Smooth Chrome Top Cap Causes More Friction A few weeks ago (link), I wrote about how I had started using the Edwin Jagger Kelvin, which has the standard EJ DE89 head, and how I was experiencing what I considered to be a lot of friction with the shiny smooth chrome of the EJ DE89 head. I was used to the textured satin finish and double open comb of the PAA DOC Satin, my first DE razor, and when I switched to the EJ Kelvin, I was really surprised and disappointed by the friction and sticking that I was getting, even when using the same high-quality soaps as before. As previously discussed, I conducted a simple experiment with gliding razors (without blades) against dry and wet skin (from water) on the inside of my wrist. It was confirmed that friction with the smooth EJ DE89 head significantly increased in wet conditions, much more than with the PAA DOC Satin. Also, I confirmed that the smooth plastic top cap of the Dorco PL602 produced a lot of friction on wet skin, similar to the friction from smooth chrome on wet skin. In the past, I couldn't figure out why I was experiencing such friction and stick-slip issues with the Dorco PL602, so I quickly gave up on that inexpensive razor. Lather Has Improved, but Some Friction Remains My friction problem with the EJ Kelvin led some B&B brothers to suggest that my lather might be lacking water, and sure enough, they were right! It turns out that with the PAA DOC Satin, I could get away with less hydrated lather, but with the EJ Kelvin, I have to use more water in my lather to cut down on the inherently higher friction from the EJ DE89 head. In a way, I was forced to improve my lather building skills. It's been working pretty well, but there is still an overall level of friction that I don't like from the smooth chrome on my skin. I've theorized here that while there is POTENTIAL for much more friction from a smooth chrome top cap, what friction a guy experiences ACTUALLY DEPENDS ON HIS SKIN. It is possible that smooth, more elastic skin with smooth chrome under wet conditions should produce much more friction than rougher, less elastic skin with smooth chrome, which has some roughness there to prevent the friction from manifesting so badly. One guy might notice friction, while another guy might not notice a friction problem using the same setup. This could explain why some guys experience undesirable friction with smooth chrome razors. Painter's Tape and UHMW Tape Didn't Really Help The thought crossed my mind that adding tape to the top cap could reduce friction, so I studied the use of blue painter's tape and ultra-high-molecular-weight (UHMW) tape, the latter being shown below. Painter's tape has a textured surface, while UHMW tape has a low coefficient of friction and is used for applications with sliding surfaces. I wouldn't want to use tape on a regular basis, but I'm not completely against such a thing if the cost is reasonable. Theoretically, if it worked, a little painter's or UHMW tape could make shaving less expensive and better if it allowed for less expensive, lower performing soaps to be used, offsetting the cost of the tape, while producing better shaves with more slickness, lower friction due to the tape. It was a fascinating idea! Well, it was a fascinating idea, but that was about all it was. In practice, painter's tape and UHMW tape didn't help reduce friction much if anything at all. I shaved with different combinations of tape on the EJ DE89 top cap, making sure that the Astra Superior Platinum blade exposure was approximately the same on both sides of the head when I had different conditions on each side. Two examples are shown below, the first with the EJ DE89 top cap covered with UHMW tape and the second with the EJ DE89 top cap covered with blue painter's tape on one side and UHMW tape on the other side. Here are some shave results: Covering the top cap with UHMW tape and wrapping it underneath the top cap edges made the blade exposure too negative and the razor too inefficient UHMW tape on top only did not seem to help, maybe not at all. A problem with the tape was that near the end of the shave, the edge or corner of the tape, at least on one side, started to unstick and cause sharp irritation during some strokes. That was not good. With blue painter's tape on top of one side and UHMW tape on top of the other side, the friction with both tapes was very similar, too similar to call which was better. It was a wash. What was noticeable was that there was an overall friction present, as I was experiencing without any tape. Conclusion Painter's tape and UHMW tape did not seem to help reduce friction from the smooth chrome of my EJ Kelvin (DE89) head, but at least in the process of trying to solve the friction problem, I got help from fellow B&B members on making better lather and significantly reduced the friction that I was getting. Thanks for the help! There's more to come on my adventure with the EJ Kelvin!