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A Noob’s First Experience with Open Comb and Slant Razors: A Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements’ Filament

Kit Used
  • Exfoliating Glove
  • Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap
  • PAA Cube 2.0 (non-menthol): first use
  • PAA Cane Shave Soap: first use
  • PAA Doppler Shave Brush
  • PAA Intergalactic Shave Scuttle
  • PAA Filament: first use
  • PAA Platinum Strangelet Super Sharp DE Blade: first use
  • PAA Alum w/dock: first use
  • My own blended beard oil
  • Pura d’or 20% Vitamin C Serum
  • Derma-E Ultra Hydrating Advanced Repair Night Cream

I’ve a pretty long, very full and naturally wavy/curly beard. I do not shower before shaving as many do, I shower afterward because cleaning up my beard in the sink after a shave just doesn’t adequately get the job done and I don’t feel truly comfortable or as clean.

My pre-shave prep, something I’ve done for many years employs the use of an exfoliating glove and Dr. Bronner’s soap to scrub my head, cheeks and neck to hydrate and soften a particularly thick, stiff and coarse stubble. I wipe off the soap with a warm wash cloth.

I followed my customary first step with PAA’s Cube 2.0 pre-shave soap; rubbing the bar directly onto the areas I’d be shaving (head, cheeks and neck.) With a damp hand I brought the soap residue to a very light slick coating.

The scuttle was filled with boiling water and left to sit a bit as I was getting myself prepped. This does a rather decent job of making and keeping the shave cream warm-ish. I’m very curious to try the ceramic version of this scuttle: maybe that will happen.

Shave #1

This was my first experience with a double comb/slant razor of any kind. While I didn’t take to my new tool like a duck to water, I got on okay. I was particularly mindful of maintaining consistent straight strokes so as to not slice myself to ribbons. Angle of blade to skin was a bit more difficult and it took more touch up passes to find myself with a respectful near BBS shave in the end (primarily my dome and cheeks.)

Owing to the number of touch up passes because of not finding/keeping the right angle and razor pressure the first time around, coupled with the fact I don’t shave my head with a DE caused some burn/irritation when all was said and done. I’m experiencing the aftermath as I write this.

A bit of backstory here might assist. About 5-6 months ago, bugged by the cost of cartridge razors and not being able to get the ones I still had a store of, sent me on a quest to find an alternative. Experimenting with something I found at Wally World left me very disappointed and out $10. This inspired and reinvigorated my interest in more “economical” means of shaving. Ironically and absolutely not a slam, I think all wet shavers know that while a frugal person could really make this wet shave adventure a winning savings, fall prey to G.A.S. (gear acquisition syndrome) and end up pursuing that most lovely, must have array of kit. In the end wet shavers end up spending considerably more than they might have with cartridge razors. Well…guilty as charged!

Rather bugged to find an alternative to the multi-blade razors I was shaving my dome with, I found Leaf and purchased their multi-blade pivoting head razor. I quite like it overall, though my staff did point out one day I was “bleeding”, a pronounced scab on my dome from being bitten for not having paid careful enough attention to technique. I quipped back because they made me crazy I was trying to cut my throat the long way: bit I digress. When I’m not trying to cut my throat through the top of my head, I get very lovely shiny smooth BBS results with the Leaf using 3 blades.

I exclusively use a DE for my neck and cheeks. It is near impossible for me to get a BBS shave for my neck so I keep to as gentle a 3 pass shave as possible with limited touch up.

PAA Filament

Overall the razor seems to shave decently enough. It is extremely light. It’s also clear from the start that being mindful of how much pressure one uses is something to navigate; which if I’m totally honest, and I am, maybe in part the reason I’ve experienced razor burn and the weepers from using too much pressure. I picked up my Gillette Tech for comparison and the weight difference is quite remarkable. I thought my GT was “light” and wouldn’t call it a heavy razor by a long shot.

I’m not sure I’m enamored by the Platinum Strangelet Super Sharp blade. The first pass of my neck across the grain (east-west/west-east) for me resulted in a weeper. I’m uncertain as to whether this was a result of the blade or the razor or some combination thereof: time will tell. That said, my first impression of the blade left me thinking it was a tad rough for my skin, though not egregiously so. It is not nearly as comfortable as my experiences with Perma-Sharp or Wizamet (two of my favorite blades to date.) I will experiment at some point using my GT loaded with a Strangelet and loading the Filament with both a Perma-Sharp and a Wizamet.

I used the Filament with the blade fully clamped/tightened in place. According to the insert there is up to ¼ turn of leeway to back off the clamping pressure. I may play with this as well for future shaves.

Shaving my head was a different story. I generally do not use a DE as I mentioned, I prefer my Leaf. The last time I used a DE on my head, my Gillette Tech, quite a number of years ago, I thought I’d never use one again. Let’s just say it took me a couple of weeks to heal from the mistakes I made. Using a DE to shave my dome since that rather negative experience has been verboten, until the Filament. It took a considerable amount of time to achieve anything close to resembling BBS with PAA’s polymer razor. I will endeavor to conduct more experimentation to get a better handle on using the razor and as mentioned try different blades.

Shaving my cheeks went well enough, though the angle of the blade in relation to doing some precision trimming to keep my beard and cheek line properly shaped will take practice. I really like how easy it is to keep the defined sharp and neat line I’m after using my Gillette Tech.

Generally speaking I managed to get through this first shave with more weepers than usual. Using some post-shave alum revealed how rough the shave was: a considerable bit of tingle/sting all over.

Comparatively speaking, my last head shave 4 days prior using my Leaf (3rd or 4th head shave with Leaf’s blades) produced zero weepers, a BBS result and absolutely zero tingle/sting/burn using a different alum stick I had on hand. This was also the case with my cheeks, using my GT loaded with a Perma-Sharp (about the 3rd shave with the blade.)

My neck, had only a couple of weepers using my GT, tingled using the alum stick but not nearly as much as after using the Filament-Strangelet combination.


I finish my showers full-cold every day. Quite a few years ago, I did three straight years of nothing but cold showers (a story for another time) but can’t effectively do that any longer given the length of my beard. That said, the cold finish is great for the skin and I look forward to it as a stress management tool. While I love the warm weather, I prefer my showers in the winter months because the water at the tap is finally getting cold enough to be satisfying: averaging around 53-55 F.

My head, cheeks and neck felt rather irritated and a bit burned post-shave. Again, I’m uncertain which may be the culprit: razor, blade, my technique. I will be experimenting further.

The last three items on the kit used list are the products I use post-shave/shower daily. I’ve been blending my own beard oil more than 15 years (if there’s interest I’ll share this in another post along with the simple routine I employ for keeping my facial fur looking good.) The last two items I use for my skin (head, cheeks, neck.)

I’m not a cologne/scent guy any longer, though once upon a time I also blended my own essential oils for said purpose. Unless I can get samples or smell before buying I’ve been very careful about scented shave soaps. My favorites so far are Sudsy Soapery’s Twisted Rose (tallow base) and their Rose and Black Pepper (non-tallow base). I’ve two samples from PAA the special edition that comes with the Intergalactic Scuttle and Future: neither one is my vibe. I’ve a very sensitive sniffer and I find them to be too overpowering and irritating. To reiterate: I’ve a very sensitive honker and this is not a slam on PAA’s scent blending. Getting Cane, sight un-smelled, was a worthwhile gamble. It’s a pretty clean refreshing scent that works for me, though it just gets to the point of “works for me.” Full disclosure there is a note in the overall aroma, I believe it is the talc and the corn mint, which is just on the edge of being too much for me. Regardless, I will use and enjoy Cane and am happy to have it.

A Final Thought: Sort of…

I will post further experiences with PAA’s Filament as it gets exercised over the next couple of months. At this juncture it is my intention to use it exclusively so as to discover its positive attributes and its quirks while figuring out if I’m really a slant/double comb sort of guy or not.
Great write up / story. As you may know, it takes time to get your technical skills up to speed. Plus the tool, angle, pressure, so many more variables..
All I got now. Is try to stick with the key tools for a few weeks..
Consistently, best shave practices, plenty of time, and really enjoy the whole process..You will get there..
Welcome and have fun..
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