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I think we need to talk about blades…

I have been intrigued by the discussion on various razor blades. I believe the acronym YMMV probably applies more to blades than any other aspect of shaving.

I propose the following thesis: razor blades, regardless of the brand are equally effective.

Really…how much of our blade choices are really based on myth or good marketing and how much is based on actual performance? I sincerely doubt (and I have read nothing to the contrary) that one razor is mechanically sharper than another. If I shave with one blade and because of poor preparation or inattentiveness I nick myself I could easily cast this blade aside and curse its very existence. Alternatively, I may shave with a poorly rated blade and get a great shave.

I have tried a variety of “good” and “bad” blades…and have found absolutely no difference. The quality of my shave depends more on me and my shaving process rather than the blade itself.

There are so many factors that contribute to a great or terrible shave, including, but not limited to: adequate or inadequate preparation, the razor, inconsistent pressure, soft or hard water, good/bad lather, unique genetic make-up of my skin, wind direction, day of the week, among others.

What is your experience with blades? Are they all the same or do you believe one is actually better than another?
 

Toothpick

Needs milk and a bidet!
I wholeheartedly believe one is better than the other. If 'equally effective' simply means every razor blade will cut hair than yes that's true. But if 'equally effective' means every blade is equally comfortable and sharp than I do not believe that at all.

There are some Chinese blades that are horrific.

I DO think that your prep, razor and technique play a big part in each blades effectiveness and comfort level. But when you eliminate all the variables and only change the blade you will soon find out that every blade is not the same. I have done it many times.

So I guess once again...YMMV is the only winner here :laugh:
 
Most good quality blades are pretty equally effective - generally speaking. That said, a lot depends on the razor. Recently, I tried the highly rated Kai blade from Japan. With an aggressive razor, shaving was exasperating; however, when I switched to a mild razor, it a different experience. Try a Personna Med on a mild and aggressive razor - and I have a feeling your feelings will change a bit.

That said, most shavers have never tried a "bad" blade, like the notoriously bad Chinese-made blades you might have heard about. I wouldn't want to wish one of these blades on you; let's be thankful that they rarely show up on the import market.
 
Some blades are sharper and some are Smoother to me. Others that are beloved here don't work on my mug and vice versa.
 
I think all blades are different enough, but possibly just to the extent of where they are from? Like, if you find your favorite blade is say, a Gillette Platinum or something, you're bound to do alright if you just stick with things from that plant. I just put an order for soaps and a razor in at Maggard's, and since they don't carry my Nacet's, I went with Silver Blue's. Whatever blade I order, I think I'll just keep it to the St. Pete plant in Russia.
 

TexLaw

Fussy Evil Genius
As far as trying a blade goes, I'll admit that reputation has a lot to do with what I choose.

However, when choosing along blades I've tried, it's all about performance. At that point, reputation and marketing go out the window.
 
I've tried a lot of blades when I had an EJ razor and many were similar. I couldn't tell a lot of them apart and at that time I would have shared your opinion (with some exceptions).

After switching to a much more aggressive ATT razor the blades are much more of a factor. The differences in blades became way more obvious with this razor, so as a result of this experience I'd now disagree with your original statement.

Try as many different razors and blades as you can get your hands on and see what you think.

Also, Poikkeus is right about those Chinese blades as they are absolutely terrible in every razor. I couldn't even get through one pass with a Flying Eagle Chinese blade. They are just sharp enough to grab the hair and pull it out root and all but not sharp enough to actually cut through it. One Chinese blade single handedly disproves your entire theory.
 
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Point well taken. I was referring more to the 10-20 mainstream blades commonly discussed on the forums...not the fringe blades that should never have made it to market in the first place.
 
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Most good quality blades are pretty equally effective - generally speaking. That said, a lot depends on the razor. Recently, I tried the highly rated Kai blade from Japan. With an aggressive razor, shaving was exasperating; however, when I switched to a mild razor, it a different experience. Try a Personna Med on a mild and aggressive razor - and I have a feeling your feelings will change a bit.

That said, most shavers have never tried a "bad" blade, like the notoriously bad Chinese-made blades you might have heard about. I wouldn't want to wish one of these blades on you; let's be thankful that they rarely show up on the import market.
I checked out your review. Well done and quite interesting. The blind study should tell an interesting story...when will you be posting those results?
 
You say all brands are equally effective. If by that you mean that I can get a close shave with a Derby or a Feather you are correct. If you are saying that there is essentially no difference between a Shark SS and a 7:00 Black, I couldn't disagree more. A poster above also pointed out that certain razors behave differently, and he is absolutely correct. I have spent a lot of time trying to find blades that I can enjoy my shave in any one of my razors. For instance, GSB's give me an awesome, comfortable shave whether in my RRBS or ATT H2. Rapira's on the other hand do a great job in my milder razors, but as I move up the scale in aggression, I find them to grow more and more uncomfortable, to the point of intolerable by the time I hit my ATT S2. Can I get a close shave from any of them? Sure. Do I want to? No.

I have become more and more interested in this the deeper I get into the hobby. I had pretty much picked out four blades that I liked, and picked and chose among them. Recently I started a database where I am tracking 23 commonly used or popular blades. I am using three razors: ATT M2, S2 and H2. I shave three times with each razor, starting with a new blade. I rate every shave for comfort and closeness, and record what soap was used with each shave. I am only using top soaps in my rotation. If I try a new soap, other razor etc., I do not rate the shave. I only count shaves done at home where prep is consistent. I wish I had a way to do it blind, but I figure nine shaves with three blades in three razors is about as thorough as I can get. Plus, the ultimate purpose is to find blades that I really like, no matter what the razor, soap etc... I also do not use the same blade for nine days, I might have a 7:00 yellow in one razor and a Polsilver in the another, and switch back and forth. I am not very far into this, but I can promise you that while closeness doesn't very so much between blades in the same razor, comfort for sure does. The weak link in this is that I am sure if I stuck with one blade for a long period of time I could adapt my technique to vary the mileage to suit my needs.

I am really curious to see how many of the four I had settled on are still at the top when I am done, and maybe take the top tier and do another test blind, similar to Rodmonster's great thread a couple of weeks ago. At this point though it's going to take another eight months or so to fill up the spreadsheet.
 
You say all brands are equally effective. If by that you mean that I can get a close shave with a Derby or a Feather you are correct. If you are saying that there is essentially no difference between a Shark SS and a 7:00 Black, I couldn't disagree more. A poster above also pointed out that certain razors behave differently, and he is absolutely correct. I have spent a lot of time trying to find blades that I can enjoy my shave in any one of my razors. For instance, GSB's give me an awesome, comfortable shave whether in my RRBS or ATT H2. Rapira's on the other hand do a great job in my milder razors, but as I move up the scale in aggression, I find them to grow more and more uncomfortable, to the point of intolerable by the time I hit my ATT S2. Can I get a close shave from any of them? Sure. Do I want to? No.

I have become more and more interested in this the deeper I get into the hobby. I had pretty much picked out four blades that I liked, and picked and chose among them. Recently I started a database where I am tracking 23 commonly used or popular blades. I am using three razors: ATT M2, S2 and H2. I shave three times with each razor, starting with a new blade. I rate every shave for comfort and closeness, and record what soap was used with each shave. I am only using top soaps in my rotation. If I try a new soap, other razor etc., I do not rate the shave. I only count shaves done at home where prep is consistent. I wish I had a way to do it blind, but I figure nine shaves with three blades in three razors is about as thorough as I can get. Plus, the ultimate purpose is to find blades that I really like, no matter what the razor, soap etc... I also do not use the same blade for nine days, I might have a 7:00 yellow in one razor and a Polsilver in the another, and switch back and forth. I am not very far into this, but I can promise you that while closeness doesn't very so much between blades in the same razor, comfort for sure does. The weak link in this is that I am sure if I stuck with one blade for a long period of time I could adapt my technique to vary the mileage to suit my needs.

I am really curious to see how many of the four I had settled on are still at the top when I am done, and maybe take the top tier and do another test blind, similar to Rodmonster's great thread a couple of weeks ago. At this point though it's going to take another eight months or so to fill up the spreadsheet.
Interesting...sounds like a fun project...a labor of love. I hope you post your results so we can all learn something from your experience. While I generally feel most of the common blades are similar, my go-to blade is Astra or Feather...and between those two I really can't tell the difference. I only use cc razors that are generally considered mild...so this likely influences my stance on blades.
 
Well, we've got opinions, and there is data. What small independent blind tests I've seen written up on this site tend to indicate that the observer was NOT able to identify his "favorite" blade in blind tests.

I've not done such test myself because I know good and well that I could not tell one blade from another. I'm one of those who is able to get a fine shave with almost every blade I have tried.

Now...one of the few which didn't work for me was the aforementioned "Flying Eagle." However, note how this blade is referred to as a "Chinese" blade. In this case, the nation of origin is pretty much used as a perjorative, connotation being a preconceived notion of poor quality. Now, logic dictates that any nation which can build atomic bombs and computers and put men in orbit is certainly capable of manufacturing good razor blades. Certainly SOME of all this is in the mind, sure.
 
I propose the following thesis: razor blades, regardless of the brand are equally effective.

Really…how much of our blade choices are really based on myth or good marketing and how much is based on actual performance? I sincerely doubt (and I have read nothing to the contrary) that one razor is mechanically sharper than another. If I shave with one blade and because of poor preparation or inattentiveness I nick myself I could easily cast this blade aside and curse its very existence. Alternatively, I may shave with a poorly rated blade and get a great shave.

I have tried a variety of “good” and “bad” blades…and have found absolutely no difference. The quality of my shave depends more on me and my shaving process rather than the blade itself.

Personally, some blades shave me well for up to two weeks; others are just ok for two or three shaves; still others are not even good enough for one.

Blades certainly differ in many ways: steel composition, hardening and grinding, sharpening, coatings, and cleaning for example. Some of the differences are visible in photos like the ones at http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showth...ith-my-new-microscope-My-Boker-straight-razor. Sharpness is tricky to discuss because there is no rigorous definition as far as I know. Blade makers talk about tip radius, which can be anywhere from about 200-500 nm for a shaving blade. Blade makers also measure FTC (force to cut), which is a pretty good proxy for sharpness in an absolute sense. Maybe blade A requires 1.2 lbf to cut the test block, while blade B only needs 1.1 lbf to cut the same material. Objectively, blade B is sharper than blade A.

But despite all this your thesis may still be precisely true — for you. If all blades cut your prepped beard equally well, then for you they are equally sharp. But the next gent has different hair, different skin, different prep, different razor, etc., and reports a different experience.

When it comes to shaving an individual person, sharpness is relative to your own personal prep, technique, skin, and hair. When we say a blade is sharp or dull, we mean relative to what we are cutting. Often we roll in the idea of longevity too: how long can I keep shaving with the same blade? There too, different gents have different needs and tastes.

In other words, YMMV.
 
As I have mentioned on other posts I tend to be a bit of a minimalist on most aspects of my shaving. I am content with my few razors, my few brushes and a couple of blade choices...soap is my AD. I could probably narrow my blades to either Astra or Feather. I really could not tell the difference among most of the other blades I tried...each gave me a reasonable shave. I do find the blade experiences of others quite interesting. There is always something to learn with this hobby.
 
I respectfully disagree with the OP. I ask a question with no disrespect or anything of the sort but how often do you shave? How thick does your facial hair grow?

For me the first pass is what makes a noticeable difference in the shave. The 2nd pass is a lot harder to decipher the difference between blades, besides the exception of how likely you are to nick yourself, in my opinion. In others words, there is quite a big difference from one blade to the next, for me, in terms of how comfortable a particular blade is. I usually shave with 3+ days growth and I would say I have moderate to heavy growth (not as heavy as some folks). If you have light growth and shave everyday, I think it would be more difficult to tell the difference. Keep in mind I don't do ATG passes, so maybe I'm wrong to assume growth matters, but at the end of the day, blades still perform differently. Keeping all else the same, not all blades are the same. Not all blades are manufactured the same way so it wouldn't make sense if they all felt the exact same.

I think you are going to find that 95% of the people are going to disagree with you, but hey, if all blades feel the same too you, just buy the cheapest ones you can find.
 
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Personally, some blades shave me well for up to two weeks; others are just ok for two or three shaves; still others are not even good enough for one.

Blades certainly differ in many ways: steel composition, hardening and grinding, sharpening, coatings, and cleaning for example. Some of the differences are visible in photos like the ones at http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showth...ith-my-new-microscope-My-Boker-straight-razor. Sharpness is tricky to discuss because there is no rigorous definition as far as I know. Blade makers talk about tip radius, which can be anywhere from about 200-500 nm for a shaving blade. Blade makers also measure FTC (force to cut), which is a pretty good proxy for sharpness in an absolute sense. Maybe blade A requires 1.2 lbf to cut the test block, while blade B only needs 1.1 lbf to cut the same material. Objectively, blade B is sharper than blade A.

But despite all this your thesis may still be precisely true — for you. If all blades cut your prepped beard equally well, then for you they are equally sharp. But the next gent has different hair, different skin, different prep, different razor, etc., and reports a different experience.

When it comes to shaving an individual person, sharpness is relative to your own personal prep, technique, skin, and hair. When we say a blade is sharp or dull, we mean relative to what we are cutting. Often we roll in the idea of longevity too: how long can I keep shaving with the same blade? There too, different gents have different needs and tastes.

In other words, YMMV.

Quite possibly one of the most intelligent lead ups to YMMV, I've ever read. Well written.
 
I couldn't disagree more. The difference between blades is very big for me. I wanted to like a lot of blades I've tried(that's you Lord and Supermax) but they tug and are uncomfortable.
 

Billski

Here I am, 1st again.
I can tolerate many different types of DE razor blades.

Someone PIF'd me 15 seven a.m. blades. Hardly anyone here uses them. I like them.
 
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