Dear Visitor to Baby Butt Smooth dot com,
Once again I find that the very best and most appropriate way for me to impart my thoughts, feelings and ideas on DE shaving, is to share with you some correspondence between myself and a good DE shaving friend named Oliver. Oliver is the individual who deserves the credit for waking me up to Feather razor blades from Japan. He’s also the one who, as you will see below, deserves the credit for inspiring me to take the next step in DE shaving- the Merkur 37C Slantbar DE razor. I’m not there yet but I’m on my way, and I have Oliver to thank for this…
It was very nice seeing you yesterday- thank you very much for inviting me.
I would like to follow up on the things we discussed concerning shaving. You asked me about the Feather blades. The Feathers are not nearly as cheap as the Derby’s- in the UK the Feathers cost £22.80 for 100 Feather blades, so about 23 pence per blade, making them more than twice as expensive as the Derby’s
Given what you said about the Feathers, I find that I’m torn. One of the main reasons I went with a box of 100 Derby’s is because (1) I’m truly a value shopper and the Derby’s really are cheap, and (2) I had read reviews saying that the Derby’s were not the sharpest, but that for this particular reason, they made an excellent choice for rank amateurs.
Now, after hearing from you about the Feathers, I am deeply intrigued. I wish I hadn’t purchased so many Derby’s. I would feel very guilty about purchasing more blades at this time when more blades isn’t something I technically need. Of course I somehow don’t feel the same guilt when I’ve had three or four pints of Guinness and I’m considering ordering another pint, when more Guinness isn’t something I technically need. Maybe I should bring the heavy beer drinking and Feather blade shopping together into one simultaneous event.
I got some free Feather blades some time back when I ordered some shaving cream online, but I never used them. Anyway, based upon what you said about the Feathers, I am just terribly excited. I am going to use one of my free Feather blades today for the very first time. If the shave with the Feather blade is extraordinary, I’ll probably end up jumping in and buying a goddamn batch of Feathers, in spite of how many Derby blades I’ve got squirreled away. Maybe I should post a message on the Badger and Blade website and offer some Derby blades for free to a wet shaving newbie. They even have an acronym for this on the Badger and Blade website- from the Badger and Blade Abbreviation Page: “PIF: Pay It Forward. Rather than ‘paying it back’ to older members, paying it forward means giving away shaving equipment to newbies.” By offering some Derby blades to a newbie I’d be on my way to becoming a known and respected member of the Badger and Blade community.
I know that you have a set of post shaving products that you use, a combination of treatments and oils, except that it did seem from the way you described it that you felt that one or more of your post-shaving products could possibly/potentially be dropped and the routine simplified- only you’re not sure yet which product would/should be the one to disappear. And you also told me that you use an oil as a pre-shave base. However, since you did say that you enjoyed the refreshing scent of menthol, I would like to recommend that you give the Proraso PRE-shave cream a try. The smaller size (100 ml) comes in glass jar; you can also find the same product in a large tub (500 ml), but I urge you to try out the smaller size first, before committing yourself to a large quantity. That’s the whole problem I’m having now with these Derby’s, I’m drowning in brand new Derby blades and I really want to get down with some Feathers.
With respect to the Proraso pre-shave cream, I find that the following sequence works well, at least for me:
- run hot water into your shaving bowl or thick heavy tea/coffee mug (the mug will retain heat longer than a thin metal bowl)
- while the mug is getting warm, apply the Proraso pre-shave cream to your face and really work it into your beard, using your hand, not the brush; while you’re doing this, the mug is getting hot
- now dump the hot water out of the mug
- now squeeze some Proraso shaving cream into the mug, and with your brush, work up a good lather
- while you’re busy creating the lather, the Proraso pre-shave cream has the opportunity to absorb into your skin and soften your beard, prepping you for the shave
- when you’re done mixing up the lather, apply the lather and start your first pass.
Maybe you’re already doing something like this but in any case I thought I would share. Have a great weekend Oliver.
Oliver wrote me back.
It was- as always- great seeing you on Friday. Thank you so much for your message and the invaluable tips!
I invested in a stainless steel shaving bowl- massive mistake!! It retains zero heat. I guess I should have thought of this before I ordered it, but hey what can you do? I think I’ll be better off just using a mug for now.
Let me ask: how did it go with the Feather? Did you find it a sharper blade? Did you find it sharper to a degree that would warrant paying the premium for them? I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this. These Feathers are “Titanium Coated” (at least that is what it says on the packet) and I would be surprised if you did not “feel” that they are sharper than other blades. I understand EXACTLY the dilemma you now find yourself in, but why not keep the Derby’s and purchase the Feathers, and use them both. One week the Derby, the other week the Feather. You’ll have the best of both worlds! Oh and don’t worry about earning the respect in the Badger and Blade community. You’re already en route to becoming a legend! I was speaking to a friend yesterday to whom I had passed on your initial email. He told me he forwarded the email on to his boss who has again been spreading the news further. It really seems like you have tapped into an issue that many many guys grapple with.
Phil, have a great week!
I wrote back to Oliver:
You asked me about my experience with the Feathers. I used a Feather for the first time on Saturday. I don’t think I ever want to use any other blade ever again. I have in my possession five Feathers, four of them brand new and the fifth which I loaded into my Merkur 34C on Saturday. When this modest inventory is exhausted I’ll be buying more Feathers, to hell with my 90+ brand new Derby’s. The Derby’s are fine but life is short. Oliver, you really planted a seed in my head when you started talking about these Feathers on Friday. About my Feather experience on Saturday, which you inspired- it got me thinking about so many different things. I was astounded that all this time I’d actually had in my possession a brand new sealed pack of five Feather blades, and that I just hadn’t used them. I also had two Timor blades (German, from Solingen) that were given to me as a friendly gesture when I visited a local shop that sells DE shaving products. I was speaking with the owner at great length about all sorts of DE shaving things (while my wife was falling asleep) and he gave me the two German blades to thank me for my visit (or to thank me for my departure).
The truth is that I hadn’t really forgotten about those Five Feathers, or the two Timors, but that fundamentally, I didn’t WANT to know if they were better. I was so deeply invested in the Derby’s that I was deliberately closing myself off.
Anyway back to the Feathers- yes, the Feathers are more expensive, and the question is, are they worth the premium when compared to the Derby’s. Look, the Derby’s are about 10 pence a blade, and the Feathers are about 23 pence a blade. That is a big relative difference. However, in my opinion, a Feather blade will give you much more than twice the pleasure of a Derby blade; with the Feather blade you really are using the sharpest blade out there, which is obvious while you’re using it; and while shaving, and after the shave is done, you’ll have that feeling, that pleasant awareness, that you’re using the very best, that you’re treating yourself to the sharpest blades available, no compromise and no questions asked. However, let’s for one moment shift the scope of this analysis to absolute terms: that 23 pence blade will give you at least three or four simply heavenly shaving experiences, which means you’re paying less than 8 pence for each highly pleasurable shave. Isn’t that experience worth 8 pence and in fact much much more? And back again to relative terms; 23 pence a blade is still a pittance compared to what unsuspecting men everywhere continue paying for their jive ass disposable multi-blade cartridge junk, the most dastardly scam ever perpetrated in the history of Western capitalism.
Still reeling from my first transcendental Feather experience on Saturday, all thanks to you, my mind went back in time to the wide ranging conversation we had had previously- I tried combing through every word you said to see if you might have imparted some additional pearls of wisdom, because, after all, the Feather reference you made almost completely sailed over my head. In spite of the reduced functioning of my Guinness soaked brain, I was somehow able to vaguely recollect that you had mentioned- very much in passing- something about the “Slant Bar.” I decided on Sunday to look into this Slant Bar that you had so casually mentioned. I started at the Badger and Blade website and continued the investigation on other websites. I also consulted a very highly regarded book that I recently acquired on DE shaving called “Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving, Fifth Edition: Shaving Made Enjoyable.”
This is a book which I simply cannot recommend highly enough. Yes that is correct, several weeks ago I did order this book and I did have it shipped to me all the way to London from the USA, but I am so happy that I did; the very first chapter crystallizes in quite an extraordinary way the entire essence of this DE shaving adventure and odyssey, the reasons why it’s so uniquely exciting and fun. That introductory chapter is like a heartfelt manifesto, highly articulate and at the same time totally unpretentious, an intelligent decent man explaining to anyone who is interested what this DE shaving thing is really all about. Of course the book is also filled with practical information as well, and I quote now from page 64:
“When experienced shavers were polled to find the razor that they would recommend for the novice, the HD [that’s the one we have, the Merkur 34C] was by far the preferred ‘starter razor’… On the other hand… no one [the author added italics here, to ‘no one’] recommended that a novice start with a Slant Bar… I recommend you try the Slant Bar only after you’re getting consistently good shaves with your current safety razor- that is, your technique, maintaining the correct pressure and angle, is solid. Once your technique is polished, you can move to a new level of ease and closeness by using a Slant Bar… In my opinion, it should be your second razor… the Slant Bar is an amazing razor…”
Moving on over to page 110, in the section that’s titled, “Your second razor”:
“Regardless of your first razor, I recommend that your second razor be the Merkur Slant Bar. It should be a second razor because it requires a light touch and a sure hand, so you should be experienced with a safety razor before using it. The Slant Bar with a sharp blade is the ideal tool if you have a thick, wiry beard and sensitive skin. It will not give closer shaves than an excellent straight bar, in my experience, but it’s a different shave [it’s not closer, but it’s different???? different how???????]. A recent poll on ShaveMyFace.com indicated that a majority of those who had used both the Merkur HD and Slant Bar razors thought the Slant Bar was better, and only a small minority thought the HD was better. In all, 88% thought that the Slant Bar was better than or as good as the HD.”
Oliver that’s it, for me it’s now full speed ahead. I will soon be combining the legendary sharpness of the Feather with the solid quality and innovative design of the Merkur Slant Bar 37C.
I am currently in the running for a consulting job here in London. I made it through three separate rounds of interviews and I’m hoping that the fourth round will prove to be more of a formality than a true screening process- but in any case as soon as I get my first paycheck, whether from this consulting job or from other work, I will buy this Slant Bar 37C and a bunch of Feathers. I hope that paycheck comes before my five Feathers run out. In the interim I will do my best to perfect my technique on the 34C, so that I am adequately prepared for this next stage that I am getting ready to enter into.
I am certain that your stainless steel shaving bowl is beautiful, so please enjoy it. Maybe during the summer months, warm lather won’t hold the same appeal as it does in the colder seasons, and so your stainless steel bowl will suit your needs perfectly during those more temperate days. Regarding the thick tea/coffee mug I spoke of earlier, it only cost me one pound over at Pound Land so while the scuttle you saw might be wondrous to use, the heavy tea/coffee mug is still quite a nice and inexpensive alternative.
Here is where you can buy the Merkur 37C Slant Bar Razor, and Feather Blades: