09-23-2012, 05:31 AM
#1
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Blind Blade Test Results

First: My sincere thanks to all the members who took part in the test. I know how hard it is to stick to one razor/blade setup for a week, and can’t imagine how hard it must have been for you all to stick to one setup for weeks on end.

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Why do the test?

I’ve often wondered how much of our individual appreciation for blades comes from knowing ahead of time what we should expect. Feathers will be sharp, but harsh and short-lived, Red IPs will be smooth, but not super-sharp. Things like that.

I wondered what would be the results if people didn’t know which blades they were using.

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The design of the test.

Ten people volunteered to try ten blades for three shaves each. They kept the razor the same and perhaps used the same soap/brush as well (that wasn’t insisted on).

The blades were numbered, and each guy’s wife/girlfriend/SO put the blades in the razor for them, so the participants themselves did not know what blades they were using.

Blades were chosen to be current-production blades (no discontinued ones). I used Squire’s blade reviews as a template to pick the blades. Blades were chosen from across the range of available blades.

Here are the blades used, along with their Squire score from SMF (8 is the highest):

Feather - 8.0
Red IP - 6.25
Bic - 6.75
Shark Super Chrome - 6.85
Gillette Yellow - 7.5
Astra SP - 6.25
Gillette Black - 6.75
Dorco 301 - 6.75
Turkish Permasharps (no score, but included because they’re pretty good)

Just for orientation, Squire doesn’t score blades below 6 (except in one case), so a 6.25 is pretty bad, while 8 is great.
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But you said 10 blades? I count nine!

Yes, I doubled one blade for each person, as an internal standard of reproducibility. Participants were not told about the doubled blade. Evil of me!

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People sent me reports daily (for the most part).

The blades were evaluated on a numbered scale - 1 through 5, with 1 always being the worst score, and 5 always being the best. People were told not to stick with blades that were too bad to shave with.

1) Sharpness (1-5)
2) Smoothness (1-5)
3) Closeness of shave (1-5)
4) Comfort (1-5)
5) Pleasure of shave (1-5)
6) Weepers (1-5) (1 would be lots of nicks, 5 would be none)
7) Tugging (1-5) (1 would be lots of tugging, 5 would be no discernible tugging)
Overall shave impression (1-5)


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Raw Data follows:

David Cardenal - Merkur Progress

Here's his description of his hair/skin type: "As for beard type, I would say my beard is sparse, but quite coarse on the chin and upper lip. As far as skin being sensitive, I couldn't say. I've never had another skin to compare it to..."

[Image: DavidCardenal_zpsca943b27.png]

David scored all the blades pretty high - probably due to his sparser beard not being super-sensitive to blade brand. His score for the (Repeated) Red IP was not consistent, but the second IP was scored highest.

SharpSpine - Merkur 39C

Here's how he describes his beard: "coarse and thick beard; capillaries close to the skin so prone to weepers easily; not really sensitive skin but there are some things that bother me like alum (creates a rash); traditional shaver for 13 months"

[Image: Sharpspine_zps9522b89b.png]

He was the toughest on the blades (or they were on him, depending on your point of view). He mentioned to me that he usually used SE razors. Pretty much every blade in this test cut him up. He's certainly an outlier, but I kept his data in the test as it serves as a warming to people that not everyone can use DE razors - sometimes you need to look elsewhere. The Red IP was the only blade that gave him a reasonable shave......and that may only have been comparatively good.

Mike Perry - Weber DLC

"Red (very curly) hair, pale skin, freckles and "sensitive" skin
(especially lower neck area).

Beard hair is like thin wire and I'd say growth density is definitely
on the dense side of the scale."

[Image: MikePerry_zps57ba61cb.png]

Again, there's some variation in the rating of the blades. The first Red IP was retired, but the second was rated highest. Apart from the Shark, Bic and Dorco blades, every blade did fine.

Member (name withheld by me - DNF) - Hoffritz Slant

[Image: JohnHalsey_zpsf03feefd.png]

Not much to say here. Not much data.

Member 2 (name withheld by me - DNF) - EJ89

"Beard Type - Who knows? I can grow a full beard in 7 days.
Experience - 35 years of DE and Straight shaving with soap and brush.
Have only grown a beard once in the 80's. Never had facial hair since. I
shave daily with about one skipped day every 3 months. I use a lot of
J-hooking and sliding when I shave"

[Image: DanCooper_zps626280b6.png]

From the small dataset here, it seems that most blades will work for this member, with the Gillette Black looking the best.

C. McMartin - Weber DLC

[Image: ChrisMcMartin_zpscb65bc9a.png]

Chris was very consistent in his scoring, and it looks like Astra SP, Feather and Permasharp blades work best for him. The Bics were a certain no-go.

William Moore - Gillette Slim on 9

"I have been wet shaving since April of this year. I would say my skin type is average, not really sensitive but I can cut myself if I get careless. My beard is coarse and thick around my chin and under my neck. The beard on my cheeks and mustache is not as thick as it is on my chin but the hair is coarse. I am and will be using a 1968 Slim Gillette Adjustable (N4) (set on 9), I have been using this razor for the last month & I like it. It has given me the best shaves I've had so far."

[Image: WilliamMoore_zps9fcf961a.png]

William also liked most of the blades. The Permasharps looked good first time around, but not the second. Other than that, most of the blades seem to have worked for him.

Nickedandcut - Gillette SS flare-tip

[Image: Nandu_zpsd677fbeb.png]

Bics and Dorcos didn't work for him, but otherwise, most of the blades rated about the same.

Ridgerunner - DNF (extenuating circumstances)

[Image: Ridgerunner_zps58791033.png]

William seems to have liked the Red IPs, Feathers and Permasharps. He wasn't able to finish the test, unfortunately.

Azarius - Gillette Slim adjustable on 9

Arley has a goatee - just for the record.

[Image: Azarius_zpsf3f49594.png]

Arley didn't like the Bic and Dorco at all. However, the Red IP was retired the first time and scored 5's the second time. Otherwise, he liked most of the blades.

Analysis will follow in future posts.
Analysis:

First, let's look at the limitations of the test itself.

1) No blade longevity.

This is something several people asked about, when I started setting up this test. It is a factor that people regularly use to decide which blades to buy, but it just wasn't possible to ask each person to use each blade until they couldn't use it anymore. I had a lot of trouble filling up the 10 slots for this test, and I would probably never have got any volunteers if the test went on any longer.

NOTE: For a future blade test, I've considered sending one blade per person and asking them to use them to failure.

2) No reproducibility

Again, due to the constraints of having people limited to unknown blades and a single razor for so long, it was not possible to have a true test of reproducibility. One blade was doubled for each person, and we do see some variability in the ratings.

3) Blade choices

Not every blade that's currently available was chosen for the test. Since the blades were chosen by me, according to my own perception of what each blade would score, the test was biased on that basis.

4) No consistent setup

It's not possible to get a 'standard' face and facial hair, of course (though Gillette may believe that it is possible). However, I could have insisted on one single razor setup and one prep. In that case, this test would never have got off the ground.

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Finally: the main problem with this test is that it's too small a sample set. Not enough data.

I started to do a statistical analysis of each blade for each shave, and combinations, of course.....then realised that the data was just too grainy to come up with anything other than general trends, which are immediately obvious on looking at the data itself.

If someone whose really a statistician disagrees with me on this, please feel free to use the raw data to do a statistical analysis of the blades.

However, some things pop out at you immediately:

1) Retired blades (blades that didn't make three shaves):

Dorco = 5
Bic = 4
Red IP = 2
Shark = 2
Yellow Gillette, Black Gillette, Permasharp, Feather = 1 (all Sharpspine).

Ignoring the single retirees, the Dorcos and Bics failed the most. In fact, they were retired by half or more of the people who use them - that's a pretty clear indictment of these blades. They also consistently scored the lowest, and are deemed sub-par blades (from this test).

Interestingly, while Brian retired most blades, he never retired the Red IP's (he used two). Perhaps that points out that, for him, smoothness is more important than sharpness. Just a thought.

2) Feather blades

These continue to be controversial. Some of the data shows that these blades are harsh for the first shave, but improve after that. However, the data also shows a trend for the blades to die out after two shaves.

3) Consistently good blades

Most people liked the Permasharps, Gillette Blacks and Red IP's. There was some variation in the Red IP score, when it was doubled, but not so much for the Permasharps....indicating that the Permasharps may be more consistent.

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There's more information buried in the data. However, I don't want to over-analyze things from this small dataset.

The beauty of the test is in the raw data. Peruse if for yourself and make up your own mind.

Any discussion on the results are welcome, of course.

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 09-23-2012, 06:02 AM
#2
  • biggiej42
  • Looney for Rooney
  • Stony Point, NY
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Seems pretty consistent that bic's and Dorco's are a no go.

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 09-23-2012, 07:01 AM
#3
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Yohann, great work, sir! Wow, that must have take some time to tabulate. Thanks again for all the information.

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 09-23-2012, 08:21 AM
#4
  • beartrap
  • Resident Цирюльник
  • Southern California
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That's a lot of work, thanks everyone for your time!

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 09-23-2012, 08:26 AM
#5
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I'm glad I wasn't the only one to be of two minds about the Red IP. Does it speak to manufacturing consistency, or is it just a function of statistical regression, trending to the middle? Olympic judges start out conservative and open up the scoring as an event progresses and they have larger bases for comparison...

In any event, I am extremely grateful to Yohann for compiling the data and administering the survey. I am also grateful to my fellow testers for completing and submitting their results. Statistical mortality is the bane of research.

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 09-23-2012, 08:27 AM
#6
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Good job Yohann, and all who participated. A lot of work.

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 09-23-2012, 08:37 AM
#7
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
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Hi Yohann

First, thank you conducting such a test and taking the time to do so, as well as taking the time and effort to collate all the data sent in Thumbsup

(09-23-2012, 05:31 AM)yohannrjm Wrote: But you said 10 blades? I count nine!

Yes, I doubled one blade for each person, as an internal standard of reproducibility. Participants were not told about the doubled blade. Evil of me!

Very! evil of you, but an excellent idea to incorporate such a devilish concept into the testing Firedevil

(09-23-2012, 05:31 AM)yohannrjm Wrote: Mike Perry - Weber DLC

"Red (very curly) hair, pale skin, freckles and "sensitive" skin
(especially lower neck area).

Beard hair is like thin wire and I'd say growth density is definitely
on the dense side of the scale."

[Image: MikePerry_zps57ba61cb.png]

Again, there's some variation in the rating of the blades. The first Red IP was retired, but the second was rated highest. Apart from the Shark, Bic and Dorco blades, every blade did fine.

Is very! interesting to now look at the results (knowing what DE blade belongs to what Blind DE Blade Test #)...

Overall I don't think I did too badly, but I'm (slightly) embarrassed, shocked by one or two ie
  • First time I'd used Bic (DE Blade #1) and Shark (DE Blade #2) blades, won't waste any time in the future trying them again.
  • Yellow Gillette (DE Blade #3) were a new DE blade to me at the time. Having now used them knowingly, I'm pretty pleased with how I rated them during the Blind Test.
  • While I like and use Astra's (DE Blade #4) I'm a little surprised I scored their sharpness so high (4). In my DE Blade log I have them marked down as - sharpness "mid" Blush
  • Black Gillette (DE Blade #5) is where I feel really embarrassed and stupid, as in my DE Blade log I clearly rate them as the best blade I've ever used, super sharp, super smooth and enjoy using them. Blush Blush Blush
  • While I feel a little embarrassed about retiring DE Blade #6 (Red IP), but not DE Blade #10 (Red IP), in my DE Blade log I do score their sharpness as "mid" and rate them overall as a good, average, middle of the road blade.
  • Dorco (DE Blade #7) I feel somewhat embarrassed about, as I use to rate this blade quite highly, but having since experienced, used more blades, I now rate this blade in my DE Blade log as average as best, have no plans to acquire anymore and use the ones I have left in (free) DE Blade Samplers I give out to others.
  • First time I'd used a PermaSharp (DE Blade #8) blade and am now looking forward to using the 2 packs I received from Dave just the other day.
  • Overall I'm fairly pleased with my assessment on DE Blade #9 (Feather), as I believe they are one of the most overly rated DE blade on the market, especially where sharpness is concerned. Also I'm pleased to see some of the scores on Shave #3 dropped, as that falls into line with my experience of this blade, acceptable for 2 shaves, 3rd shave is pushing the blade to its useful life.
Take care, Mike

Edit: Fixed formatting.

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 09-23-2012, 09:15 AM
#8
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First, very interesting and valuable test IMO. That took quite a bit of work and dedication from everyone involved. Thumbsup I couldn't have done it.

Mike, you did fine! It wasn't a test to see if everyone would agree with each other, only to see how a "random" individual would test a given blade in a given razor. A different razor might have given you different results.

I'm always interested when folks post blade results, not so much so that I can judge what blade I'll like and should buy. That can't be done. But just to (especially in this case) what blade characteristics meet what I like. IMO that was the most important part of the test.

I was gratified that Dorcos had such a poor showing... The blades from hell.

Thanks Johann and test subjects!

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 09-23-2012, 12:08 PM
#9
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Analysis added to the first post.

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 09-23-2012, 12:25 PM
#10
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Thanks Yohann for tabulating all of this. I appreciate you letting me partake even though I had a hard time with it. For me my favorite DE blade continues to be a Voskhod.

I do believe that the sharper blades cut me more due to blade vibration which I've discussed before as being the problem between my face & DE blades. Smoother blades like a Voskhod & apparently Red IPs work best for me (makes we wonder if smoother blades tend to be stiffer?).

Bottom line is that I learned without a shadow of a doubt that I'm an SE guy. Slants are the only DE that I'll even bring close to my face anymore. Maybe I'll save all my money that I'm not spending to try different DE blades and try straights one day. The initial investment & upkeep are what keep me turned off at the moment.

I do hope that this test will help others in getting an idea that the sharpest blade is not necessarily the best blade for you. And please, if DE just doesn't seem to work well and you doubt it's technique then give a SE a try.

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 09-23-2012, 03:27 PM
#11
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(09-23-2012, 12:25 PM)SharpSpine Wrote: Thanks Yohann for tabulating all of this. I appreciate you letting me partake even though I had a hard time with it. For me my favorite DE blade continues to be a Voskhod.

I do believe that the sharper blades cut me more due to blade vibration which I've discussed before as being the problem between my face & DE blades. Smoother blades like a Voskhod & apparently Red IPs work best for me (makes we wonder if smoother blades tend to be stiffer?).

Bottom line is that I learned without a shadow of a doubt that I'm an SE guy. Slants are the only DE that I'll even bring close to my face anymore. Maybe I'll save all my money that I'm not spending to try different DE blades and try straights one day. The initial investment & upkeep are what keep me turned off at the moment.

I do hope that this test will help others in getting an idea that the sharpest blade is not necessarily the best blade for you. And please, if DE just doesn't seem to work well and you doubt it's technique then give a SE a try.

There's been a trend towards increasingly heavier razors,going to a heavier blade aka:single edge...was something I found to be extremely beneficial.

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 09-23-2012, 03:39 PM
#12
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
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(09-23-2012, 09:15 AM)ShadowsDad Wrote: Mike, you did fine! It wasn't a test to see if everyone would agree with each other, only to see how a "random" individual would test a given blade in a given razor. A different razor might have given you different results.

Hi Brian

I fully understand and agree with what you say, but my "blind" experience with the Black Gillette is definitely the most shocking and embarrassing (at least to me), hence...

mikeperry Wrote:Black Gillette (DE Blade #5) is where I feel really embarrassed and stupid, as in my DE Blade log I clearly rate them as the best blade I've ever used, super sharp, super smooth and enjoy using them. Blush Blush Blush

The double inclusion of the Red IP blade and how I scored it differently both times is interesting, mainly as it reinforces my belief and everyday practice when testing a new blade (to me), not to make a "final" decision on the blade until I've at least used 2 or 3 blades from the pack...

Take care, Mike

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 09-23-2012, 04:58 PM
#13
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(09-23-2012, 05:31 AM)yohannrjm Wrote: [Image: Azarius_zpsf3f49594.png]
Arley didn't like the Bic and Dorco at all. However, the Red IP was retired the first time and scored 5's the second time. Otherwise, he liked most of the blades.

Yohann, just want to make a correction to your blades for me.

Although we where not to look or know what blades we where to use, my wife saved each wrapper and marked them blade 1 through 10. She did this knowing that I am very analytical and would like to further test the blades in other razors after this blind bade test was complete. I did not know the results of the blades that I used until after the test was done.

My repeat blades, number 6 and 10 where Perma-Sharp.

After several weeks of members not sending in results, I looked at the wrappers and complied my own spreadsheet that contained all data sent to you, along with some additional notes.

Those interested can read the results here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/lv?k...URNNGVyTXc

Would also like to note since the only detail you listed was that I have a goatee:

48 year old male
Started shaving at 12
Daily shaver by 14
Used a Slim Adjustable from age 12-18, then an Atra and the sometimes a SuperSpeed from 18 through 25.
From 25-47 I had used mostly disposable personna or store brand double/triple blade cartridge type razors.

Very coarse, grey, wiry beard that is fast growing. I can grow my goatee back in a week if I shave off (rare, but happens, usually due to shaving error).

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 09-23-2012, 05:11 PM
#14
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I stayed away from the earlier thread until I saw the results page for a reason (eight plus months of that type of testing effort wears one out).

Dorco, Bic and Feathers seem to match my testing results as well.

Excellent work gentlemen. I commend all of you for taking up the challenge.

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 09-23-2012, 05:21 PM
#15
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Very interesting read!

FYI, if you're planning another test sometime in the future, I'd love to be included in this. Overall I'm fairly consistent in my use of equipment and software - often using the same razor/brand of blade for weeks, if not months. Also, I love pushing blades to their limit; it's quite satisfying when I push a blade past 10 shaves...

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 09-23-2012, 07:19 PM
#16
  • gijames
  • Mile High Soldier
  • TN, USA
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Thank you all for running the blade tests with Yohann Smile

The only DE blades in the group that I use in my rotation of razors are the Red IPs and the Russian version of the Gillette Blacks (Dark Blue pckg)

I have tried Astras, Feathers and Sharks.

The Feathers would be the only blades I would deny out of the group.

The Astras are fine for my face for a normal 3-4 shaves per week. The Sharks are ok for the same amount of shaves.

since i choose not to push how long I can *withstand* using a blade edge, I can pretty much use any mid-level sharp blade that smoothly cuts through my growth...

Blades in my den from buying sample packs or recvd with other products purchased (not listed in any preferrence), and that I have tried and continue to use are:
Gillettes - Dark Blue, Green
Red IPs
Bolzano
Polsilver SIs
Derbys
Astras
SuperMax SS

overall, my experience with quality control has suggested that most of the blades out of the pack will provide me a satisfying 3-pass, smooth, comfortable shave

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 09-24-2012, 02:19 AM
#17
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Excellent work gentlemen and thank you for sharing.

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 09-24-2012, 02:40 AM
#18
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Arley

You're right. I just rechecked the sequence. I'll modify the image.

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 09-25-2012, 10:44 PM
#19
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thanks for doing this yohannrjm, really interesting to see the results. Sorry about that last line of yellows, but if I remember correctly they were a line of 4's.


As for set up I used the exact same set up each time.


Any idea where I can get those permasharps 100 at a time?

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 09-26-2012, 07:05 AM
#20
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
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(09-25-2012, 10:44 PM)hudson Wrote: Any idea where I can get those permasharps 100 at a time?

Hi

Try here: 100 Perma-Sharp Super for $20 + shipping

Take care, Mike

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