In Praise of Fidelity

Let's talk about single and double edged razors and the blades that they use.
bernards66
Duke of Silvertip!
Posts: 27408
Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2005 1:02 pm

In Praise of Fidelity

Post by bernards66 » Mon May 22, 2006 7:52 pm

No, no, not that kind of fidelity.....this is not the place to get into that...this is a shaving forum, by George! No, fidelity in terms of one's shaving kit is what I have in mind. Now, this is a challenging concept for many of us here, as most are obvious shavegeeks, and part of the definition of the term is, 'one who is always diddling with his shave, and who collects and uses scores of shaving implements, products, and other goodies'. Not to put too fine a point on it, but...well...there IS Peter's...a....selection of shave brushes, or Chris M's straight razors, or John's hoard of DEs. And, I would suggest that the faint of heart not ask Chris F. how many colognes he owns. And yet......

For years, I was not a shavegeek. No. I was merely a traditional wetshaver. Used one Gillette Adjustable for almost thirty years, period. In the early 1990s I picked up a SS fixed blade and a new Schick Injector, for a few bucks each. And, I only had one ( 1 ) shave brush for at least fifteen years. And then....well...you all know the story. But in all the subsequent frenzy of trying different things, I always knew, deep down, that, while decidedly fun, it was not necessarily the best thing for my shave. Awhile back, on the shaveblog there was a series of entries whereby Corey used the same kit for one week straight, and, guess what? He discovered what I'd always known; that there was a lot to be said for continuity. I've always preached this to newcomers, but not followed it myself, for the last number of years. If your selection of kit is basically sound ( for you ), you are going to get better shaves generally, if you stick with it, getting to know it inside out, then if you switch around all the time, in search of some magic bullet or Holy Grail.

At the core of this though, I think, is the razor and the blade. Really, really getting to know your razor and how it relates to your skin and beard. There's more then ample evidence on this board, that razors vary in their head geometry and how exactly they cut, even quite similiar seeming models. Likewise for the different brands of blades. Every time that I've stuck with one razor/blade for any length of time, my overall shaves have always shown improvement ( provided the razor was simpatico in the first place ). Lately, I've been using only my 1958 Gillette SS, and either the Swedes or Israeli Personna blades. And, sure enough, unusually good shaves, even using products that sometimes give me trouble.

Fidelity to only one shave product is less significent, I think, at least up to a point. Switching off to different scents of Coate's creams, for instance, is not going to make much difference. Even tossing in a very rich lathering English hard soap will probably not be a problem. But, if one is wildly gyrating from the Cube to Nancy Boy to Trumper's Violet cream, well, your skin and your cutting hand is not going to have much of a feel for any of them. And, if your switching off razors as well, good luck.

The brush is the least important component, by far, in all this. Now you all know that I take a keen interest in shave brushes, but as far as the actual results of the shave are concerned, which one you choose is not going to effect the shave much, provided that it's high enough quality to whip up a a top quality lather. If I use the same razor & blade, and the same shave cream, I can grab any of my brushes, any day of the week, and it's not going to effect the actual shave hardly at all ( although it may effect the experiance of the shave ).

So, for newcomers, I think it's important to stick with one set-up, and focus on learning the process and technique without diversion. For the not so newcomers, if you've never tried 'fidelity' for any length of time, give it a shot one of these days, and see if you don't see what I mean.
Regards,
Gordon

fisherc
Posts: 1738
Joined: Thu Jul 08, 2004 1:24 am
Location: Bay Area, CA

Post by fisherc » Mon May 22, 2006 8:22 pm

Gordon:

How strange you mention this. I just finished with my evening routine (wash face, spray hydrosol, and apply a few drops of jojoba/rosehip seed oil). As I finished I was staring at all my gear on the bathroom sink and said to myself ya know I should just spend one week with the same setup (brush, cream, and razor/blade). I fiddle around with my skin care routine as much as my shave routine so I decided I should fix that as well and see what results. I cannot remember the last time I spent a week with the same products.

Chris

mparker762
Posts: 923
Joined: Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:30 am
Location: Houston, TX
Contact:

Post by mparker762 » Mon May 22, 2006 8:33 pm

I would mention that once you've settled on a rig and gotten familiar with it (couple of weeks), then a weeklong affair with the Feather AC can produce a substantial improvement in your technique.

I settled on my combination of Gillette HD, american personna blades, and Harris soap several months ago and noticed continual improvement in my shaves for about a month, followed by a plateau. After returning to the fatboy after my Feather experiment last week I found myself getting BBS shaves in 3 passes with no T&C needed. I think my fingers got much more sensitive to blade angle.

User avatar
Tye
Watch this space!
Posts: 2737
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2006 3:25 pm
Location: Bend, Oregon
Contact:

Post by Tye » Mon May 22, 2006 8:39 pm

Back when I first started this whole wetshaving thing I was switching razors and creams each and everyday and I was getting horrible results. One day I decided to use my Gillette Adjustable as my one and only razor and things got progressively better. I used it exclusively until I got my 195 back in March then used the 195 for a month or so and then switched to a Progress for a month and for the last week or so I've been using an Adjustable Injector. There's something to be said for consistancy. Of course if things keep going well with the Injector I may just stick with it for a loooong time.

-Tye
Contributing Member to the Cause

cigar-&-Shave

Post by cigar-&-Shave » Mon May 22, 2006 8:56 pm

Shaving Fidelity… I’m close; I’m kind of a part time fidelity guy!

I always use Feather razor blades.
I always use either “Mennen Cool Spice Skin Bracer” or “Old Spice” aftershave.
Starting a couple of weeks ago, I always use KMF Olive & Aloe moisturizer.
I always use a non-adjustable razor, usually a Gillette 3 piece.
I almost always use a Shavemac brush; either my 22580 or SMF II.
I do bounce around with my shaving creams and soaps… man does not live on one scent alone.

User avatar
Squire
Squadron Leader
Posts: 18970
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2005 3:41 pm
Location: North East, MS

Post by Squire » Mon May 22, 2006 9:53 pm

Gordon,

Hoards you say? No sir, nothing like that, just a sufficiency, that's all. The half dozen open containers of cream and three soaps in their individual cups on the counter are there merely to offer a selection, friends that greet me in the morning, just shaving options, nothing more. The lower drawers are a bit full, difficult to open actually, but that's necessary backup. I don't need to buy any more stuff, really, I can quit anytime.

Truth is your point carries as we don't need much to get a good shave. For years I used an open razor and Williams shave soap and got perfectly good results and if that was my only option today I would be well served.

I like the choice of using different stuff but believe they are only choices as I don't think there is a holy grail of shaving that is such a perfect combination of razor/blade/cream/soap that would so please me I would forsake all others.

Having said that I agree that those that are either new to traditonal shaving or cycling back to it after years of trying other stuff might be better off to just stick with one combination of razor/blade/cream for, say, a month to six weeks, to get well grounded before launching into the options.
Regards,
Squire

User avatar
rtaylor61
Old Spice
Posts: 5390
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 7:25 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Post by rtaylor61 » Mon May 22, 2006 10:03 pm

The wisdom of a sage. Gordon, nicely written. As you know from previous posts, I've suggested for a newbie to stick with the same items until progress has been made up the learning curve. However, you come to a forum like this and "everybody" has a 10 year supply of soaps and creams, a basketfull of razors...etc., and it's hard not to get caught up in the mix! I've backed off on most of the buying, but you know, receiving 250 DE blades in a week, well, it's exciting.

Yes, lots of wisdom in your writing, and I agree with you, 100%. But, you are preaching to a bunch of product whores... :twisted:

Randy
"I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a-hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them." J. B. Books

User avatar
Red Bob
Posts: 330
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2006 8:52 am
Location: Tupelo, MS

Post by Red Bob » Mon May 22, 2006 10:07 pm

Sage and timely advice, Gordon and crew [-o<

I have begun to realize that all my blade/razor/cream switching has made my shaves progressively WORSE. I've even been switching razors and creams between passes..........bad idea, I know, but the urge to try all these great products has taken over common sense, I'm afraid :cry:

With that being said, I'm due to get a GEM and an Eveready from Kalypso this week and I plan on trying them. If these shave as good as advertised, I may stick with them for a while and try to settle on the best cream, which I still haven't found, although I'm seriously considering buying the C&E almond oil and/or Nancy Boy due to the reviews.

One thing I HAVE settled on recently, however, is my pre and post shave routine. I finally stripped down my post shave regimen to Thayer's AF rose petal witch hazel and my usual Clinique max hydrator mosturizer.........this alone has improved my skin's appearance.

LESS = MORE? I do believe so, chaps!
“When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor Frankl

Image

bernards66
Duke of Silvertip!
Posts: 27408
Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2005 1:02 pm

Post by bernards66 » Mon May 22, 2006 10:15 pm

Squire, Yes, I know, we can all quit anytime we want...indeed ( chuckle ), and I too have my little mulit-colored friends in their pots and bowls that greet me in the morning ( as well as that shoe box stuffed with razors that I hide on the top shelf of the bedroom closet...sigh ). And it's all a decided delight. But, although there are surely a few exceptions, I really do think that many, even of the most experianced shavers, tend to get consistantly better shaves if they switch around less. Primarily regarding the razor and blade. If one's consistant there, the top shelf English creams and soaps anyway, don't vary so much as to be a problem ( excepting any that we might have some sort of specific negative reaction to ). Of course, as I said, flip flopping from Marseilles soap to Cremo, and back again, is often problematic. Anyway, it's something that I thought I'd toss out there, for members to at least consider.
Regards,
Gordon

User avatar
stuff495
Posts: 815
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2005 7:45 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA, 94109

Post by stuff495 » Mon May 22, 2006 11:20 pm

Oh how true this is. I just butchered my face two days ago mucking around with radically different razors. I suppose it was worth it.

For me this is a hobby, not the quest for the best shave.

BTW: what aftershave do forum members think is the best at helping the skin recover, and soothing the irritation of "wetshaving indiscretions"?

--Vincent

Timpac
Posts: 617
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2006 1:41 am
Location: Beaverton, OR

Post by Timpac » Mon May 22, 2006 11:41 pm

Been doin' this for a few months now and I still only have two razors, two brushes, and two soaps. One soap was a cheapy that was the only thing easy to find and was a good way to learn lathering without worrying about waste. Same can be said of the brush. It was a boar/badger mix, used to belong to my dad, and was missing a fair bit of the bristles. Actually not that fantastic, due to the condition, but still a start. And I bought a second razor because I wanted to see the difference between a TTO and a three-piece, which is apparently one of the biggest differences between razor types. Oh, and I began trying Merkurs about halfway through my pack of Personnas. I found a store that sells them, so I went with trying them and they work so well with my Tech that I probably won't be using the Personnas again. I may try Feathers, but blades are pretty important. But yeah, I can get unbelievable lather with my Col. Conk, but that's all I've really used so far once I knew how to lather soap with a brush. I have used C&E creams, thanks to samples garnered while obtaining my brush, and I don't get any appreciably better lather. And I can get a quick, smooth one and a half pass shave for workdays without any meaningful irritation and certainly no nicks or bleeders with my Tech and Merkur combo with very little effort. No matter how slight the learning curve on a new razor, it's still something that effects a shave and seems obvious as something to eliminate.

bernards66
Duke of Silvertip!
Posts: 27408
Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2005 1:02 pm

Post by bernards66 » Mon May 22, 2006 11:41 pm

Vincent, Depends on the nature of your self inflicted boo boos. For just general soothing, I always found the old fomula Harris's Aftershave Milk to be very good. For serious razor burn, Aloe, and for skin reactions, out would come the Cortizone cream. I've hardly ever nicked myself, but if I did, I'd just dab some alcohol on it, until it stopped bleeding.
Regards, and better luck tomorrow,
Gordon

User avatar
rtaylor61
Old Spice
Posts: 5390
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 7:25 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Post by rtaylor61 » Tue May 23, 2006 12:15 am

stuff495 wrote:Oh how true this is. I just butchered my face two days ago mucking around with radically different razors. I suppose it was worth it.

For me this is a hobby, not the quest for the best shave.

BTW: what aftershave do forum members think is the best at helping the skin recover, and soothing the irritation of "wetshaving indiscretions"?

--Vincent
For me, Natureade Aloe 80 gel was a blessing to have. Even without irritation or "razor burn", I still use it frequently. Again, for me, it keeps my face moist, and dries to a matte finish. You can probably get the same results with most Aloe products, but Natureade has no scent added, and it is inexpensive. I'm using the same bottle I started with over a year ago, and it is still half full. YMMV.

Randy[/b]
"I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a-hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them." J. B. Books

User avatar
stuff495
Posts: 815
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2005 7:45 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA, 94109

Post by stuff495 » Tue May 23, 2006 3:00 am

Timpac wrote:Been doin' this for a few months now and I still only have two razors, two brushes, and two soaps. One soap was a cheapy that was the only thing easy to find and was a good way to learn lathering without worrying about waste. Same can be said of the brush. It was a boar/badger mix, used to belong to my dad, and was missing a fair bit of the bristles. Actually not that fantastic, due to the condition, but still a start. And I bought a second razor because I wanted to see the difference between a TTO and a three-piece, which is apparently one of the biggest differences between razor types. Oh, and I began trying Merkurs about halfway through my pack of Personnas. I found a store that sells them, so I went with trying them and they work so well with my Tech that I probably won't be using the Personnas again. I may try Feathers, but blades are pretty important. But yeah, I can get unbelievable lather with my Col. Conk, but that's all I've really used so far once I knew how to lather soap with a brush. I have used C&E creams, thanks to samples garnered while obtaining my brush, and I don't get any appreciably better lather. And I can get a quick, smooth one and a half pass shave for workdays without any meaningful irritation and certainly no nicks or bleeders with my Tech and Merkur combo with very little effort. No matter how slight the learning curve on a new razor, it's still something that effects a shave and seems obvious as something to eliminate.
I've tried a bunch of soaps, and the best overall one I've found is Col. Conk. Now there's a big caveat here: most soaps irritate me, so some soaps that lathered better were ruled out. But I belive Conk is still a very good soap -- in fact I'm down to just Tabac, Conk (and Williams on occasion) when I'm not trying something new.

Speaking of fidelity, I use Col. Conk far more then any other soap. As a result, I think I've gotten very good at getting it to lather well. I'm not sure exactly what I do, but it seems to really work for the Colonel. Party because of this I can generally get lather from Conk as good or better then lather from one of the 3-T's hard soaps.

--Vincent

User avatar
RVL Saratoga
Posts: 287
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2005 9:01 am
Location: Saratoga Springs, NY

Post by RVL Saratoga » Tue May 23, 2006 4:22 am

Good morning, Gordon

You are quite right; it is less a question of your tools than your proficiency with them. The corollary is that proficiency comes with repetition.

This has been reflected in my experience with straight razors. I've bought several lately but consistantly have the best success with the simple Henckles I started with. The likely reason is because I've become accustomed to the feel of it and I've learned, through trial and error, exactly how to hone it to a nearly perfect edge. I can even comfortably shave against the grain with it.

I haven't yet reached this level of skill with my newer, fancier razors. Frustrating, but logical.

I'm sure that I could achieve a more consistantly excellent shave by standardizing my selection of tools. But, where would the fun be in that? Art vs. science.

Regards,
Robert

northadams
Mad Max
Posts: 408
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2005 3:38 pm
Location: Vermont

Post by northadams » Tue May 23, 2006 4:27 am

I pm'd Gordon awhile back about rediscovering the non or lightly colored English creams. The Cube, Martin de Candre and other 'exotic' creatures have gone off to some of the relatives. Maybe that gold Aristocrat every once in a while but sticking with the late 60's black long handle seems to garner better results. The only new big arrival will be that white (hopefully) CH2 in Charlotte's photo from last week. A few creams and brushes and one go to razor & blades makes more & more sense these days.

Max

Forgot the Moss Scuttle!

Hugo
Paranoid Schizophrenic
Posts: 1289
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2004 7:05 pm

Post by Hugo » Tue May 23, 2006 5:20 am

Gordon,
Well put.
I take every opportunity I have to tell the newer members of this community to take it one step at a time. One razor and one soap/cream until they are getting near perfect shaves day in and day out. Get to know the personality of your razor; the finicky nature of a soap or cream; and the best time of day for your shave. These things are what is most important to getting a close, comfortable shave. Practice.
No need to rush into trying new things as you'll have years to experiment once the technique is down.
_________________
The man upstairs is used to all of this noise...
I'm through with screaming and echoes nobody hears

mparker762
Posts: 923
Joined: Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:30 am
Location: Houston, TX
Contact:

Post by mparker762 » Tue May 23, 2006 5:56 am

As a result, I think I've gotten very good at getting it to lather well. I'm not sure exactly what I do, but it seems to really work for the Colonel. Party because of this I can generally get lather from Conk as good or better then lather from one of the 3-T's hard soaps.
I think this is true of many soaps. I got pitiful lather with Classic Shaving soap until I spent some time with it. Same thing with Williams - it takes a while to figure out, but produces some impressive lather once you realize that it needs about 50% more water than everything else. Harris and T&H soap is more slippery, so that's what I've stuck with, but there does seem to be enough differences between soaps that I think it's nearly as important to stick with one as it is to stick with one blade.

User avatar
stuff495
Posts: 815
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2005 7:45 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA, 94109

Post by stuff495 » Tue May 23, 2006 6:05 am

RVL Saratoga wrote: I'm sure that I could achieve a more consistantly excellent shave by standardizing my selection of tools. But, where would the fun be in that? Art vs. science.
I think it's actually Art vs. Utility. You can still be "scientific" in the way you test stuff, and still have plenty of fun. What isn't fun is getting perfect shaves every day in the shower with a Mach3 and a can of storebrand goo.

--Vincent

User avatar
stuff495
Posts: 815
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2005 7:45 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA, 94109

Post by stuff495 » Tue May 23, 2006 6:10 am

mparker762 wrote:
As a result, I think I've gotten very good at getting it to lather well. I'm not sure exactly what I do, but it seems to really work for the Colonel. Party because of this I can generally get lather from Conk as good or better then lather from one of the 3-T's hard soaps.
I think this is true of many soaps. I got pitiful lather with Classic Shaving soap until I spent some time with it. Same thing with Williams - it takes a while to figure out, but produces some impressive lather once you realize that it needs about 50% more water than everything else. Harris and T&H soap is more slippery, so that's what I've stuck with, but there does seem to be enough differences between soaps that I think it's nearly as important to stick with one as it is to stick with one blade.
I agree, I disagree. I think you are probably right about the importance of sticking w/ a soap if you want to get good lather from it. OTOH, I don't think you need a superlative lather for a good shave. I think non-optimal lather made with a good brush from a good soap will be sufficient for a good shave. The main things lather does is condition the beard, and provide lubrication. A good soap should be able to do those things even if you just rub it over your wet face.

Not knowing your razor leads to cuts and razor burn though.

--Vincent

Post Reply