Archive for the ‘Shaving’ Category
My ATT set-up came with two handles, a longer one whose handle was chequered, and this shorter one with a very nice spiral engraving: very nice. And this one has the H baseplate; I had assumed “H’ meant something like “Heavy-duty,” but now I think it means “Harsh”—the razor is not quite harsh, since it is controllable, but it definitely belongs in the “Aggressive” class and not the “Mild-Aggressive.” Still: a BBS result with no nicks and no burn.
But let’s begin at the beginning. I selected my Simpson Emperor 2 Super and Strop Shoppe’s excellent Teakwood shaving soap, which I believe was the first Special Edition soap she made. Ingredients are specified and on the label, and I lathered using the wet-brush method and working the lather up on my beard. One effect of using palm-lathering, though, is that I spent a little longer working up the lather on my beard and got a better lather as a result.
The H1 baseplate carried a new SuperMax Titanium blade, and it may not be the best brand for this razor. As noted, the razor’s feel tilted toward harshness, unlike the mild feel of the R baseplate, but it certainly removed stubble effectively: I was BBS in some places after the first pass. A guy with a thick, tough, coarse beard would be best served by a slant, but if he wanted a straight-bar razor, this one would do a good job. I will make light use of it, though: I simply prefer the feel of the R.
Next up: the M baseplate, and probably tomorrow.
A good splash of Saint Charles Shave’s Very V aftershave—and yes, I still like it a lot.
Another reason for traditional wet-shaving’s appeal: By requiring more effort it provides a sense of control
And a sense of control is exactly what people crave when the general situation, globally, nationally, and locally, feels out of control (cf. the three earlier posts on law enforcement, which was once a source of a sense of control). Tom Jacobs writes at Pacific Standard:
As a proposed advertising slogan, “Requires Effort” wouldn’t pass muster with Don Draper. But surprising new research finds that, under certain circumstances, people are in fact drawn to products that demand some work.
Such items become more desirable when people feel a lack of control over their lives, according to Keisha Cutright of the University of Pennsylvania and Adriana Samper of Arizona State University. These “high-effort products,” they write, enable frustrated individuals to recapture a sense of personal power.
“Beyond seeking products that merely symbolize a given trait,” Cutright and Samper write in the Journal of Consumer Research, “consumers sometimes prefer products that give them an opportunity to actually demonstrate that they possess a trait.”
The researchers describe five studies that provide evidence for their thesis. In the first, . . .
Feeling that one lacks control in his or her life puts one at serious risk for depression—or, as Martin Seligman termed it in his studies, “learned helplessness.” (His book Learned Optimism is quite interesting—inexpensive secondhand copies at the link.)
It’s “new” in being new to me. The entire head is at an angle, and also the blade has a slight tilt from the baseplate, similar to (but not so extreme as) my black bakelite Walbusch humpbacked slant. This one shaves well enough, though not so good as the Walbusch.
But first the prep. Once again I read of someone who soaks their MWF puck and in addition uses a boar brush in a struggle to load brush and get good lather. I have to believe that he is dealing with very hard water. As a test I periodically bring out my (bone-dry) MWF, use my fluffiest brush, and in 10 seconds have a fully loaded brush and excellent lather. With this, I don’t even need to use the palm-brushing technique: I go directly to beard and have a fine lather.
The shave, with a new Super Max Titanium blade, went well, though not quite BBS on one side—but then, it’s the first time I’ve used this razor, and it does take a few shaves to learn a new razor (plus I might find a brand of blade that works better in this razor).
I just received the Above The Tie razors I ordered—the 7-piece straight-bar set: two handles, two caps, and 3 baseplates (M – mild, R – regular, H – heavy-duty (?)).
But first the prep. I did try the Jlocke98 formula with Clearly Natural’s liquid glycerin soap, but it is not nearly so good as with Dr. Bronner’s.
The lather is the wonderful Cyril R. Salter French Vetiver, one of my favorites, and the Vie-Long badger+horsehair brush did a very nice job. The badger+horsehair brushes look sort of grey to me, but I’m colorblind so it probably doesn’t count.
The razor itself was wonderful. Under the cap you can see the machining that was done, and this one—I used the R head with the longer handle—definitely belongs to the “mild-aggressive” category: extremely comfortable on the face, while extremely efficient at removing stubble: three passes to BBS.
The handle feels good, and the end has a definite “knob” feel because of the depth of the section just above the knob. I’m very happy with the razor.
A good splash of Stirling Vetiver, and the day proceeds.
I read a speculation that the Stealth slant would require more passes with a heavy stubble, so I sacrificed shaving for 5 days to build up a good stubble.
I found that the pre-shave beard wash worked up more suds with the 5-day stubble than I normally get, which was interesting. I rinsed partially, but it took more than a splash, and then I used the Omega 11047 boar+badger brush to work up an excellent (and peach-fragranced: seemed right as we move into late summer) lather from HoneybeeSoaps.net’s Just Peachy shaving soap.
The first pass went quite well. I shaved my left cheek with the 37C, which someone also suggested would be too mild for heavy stubble. It’s not: it did a fine job, but once I verified that, I stuck with the Stealth.
My usual 3-pass shave (WTG, XTG, ATG, lathering before each pass) produced the usual BBS finish I get with this razor. There may have been a bit more stubble than usual left after the first pass—it’s hard to remember—but that made no difference: the second pass cleaned it up admirably, and the ATG acted as a polishing pass.
Certainly experience can contradict expectations, but I already have a fair amount of experience with slants in general and the Stealth in particular, and I actually did expect that the shave would go fine and present no difficulties, and this time my expectation was borne out. Still, one never knows for sure until the actual test.
It feels very good indeed to be freshly shave again, and a good splash of Hâttric finished the job.
So heavier growth presents no problem to slants in general and to the Stealth (or 37C) in particular.
The Stealth is supposed to go on sale at ItalianBarber.com around 31 August.
I make a practice of not shaving on Sunday so that once a week I have the pleasure of shaving a two-day stubble. So I wouldn’t be shaving tomorrow in any case; thus this morning is the last day that I’m deliberately skipping a shave. I am very much looking forward to Monday morning, when I will test the efficiency of the Stealth slant (and, for half of the first pass, the efficiency of the 37C).
It will be wonderful to get back to daily shaving, an idea that would not occur to many men. :)
It’s odd that I miss shaving so much: I wore a beard for about 30 years, and yet now that I enjoy shaving, going several days without having a shave is no fun. It’s not merely lacking a smooth face, it’s that I miss the activity: the ritual of selecting brush, shaving soap, razor, and aftershave; the prep, where I take my time and enjoy the fragrance and feel of lathering; then paying attention to each pass of the razor; and finally splashing on the aftershave. I enjoy all that, and to go without removes a pleasurable morning interlude.
But it’s all for science, and Monday I’ll be shaving with the Stealth to see whether it can handle a 5-day stubble efficiently. (Some have doubts.) For one pass I might also use a 37C on part of my face to test its efficiency, as well.
The slant in the middle is a vintage Walbusch slant I just got, with the iKon slant to the left and the Stealth on the right. The Walbushch is on the sample puck of soap because the bottom of the handle is rounded and the razor wouldn’t stand upright otherwise.
The Walbusch does not apply torque to the blade, so the blade slants from upper left to lower right on the visible side, and on the other it slants from lower left to upper right. I have another slant like this, which I think is also a Walbusch, and it turns out that the opposite slant on opposite sides is totally not a problem: one doesn’t even notice it.
The odd thing about the Walbusch is that the entire head is tilted. The iKon’s guard is tilted, but the baseplate is at right angles to the handle’s axis, and the same is true of the Stealth. But the baseplate of the Walbusch is at an angle to the handle’s axis, not perpendicular to it. (I do understand that being perpendicular is also “at an angle,” where the angle is 90º, but the angle for the Walbusch is not 90º.)
I can’t wait to shave with it.
Saving up the stubble for a Stealth and 37C shave on Monday. The idea is to test efficiency on a more substantial beard.
Also, I’ve ordered an Above The Tie stainless razor set, the bar-guard version. I look forward to trying that soon.
I’m writing a section on mild-aggressive razors. Since the two seem dissonant, normally men will drop one from their description of razors in this category. For example, the mild-aggressive Feather AS-D1/2 is generally thought of and described as “mild” because of the gentle, comfortable feel, but this overlooks its amazing ease and efficiency at removing stubble (“aggressiveness”), particularly when used with a Feather blade (which seems to be what it’s designed for).
Similarly, the mild-aggressive slants are thought of and described as “aggressive” because of how efficiently and easily they cut through stubble, but this overlooks how gentle and comfortable (“mild”) a slant feels as it shaves.
I’m told that the ATT H-2 is another razor in the mild-aggressive category, so I’m looking forward to trying it.
An absolute perfect shave. My Rooney Style 2 Finest generated a very nice lather from the TFS shaving soap, and then Mr. Stealth wiped off the stubble easily and comfortably. A good splash of Clean Vetiver from Fine and my mug is ready for my dental appointment.
No more shaving until Monday, when I will test the efficiency of the Stealth on a 5-day stubble. There has been speculation that, since it is so comfortable, it could not possibly do an efficient job on thick stubble. We’ll see. (My own idea is that this is related to the notion that medicines must taste bad or they’re not effective.)
Very good prep: fine lather from Tiki Bar using the Omega R&B brush (it’s sold here for $30 as a limited edition model, but the limited edition seems to refer to the R&B (Razor & Brush, a great vendor of the recent past) stamp. The brush itself is a part of the Omega line: model 21762, and that may be available elsewhere when the R&B run is exhausted. Indeed, on searching “Omega 21762″, I find that StraightRazorDesigns.com sells it without the R&B stamp for $37. So the brush will probably be available in any case—but $30 is a good price for such a remarkably good boar brush.
I used the shorter “bamboo” style iKon handle with the DLC head this morning, and I went to a new blade right away—and got a couple of nicks! I don’t know why I can sometimes shave flawlessly with this razor, having no problems at all, and sometimes cannot seem to avoid a nick. I think it’s probably my technique—perhaps if I shaved with it every day I would master it sooner. It’s possible that blade play may be a cause: I’ve read reports of such a thing with the regular iKon slant, but I really haven’t noticed in either iKon slant: DLC or plain.
I’ll keep working on it—I finally did figure out Stirling soap, after all—but from Wednesday through Sunday I will not shave. I want to test an idea that I read on Wicked_Edge, that the Stealth will not deal well with more than a couple of days of stubble. The idea’s not been tested—someone thought it would “probably” take 4 passes to get a smooth shave with the Stealth since the Stealth is so mild/comfortable. I see comfort as independent of efficiency, so my own expectation is that 3 passes with the Stealth, even on a 5-day stubble, will produce BBS. So: different expectations, and we’ll look to experience to decide. (My own record of having my expectations validated by experience is mediocre, which is why I turn so often to experience to decide.)
I think part of the problem is that many have a strong feeling that comfort and efficiency are incompatible: if a razor is extremely comfortable it cannot be extremely efficient. I have found that not to be true in practice (cf. Feather AS-D1/2, Stealth, Standard, and others), but I’ve not go without shaving for several days for a long, long time. So I’ll make the sacrifice of skipping my shave for several days—and those who shave in the traditional manner understand that it is indeed a (minor) sacrifice—to see what actually happens.
A good splash of Hâttric, and the week gets in motion.
A very nice shave today. I had promised to use Col. Conk a while back, only to discover I had given away my last (large) puck of it. I ordered a replacement, shown above: a noticeably smaller puck, but then I don’t use it all that often—although it does provide a perfectly serviceable lather, as I quickly obtained with the little Omega boar brush shown. The brush held plenty for three passes, and the iKon slant, with the second shave on this blade, did give me a small nick in the XTG pass—obviously my technique must be somewhat sloppy when shaving XTG.
Still, that’s why I have My Nik Is Sealed, and the nick was small. I am going to use the blade for another shave and see whether I get more nicks. If so, I think it is evident that the problem is an aging blade.
A good splash of Clean Vetiver (not the other vetiver, which must be the Dirty Vetiver), and the weekend is launched.
I’m doing the section of shaving brushes, and I do see the validity of a criticism some have made: it’s too much like showing off my own personal collection, which is not so interesting to others as it is to me (cf. vacation photos—and a wonderful example my mother once told me about: the Roy Rogers museum, which at the time (he was still alive) seem to consist in part of things he had but no longer used, such as all his old wrist watches. So I’m looking skeptically at all the brush photos and lists.
My thought is to cut it back to the facts of interest about the particular brush type (synthetic, horse, boar, or badger) and list some recommended brands and perhaps even a few brushes of particular interest—though with horsehair brushes, I don’t identify any specific model.
Because I’m not rushing toward a deadline, I have the time to reflect on the text as I go. And this section seems to require some serious pruning.
A very good shave overall, with no nicks but one small cut, which did not occur while actually shaving. It happened when I placed the head of the razor on my face, above and to the right of my upper lip, and I set the razor down at such an angle that the (new) blade simply cut me slightly. The blade did not move, just pressed down lightly, but at a bad angle. I felt it, too. Thank heavens for My Nik Is Sealed, which stopped it immediately.
But in the shave itself, no nicks of any type, not even on the XTG pass around my mouth, which is where I usually get them. I am now thinking that Lab Blues go bad as they age, and become rebellious. I am going to start replacing the blade after the second shave. Let’s see if that works.
The Vie-Long boar brush shown, once sold by BullgooseShaving.com as the Bombito, is really a terrific brush. Relatively fine boar bristles, to the extent that for a long time I thought it must be a horsehair brush. It worked up an instant good lather from my Klar Seifen soap. (Sorry about lid orientation…)
Three passes with no nicks, but one small cut prior to a pass. My Nik Is Sealed took care of it, and a good splash of Hâttric finished a fine shave. Result: BBS face.
I do like the fragrance of Stirling’s Bonaparte shaving soap, and I did get a good lather today using the damp-brush method. The DLC slant was again quite nice, but I got a few nicks (lower and upper lip, XTG). Tomorrow I’ll trying using a new blade and see whether that might be the issue: the Lab Blue blades might have a short lifespan.
A touch of My Nik Is Sealed stopped the nicks, and a good splash of Stirling’s Lemon Chill sent me on my way.
I’m not sure why my flash did so poorly but I suspect it’s due to reflection from where the label doesn’t cover the lid.
At any rate: I used palm-lathering since Mike’s Natural is one of the soaps that did not work so well with my wet-brush lathering method, and I have to say that palm-lathering this soap works a lot better than my other method: it was easy to work more water into the lather (which this soap seems to like), and the result was extremely nice, both fragrance and lather.
Both the Stealth and the iKon DLC slant are excellent razors. The iKon seemed to glide a little easier, which I attribute to a combination of its greater mass and the polished DLC coating. In particular, the coating seems to contribute to the glide.
The other spot to check was to compare under-the-nose performance. The iKon seemed to be easier to use in the WTG pass than the Stealth, but the XTG and ATG passes were equally easy, I would say. But shaving under the nose has not been a problem for me—perhaps physiognomy, perhaps technique, perhaps a combination. But the iKon did feel a bit less bulky.
Both razors gave a very smooth and easy shave. I continue to like the SE handle on the iKon and was wondering what it would look like if the polished portion of the handle, just above the knob at the end, were given a DLC coating (for looks, not function: I don’t think one would particularly want a DLC-coated smooth handle, though I’d certainly be willing to try—and in that case, the matte rather than the polished finish would be better).
A good splash of Stirling Vetiver finished the shave, and the result is a BBS, nick-free finish.
A big shave this morning. I went with a soap I like a lot, and one of my favorite brushes—like wearing your good suit to the Big Meeting, in a way. Excellent lather applied after showering and then washing my face with the Jlocke98 mix.
The DLC Weber (on a UFO handle) in the foreground I used just to compare the DLC coatings, Weber v. iKon. The iKon DLC coating is definitely shinier, as though it had been polished, and it seemed slicker, though it was hard to tell. I didn’t want to shave much with the Weber because the main comparison is between the two iKons. But my impression is that the iKon DLC is a tad bit smoother on the face.
Now, comparing the two iKons. I was asked to check the blade seating/play. Truthfully, this has never been an issue for me with this razor: I plop the blade onto the cap, add the baseplate, and tighten the handle. Generally I don’t even look at the result, just start shaving. I tried but did not see much blade play (once the blade was pushed down over the center post and alignment studs) in either razor. Once after tightening the uncoated head I thought the blade was a little askew, so I rotated the cap 180º and it still seemed a little off, so I forgot about.
In any event, both razors shaved extremely well. In terms of performance and comfort, they are closely matched. The DLC head may glide a bit more easily, but it’s scarcely a blind test and I was expecting that, so it may be a placebo effect. Both razors shaved effortlessly, comfortably, and sans nicks.
The longer “special edition” handle is quite comfortable: the additional length was no problem, and it felt fine in the hand. The razor seems well balanced with it, possibly a bit more agile than the stock handle (because the head seems lighter in proportion). The knob works well, and overall I like the handle more than I expected: it feels good in the hand.
Three passes, Personna Lab Blue blades, no nicks, BBS result. A good splash of Fine’s Clean Vetiver, and the day at last begins.
My new DLC iKon slant just arrived! From the front: stainless iKon slant, new iKon slant with dlc coating and longer handle; DLC Weber (with UFO handle).
The Weber is included because I wanted to show something that doesn’t really show up in the photo: the Weber DLC is matte black, but the iKon DLC coating seems polished—you can see the light reflecting off the teeth of the guard, for example.
The new iKon also has a noticeably longer handle with a noticeable knob at the end, larger in diameeter than the handle proper.
I’ll shave with it tomorrow and provide a report. Full disclosure: Greg is a blog reader, and the razor came as a gift.
A reader recommended this soap, so I gave it a shot. It has an interesting list of ingredients:
Materials: soap, shaving, rose, coconut butter, mango butter, palm oil, jojoba oil, french clay, shea butter, coconut oil, aloe vera, coconut rum, castor oil
The rose fragrance is fairly strong, which I like, and the lather is quite good. I did my wet-brush loading and then palm-lathering, stopping this time before adding too much water. (I think that happened on Saturday.) I got tired of using the same brush every day, so I broke out the Wet Shaving Products Prince, and loved using it.
The bakelite slant with a Lab Blue blade swiftly and easily and—dare I say?—pleasurably removed the two-day stubble, leaving my face BBS. A good splash of The Shave Den Store’s Lavender Rose aftershave, and I’m ready to start another week. Some cross-cut beef shanks are already in a 200ºF oven, sitting amongst chopped onion and Roma tomatoes that were cooked briefly in olive oil, with thyme, savory, salt, pepper, and a little fish sauce. That should be ready in good time for dinner.
An extremely fine shave today, and I think I am definitely learning how to use Barrister & Mann shaving soaps. I still have a bit of fading lather by the third pass, but I think it could be insufficient loading or too much water added. But I did not have to reload the brush—squeezing it gave sufficient lather for the third pass. Still, I do recognize that generally that step is not required with other soaps I use, so I still have a way to go.
My Feather razor with a Feather blade did its usual excellent job: three passes to a smooth face. A small splash of Victorian Rose aftershave from the Shave Den Store, and the weekend starts.