09-15-2021, 01:48 PM
#1
  • DanLaw
  • Just an old slow fat man
  • Peachtree City, GA
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Many having encountered threads authored over the years know that I live in the Deep South and am an aerobic athlete. While enjoying an active outdoors sporting lifestyle, Southern Summers are absolutely brutal, in many respects worse than the Tropics when considering temperature, humidity and utter lack of wind. Literally, the sun BEATS down upon one with perceptible force on a daily basis with rain spotty at best; so, unlike the Gulf Coast, there are rarely the brief respites from the sun FL residents enjoy on a seemingly daily basis - global warming trends have only made things increasingly worse for the past decades. While complaining about the weather is a more appropriate subject for a 60’s Burt Bacharach song than a product review, it has a bearing on whether one takes the step to shave body hair to facilitate healthy skin maintenance, mitigate body odour and, the key factor in my decision, ease cleaning the inevitable cuts resulting from tumbles.


Having experimented with every shaving system known: cartridge, electric, depilation, chemical, wax, straight edge, single edge and double edge, have found that there is a place for each methodology depending on area shaved, skin type, budget and personal preference…then there is the matter of specific products within each category – like many online, it has been a decades long pursuit. Compounding matters is that am blessed with hypersensitive skin under dermatologist care since a child and a horribly disfigured and damaged body from a lifetime of active lifestyle and poor life choices. Whether that conveys some degree of insight worth heading, will leave to the readers of this thread to determine BUT the point is that if unwise, do possess a huge reserve of experience to draw upon when critiquing shaving hardware and software for usage on face and body. Combined with living in extreme weather conditions deleteriously impacting shave performance would lead one to believe that if it works for me, it may very well work for others in less onerous environs.


Phil of BullGoose introduced me to the Leaf razor company a few years back by providing a passaround razor that was so well liked, retain and use it to this day for body shaving. The take away from the original 3 blade Leaf razor was that it is an outstanding alternative to cartridge razors offering the ability to select blade manufacturer, shave with an environmentally responsible minimal footprint, and possesses a quality feel/heft absent from plastic disposables: just a wonderful instrument at a fair price point that suffers from the same limitation as its plastic disposable competitors – bulky and tough to access tight confines such as around the nostrils.


In the interim, Leaf has been developing a single edge alternative: the Twig, to address the bulk issues while retaining the positive attributes so loved in the original Leaf razor. What started as a miserable – sorry Leaf for so characterizing but miserable it was – plastic flimsy prototype has finally been released in its much more substantial and lovely to use metallic production version. Leaf was kind enough to send two production razors for a multifora passaround: the Twig (in Gold) and its slightly more efficient brethren the Thorn (in Rose Gold).


Leaf has become so much more sophisticated regarding packaging and marketing since last testing the Leaf 3 blade: the new box actually feels like a finished item versus the original crafty and flimsy box. Does such a thing matter, decidedly NOT but it shows the company really is taking this business seriously and incorporating continuous development throughout operations. The razors are almost 180° the opposite of the design philosophy of the original Leaf: whereas the Leaf 3 blade and the Twig prototype were minimal, almost of Asian design, the production Twig and Thorn are Victorian to my aesthetic sensabilities. The handle is bulbous, hefty and quite ergonomic even shaving in a tub; in this case, what is sacrificed aesthetically pays off considerably ergonomically – I applaud the bold design decision. What hasn’t changed from the prototype is the slim, minimalistic head design - one has no excuse for missing hair patches in even the tightest of confines with this new design. In fact, will go so far as to state that have never encountered a more precision razor, even a 2/8 straight cannot compare to the maneuverability. Maneuverability, or lack thereof, has become a recurrent theme when reviewing modern razors; for whatever reason, artisans have been increasing stack height to a point of negative returns. While there may well be cases where stack height was historically presumed a consequence of design philosophy ala adjustable gap double edge razors, even there innovative firms such as Tatara have proven there are engineering workarounds. Suffice it to state, am quite enamoured with the Twig and Thorn design brief. Having addressed one negative element of the prototype Twig, the question remained whether they had resolved the worst – the Twig prototype was a flimsy flexy flyer that could not be relied upon to deliver a solid foundation for the blade to function without skips and jumps: flatly, it is in this regard that Leaf knocked it out of the park. The Production Twig and Thorn are absolutely rock steady; when combined with the ergonomics, they really deliver the goods. While not planning to sell the original 3 blade Leaf, one could easily live with either the Twig or Thorn as standalone razors.


Irrespective of the kudos, make no mistake that this is a razor built to a price point – no artfully crafted stainless steel, copper or titanium here – just inexpensive pot metal with various colourations of coating. Truth of the matter, given that their primary target users are cartridge shavers, even this is a significant step up in quality of material and execution. It literally feels as exclusive and over the top compared to the cartridge razors as some of the best artisan razors feel in comparison to Merkur, Rockwell and other such DE razors.


The blade loading process seems hopelessly complex relative to any other shaver ever encountered: “seems complex” are the operative words; while more complex to load than other razors, it really is quite easily achieved after viewing the online video even once. Sure, it requires snapping regular DE blades in half (quite easily and safely accomplished by folding lengthwise while in their wrapper) and then using the knurled lower handle of the razor to raise and rotate the top cap, placing the halved blade securely in the magnetized notches then retightening the knurled lower handle – all of which is much easier to undertake than describe, I swear. For those unwilling to snap their own DE blades, Leaf will gladly sell you their private label halved blades but, unfortunately, Leaf asks quite a premium over market price for their halved DE blades.


Shaving with the Twig and Thorn could not be more different from the Leaf 3 blade: whereas the Leaf 3 blade had zero feedback, the Twig and Thorn are as communicative as a road racing bicycle on 22mm tubulars or motorcycle sport bike on slicks. Without being harsh, the design lets one know exactly where the blade is and whether the angle appropriate. Somehow, the Twig and Thorn manage to provide a closer yet less irritating nick free shave than a traditional DE. As with the Leaf 3 blade, it is amazing how well this razor mows down hair; it never clogs and rinses with ease too. Having used both razors numerous times on face and body there was no area too confined to access; my preference was with the milder Twig but the Thorn also performed equally well without being harsh.


As with the original Leaf 3 blade, Leaf is on to something. Women will love this razor, as it is incredibly comfortable and efficient at removing hair anywhere while being inexpensive to feed blades. Men really should inform their wives/gal pals of this razor and its ability to use their blades for refills – she will adore you for the advice. Aerobic athletes, body shaving for sports activities, will love this as much for its abilities as sticking it to the majors taking advantage of oligopolistic pricing power. Men will even find this a compelling razor for face shaving as it is mild yet efficient in either gap; it actually works quite well for those with lean, irregular or disfigured faces where it is quite difficult to access all the tighter confines. For me this razor is worth keeping, albeit in Chrome, after the passaround concludes.

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