Safety Razors: My Trip from Mild to Aggressive

Discussion in 'Safety Razors' started by HolyRollah, Oct 5, 2013.

  1. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    When I got back into wet-shaving some time ago, I began using an old Gillette super speed. It was similar to the one I learned upon many years ago. After spending too many years with multi-bladed Machs, Atras, & other off-brands, I wanted to ease back into the process of using a DE razor. The old Gillette was just like I remembered— easy to use, and easy to get a nice clean shave with minimal nicks. The term 'a mild shaver' has been used to describe this and other similar models.

    However, a few weeks back into the routine, I began to develop some signs of irritation, particularly in those 'tough' areas on my throat and chin. I was thorough in my prep, used quality soap, and believed my technique to be adequate. Upon further investigation I realized these 'trouble spots' were requiring many more passes to get smooth! To achieve a baby-bottom smooth shave in those areas, unfortunately, was requiring multiple passes with the mild Gillette. I sampled several brands of blades in the razor (Astra, Dorco, Wilkinson, Gillette), but was still not satisfied with the results.

    This, of course, necessitated my testing and acquiring more razors in order to achieve a close, smooth shave. I picked up a number of other vintage Gillettes (Slim, FatBoy, a few News, Aristocrat, Techs, a Red Tip) to try and found some of them (the Red Tip and Fatboy, in particular) required no more than 3 passes to get near-BBS. And my skin irritation diminished.

    I even picked up a modern Merkur (38c Solid Bar) and was pleased at the results. All of these razors (subsequent to the original SS) felt more aggressive on my face and seemed to require less work of the operator to get smooth results. I thought I had reached shaving nirvana. :)

    ...And then a TSD member convinced me to try a slant bar razor...


    I was hesitant at first to try a slantbar razor. After all, everything I read on the forums and in vendor's descriptions stated, "For heavy beards," "Not for the faint-hearted" "Beware!" Thanks to the encouragement (and loan of one of his Slants) of a fellow member (Bob, aka 'Battle.Munky), I tried the slant bar. I had a complete week of VERY close shaves, no blood-letting, and was able to hit BBS regularly with only two passes. PLUS: No skin irritation. I immediately ordered my own slant, returned Bob's Merkur 37c to him, and my shaves have not been the same since. Being able to reduce the number of passes and still get an ultra-smooth shave was a real boon for me.

    I now found myself investigating and acquiring other 'more aggressive' razors out there. Since I acquired the Slant, I picked up an aggressive open-comb Fatip, and the notorious Muhle R41 (2011 version). Arriving next week is a Merkur Futur—an 'aggressive' adjustable. I've also looked at Cobras and others. For right now though, I've quite enough razor-sampling to do comparing blades in all these models.

    So where will this razor search end?
    My guess: With a straight razor.
    When I get up the nerve. Or another fellow TSD member convinces me that it is the next logical step for the wet-shaver. We'll see....
    brit, Robyflexx, Ceferguson and 18 others like this.
  2. feeltheburn

    feeltheburn Well-Known Member

    Straights are a whole new world. I've been working on it but I'm still on the learning curve with them. At least I can enjoy my slant when I need a break from climbing that mountain though:).
    Robyflexx likes this.
  3. CJames

    CJames Well-Known Member

    Yep...Definitely! I can pretty much get through a full pass without a cut, but have to really pay attention. I think you will like the Futur. I usually keep mine set on 4, which gives me a close enough shave that I barely have to shave the next day. One of these days I want to give the slant a try. I'll report back when I get it. Probably won't be till late next week.
  4. Weeper Warrior

    Weeper Warrior Well-Known Member

    Weird....A YMMV situation here. I started with the most aggressive razors then after my techniques improved. I found the milder razor worked just as well. I had just as close a shave with little or no burn from the Alum. Smooth and comfortable goodness!:)

    FYI, Kevin The most aggressive razor I ever used was the Shake Sharp. It has a crazy amount of blade exposure and way more aggressive than the R41, Cobra, Slant, Super, or the Futur. IMHO!
    BigMark and maltedmilk like this.
  5. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    Jacob, I discovered that my mug simply prefers fewer passes. Ultra-sensitive skin, perhaps? I realize a significant portion of shaving success is highly dependent upon good technique and less upon the instrument used (reminds me of the old adage, "It's about the carpenter, not the hammer."). So I know I could get by with a milder razor just fine if I must, but the appeal of reducing the risk of post-shave rash & irritation are, at least for me, a compelling reason to test the 'aggressive' razor market.
    I've not tried the Shake Sharp. It's appearance is certainly unique.
    Tdmsu likes this.
  6. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    My approach to str8s was that I figured if our ancestors were able to learn to use 'em, and that's all they had to use, I could, too. So I did and I do. Not something I do every day. If you follow my SOTD posts you'll know I only use my str8s on Saturdays, but I still enjoy using them.
    MntnMan62, SRNewb and HolyRollah like this.
  7. Sontag

    Sontag Well-Known Member

    Excellent read HolyRollah, thanks for posting.

    Seems like I learn something every time I read this forum; I'm not familiar with slant bar razors, but I will definitely be using the search box tonight when I have time to read more.

    My 1934 Gillette Red & Black seems to be my most aggressive razor, and I only use it when I have plenty of time for a slow shave. I like it better than my adjustables set to 8/9.

    I guess that the search for a slant bar begins now!
    HolyRollah likes this.
  8. HoosierTrooper

    HoosierTrooper Steve-less in Indiana

    Hmm, sounds like an SE should be considered...
  9. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    Tom, the thought has crossed my mind!
  10. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    HolyRollah, pm me your address, I'll send you a shake sharp and an SE to try.

    I'll send a pack of blades along for the SE, and you can keep the blades and the razor. I do want the shake sharp back though. :)
  11. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    Pm sent, Ryan
  12. Metro

    Metro Well-Known Member

    And I thought I was done buying razors... now I want a Slant!
    Ceferguson and HolyRollah like this.
  13. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    They are certainly worth looking into.
    The good news is they often come up for sale in the shaving classifieds on various forums (but don't last long), or if you do buy one new, there's always a good resale market should it not be the razor for you.
  14. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    The Merkur Futur arrived yesterday and I was able to give it a thorough test drive very early this morning.
    I selected the middle setting on the adjustment dial ("3"), just to gauge the razor's aggressiveness.
    The resulting shave was VERY smooth, yet still close. It reminded me a bit of my Merkur 38—a slightly milder shave where there's no fear of being bitten by a wayward stroke. I felt I could be more 'forceful' with the heavy head (substantial on this razor, although overall, it's quite balanced in the hand), and not be concerned with irritation nor nicks. The heavy chrome head glides smoothly along, and is fairly audible during the shave.
    A very rewarding shaving experience, as I'm sitting here typing this while rubbing my face for any sensitive or tender spots. Nothing, just a super smooth face some 8 hours after the early shave.
    The next go 'round, I will dial it up to 4 or 5 (6 maybe?) just to compare the differences in the settings.

  15. HolyRollah

    HolyRollah BaconLord Staff Member

    Today, I received a small package from fellow TSD member, Ryan (PLANofMAN), containing the flowing: an SE EveryReady razor, a box of SE blades, plus the uniquely designed Shake Sharp razor.
    Thank you, Ryan, and I really look forward to trying these out this week! :happy093:

    Tattoobob, Adonis, maltedmilk and 2 others like this.
  16. Mark1966

    Mark1966 Well-Known Member

    Great thoughts and fantastic pics!
    HolyRollah likes this.
  17. Jasman

    Jasman Well-Known Member

    I'm looking forward to your thoughts on the Shake Sharp, Kevin.
    HolyRollah likes this.
  18. Sontag

    Sontag Well-Known Member

    That Merkur Futur is one nice looking machine. I've watched several of those on eBay; it may be time to sell off a few of mine and step up to German engineering.

    Coincidentally, I just bought my first SE this week. I need to get some SE blades and give it a try.

    Nice photography, HolyRollah.
    HolyRollah likes this.
  19. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    Your photo makes both of those razors look much better than they do in real life ;) Well done! :D
    HolyRollah likes this.
  20. BamaT

    BamaT Well-Known Member

    Nice thread, and I agree with other comments on the pics, very nice!

    I'm finding I prefer more aggressive razors, in my limited experience. Less irritation because less touch up required. With my NDC Superspeed and a Remei I purchased for travel (both mild shavers) I have to keep working in some spots on neck and jawline. My EJ 8911, which I would consider, again in my limited experience, to be moderately aggressive, and Gillette Slim set on 6 both give better shaves with less effort.

    That's my experience, YMMV!

Share This Page