The Melting Pot

Thankfully, Italian Barber was also tracking my package, and informed me when it was delivered sooner than the P.O. projected, on Saturday. The anticipation has ended! In some ways, I got exactly what I was expecting: some fiddling to get the blade aligned, and an exfoliating shave. But overall, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by both the $20 slant razor and Sandalwood soft soap.

The Razor

I refuse to refer to it by name, because I resent having fallen for the little bait-and-switch ploy with Italian Barber's email notification program. There, the razor was pictured with a short handle (that would have been a perfect match to Ruby in my cabinet), and the name it is being marketed under is a reference to the shorter Merkur #37C. When it came time to order, however, the long, overweight "Mission" handle had taken its place, a substitution that was all too easy to overlook in my enthusiasm. The most appropriate handle in my possession is the good ol' Stirling 3P1, a standard Merkur clone.

The experience was what I really wanted though, and that did not disappoint. In short: shaving with a slant is like shaving with every type of DE razor at once. What a perfect retirement gift for my departure from the acquisition scene! Torsional rigidity brought a Tech-like, well-clamped feel to the blade, while a healthy exposure allowed flex of not-so-crazy amplitude. The large, flat contact surfaces endowed it with automatic, Super Speed-like traction control, yet without diminishing my sense of tension alignment. You'd think that having a built-in, fixed direction angle would interfere with my personal requirements of precise attack, but in use, that just didn't factor in at all. I was easily sliding the edge, just the same as I always do.

On the other hand, I can sympathize with those who claim that a slant is the nearest DE relative of straight razors. Chrome plated Zamak could be thought of as taking the supportive role of expert fingers on the blade, helping us to express our intentions for the hair. I had been practicing with an anchor head, expecting that I'd have to manually control traction with pressure variance. Quite the opposite... but that's also the drawback. You get exactly what traction you're gonna get, as a consequence of design, evenly applied everywhere. Your only control options are prep and blade choice. It is as unresponsive to what you're feeling at the skin surface, as another person.

This particular "barber" took just a little flesh, raising one, momentary weeper on my chin. Like the experience, the shaving result is kind of an average of the best shaves that all the other DE designs can provide. "BBS," but only in the shallow sense, of not having missed a single hair. I'd still destroy cotton balls. I can dig deeper with Ruby, or a Super Speed, and only scoop a teeny bit of stratum corneum from inside the follicles. Which is still not really good for me, but is less uncomfortable than this. The Rimei finds cutting angles just as easily, but doesn't shave as close.

Italian Barber Sandalwood Shaving Soap for Sensitive Skin

The soap was really interesting to me because of the absence of glycerin in the ingredients, which are listed as prior to saponification, and extremely simple. This may actually have a stronger claim to the description of "pure soap" than Williams, in the colloquial sense. Though chemically, the included byproduct is not technically "soap." I guess you could say, it's glycerin-neutral.

But here again, I was disappointed on the marketing end. When I selected "Italian Barber" from the pull-down menu, a bunch of PAA soaps were foisted upon me, while the RazoRock house brand was segregated elsewhere, this Sandalwood being offered under a separate label "for sensitive skin." All of which speaks terribly of the RazoRock brand and soap marketing philosophy, without detracting from this particular product. I didn't need any more reminders that I'm not one of "the cool kids," and reject the idea that chemical burns from glycerin shaving soap reflect a disability. I piss on your pity, Italian Barber! (But I'm not making any obscene gestures.)

Even if your sense of dignity would not be offended, your sense of smell would still want to know that the Sandalwood scent of this soap is perfectly suitable to the application and not some kind of weak derivative of allegedly better options. Yes, I thought the dry puck a bit boxy smelling, but that's just because it's a wood scent. The isolated, undeveloped note was exactly what I wanted to experience, because I've already smelled bath products containing a sweeter "exotic" blend. Once released by lathering, sandalwood reminded me of elephant ear fungi (not a real name, probably piptoporus betulinus), and summer as a small child in a dear aunt's backyard. In the 70's, people around here collected them. Given what I've read about Middle-Eastern perfumers favoring fungal "oud" as well, it now makes sense why the bath products I'd encountered had illustrations of desert things on them: palm trees, camels, pyramids, and whatnot.

Oh, Canada!

Not many products can satisfy me intellectually, but Italian Barber rang all my bells. I even appreciated the soap container: is that the exact regulation size of a hockey puck? Great display of Canadian pride, there. It leads me to believe that the great American melting pot has relocated to your country, and is actually filled with Zamak, or shaving soap. You're probably going to miss the next revolution, too (hopeless ass-kissers), but I think that's definitely okay, as far as shaving goes. If anyone can lead the world backwards, it's you. ;-) Love ya!

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