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28 Days with an R41

I recently returned home after twenty eight days divided between a work trip and some much needed vacation time. On a lark, I packed an R41 ('13 version with an Ikon bulldog handle) as my one and only for the month. While it's a regular in my rotation, prior to this trip, a week (normally seven shaves for me) was the longest I had used it continuously. Deciding to go Spartan, I rounded out my Dopp kit with a tuck each of Gillette Silver Blues and Astra SP's; my reliable glycerine bar, a Speick shave stick, the remnants of an old alum block and a small quantity of Fine's Snakebite to be reserved for particularly hot days.

On the airplane, I had some time to reflect on the equipment choices, giving myself pause and even manifesting some regret. Sitting in my seat for almost six hours, I wondered more than once why an inveterate cold water shaver would bring an R41 and Silver Blues to be used in an unfamiliar climate with unknown water properties. Consolation was found in cocktails and by telling myself that if things got unbearable, I could stick to the Astras and return home with some face intact.

As a cold water shaver, I must place great emphasis on proper pre-shave preparation. Since I am not a big believer in pre-shave oil or facial moisturizes, water is key. Unfortunately, I do not always shower before shaving, oftentimes saving my shave until pre-dinner wash up, depending on the schedule and circumstances of the day. Of the twenty three or so shaves recorded over my trip, approximately half took place after showering in the morning with the rest occurring before dinner and after a good face wash. The collective experience was both interesting and surprising.

While I had not used all of the products brought with the R41 before and would most likely substitute for some on the next go-around, the razor performed flawlessly and exceeded my expectations. The R41 still functions best for me when it has something longer than my daily growth to cut, but with care, patience and concentration it can be a very good "daily" shaver. Witha proper three pass evening shave followed by some buffing and enough sunburn the following day, I was able to stretch a few shave results into a second day.

Both blade types worked well, however, in different ways. While the GSBs are exceptionally sharp, initially, they were a bit rough in the R41. After the first shave, they settled down nicely and I was able to average 5-6 DFS/BBS shaves per blade. The Astras were almost the exact opposite – smooth from the first shave, but I was only able to get three good shaves per blade before they started pulling ATG. Speick was a good choice, offering enough cushion to counter what it lacks in slickness and protecting my face well from the indiscriminate vengefulness of the R41's leading edge.
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