Shave Of The Day (29 July 2013)

I felt like giving a neglected product a second chance.  It’s always good to revisit products because you never know when something will turn out to be a surprise upon second glance.  I love eShave creams, but I have found their soaps to be somewhat lacking.  They’re not bad, just not as good as the creams.  I always manage to buy their products for a fraction of the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, so I find them to be well worth what I pay, but I judge them based upon their actual retail price (would I buy this product at full price?), so I tend to be hard on them if they do not muster up.  I have the Linden soap currently and I love the scent, but feel ambivalent about its performance.  I found the lather to be too airy and somewhat thin the first few times that I used it, so it has been sitting on my shelf waiting for me to decide what to do with it.

I am using French soaps this week, so I figured that today would be a good day to give the Linden another go (eShave products are made in France) .  Having played with my vintage Gillettes and RiMei razors for a while now, I am also returning to my beloved disposable blade straight razors.  My Fromm still has a blade in it with maybe a shave or two, so it was the obvious choice.

I did a three pass with the grain/against the grain/across the grain shave followed by a cold water rinse and some T.N. Dickinson Witch Hazel.  A damn fine shave with no nicks (although I nearly had disaster strike when I was careless in placing the blade against my upper lip), and no irritation.  I was a bit aggressive and was certain that I would walk away with some redness, but the excellent skin care properties of the eShave soap and the astringent properties of the witch hazel saved me from myself.  The eShave Linden did really well.  I don’t know if I have the EMJ synthetic and face lathering to thank or if I just didn’t give it enough of a chance the first few times I used it, but it was a joy to use today.  I will use the Linden some more this week, and I may have to revisit the other eShave soaps if it continues to perform as well as it did today.  My skin is soft, smooth, and happy.

Pre: Hot shower and warm water splash
Razor: Fromm hair shaper
Blade: Fromm hair shaper blade
Brush: Every Man Jack Synthetic
Soap: eShave Linden
Post: Cold water rinse and T.N. Dickinson Witch Hazel

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Shave Of The Day (26 July 2013)

I was looking over some ideas for new superlathers today when I realized that I had very few unscented or lightly scented products.  Generally when I make a superlather it is a blend of two complimentary scents, but there are occasions when I want one particular scent to shine through rather than to meld with the other scent.  Looking through my stuff I decided to combine Karo Classic (a lightly scented cream) with Kell’s Original Ultra Aloe Juniper Sage soap (a heavily scented glycerin based soap).

My superlather worked extremely well and came out exactly as I hoped it would.  I did a face lather with my new Every Man Jack synthetic brush and got an amazingly creamy, thick lather with a nice juniper heavy scent.  I did a three pass wtg/atg/xtg shave followed by a cold water rinse and an application of SAL Alum.  Yet another BBS shave from my RiMei and a Croma Diamant blade.  I’m really liking all of these spiffy Tech and Tech-like razors.

Pre: Hot shower and warm water splash
Razor: RiMei
Blade: Croma Diamant
Brush: Every Man Jack synthetic
Soap: Superlather of Kell’s Original Ultra Aloe Juniper Sage and Karo Classic
Post: Cold water rinse and SAL Alum

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Product Links:

Every Man Jack Synthetic Brush:
http://www.drugstore.com/a/qxp411981?MobileOptOut=1

Karo Classic:
http://shop.bestshave.net/kapo-classic-shaving-cream-100-ml-tube-p-213.html

Kell’s Original Ultra Aloe Juniper Sage Soap:
http://kellsoriginal.com/Tin-Soaps_c4.htm;jsessionid=F51AF397AA89F0904B020885D48BC4CE.m1plqscsfapp03

SAL Alum:
http://www.connaughtshaving.com/allumblock.html

Product Review: Every Man Jack Synthetic Shave Brush

A month or so ago, while looking for a nice mid-range synthetic shaving brush I happened to stumble upon the Every Man Jack Premium line of products.  The Every Man Jack Premium shave line includes a cedarwood preshave oil, a cedarwood brush/brushless shaving cream, and a synthetic shave brush.  The synthetic shave brush has a “woodgrain” handle and dyed synthetic bristles which are a step or two up from the first generation of synthetic shave brush fibres.  After doing some exhaustive research I discovered that there is virtually no information available about this brush.  Every Man Jack’s web site simply lists their advertising blurb without any technical data or reviews, and I could only find a single review of this brush on  the various shaving forums (the brush is mentioned a handful of times, but only one of those mentions is an actual review).  Normally I do not like to make purchases without at least some empirical and anecdotal data, but I like EMJ products and have already given the new cedarwood brush/brushless shaving cream a try.  After doing some digging, I managed to find a discount coupon so that I could buy the brush for an amazingly low $13.49, so I shrugged my shoulders and took a leap.

The brush comes in a basic cardboard package with the same wood grain designed as the rest of the Premium shave line packaging.  Unlike the rest of the Premium line, the brush also has a picture of its self on one side of the package.  I assume this is to help sell the brush in store, but it still seems like a superfluous sort of design.  Inside the package the brush is safely encased in plastic, without any other extras or junk.  The knot is a fairly tall loft and is dyed to look similar to a silver tip badger knot and is completely scent free.  The tips are quite soft, but the synthetic fibres have quite a bit of backbone.  The handle is a fairly plain ergonomically designed woodgrain handle with a little bit of heft to it.  I have seen a couple of comparisons of this brush to The Body Shop synthetic brush, but I absolutely disagree with this comparison.  The EMJ synthetic shave brush is taller, has a larger loft, and a much nicer handle than The Body Shop synthetic brush.  Overall the EMJ synthetic brush feels quite nice and looks pretty good, it left me with a pretty good first impression and a serious desire to see just how it would perform.

As I had already shaved when the brush arrived, I settled for a few test lathers.  At first I was quite frustrated, the brush seemed completely unable to produce any sort of lather at all from any soap or cream.  After a lot of frustration I discovered that the problem was the bowl.  For whatever reason, the EMJ synthetic brush does an excellent job of producing lather when palm or face lathering, but does not agree with bowls at all.  I don’t know if the synthetic fibres absorb product in such a way as to only work well on skin or if there is some other weird reason for this anomaly, but it’s worth noting.  The brush does have one issue that may bug some folks, the breech opens up when lathering.  Anyone who is familiar with the #6 Turkish Horsehair brush or some of the Vie-Long horsehair brushes will be familiar with this issue, but some wet shavers may find this annoying or unpleasant.  The opening is not as extreme as it is with the #6, but it is noticeable.

I used this brush for this morning’s shave and found that the brush performed pretty well.  I did a three pass with the grain/across the grain/against the grain shave using the EMJ synthetic shave brush, some Vitos Extra Super soap, my spiffy new RiMei razor, and a Croma Diamant blade on its second use.  I followed the shave with a cold water rinse and an application of SAL Alum.  I managed a baby butt smooth shave with no nicks and no irritation.  The brush felt nice, but also a little more stiff than I normally like.  The slight opening in the breech wasn’t too noticeable and actually helped me to properly lather up my chin.  It was a good shave with a good mid-range synthetic shave brush.  I enjoyed using the EMJ synthetic brush and look forward to using it again.

Product Aprox. Dimensions:
(There are no stated dimensions in any of the EMJ propaganda, so I had to take the measurements myself.  Without calipers these dimensions are approximate rather than absolute.)

Handle Height: 57mm
Loft: 57mm
Knot Diameter: 22mm

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Product Link:

Every Man Jack Synthetic Shave Brush:
http://www.drugstore.com/every-man-jack-shave-brush/qxp411981?catid=288501

Shave Of The Day (24 July 2013)

One of my favorite soaps is Van Der Hagen Deluxe melted and mixed with Van Der Hagen Glycerin.  The combination creates a great smelling, slick soap with excellent skin care abilities.  I like to put my mixture into a nice Kingsley dark wood bowl to jazz it up a bit and to give it the respect that it so rightly deserves.  For the low cost of $3.50 for 5oz. of soap ($1.75/VDH soap at HEB and WalMart) and $6.50 for the bowl I get an amazing soap in an amazing container.  Sadly, I haven’t been able to use this soap much lately because I’ve been on a soft soap kick, but today I pulled out my VDH Deluxe/Glycerin blend and took it for a spin.

I did my usual three pass wtg/atg/xtg shave followed by a cold water rinse and a splash of T.N. Dickinson Witch Hazel.  The Art of Shaving Fine Badger brush helped the VDH soap go crazy with thick, creamy lather that provided excellent protection and glide.  The Gillette Old Type head sitting comfortably on a ball end Tech handle was the perfect choice to finish off my Personna Platinum blade.  The blade is on shave #7, but still works well.  I’m actually hesitant to let the Personna Platinum go, but I feel it beginning to tug, so following this shave it’s time for something new.  I managed a DFS with zero nicks.  The blade caused a little minor irritation while shaving, but the witch hazel took care of that.  A great shave with gear that really deserves more love.

Pre: Hot shower and warm water splash
Razor: Gillette Old Type on ball end Tech handle
Blade: Personna Platinum
Brush: AoS Fine Badger Brush
Soap: Van Der Hagen Deluxe/Glycerin Blend
Post: Cold water rinse and T.N. Dickinson Witch Hazel

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Product Links:

Van Der Hagen Deluxe:
http://www.drugstore.com/van-der-hagen-deluxe-shave-soap/qxp155184?catid=183790

Van Der Hagen Glycerin:
http://www.drugstore.com/van-der-hagen-glycerin-shave-soap/qxp155183?catid=183790

Personna Platinum:
http://www.bullgooseshaving.net/peplrpapepao.html

Kingsley Dark Wood Bowl:
http://www.drugstore.com/kingsley-for-men-wood-shave-soap-bowl-with-lid/qxp75462?catid=183790

Product Review: RiMei Four Piec DE Razor (A.K.A. Sodial/SilverTone/Concord Razor)

I first heard about the RiMei Four Piece Razor after reading a review of it on LeisureGuy’s Later On blog.  He had nothing but good things to say about this inexpensive Chinese razor, but I was still a little skeptical.  How could a Chinese made razor, being sold for less than $3, be any good?  I was intrigued, but not enough to actually buy the razor…$2.25 may not be much money, but I wasn’t about to waste even that amount on a razor that might well turn out to be a worthless piece of junk.  Eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I went hunting on Amazon.  It turns out that there are a few razors, being sold under various names, that are actually the exact same razor.  RiMei manufactures the razor, but a few different companies market this razor to the west as the Sodial razor, SilverTone razor, and the RiMei razor.  They charge different amounts for each version, but what you receive, no matter which one you choose to buy, is a RiMei four piece DE razor.  The different names and prices listed are really just ways to bring in as many different customers as possible.  The Concord razor is a rebrand of the RiMei and is identical in every way, with the exception that it has a Concord branded top cap and different packaging.

I ordered two “Sodial” razors from Amazon and did not expect to see them for about four weeks or so.  Imagine my surprise when, twelve days later, I received a package from China with two shiny new RiMei razors.  My worries about ordering from China turned out to be unfounded, as the company has very good service.  They had shipped the day after I placed my order, and I even found a couple of update emails sitting in my spam folder letting me know that the order had been processed and then shipped.

The two razors came in blister packs and are identical, but have two different colored cardboard backings.  I imagine this is to give them a slightly more interesting look on a sales rack, but who knows?  Each razor comes with a single “RiMei” razor blade (I don’t know if the company makes their own blades, but it seems unlikely) and is ready to go right out of the package.  The razor disassembles into four different parts: the base plate, cap, handle, and end piece.  I don’t know if they have a separate end piece to aid in cleaning or if this is just a manufacturing oddity, but it is an interesting divergence from the norm.  The razor is slightly longer and lighter than a Gillette ball end Tech, but feels very similar.  The platting is fairly consistent, but nothing to write home about.  The handle has a lined design that makes it incredibly easy to grip, even when wet and is actually pretty nice for such a low cost razor.  The Rimei is not a show piece, it is a razor made to do a job, and it seems designed with that idea in mind.

One of my concerns when I purchased the razor was its supposed light weight.  The weight was one of the few complaints that I read about this razor, so I was prepared for the RiMei to feel plastic or cheap.  In reality the razor weighs almost exactly the same as the Gillette flare tip and has a good distribution and balance.  A slight majority of the weight is in the handle, which could be a turn off for folks who prefer a head heavy razor, but I found that it did not really affect its ability to do its job.  I honestly do not understand why folks call this razor light.  It is lighter than an Edwin Jagger, but it is fairly comparable to most vintage Gillettes, which I have never seen being criticized for being too light.

I popped a Croma blade into the RiMei for my first shaves with it (I wasn’t about to test an unknown razor with an unknown blade, so the RiMei blade gets to sit and stew for a while).  The head is set up with two rather large nubs to keep the blade seated properly, and threads into the handle easily and smoothly.  The blade seating on this razor concerned me a bit, it has a fairly wide blade gap with a good amount of the blade exposed, but the design of the head seems to mitigate these factors.  The performance of the RiMei is very comparable to the older, slightly more aggressive Gillette Tech (as opposed to the newer, slightly less aggressive Gillette Tech).  It shaves extremely well, but is also pretty forgiving.  I tried on a few occasions to unseat the razor from my grip, just to test the handle, and was surprised to find that (short of completely releasing the razor) it stayed with me no matter how lightly I held it.  Both my wife and I have used this razor a couple of times now, and enjoy it very much.  This is a good razor.  Not a good razor for the price, or a good starter razor, but a good razor period.  This razor outperforms others costing ten times as much and I would recommend it to anyone.  If you’re just starting out, then this razor is an unbeatable choice.  If you’re looking for a travel razor, then how can you go wrong with a low cost model that breaks down into four pieces for easy storage and cleaning?  If you just want a solid performer, then you’re in for a treat.  The RiMei is an excellent razor, marketed by a company with excellent customer service, and sold at an unbeatable price.  I highly recommend it.

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Product Link:
http://www.amazon.com/SODIAL–Silver-Double-Shaver-Nonslip/dp/B00A7239EK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374511710&sr=8-1&keywords=sodial+razor

Product Review: Marlin Carbon Steel Blades

There are a lot of old carbon steel double edge blades out there, but most of them are hit and miss as far as availability is concerned.  For that reason I rarely invest in new old stock (NOS) carbon steel blades.  What’s the point in finding a blade that you like if you will only be able to use it a few times?  I do use NOS blades on occasion, just to try them out, but it’s an uncommon thing for me.  Every once in a while I will stumble upon some NOS blades that seem to be fairly readily available and I will be tempted to buy a few hundred, but I usually resist the urge.  Most NOS DE blades are carbon steel, and while carbon steel blades have their advantages, one of their huge disadvantages is that they rust very easily which makes storing them and maintaining them something of a chore.

When I do use NOS carbon steel blades I put them through a quality control process before they ever even touch my face.  Who knows how the blades were stored before I received them, or how they were handled?  The first thing I do is to open them up and inspect them visually.  I look for any signs of rust, pitting, or damage.  If they seem OK, I pull out my loupe and look at the edge under magnification to make sure that there is no active rust on it.  If the blades are still good to go, then I repackage them and put them in a plastic bag, which is stored in a cool dry spot.  Before using a carbon steel blade I rinse it with rubbing alcohol and pat it dry with a piece of toilet paper.  After using one, I pat it dry with toilet paper and coat it in a thin layer of mineral oil.  This process ensures that the blade is rust free and clean and that it will remain that way.  It adds a minute or two to my shave routine, but I believe that it is absolutely necessary when using NOS carbon steel blades.

As you can see, inspecting, using, and maintaining carbon steel DE blades is time consuming, but the quality of some of these old blades is amazing, and the nostalgia factor is pretty high too.  It’s fun to use a blade made in the 50s in a razor from that same time period.  Plus, it’s interesting to occasionally try something that’s a little off of the beaten path.

With all of that in mind, I recently purchased some NOS Marlin carbon steel blades off of eBay.  The auction was for 55 blades and cost me a whopping $2.25, including shipping…I just couldn’t resist.  I had seen Marlin blades pop up on various sites before, so I knew that if I did end up liking them that I could easily buy more.  I did a little digging and discovered that Marlin blades, distributed by the Marlin Firearms company, were only manufactured by Marlin for about eight years before they began simply rebranding other companies’ blades and selling them under the Marlin brand name.  There is nothing wrong with this practice, and it is fairly common in the world of DE blades, but it does make it slightly difficult to know exactly what it is that you’re shaving with.  Marlin distributed blades for several decades, so they must have been picking pretty solid blades to rebrand, which put my mind at ease as far as the probable quality of these blades is concerned.

Once I received the blades I was annoyed to discover that about 1/4 of them were simply unusable.  That is the chance you take when you buy NOS carbon steel blades, but it is still aggravating.  Most of the blades were fine (about half of the remaining blades required some minor cleaning to make perfectly usable, but the rest were fine as they were).  Once my inspection of the blades was done, I repackaged them, put them into a plastic zip lock bag, and completely forgot about them.  It wasn’t until I received the Gillette Old Type head that I remembered these blades and pulled them out of limbo to give them a try.

The Marlin blades are packaged in a simple piece of folded blue paper with the words “Double Edge Marlin”, interspersed with a rifle printed diagonally on the front and “High Speed made in the USA” and the Marlin guarantee on the back.  The blades themselves are coated in the usual dark blue tint that most carbon steel DE blades are known for and have the words “Marlin High Speed made in the USA” printed on both sides.  It’s interesting to note that the “High Speed” is printed with motion streaks to make the words appear as if they are indeed moving at high speed. This little touch is the equivalent of racing stripes or flames on a car: utterly useless, but kind of fun.

I have used the Marlin blades four times now in four different razors.  My thoughts on them are fairly consistent with my thoughts on carbon steel DE blades in general: a little harsh at first, but mellowing out after a single use.  These blades are nice once they calm down and they’re fairly forgiving without sacrificing cutting ability, but they’re also a pain to maintain.  If these were standard stainless steel blades, then I would probably use them in my regular rotation, but their high maintenance requirements demand too much of my time for not enough of a return.  I will probably pull one out to use on occasion, but the majority of these blades will likely remain in limbo until I can find a more suitable home for them.  In the end, I’m just too lazy to use carbon steel DE blades regularly.  If you like carbon steel blades and like playing with NOS blades, then Marlins are a good, low cost, readily available choice.

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The blade on the right is a good example of what happens to a blade when it is poorly stored and wasn’t even worth inspecting.  I did end up checking it out, and was not surprised to find it totally unusable.

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This blade required some cleaning, but was basically OK.  The discoloration on the right side tab is from the oil on my fingers.

Shave Of The Day (17 July 2013)

One of the wonderful things about traditional wet shaving is that there are a plethora of amazing smelling products.  There are so many great soaps, creams, after shaves, etc. to choose from that it is almost impossible NOT to find something that you love.  One of my favorite scented products is L’Occitane Cade shave soap.  It has a unique juniper scent that makes me smile every time I use it, and the scent sticks around even after the soap is gone.  At only $12/puck it is a great product, and I highly recommend it.

I have been craving the awesome juniper scent of L’Occitane Cade, so I pulled my UFO bowl out and got to shaving.  For some reason I had a problem creating good lather today.  I usually use a boar brush and bowl lather my Cade, but I was using a badger and face lathering, so it’s difficult to tell what the issue was.  In any event the lather was a bit thin, but still serviceable.  I did my usual three pass wtg/atg/xtg shave followed by a cold water rinse and SAL Alum.  I managed an excellent nick free/irritation free BBS shave.  The Cade soap’s less than perfect lather was still enough to get the job done and its after scent is amazing and stays around for a good while after the shave.  The Persona Platinum is STILL going strong (it’s on shave five or six) and is perfectly paired with the Edwin Jagger DE86.  The Vulfix brush worked well enough, but I think I will go boar the next time I use my L’Occitane Cade soap.  All in all, a pleasant shave with wonderful olfactory stimulation through out.

Pre: Hot shower and warm water splash
Razor: Edwin Jagger DE86
Blade: Personna Platinum
Brush: Vulfix 376S Super Badger
Soap: L’Occitane Cade
Post: Cold water rinse and SAL Alum

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Product Links:

SAL Alum:
http://www.connaughtshaving.com/allumblock.html

L’Occitane Cade Shave Soap:
http://usa.loccitane.com/cade-shaving-soap,82,1,29221,283018.htm

L’Occitane Aluminum Shave Bowl (A.K.A. the UFO Bowl):
http://usa.loccitane.com/cade-shaving-bowl,82,1,29221,262934.htm

Vulfix 376S Super Badger:
http://www.westcoastshaving.com/Vulfix-376S-Super-Badger-Shaving-Brush_p_553.html