Month: November 2014

Review: Wilkinson Sword

Why shave with a knife, when you can shave with a sword?

Why shave with a knife, when you can shave with a sword?

In hind sight, maybe I shouldn’t have put that question in the picture caption.  It would have gone well at the start of the article.  Oh well, absolutely not too late now, but we’re moving forward.

Wilkinson Sword is one of the biggest shaving companies in the world, but you probably know them by another name: Schick.  For reasons that I’m sure make sense to someone, Wikipedia says company is marketed as Schick in North America, Australia, Asia, and Russia, and Wilkinson Sword everywhere else. As I have been unable to find any Schick labeled double-edge razors, it would seem that portion of their market is handled exclusively through the Sword portion.

But I digress. 

The Sword has been a  good razor blade.  I encountered some roughness on the first shave or two, but once broken in it gave a decent shave through the rest of the week.  I did notice is that they seemed harder to clean off, the soap and hair seemed to want to stick to the blade a bit, and the first shave almost felt dull compared to what they did after a day or two of use.  But the shaves were close, even, and consistent throughout the week. 

And…average.  While it was a good shave, I really can’t think of any thing that stands out about them except that few other razors had as little irritation as it did.  But since very few double-edge razors give me significant irritation, it’s really a marginal benefit.

They’re good blades, I’ll give them that.  But while there wasn’t anything really bad about them, I don’t find myself having a desire to keep using them. 

Review: Col. Conk’s Shave Soap- Almond

Though my experience remains limited, Col. Conk's has been my favorite shaving soap thus far.

Though my experience remains limited, Col. Conk’s has been my favorite shaving soap thus far.

For the last four months my primary shaving soap has been Col. Conk’s Almond.  I bought it in Wall, SD, at a giant general store/restaurant/tourist trap they have there (it’s probably half of the entire town), along with a couple other Conk’s scents.  Every kind they had, in fact, except lime. Because who wants to smell like limes in the morning?

Admittedly, before then I would have also asked “who wants to smell like almonds in the morning?”  Or ever, really.  But it seemed like a good idea at the time and I’m glad I took the risk because it has been a pleasure to use.

I’ve used Col. Conk’s before, and for all I know this is the exact same stuff except with a different fragrance added.  Previously the soap sat as a block of soap on a dish, but with this puck I melted it down into a shave bowl right from the start.  My technique was then to go in about ten minutes before I would shave, cover the soap with about a quarter-inch of hot water, then let it sit while I got cleaned up and prepared.  Once I was ready to shave I’d drain the water, then use a wet brush to load the softened soap and lather on my face.

It worked like gang busters.

Previously I was getting inconsistent loads which resulted in some thin lathers that weren’t always enough to get the job done.  Perhaps because I’m now more experienced I’ve great lathers almost every time, and when the load has been insufficient a couple drops of water on the soap and a quick reload got me into good shape.  It does seem to have resulted in the soap not lasting as long as the previous puck of Conk’s I used, but that might be a result of me not lathering properly previously.  Even if this goes though more soap than necessary, when it’s still lasting four months I’m not feeling too bad.

The soap provided great protection, and a refreshing scent that made for an enjoyable shave.  The scent started extremely strong, dropping off quickly over a couple weeks time, however despite the decline it remained present when lathering up until the last several weeks.  I still catch it from time to time, but I think it might be that it’s just on its last leg.

I haven’t been using it exclusively, I’ve also been using Proraso, Dollar Shave Club Shave Butter, and Barbasol. But Conk’s has been my favorite, hands down.  It smells great, feels great, and works great.  I’ve got two more pucks to go through, one Bayrum and the other Amber, and when I’m done I may just find myself stocking back up on Almond.  I’ve highly enjoyed it.

Review: Perma-Sharp Super

That's not punctuation I recognize...

That’s not punctuation I recognize…

After shaving with the Perma-Sharps for two weeks I’m still not sure how I feel about them, though it’s entirely possible that by the time I finish writing this review I’ll have talked myself into one opinion or another. 

It’s an odd blade.  The store I bought them from says they are made by Procter & Gamble, but they don’t bear the Gillette trade name which P&G owns.  They are manufactured in Russia with an English name, which isn’t unusual unto itself, except that the package then has what Google translate tells me is Turkish printed right on the front.  And when it comes to shaving, it’s one of the few blades that have really grown on me.

Most of the time if I’m going to like a blade I can tell pretty quickly.  With the Perma-Sharp it was very different.  My first shave with it left much to be desired, the next day continued to be unimpressive.  But by the third day I found much of what I disliked disappearing.  By the fourth day those things weren’t even noticeable.  By the fifth I had figured I just had a bad start. 

Then I changed blades, and it was back to square one.  Once again though by the third day or so it was shaving great and I was happy with it. 

I’ve had blades that required a bit of time to break in before, I even wrote a blog post about it.  But I’ve never had one with such a steep and noticeable curve.  The first couple shaves the blade felt rough, uneven, pulling and tugging when it should be cleanly cutting.  But after a shave or two this had vanished, replaced by a reliable, sharp, consistent blade.  In fact, by the end of the week I hadn’t noticed a decline in sharpness or shave quality.  It was living up to it’s name.

Hence my uncertainty about it.  On one hand, for the first shave or two I simply didn’t enjoy it.  By about Tuesday it was doing well, and it was a pleasure the rest of the week.

Next time I use them I’m going to try out a trick I’ve heard about, that if you run an overly aggressive razor through a cork that it will even out the edge and give a more comfortable shave.  Perhaps that will do the trick.  For now, when I get critical about it I remember how smooth and sharp it felt during a time of the week that many razors struggle, but I can’t ignore the rough few days at the beginning. 

Movember- Why I’m Still Shaving

Movember is upon us again, a time when men stop shaving their mustache in an effort to raise awareness about men’s health issues such as colon cancer (or simply because they’re riding the cultural wave).  It’s a worthy cause, but not one I’ll be participating in for a couple reasons.

First, I look awful in a mustache.  I shaved a beard down to one once, my wife took one look and literally covered her eyes and hid. Actions spoke louder than words. Jack Kemp once said, “Winning is like shaving- you do it every day or you wind up looking like a bum.”  I’m not sure what I looked like, but I had to shave it off before she would stop winching every time she looked at me.

But the larger reason that I’m not shaving is this: Shaving for me is a manly tradition.  A combination of tools, skill, patience, focus, and practice.  I use a double-edge razor for many reasons, one of which is that it takes work.  Work is good for the mind, body and soul, and it’s something I don’t want to go without.

By all means, grow your beard.  I’ve done so, and I likely will again.  But it makes no sense for me to deny myself of a manly ritual in an effort to demonstrate manliness, and in the case of a mustache, which has the very possible side effect of making me look like some hipster. 

That’s not how I roll.