January 27, 2013

Merkur Progress Double Edge Razor

Merkur Progress
I introduced the idea of traditional wet shaving awhile ago in this post, which mentions my Mühle R89 double edge (DE) razor. The R89 is a great shaving instrument, and I had been using it exclusively for a long time until RAD (razor acquisition disorder) got the best of me. I don't know why, but I just got an urge to try a different razor. After considering all of the options (it may be hard to believe, but there are a LOT of modern DE razors on the market these days), I decided to buy the Merkur Progress.

The Progress is a two-piece adjustable razor. Everything shown in the first picture represents the handle/base part, and the blade guard or cap part screws into the handle/base part to hold down the razor blade. The ivory colored knob on the bottom of the handle is turned to connect and disconnect the two parts. The knob is also used to adjust the amount of blade exposure, which in turn affects the "aggressiveness" of the razor, which in turn impacts how bloody your face gets after shaving. Thus, hairy Neanderthal types may prefer an aggressive setting (e.g., number 5 on the Progress scale), while those with sensitive skin or people new to double edge razors may find a mild setting more to their liking. Some real experienced black belts of wet shaving will vary the settings of the Progress during a multiple-pass shaving ritual that requires spread sheets, Gantt charts, Venn diagrams, and flow charts for success. Thankfully, Merkur provides multilingual operating instructions for newcomers:

User's Manual
I like the Progress even though I haven't really played around with the adjustable settings too much. I haven't used my R89 razor for awhile, but that doesn't mean that it's been decommissioned. I'll probably return to the R89 after the novelty of the Progress has worn off. I also have my father's adjustable Gillette Slim razor (made in 1967; yes, I researched it) that I use about once a year. I guess RAD hasn't hit me too hard; I only have three DE razors in my collection:

R89, Slim, Progress
Actually, I should probably retract my last sentence because I have acquired a few other DE razors that I eventually sold (on the seedy underground used razor market) or gave away. The following DE razors are no longer with me:
      Merkur 34C Heavy Duty - A sociopath gave this to me as an introduction to traditional wet shaving. I gave up on it prematurely, and Paid It Forward to a friend, who probably hates me now;
      Edwin Jagger DE89 - The razor head parts are identical to the R89 razor. I didn't like the handle; and
      Edwin Jagger Chatsworth Barley - The razor head parts are identical to the R89. It looked like a work of art, but didn't like the massive and heavy handle.

If you are interested in learning more, there are a number of websites and online forums that cover the topic of traditional wet shaving. The Badger & Blade website is a good place to start.


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