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Very mild yet efficient non boutique razor recommendation for a long term DE user with reactive/sensitive skin

The story so far...

I switched to DE shaving quite young, and started with my dad's Super Adjustable 109 (if I had to guess), which I'll now sometimes borrow for a shave or two when visiting. Whenever I've returned to it, I've found it nick-prone, because lower number settings seem to have more blade exposure (but less blade gap), where higher number settings seem to have less blade exposure (but more blade gap). The only thing that helped was shaving oil, but shaves always felt unusually risky with this razor. Maybe the specific example of one that I had access to is a weirdly aggressive outlier, because aren't these supposed to be mild razors?

Then I got a Merkur 15c, and stuck with that exclusively for over a decade--many years of great shaves. During this same period of time, I once had the chance to borrow a Merkur HD, and I remember enjoying how easy it was to get a DFS+ with it.

Then, during a period of time when I had to shave every day, I noticed that to get the degree of smoothness needed for my work, my 15c ended up removing enough skin that the whiskers became visible. No weepers though. So, too many passes, every day, for five days was too much? Yes, I sometimes need two weeks or more of daily BBS for work. So I devised an experiment, and tried Razorock's Old, SLOC, the DE89 clone one, and German 37, as well as Rockwell's 6c. Spoiler: the Old ended up being the second best

It took five years to try out blade+razor combos, and to give each combo a fair chance (accounting for how it takes time to adapt when switching between razors) Finally, the Rockwell 6C's plate #2 with a Nacette emerged as the winner for consistency. There's only one problem: the head is too bulky for the size of my face, and as a consequence it also consistently misses single whiskers in horrifying spots like right next to the septum, which ends up looking like a migrating nose hair. Sure, it's possible to work around this, but that results in shaves with symptoms of overstretched skin (weepers, irritation, red patches that last for days). I have genuinely reactive and/or sensitive skin.

So I'm looking for something that shaves like a Rockwell #2 plate (or up to an imaginary #2.5 plate) with Nacettes, and it has to not be a boutique razor. In terms of price point, that means a limit of ~75USD. Given then problem areas, I also suspect that a super wide head razor that covers the tabs wouldn't work either, but I'm not sure.

Given all of this, what do you recommend?

P.S. I retained a small assortment of blades from my experiments, so am able to do try razor+blade combos that might approximate what another razor would shave like.
I have not tried the Rockwell 6C or 6S, but one you might consider is the brass Pearl Blaze. It has a similar head design to the DE89/R89 but seems to be a step up in efficiency.
I will second the Gamechanger 0.68.

If you look at the Merkur 34c, try and discover whether the version you liked was made with the old tooling (up until about 5-6 years ago) or the new tooling (looks similar, but the razor is milder and no longer has a brass thread post).

The de89 clone you tried may have been more aggressive than an actual de89. You should try the original if possible - you can just buy the head only for very little money.

Incidentally, have you tried just shaving the tiny stragglers under the nose with sideways strokes? I have many razors and have no problem getting under the nose with any of them, including things with large heads like GEM razors, by using a little sideways stroke on each side of the septum. I have to do this to hit those spots just under the nostrils and this seems to be the only way to do it - size of the razor head isn't really a factor.
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How about a Henson with the mild plate? Or for a little more money (but not too much) a Karve Overlander in brass or aluminum. Or if you want something really nice a Lambda Athena. These are all very gentle but efficient, and among the best razors you can get, that you’ll be happy with for a lifetime.

And I also recommend the Bic Metal disposable razors. Shop around because prices vary, but Amazon might best source. The cost per razor is about the same as a DE blade. These are marvellous razors and extremely gentle. You would need to apply a bit more pressure than usual to get a really close shave since they are so lightweight, but you can do it with these and not hurt your skin.
Razorock Lupo 0.58. The design specifically addresses the problem with stubble right under the nostrils in a way that none of the others does.

Take a look at a photo of it and you will see what I mean.
I have used all 3 versions of the aluminum Henson, and the only one that worked well enough for me to recommend it is the +++ ("aggressive"). IMO there are better options for the price. But as they say, YMMV and all that...
The Lupo .58 has a head design the allows one to get right into all the nooks and crannies but it is a significant step up in blade feel and efficiency compared to the Rockwell no.2 plate so it might not be ideal.

As you already enjoy the Merkur closed comb head design I would suggest you get a 34C (no shave-den is truly complete without one 🙂) and put a Kai blade in it. That will beef up the aggression and efficiency a bit.


I shaved a fortune
What about a Merkur Progress?

Very mild at lower settings and pretty efficient at higher ones. At least for me.
I haven't used mine since I got my Overlander, but the Overlander was nearly twice the price so...

Be well
I keep putting off trying my Merkur Progress razors. I have a short handled one.... and an XL I have for our son's backup. I also have the Mergress in both handle lengths. I really need to try the Mergress razors. They are the only adjustable razors I own but the Mergress, Ogress and the regular Progress razors show up in so many SOTD photos here.
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