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Help me understand razor comfort

Lots of good replies already. I’ll add that IMO the big variable is individual skill set, ie how well a given operator handles the tool. With a DE it‘s not automatic. In my hand a 34HD yields more comfortable/efficient/better results than a DE89 — due to balance, handle size, weight, who knows? Doesn’t make sense to me as those two razors are very similar, as are (I think) your GC and DE89, but I can’t dispute the results.
 
Then, there is blade angle. What does that do for comfort?
I don't recommend jumping into it too soon but at some point, try a really aggressive razor and use it with a really steep angle. For example, an R41 holding the handle almost parallel with your face as you shave. Once you learn to shave with a very light touch, this technique can give you amazingly close shaves that are also amazingly comfortable. Just be warned that not everyone gets the same results so YMMV, but for a lot of guys it works great.
 
It's a combo of this:

1. Head geometry. Angles, exposure, gap
2. Blade clamping. Rigidity, achieved through clamping and torsioning. How much the blood is supported where and where not.
3. The angle you actually put it on your face. Some razors guide and some don't as much.
4. The razor blade used. Some are stiffer, some sharper, others more coated out differently than others.
5. Preferences. Some people don't want to feel any blade, while I like the feedback.
6. Feedback of the tactile and acoustical kind. Related to geometry and clamping, material.

So it's not just science, when miniscule things have to work together to form a greater whole, it's becoming some kind of art.

And a 7. point factors in after all these points. The mind/psychology.
Expectations and reputation, to the point of successful self deception.
 
We can talk about a razor's efficiency or blade feel in terms of the razor's geometry - eg exposure, gap, top cap thickness, span, weight....

But "comfort" is a very personal benchmark. Even we know that there are many people who prefer razors that are significantly more aggressive to others, such as r41, futur...
There is also as-d2 generally considered to be the mild extreme, but there are also some who claim to be stimulated in as-d2.
 
I got this chart from Henson, I believe. I don't recall at the moment, for certain. This is where I got the figures from. I think you are right about the slicing angle, but on the DE89 it is so intuitive and even when I get it wrong it is still not bad. The Henson's give a great shave each and every time. The way that blade is bent and using their angle, there is little blade feel. Of course, the razor angle of attack can be changed and then there is a lot of blade feel. I feel you are correct in most of what you are saying. Thanks.
The Henson chart gives blade gap in inches. The DE89 and GC gaps you referenced were in mm. Not apples to apples. The mild and medium Hensons have the same gaps as the Gamechangers - .68 and .84 mm, respectively.
 
You are correct. The Henson has a gap of .68mm and .85mm, similar to the Game Changer, yet the razor is a lot more mild mannered.
 

Tirvine

ancient grey sweatophile
Back to the Atlas handle and, for fun, a Crystal blade. It may just be minute variations in technique, but it definitely gave me a closer shave than the Gillette Silver Blue.
F9F5E744-764B-4D8E-BD3A-92A910B92417.jpeg
 
If there is a way to look at razor specs and know if it's going to be comfortable for your face I sure don't know what it might be. Different skin, different hair, different technique - you might get in the ballpark with suggestions.

I have a very scientific way to select razors: you pays your money and you takes your chances.

ATT (last I knew) had a trial period for new razors, and they make some lovely razors. That's the only safe place I know.
Also OneBlade, and Timeless.
 
I think you have to look at the physical aspects of the razor on how much blade exposure, how much gap, finish of the razor, weight and if the safety bar is open comb or solid bar hopefully with serrations to allow lather to reach the cutting edge of blade. Also serrations on the top cap can make some razors a smoother glide because less contact area possibly. To long a handle can add leverage or pressure of the blade touching the skin.
These knowns can help to add or avoid physical make up to a excellent razor for a person.
Some folks think gap is the most important physical part of a razor and that is not the case always, razor heads could be wider on some brands, top cap could be thicker at the lip on some razors & that changes the aggression also.
With the razor physical knowns it is just up to the operator to put the razor to it's best outcome.
A matured Technique still is # 1 and it always will be for a comfortable shave with any razor. Avoid to many passes will lessen irritation, avoid over buffing a certain area. Skin tensioning a little can help also in making whiskers easier to slice off the skin.
Another very important fact is beard mapping your whisker directions, some folks can not shave against the grain because it irritates the skin, so this will add to comfort big time and the razor is not the issue here at all mostly.

Safety_Razor_Parameters_around_Blade_Cutting_Edge (2).jpg

Have some great shaves!
 
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Great answers above!

The basic problem is that my hair and skin are different from yours. There is no way to measure these differences objectively. Variables that can me measured, such as exposure or blade gap, are likely to differ in importance between people.

My approach was to figure out what was most important to me then focus on optimizing those variables. :thumbup1::thumbup1::thumbup1:
 
Cool thread with lots of info but none of it (ftmp) can be relied on to prejudge how a razor will feel to you. You have to try it to find out if you like it. Too bad we can't get a test drive like with autos.
The basic problem is that my hair and skin are different from yours. There is no way to measure these differences objectively. Variables that can me measured, such as exposure or blade gap, are likely to differ in importance between people.
That is main point, always true. I never focus on gap, exposure, or angle numbers anymore. They aren't reliable indicators.
 
One thing I've noticed is that the mild Henson has a blade gap of .68 and so does the Game Changer .68P that I have. The Medium Henson has a blade gap of .85, about the same as the Game Changer .84P. However, the Hensons are a little more efficient and far smoother and more comfortable to shave with. I wouldn't know this except for trial and error with many blade types. What combination of factors is at work, here?
 
I will throw in a few personal observations. Hopefully I am not a freak of nature so this should apply to others.

There are 6 factors that seem to make a difference for me assuming a correctly prepped beard. Blade gap, exposure, rigidity, weight, balance and the blade itself.

To get a smooth shave, I look for rigidity and minimal to neutral exposure. I also look for a blade known to be smooth. None of the other factors matter for this.

To get a close shave, I look for blade gap, exposure and a sharp blade. Keep in mind, the more exposure you want the less smooth this will be. There is a relationship between gap and exposure but it differs based on the geometry of the head.

I generally don’t like irritation or cuts so that puts an upper limit on the sharpness of the blade and exposure. This is also where weight and balance come in. If these are off then you get too much pressure which causes the razor to behave as though it had more exposure than it does.

My suggestion is to pick a well respected blade like the gsb, platinum or Feather and then buy an adjustable like a progress to play with some of the variables like gap and exposure to find the sweet spot for you. Generally once you find that spot, then if that spot is a higher setting on the progress, rigidity is not a big factor for you using that blade if you are good with the smoothness and irritation.

Hope this helps as a general framework.
 
One thing I've noticed is that the mild Henson has a blade gap of .68 and so does the Game Changer .68P that I have. The Medium Henson has a blade gap of .85, about the same as the Game Changer .84P. However, the Hensons are a little more efficient and far smoother and more comfortable to shave with. I wouldn't know this except for trial and error with many blade types. What combination of factors is at work, here?
It could be slightly more blade exposure in the Henson I'm thinking, if you like a little more blade exposure or blade feel just install a Kai SS blade which is a little wider and your aggression and efficentcy will be bumped up but of course you give up something in return would be smoothness possibly. When a razor has a larger gap it can allow your skin to form a wave effect before the blade depending on the pressure applied for more efficentcy.
My mild razors I like them to have a little more blade feel so I like to use the Kai SS blade which is 9/1000 of inch wider than a Gillette Astra SP blade or 4.5/1000 of a inch per side. Because the Kai blade is arced when tightened in the razor you might gain a 1-2/1000 of inch in blade exposure.
It sounds like you enjoy mild razors, I have a RR GC.84P and I consider it a tame mid range IMO & I also have a Yaqi 316 tile head razor which is mild & similar to the Henson design to me and will experimenting tomorrow with a Kai SS blade in it, I like mid range razors mostly and some mild razors also.
YY KAI SS DE Blade Kai .871inch wide Astra SP .862 wide-2.jpg
Have some great shaves!
 
One thing I've noticed is that the mild Henson has a blade gap of .68 and so does the Game Changer .68P that I have. The Medium Henson has a blade gap of .85, about the same as the Game Changer .84P. However, the Hensons are a little more efficient and far smoother and more comfortable to shave with. I wouldn't know this except for trial and error with many blade types. What combination of factors is at work, here?
It would seem you are still hung up on blade gap when comparing razors which is basically useless considering the geometry of those 2 razors. For example, I have the Titanium Blackbird which has a blade gap of .58 and although it is probably not as comfortable, (debatable depending on who you ask), as the Henson or GC I can guarantee it is much more efficient than them many times over!! Blade gap isn't everything as most everyone that's responded to your OP has said.... There's much more to look at....
 
I will throw in a few personal observations. Hopefully I am not a freak of nature so this should apply to others.

There are 6 factors that seem to make a difference for me assuming a correctly prepped beard. Blade gap, exposure, rigidity, weight, balance and the blade itself.

To get a smooth shave, I look for rigidity and minimal to neutral exposure. I also look for a blade known to be smooth. None of the other factors matter for this.

To get a close shave, I look for blade gap, exposure and a sharp blade. Keep in mind, the more exposure you want the less smooth this will be. There is a relationship between gap and exposure but it differs based on the geometry of the head.

I generally don’t like irritation or cuts so that puts an upper limit on the sharpness of the blade and exposure. This is also where weight and balance come in. If these are off then you get too much pressure which causes the razor to behave as though it had more exposure than it does.

My suggestion is to pick a well respected blade like the gsb, platinum or Feather and then buy an adjustable like a progress to play with some of the variables like gap and exposure to find the sweet spot for you. Generally once you find that spot, then if that spot is a higher setting on the progress, rigidity is not a big factor for you using that blade if you are good with the smoothness and irritation.

Hope this helps as a general framework.

I think this is a key point (I added the bold) you can really tighten this bugger down. Per Henson web page:


“Our blade exposure and blade angle are precisely machined to tolerances as tight as 0.0002".

“This is what gives you an absolutely smooth and pleasant shave.”

I think the other key for me is the angle is almost intuitive. I ordered the mild accidentally, but I found it to be pleasantly aggressive.

I also found I needed to guide it a bit more, as in pull it in the direction you want it to go (note “pull it not push it or putting pressure on the the blade). I did one shave with the ASP, it wasn’t a bad shave by any means but I knew this was built for a sharp blade. I put it aside for a few days growth to, well ya know grow. I threw a Feather (my first experience with a Feather blade and got an excellent BBS shave.

It’s almost like just shave like you would with a disposable razor, just a little slower.
 
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One thing I've noticed is that the mild Henson has a blade gap of .68 and so does the Game Changer .68P that I have. The Medium Henson has a blade gap of .85, about the same as the Game Changer .84P. However, the Hensons are a little more efficient and far smoother and more comfortable to shave with. I wouldn't know this except for trial and error with many blade types. What combination of factors is at work, here?
This has been said already, but I will repeat it: blade gap is way overrated as a metric for razor performance. Comparing razors by gap is only meaningful if all other parameters are the same; in other words, if comparing otherwise geometrically identical plates and caps. It is rare for gap to be the only variable; even the variations within a particular brand and model will have at least slightly different specs on exposure, for example, in addition to gap. So gap, by itself, doesn't really tell you much, if anything. You see it quoted by razor manufacturers mostly because it is easily measured.

Razors that I find comfortable and smooth are usually those that have small, or even neutral, exposure, and relatively large gaps. An overlooked factor, IMO, is the amount of blade "reveal", by which I mean the amount of blade extending beyond the clamping point. Another way to express this is the distance from the edge that the cap and plate clamp the blade: less is better. This correlates, at least somewhat, with exposure, but you won't find it quoted on any spec sheet.

Minuscule reveal is, IMO, the key to the outstanding performance of the Henson. You can see it with the naked eye: the blade reveal beyond the edge of the cap is tiny. Look at your example comparison, the GC, and you'll see a very significant difference. To the eye, the reveal on the Henson appears so small it looks like it wouldn't shave at all. But combining this small reveal with very slight positive exposure and a fairly large gap yields the outstanding performance that you have experienced.

That, I believe, is the "combination of factors at work, here".

BTW, though we are in the minority here, I share your opinion of the GC .68. I find it a a somewhat rough shaver, even though its gap is the same as the silky smooth Henson Mild.
 
This has been said already, but I will repeat it: blade gap is way overrated as a metric for razor performance. Comparing razors by gap is only meaningful if all other parameters are the same; in other words, if comparing otherwise geometrically identical plates and caps. It is rare for gap to be the only variable; even the variations within a particular brand and model will have at least slightly different specs on exposure, for example, in addition to gap. So gap, by itself, doesn't really tell you much, if anything. You see it quoted by razor manufacturers mostly because it is easily measured.

Razors that I find comfortable and smooth are usually those that have small, or even neutral, exposure, and relatively large gaps. An overlooked factor, IMO, is the amount of blade "reveal", by which I mean the amount of blade extending beyond the clamping point. Another way to express this is the distance from the edge that the cap and plate clamp the blade: less is better. This correlates, at least somewhat, with exposure, but you won't find it quoted on any spec sheet.

Minuscule reveal is, IMO, the key to the outstanding performance of the Henson. You can see it with the naked eye: the blade reveal beyond the edge of the cap is tiny. Look at your example comparison, the GC, and you'll see a very significant difference. To the eye, the reveal on the Henson appears so small it looks like it wouldn't shave at all. But combining this small reveal with very slight positive exposure and a fairly large gap yields the outstanding performance that you have experienced.

That, I believe, is the "combination of factors at work, here".

BTW, though we are in the minority here, I share your opinion of the GC .68. I find it a a somewhat rough shaver, even though its gap is the same as the silky smooth Henson Mild.
Those are some good points. I am well aware that blade gap is not the only factor. I'm just trying to find something quantifiable and comparable. Theoretically, if I could know the blade gap, the blade angle, blade exposure, blade clamp/rigidity, blade reveal, and blade angle, as well as the safety bar/comb dimensions and finish, I should be able to compare razors and know which is best.

As to the Game Changer, I find the .68 and .84 fairly harsh or rough and very blade sensitive. I get a good shave but only with the right blade (really only one). The Henson and the DE89 don't really care about blades, much. They will shave well with most blades. The DE89 favors the Feather blade, for sure.
 
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