03-23-2015, 09:17 AM
#1
User Info
The way that razor feel and performance is usually described is in terms of a linear scale, running from "mild" at one extreme to "aggressive" at the other. Trying to describe both "feel" (comfort level) and "performance" (efficiency in cutting) in terms of a single scale doesn't work so well. 

The most obvious problem is that both "mild" and "aggressive" end up having to do double duty, describing both feel and performance:

Feel: "This razor is too aggressive for me---I want a milder razor": the comfort of the razor is the focus. A "comfortable" razor is one that does not feel as though it will nick and indeed seldom does; a "very comfortable" razor feels as though you couldn't nick yourself if you tried, so you can simply relax as you shave without having to be alert to avoid nicks. The quoted statement is clearly not saying "This razor is too efficient for me---I want one that's less efficient"----the reference is clearly to comfort or feel.

Performance: "This razor is too mild for me---I want a more aggressive razor": the efficiency of the razor---how easily and effectively it removes stubble. An "efficient" razor removes stubble easily, and with a "very efficient" razor you find swaths of BBS skin after the second pass, without even really trying. The quoted statement is clearly not saying "This razor is too comfortable for me---I want one that's more uncomfortable"---the reference here is clearly to efficiency or performance.

If you look at the possibilities, you can find examples:

Comfortable and inefficient: the Weishi, the MicroTouch One. These razors are often called "mild."
Uncomfortable and efficient: for many, the R41 and for me the Fatip as well. These razors are often called "aggressive."
Uncomfortable and inefficient: razors in this category are scarce on the ground: who would want them. These are called "bad."
Comfortable and efficient: the sweet spot. We don't have a good name for the category, so they are often called "mild" (ignoring the efficiency aspect, as the AS-D2) or "aggressive" (ignoring the comfort aspect, as the slants).

A very comfortable and very efficient razor is a delight to use, and indeed we have some. Although even with razors there's some YMMV, I find several razors fall into this category for me: the Ikon Shavecrafts #101 and #102, the Stealth slants (aluminum and stainless), an Above the Tie with the right baseplate for me (R1 and S1 for me, and even R2 and S2 are not comfortable for me), the Wolfman Razors WR1-SB (the only one I've tried), the Feather AS-D1 (I got one of the good ones) and D2, all the iKons after the very first one (which was uncomfortable and efficient), the RazoRock Baby Smooth, a Gillette Tech with a Feather blade, the Gillette NEW, and the Parker 24C or 26C (same head, different handles). That last is the least costly razor in current production that falls into this category: $29.

So I suggest instead of trying to describe performance and feel in a single word (mild or aggressive), we describe them separately by saying how comfortable the razor is (uncomfortable, comfortable, very comfortable) and how efficient it is (inefficient, efficient, very efficient).

I rated a bunch of razors on these two (relatively independent) dimensions in this chart. That is, I made the entries in the Comfort and Efficiency columns. The rest of the chart was not my work.

Thought this might help in describing razors with less ambiguity.

0 101
Reply
 03-23-2015, 09:53 AM
#2
User Info
Wow, Michael! That is a very comprehensive chart that must have taken you quite some time to compile! Thank you for sharing it! Smile

83 21,111
Reply
 03-23-2015, 10:29 AM
#3
  • srgjazz
  • Senior Member
  • Santa Monica
User Info
(03-23-2015, 09:53 AM)celestino Wrote: Wow, Michael! That is a very comprehensive chart that must have taken you quite some time to compile! Thank you for sharing it! Smile

This makes a lot of sense to me. Thanks Michael. 

48 684
Reply
 03-23-2015, 10:35 AM
#4
User Info
Wow. This is good! Very efficient.

From my Tab through the Tap

1 1,975
Reply
 03-23-2015, 11:11 AM
#5
  • Thug
  • Active Member
  • South Africa
User Info
Thank very much. A great guide to assist in deciding what my next DE razor will be.

0 403
Reply
 03-23-2015, 07:10 PM
#6
User Info
Thanks, guys. For some reason I didn't get the emails of responses. The chart itself is the work of shaunsel, I contributed merely the entries in the "Comfort" and "Efficiency" columns.

I'm hoping that the terms "mild" and "aggressive" with gradually disappear. Certainly "mild' when applied to a razor seems to denote "comfortable and inefficient" and and aggressive to denote "uncomfortable and efficient," but that leaves out the wonderful razors that are both very comfortable and also very efficient. 

Thanks for the encouragement. I want to re-engage with Shave Nook, so it's nice to get some positive feedback.

0 101
Reply
 03-23-2015, 07:35 PM
#7
  • refles
  • Senior Member
  • New York
User Info
Good points, everyone will have their own vocabulary in describing the feel of the razor this would bring us to use a more consistent description of our experiences with razors. I was never satisfied with the general terms thrown out there as 'mild' and 'aggressive' as it can indeed mean one of the four possibilities you laid out, I merely adopted the use of such terms as I participated more in the shaving forums and in recent months began using effectiveness to the description as I comment on threads. Thanks for taking the step forward here on this! 

Great work on the list, adding the Comfort and Efficiency columns still goes a long way in pushing the terminology which I think is a better and clearer description. 

36 1,336
Reply
 03-23-2015, 09:21 PM
#8
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
User Info
Thanks Michael for the work and sharing it with us.  We are glad to see you back and hope you will stay around a while.

179 23,932
Reply
 03-24-2015, 01:55 AM
#9
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
User Info
Yes, that is a good idea to separate those two properties from the one word definition of aggressiveness. You really want a razor that is the best compromise of comfortable to use and still be as efficient as possible. The fly in the ointment would be that it is still a subjective rating and depends on who is doing the rating. Still a better way to go though. For me my Merkur slant with a Feather blade offers that kind of well rounded balance for me. 

Bob  

0 1,694
Reply
 03-24-2015, 07:08 AM
#10
User Info
@ Johnny: Yeah, I'm planning to show up more often. Things change.

@ BobH: I agree. More and more I see the shaving experience as a three-element system: a particular man plus a particular razor plus a particular brand of blade. Changing one (or more) of the three can change the shave from bad to good, or from good to bad, or from good to great. And the change need not be to an entirely different man, razor, or blade. If the man stays the same but changes in prep or technique, or the razor stays the same but changes in adjustment (for adjustables) or handle (for 3-piece razors), or the blade stays the same but changes by becoming dull or being damaged, the shave experience will change.

I say "shave experience" because when someone says they had "a good shave," sometimes they seem to refer only to the result: they might use a tuggy, awful blade but say it was "a good shave" because the result was BBS. I tend to think of "a good shave" as describing not only the result but also the experience: a "good shave" means that the experience was fully enjoyable AND the result was good. 

0 101
Reply
 03-24-2015, 07:43 AM
#11
  • VTMAX
  • Banned
  • Woodstock, Vermont
User Info
Michael, Glad to see back on the Nook.  I love the term "Comfortable and Efficient."  Bob H. has found his with the Merkur Slant and Feather.  A great combo indeed.  We all change and evolve and I thought mine might be the Mongoose and/or the good old Merkur Progress.  Darren Webster, and more recently, Michael Freedberg have used the term "blade chatter" to describe those razors with enough blade exposure or flex (?) to cause chatter or catch on a tough stubborn area.  I guess mine would be the new RRBS (Baby Smooth).  The blade bend, tightness, and overall lack of 'chatter' really makes this razor shine as a work week daily shaver or two day heavy weekend growth DE.  In the world of SE shaving I think my Mongoose would qualify but I just prefer the lighter weight and smaller head DE's. Comfortable and efficient to me would be this type of mild razor combined with a sharp (Iridium/Kai) blade.  Great topic.

42 1,041
Reply
 03-24-2015, 08:37 AM
#12
User Info
It's good to see you here, Michael. I like the idea of the sort of standardization of terms you propose. As Bob said, these things are always going to be somewhat subjective, but the more precisely we define them, the better the chance that language won't be a barrier in discussing them.

0 1,098
Reply
 03-24-2015, 08:38 AM
#13
User Info
(03-24-2015, 07:43 AM)VTMAX Wrote: Darren Webster, and more recently, Michael Freedberg have used the term "blade chatter" to describe those razors with enough blade exposure or flex (?) to cause chatter or catch on a tough stubborn area.  I guess mine would be the new RRBS (Baby Smooth).  The blade bend, tightness, and overall lack of 'chatter' really makes this razor shine as a work week daily shaver or two day heavy weekend growth DE.  

I use SEs exclusively because they don't suffer from blade flex. The Ever Ready 1924 had blade exposure and gap an r41 or a Fatip can only dream of yet it is very smooth and comfortable to shave with. 

18 713
Reply
 03-24-2015, 08:40 AM
#14
User Info
Interesting thoughts. 

I think there maybe even more going on than you have mentioned.  For example, I would say that "comfortableness" is a way of describing what I would call "feel."  How does it FEEL when you shave with a particular razor?  I would postulate that a razor feel can be described using the term "smooth" on the one hand, and maybe "rough" on the other (?).  I haven't thought this out, I'm just typing a stream of consciousness thought process here. 

You're describing comfort as sort of a lack of worry, but I would describe comfort as a smooth feel.  I'll stipulate that, in most cases, lack of worry and smoothness go hand-in-hand and would likely parallel one another to a great degree.  However, I'll bring up one razor as a great counterexample.  The Probak open comb.  This is a razor that imparts of an almost complete lack of worry (there's no concern that the razor will lead to irritation or cuts/weepers) but on the other hand doesn't really feel very smooth. 

I will here further postulate that a fair bit of what we interpret as "smoothness" is, to a fair degree at least, related to the sound a razor makes when shaving.  The Probak happens to make a very harsh, high-pitched sound, probably because of the thin caverns inscribed on the inside of the top cap.  My argument is that the result of this design is a harsh sound and that the result of the harsh sound is a harsher feel than what the razor is actually producing.  In other words, it makes it seem like the razor is tugging at the whiskers, but I think that sensation would go away if one could adequately dampen the noise. 

There's certainly more than sound that goes into making a razor feel "smooth" on the face.  The aforementioned Shavecraft 102 is a perfect example.  On the open comb side, the thickness and bend of the combs makes them feel silky on the face; that, combined with a soft shaving action, makes it feel like one of the smoothest razors available. 

Anyway, sorry for all the rambling.  I agree, in general, with your idea.  However, I think that "comfort" might be more a matter of "feel" than it is of "safety," and that "feel" is probably heavily influenced by sound, probably more so than any of us realizes.

2 1,552
Reply
 03-24-2015, 10:05 AM
#15
  • VTMAX
  • Banned
  • Woodstock, Vermont
User Info
(03-24-2015, 08:38 AM)fram773 Wrote:
(03-24-2015, 07:43 AM)VTMAX Wrote: Darren Webster, and more recently, Michael Freedberg have used the term "blade chatter" to describe those razors with enough blade exposure or flex (?) to cause chatter or catch on a tough stubborn area.  I guess mine would be the new RRBS (Baby Smooth).  The blade bend, tightness, and overall lack of 'chatter' really makes this razor shine as a work week daily shaver or two day heavy weekend growth DE.  

I use SEs exclusively because they don't suffer from blade flex. The Ever Ready 1924 had blade exposure and gap an r41 or a Fatip can only dream of yet it is very smooth and comfortable to shave with. 

I have used SEs in the past and the Mongoose in the present but the Stealth Slant and Baby Smooth are in that sweet spot (for me) of the 'comfortable and efficient' term Michael used.  

42 1,041
Reply
 03-24-2015, 12:23 PM
#16
User Info
@ VTMAX: I recently got a RazoRock Baby Smooth and I definitely would categorize it as "very comfortable, very efficient," much like (say) the Standard. In fact, I did a test shave recently to compare those two. They are both extremely good, IMO. Someone said it was "unfair" that I did not use the stock handle on the Standard (I use a UFO aluminum bronze handle that has more heft than the Standard's aluminum handle, but it was interesting that, even with the advantage of a heavier handle, the Standard was no better than the RazoRock Baby Smooth. 

One point: a very light razor such as the Baby Smooth does provide the shaver with direct control of pressure (much as how the DE provides for direct control of blade angle: the cartridge razor's claim that "you don't have to control blade angle" is just marketing-speak for "you can't control blade angle"---cf. "you don't have to change the battery"). But this is a two-edged sword: many, I believe, will use too much pressure with a light razor because they want to feel the pressure. They're not happy with the razor just barely touching the skin (as it should), they want to feel that razor pressing (to some degree), although three passes with a very light touch will do the job. It's like those who always use the same EDT or perfume and thus become habituated to the smell and don't really notice it, and then applying enough in the morning so they DO notice it---and people can smell them from 20 paces. Smile  I rcommend to men: "Use the same pressure you'd use if you had really terrible sunburn and the razor were an uncomfortably hot metal rod: still touch the skin, but barely. Think of the razor just barely grazing the skin, though still touching. Professional barbers are tested by having them shave a lather-covered balloon, so you might try for that: just enough pressure on your face as would remove lather from a balloon (without popping the balloon, of course Smile."

@kingfisher: Yes, I agree that "comfort" is a way of describing "feel," and I also agree that there's more to it than that the razor doesn't seem as though it would nick: smooth shaving (with a brand of blade that works for the shaver, necessarily) is also a part of comfort (and feel). If the razor doesn't shave smoothly, I would say that it's not so comfortable as one that does, all other things being equal. I perhaps should not mention only the "safety" feel of comfort but also address the smoothness component. I've been writing for novices, and they tend to worry more about nicks. It takes some experience to notice things like smoothness. I'll expand the definition. Thanks.

In discussing razor head design with a guy on Wicked Edge, I offered this suggestion:

Quote:One idea, sort of odd: if you could build some resonance into the head design---some sort of mini-soundbox that would amplify the cutting sound---I think that would have a lot of appeal, and not only to new shavers---and it's something a cartridge razor cannot offer. The Merkur adjustables (Futur, Vision, Progress) have this to some degree, but it seems to be by accident rather than design. But with some thought and CAD work (perhaps with the help of a luthier) it would be interesting to have a razor where you can easily hear the cutting sound. It would have some practical application in making the angle easier to find, but mainly it would simply be intriguing. And I do know that some/many men like to hear the sound of the cutting. And it requires no moving parts, just some clever design.

I know: it's odd. But no odder than designing buildings to remove the shadows between them, like this.

edit: And it might be patentable

@VTMAX I am on the Mongoose waiting list and eager to try it, though in general I much prefer DE razors because of their greater lather capacity: I like to rinse the razor once per pass.

0 101
Reply
 03-24-2015, 12:28 PM
#17
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
User Info
(03-24-2015, 07:08 AM)Leisureguy Wrote: @ Johnny: Yeah, I'm planning to show up more often. Things change.

@ BobH: I agree. More and more I see the shaving experience as a three-element system: a particular man plus a particular razor plus a particular brand of blade. Changing one (or more) of the three can change the shave from bad to good, or from good to bad, or from good to great. And the change need not be to an entirely different man, razor, or blade. If the man stays the same but changes in prep or technique, or the razor stays the same but changes in adjustment (for adjustables) or handle (for 3-piece razors), or the blade stays the same but changes by becoming dull or being damaged, the shave experience will change.

I say "shave experience" because when someone says they had "a good shave," sometimes they seem to refer only to the result: they might use a tuggy, awful blade but say it was "a good shave" because the result was BBS. I tend to think of "a good shave" as describing not only the result but also the experience: a "good shave" means that the experience was fully enjoyable AND the result was good. 

Yes, that is why you inevitably have to try quite a few to get a good fit for yourself. That is also why I cringe when someone asks what is the "best" this or that. There simply is not clear cut, one size fits all answer. 

Bob 

0 1,694
Reply
 03-24-2015, 12:55 PM
#18
User Info
@ BobH -- I think the mistake of asking what's the "best" (razor/brand of blade/soap/brush/whatever) is a misunderstanding that comes from attributing certain characteristics to the object that are actually not resident in the object---a convoluted way of saying "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" (not in the object itself). I use as an example foods: "Does cilantro have a good taste?" makes it sound as though the taste resides in the cilantro and is good or bad. But my eldest will give a definite "No!" to the question, and I will give a definite "Yes." The same to some degree holds with the other objects listed. Some like a brush with what they call "backbone," which are generally stiffish, dense brushes with a short loft, like those made by Brusghguy.com. I certainly use such a brush, but I tend to prefer a soft, fluffy knot with good loft because (in my own experience) those create lather more efficiently, hold more lather, and feel nicer on the face. For example, with the Whipped Dog silvertips, I like a 22mm knot set at the standard depth: the deeper setting makes the knot less fluffy and soft (and also can make a bit of a lather hog). 


So "goodness" is often not in the object, but in our experience with the object. 

0 101
Reply
 03-25-2015, 08:48 AM
#19
User Info
Sorry to ask an off-topic question, but why is Leisureguy's user name drawn through with a single thin line? 

2 1,552
Reply
 03-25-2015, 09:03 AM
#20
  • VTMAX
  • Banned
  • Woodstock, Vermont
User Info
Apparently he has been banned.  Tough break.  I was actually enjoying this thread.

42 1,041
Reply
Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)