You Can Get Fooled Again

When Shave Like Grandad blogger Doug Hansford recently concluded that a twin-blade Gillette disposable could shave as well as DE, it hurt me. I know I continually step on his professional toes when I rant speculatively about Vitamins D and S, and make a mockery of his chosen craft of instructional writing. But he's like the only other blogger I know drawing strokes on principle; and I, too, intermittently check back on possible improvements in my ability with modern razor designs. I've gained a lot of ground in skin toughening lately, and I'm between blades, so... despite my immediate reaction, rolling my eyes and incoherently reciting presidential wisdom, I do owe the senior this much respect.

First Shave-raq

My weapon of choice, BiC 1 white handle. Jojoba oil and croap for prep, mostly just counting on the cumulative toning of late. Effortless reduction, of course, but I still couldn't get close. Trying to do so with pressure earned me some really weird injury under my chin, in fact, that I cannot get with any other kind of shaving instrument. Doesn't burn, but feels like a cut when you rub on it. Is it a hair-pulling injury? The only surface damage is really light chipping, as prominences in the skin were sheared off.

Both results consistent with P&G's own microscopic video footage of cartridges at work, except that I don't have a second blade cutting off that yanked hair, the so-called hysteresis action. Not that this was a terrible shave for me, but I know it's not what Doug was talking about.

I do still have some (undoubtedly priceless) Sensor cartridges around. I still remember that old double traction taking off twice as much of my skin. Those cartridges don't offer any more surface to distribute it than the breech of a DE. When dollar store disposables recently got up to six blades is when I finally became relatively safe again, though the reduction pass was  ridiculously choppy.

But I guess the witch hazel might give me a shot. Okay, then. F-- it: I'm going full commando. No oil, just Williams. I don't plan to be repeating any strokes. Maybe I'll light my Shave Secret on fire for atmosphere. Hells bells!

Second Shave-raq

The World Cup commemorative Sensor (Google says 1994, I think I bought in '95) leads the unstoppable offense, in metallic blue and would-be white, now a rust-colored butterscotch. The other old-man's trick I brought to this conflict was to rinse my first lather off, for extra skin hydration. Call it a "wet Williams," if you like.

My Sensor Excel handle fell apart around the time I started with DE. Prices were so horrible for refills, I didn't think to glue it back together, but I noticed the handles are weighted inside. The Sensor head lacks the tennis-shoe profile of the BiC, or Doug's Good News disposable. It is perhaps the purest expression of the cartridge philosophy, and the origin of the Fusion lineage. Charles Roberts thought they were pretty good, too. I find it interesting that Gillette distinguishes these designs in their recent ads, claiming the Mach 3 to be sharper after a month than their own disposable product, is when it is new. Once again attacking the whole disposable concept. Hey, it's been almost fifty years... maybe it'll work this time!

My shave would tend to confirm the distinction... sort of. Neither my BiC nor the Sensor are new, but the Sensor glides like a stealth fighter, making the BiC sound like a biplane. They're both sharp, but the Sensor tracks right on the base of the hair. It is more efficient. I just see these results as confirmation of hair pulling in the first case, though: I still don't believe in hysteresis. The second blade stabilizes the pitch of the first, so the cartridge can actually stay flat on the skin, where it needs to be in order to work right.

I had an entire patch of stubble under my jaw that was simply missed, and had to be dry shaved. Shady spots are visible under my chin and around my mouth. I tried Doug's slow ATG approach first, but that didn't get my jaw corners. BBS was certainly achieved, in the end. The problem is, the skin was reduced to the same depth as the hair. The old red spots on my neck are not oozing plasma this time, and I seem to have avoided a burn. Alum only picked up some pricking spots. (The alum test may have been recalibrated by witch hazel prep, but I do have a nice, dry post-shave feel.)

You can get this kind of shave from a DE, too, completely exfoliating. "Skin-shorn"? Dermaplaning. I don't care for it. I know a lot of guys do, though. Like that YouTube of Mark Herro demonstrating DE shaving in Chicago: his skin seems to change color as he shaves off an old tan or something. But a lot of other guys go the other way, to SE and straight razors, sacrificing the efficient tracking to enforce a low pitch angle and avoid the skin.


I'd like to think Doug found the perfect balance of Sensor-like traction and BiC-like elevation from the skin surface in his chosen modern shaver. I'm drawing my line in the sand with DE... actually, even a bit further back, between the Tech and the Merkur. To buy any modern shaver is to be drawn into a hopeless quagmire, where you can't define a successful outcome.

But I do actually have a Super-Max semi-disposable cartridge system that might fit the bill for travel, with three blades in the BiC form factor, and a hollow plastic handle. With the same prep as yesterday, it combined the mediocre performance of the BiC with some extra drag, for a visually acceptable shave with less exfoliation, but more chips in the otherwise preserved SC. Since it doesn't track efficiently as the Sensor, I had to press to keep it in contact, but with three blades, it missed less hair than the BiC.

I would have to characterise the skin condition as the slightest burn, in a one-hour interval that begins about an hour after the shave, but not really worse than the Sensor, which was just never comfortable, unable to relax.

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