Pushing Limits: At the Not-so-Cutting Edge

The smooth Racer edge seems not to be very complicated. Just good metal, a good finish, and not especially acute. It has just a little bevel at the very apex, so it doesn't kill you on the first shave, but otherwise seems like a simple wedge profile. I like it a lot when I'm coming off a long run with a sharper blade, but have never safely gotten beyond a week or so with this brand. I imagined the sturdy inflexibility that I called "smooth" came at the cost of longevity, and it really couldn't cut hair after that.

The Gillette Slim that I acquired at the flea market suggested this week that there probably isn't any such thing as "couldn't cut hair." Closing the gap to various degrees, you can think of its settings sort of like the power settings on a microwave oven: 1 = 10% of a normal Gillette razor gap, etc. Except it's more like 11%, because 9 is the "full gap." This account won't gibe with many people's experience, because there is a higher range available, where all settings exceed 100% gap, reached by depressing the spring that "clicks" the dial, where most adjustables in today's shaving culture wind up.

Today is one week and one day, according to my post list, the 8th shave. In honor of the classic era, and to see how it would do with my cured Witch Hazel prep, I shaved with Barbasol (Aloe), which actually takes more time to hydrate than it would take to whip up almost anything, except maybe Williams, or, from what I hear, Mitchell's Wool Fat. The set up reminded me of Mr. Roy, father of my dad's second wife, who let me watch him shave once, with a Gillette President, I think; which razor I would twirl open and shut when no one was around. He would not have used a brush, but I find it the natural tool for applying the needed water (and the foam, too, for that matter).

Fine-tuning the Slim, I narrowed it to 5-6-7 for the three passes, making the second and third a bit more comfortable, but of equivalent reach as yesterday. I think the adjustable advantage really boils down to this comfort. It felt like a smashingly good shave, with no short strokes WTG, no picking when skewed ATG, and hitting home nicely on direct ATG. But in the end, my face still had the somewhat green look of stubble, despite being perfectly even and close. I conclude that traction control can't make up for the edge's deficiency in ultimate performance, but it can milk a blade that doesn't really suit for a series of very adequate shaves.

I followed with dilute DG "Classic" (Brut-like) aftershave, this time watering it down in my palm instead of the cloth. It turned milky, but still seemed to work. That was awfully dry, though, so I moisturized immediately, wiping that off as a final wash. Feels pretty good; Barbasol is back in the rotation!

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