jagger with the new head rather than a Merkur Classic.