More Than One Way to Not Skin Myself

I've been heavily into oil cleansing and toning as a preshave, to compact the lower layers of epidermis and make the hair stand up nicely. Recently I've grown more certain than ever in my criticism of skin-swelling glycerin, coining the term, "penetration error" to describe its uncomfortable effects.

But the summer heat showed up a weakness in my way of thinking. Moisturizer ironically turned out to be an excellent underarm anti-perspirant, when the atmospheric humidity became unbearable. Last night I tried an oil cleanse on my head and neck, just for comfort. While it reliably tightened my skin, it did NOT make me comfortable; I finally resorted to Florida Water before bed, just before the fog started rolling in at 69 degrees Fahrenheit. So this morning, my skin was thirsty as hell, driving me to rummage under the sink for Noxzema. Next to that jar, the Dove Men Expert Shave cream that I found too penetrating previously, suddenly seemed ideal. Both would "penetrate," but Noxzema's carbamide-paracellular approach would neutralize Dove's cosmetic glycerin onslaught. A very rare, posh shave for me, though I did sneak my pumpkin juice in between.

Meanwhile, on the hardware side, I put Ruby and the $20 slant head-to-head, switching the same old Personna Platinum Chrome (which I realize I've been mistakenly calling "Super Chrome") between the two. Not super easy to do, as the cream's hydration was being steadily absorbed by my face throughout the shave, but I'm pretty fast. Ruby took advantage of the slickness to shave both ways on pass 1, leaving only the direct ATG for pass 2; the slant squeegeed all of the lather dry WTG, but was perfectly efficient, and thus able to nearly catch up on second pass, and get touch-ups on water.

Both sides were pretty smooth. Ruby missed more stubs, but the slant didn't cut as deep. I then relathered (thinly) and allowed each razor to finish the other's territory. The slant couldn't find anything to clean up on the neck, but was good and loud on my cheek. Ruby quietly clipped little stubble tips everywhere.

When it was over, I used Humphreys instead of moisturizer, seemingly inflating the skin to maximum. But, like the shaving media, the ingredients were balanced and did not injure. Noxzema:pumpkin:Dove::witch hazel:aloe:glycerin. Confirmation came from my most penetrating aftershave, Aqua Velva Musk, which was simply absorbed with a sense of clean and dry, but no sting, or even prickles. Cotton ball test: passed.

Big Surprise

Everything I thought I knew, was wrong, again! It seems that by using the most penetrating, skin-swelling preparation, I enlarged every detail and aspect of my skin proportionally, so that damage was minimized. True, I had already conceived of that with respect to the stratum corneum: if you hydrate it and swell it up, then penetrating it by the same blade depth will remove fewer layers of corneocytes. But I think this has more to do with the microscopic contours of the lower strata, pressing back with less firmness (and impact, considering the horizontal dimension) against the edge.

So, penetration is not necessarily error. Careful chemical balancing, along multiple moisturization pathways, and assurance that the hair will also be softened are required, however. Though I better understand what the dry-skinned, fragile-haired people are doing everyday now, I'd still have to throw my lot in with the minimalists. I've pushed my skin so far away from its natural state, it will probably be trying to ooze itself straight until tomorrow! (UPDATE: one application of a wet cloth and some Florida Water.) It does look pretty smooth though.

As for the razors, I still don't think the slant can beat Ruby, on my face, but it gave her a good challenge. It suggests that I could benefit from a more aggressive attack on early passes.

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