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DE89 vs 34C vs SLOC vs R41 (Warning: Long Post)

If you like the R41 a vintage gillette super speed Red Tip could be a nice companion for it.

Very nice, informative, and orderly post! Glad to see you are getting good shaves with that Mühle. I’m also looking to step up the aggression with an open comb.

I have practically the same type of whiskers and skin as yourself with the exception that I must give myself a break by shaving every other day. I also found the DE89 and 34c pretty useless at cutting through my stubble and have been using a Maggard V3A which is probably closer to your SLOC than the R41 is.

Great Post and hope you the best in getting closer shaves!

I'm still new to wet shaving, with around 35 shaves under my belt, and like many others I started with a mild razor and a mild blade. The experience has already been miles better than the 35 years of cartridges and electrics I endured before it, and the rabbit hole I've fallen into has proven to be both cozy and fun, if not increasingly costly.

In the past month I've added several razors, most of the Proraso soaps and creams, a few nostalgic after shaves, and enough sample blades to keep me going for months. More new stuff is currently en route, and my wish list is growing daily. It's enough to make anyone's head spin.

It's been a blast, but all the equipment swapping started me wondering which products were really working best for me, so this week I decided to revisit my razors in an orderly fashion. I gave each razor its own day while keeping everything else the same for every shave, and figured I'd share my thoughts here.

My Beard

It's pointless to go any further without first describing my face. My beard is stiff and grows quickly, and my skin is sensitive and a bit on the oily side. My facial hair grows pretty much North to South, while my neck hair grows in several directions across three separate areas. On the upside, the speedy growth gives me enough wiry bristles to shave each morning, so I get to enjoy this new hobby every single day. On the downside, my tender skin forces me to minimize passes and skip shaving against the grain to avoid ingrown hairs (yep, even with DE razors). I mention all of this because your mileage may vary, as your skin, stubble, and growth pattern may not match mine, and no two of us are likely to have the same experience with the same equipment. Just keep trying new things until you find what you like, and enjoy yourself along the way!

The Razors (and why I bought them)

View attachment 1043020
Edwin Jagger DE89
It was a toss-up between the DE89 and the Merkur 34C, as both are equally recommended for beginners. I eventually erred on the side of caution and chose the DE89 because it has a reputation for being slightly milder than the 34C, and I was new and scared.

View attachment 1043021
RazoRock SLOC
I got it in my head that I really needed an open comb razor, and I liked that this model is usually described as mild. It looks super cool, isn't scary to shave with, and is surprisingly well made for its low asking price. What's not to like?

View attachment 1043022
Merkur Travel Razor
I bought this one because I thought the travel format was cool. Plus, it has the same head as the 34C so I could finally compare it to my DE89 and decide for myself which was better.

View attachment 1043023
Mühle R41 Twist
I really struggled with this one. I was enjoying my daily shaves with my other razors, but kept wondering if the legendary aggression of the R41 would get the job done quicker. All the forum comments and bloody review videos nearly scared me away, but I finally threw caution to the wind and went for it.

Daily Shave Gear

View attachment 1043024

This is what I used for every shave this week:
  • Brand new Feather NEW Hi-STAINLESS blade for each razor (first time in every razor but the R41)
  • Proraso White Pre-Shave Cream (also applied between passes)
  • Proraso White Shaving Cream
  • Haircut & Shave 24mm synthetic brush
  • Aqua Velva Ice Sport Cooling After Shave
  • Proraso White After Shave Balm (for added skin protection throughout this experiment)
I used each razor in its pictured configuration. Each shave got ONLY two passes (riding the bar), one with the grain then one across the grain, and no touch-up pass. I followed the same shave pattern with each razor, and each shave was 24 hours after the previous shave (I cleared the initial slate on Sunday with the Mühle R41 and a Feather blade on its fourth use). I used hot water throughout, followed by a cold water rinse before aftershave products were applied.

Shaving Impressions

Here are my thoughts on each shave, in categories that I thought would matter to most people. There's no real science here, only unbridled subjectivity with a hint of objectivity.

Monday - Edwin Jagger DE89

Blade feel: None
Blade feedback: Fairly quiet, but present throughout the shave
Closeness: Not even close to DFS
Trauma: None anywhere
Aftershave feedback: None anywhere
Skin irritation: None anywhere
My rating: 3 out of 10
Thoughts: This was my first shave with the DE89 after weeks of using other razors, and I was honestly surprised at how much stubble it left behind. Earlier shaves with it were much better because I used liberal buffing plus a touch-up pass, but this week was about seeing how all the razors perform with equal strokes. In the mirror after, I looked like I still needed a shave.

Tuesday - Merkur Travel Razor (34C)

Blade feel: Minimal
Blade feedback: Still quiet, but louder than the DE89
Closeness: Definitely closer than the DE89, but still not DFS
Trauma: None anywhere
Aftershave feedback: None anywhere
Skin irritation: None anywhere
My rating: 4 out of 10
Thoughts: This shave passed the mirror test, but didn't actually feel much closer. As with the DE89, I’m sure buffing and another pass would have yielded a DFS. My face was ready for another shave by evening. Overall, I could tell it was more aggressive than the DE89 and would probably have been a better first DE for me, but Edwin Jagger's fit and finish soundly trounces it.

Wednesday - RazoRock SLOC

Blade feel: I can feel it, and it feels good
Blade feedback: Much louder than the DE89 and 34C
Closeness: Definitely DFS in two passes for me
Trauma: None anywhere
Aftershave feedback: Mild everywhere
Skin irritation: None anywhere
My rating: 7 out of 10
Thoughts: This was my first good shave this week, and my skin felt great all day. I like this razor, and the open comb cap really was keeping my skin wet while shaving. Now I'm wondering if I should try the RazoRock JAWS for a little more aggression. One more razor never hurt anyone, right?

Thursday - Mühle R41 Twist

Blade feel: This thing feels like it's all blade!
Blade feedback: It sounds like heavy duty Velcro being pulled apart
Closeness: Parts of my face were DFS after the first pass. XTG finished the job nicely.
Trauma: None anywhere
Aftershave feedback: Medium everywhere
Skin irritation: None anywhere
My rating: 9 out of 10
Thoughts: The only reason it doesn't score a 10 is there may be other razors out there that are better. As I sit here typing this my skin feels airy and light, almost like it's breathing all on its own. There's no burning or irritation, just a really nice DFS shave.

Final Thoughts

Before beginning this experiment I believed each of these razors were keepers for different reasons, and that I'd start rotating between them once the R41 honeymoon was over. Now I'm thinking the DE89 and 34C just aren't efficient enough for me to use again. I'm pleasantly surprised with the SLOC, though, especially paired with a Feather blade. That one is definitely a keeper, and is durable and inexpensive enough to knock around in my travel bag without worry. It's got me thinking about other RR models, especially their open combs.

The top dog for the week was clearly the Mühle R41. I already knew it was my favorite going in, but now I can clearly see how much better it performs on my beard than the others. I'm still new to DE shaving, but I'm not as scared as I was a month ago, and I'm excited about the possibilities that opens up for me. It’s time to see if anything can dethrone the R41!

I hope this has been informative, especially to newcomers with beards similar to mine. Maybe you’ll be able to save some time and money if you start a tick or two above the mildest offerings.

Thanks for reading!

Good post; all the razors mentioned are terrific shavers. After several years and exploring more razors you may come to appreciate the R89 / EJ89 more. Consider hanging on to it and giving it a whirl in a year or two, and then re-asses. Your technique will be much sharper and accordingly your judgements may surprise you.
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