Gillette 7 O'Clock Super Platinum (7/22/2020):
I used this blade once during the Personna Red test because I wanted to compare it to the Personna when they were both fresh. Today it felt very smooth and sharp after the worn out Personna and the Gillette Trac II (NOS).
Personna Israeli Red (7/21/2020):
I'm banking the Personna Red after 20 shaves. I think it was a truly great blade up to around 17-18 shaves. It deteriorated rapidly after that. I wanted to go 21 shaves so I could say it lasted 3 weeks but between the poor shave and the discomfort with this morning's shave I decided that wasn't fair. The blade was done and I'm calling it. For the record, at the end of life it was still a better shave and more comfortable than a new Trac II (NOS) cartridge.
Gillette Trac II (NOS) do over with fresh cartridge (7/16/2020):
After my miserable experience using the unopened NOS Trac II and included cartridge I wasn't looking forward to trying this again. My handle and first cartridge were circa 1987. I went ahead and ordered a package of NOS Trac II cartridges manufactured in 1990 and gave a fresh cartridge a spin. This time it went well. I'm assuming I had dud cartridge or just screwed up. The new cartridge seemed much sharper and smoother. I used A&E Kaizen, only did 3.5 passes and didn't try for BBS. I ended up with a CCS but with no discomfort. I think my technique is probably a big reason why I didn't get BBS. All in all I was happy with this shave for test purposes and will move forward using this cartridge. I will admit I'm looking forward to going back to my Leaf tomorrow. Even with a Personna Red with 15 head shaves on the odometer, I'm sure I'll get a closer and more comfortable shave then with the Trac II and original Trac II cartridge. My first "real" Trac II shave was effective but I wouldn't call it enjoyable.
Gillette Trac II (NOS) first shave (7/7/2020):
Right out of the chute I discovered several flaws in my testing. I don't know how to use this razor and I currently only have one cartridge. It took me 5 passes and a ton of buffing to get BBS. When I applied witch hazel I actually got a little sting which almost never happens. As I sit here typing my head burns a little. I'm concerned that I may have already worn out the blade and will need to source more and test several cartridges to give it a fair shake. I've never used a Trac II razor or its cartridge before. I was excited to take it for a drive. It felt crazy light and it took me awhile to get used to the angle and to applying so much pressure. My biggest surprise was I had trouble getting the hair around my ears. I was expecting to have issues with the razor plugging since I take such long strokes but this was not an issue. I have to say I'm surprised that these razors took the world by storm and displaced DEs so quickly. Maybe it will grow on me.
I initially followed my normal head routine for a DE or Leaf. For my first pass I applied lather, did one long stroke from the base of my neck up and around my right ear, did the same for my left, then did long strokes from the base of my neck to my forehead. I could tell this hadn't worked very well.
For my second pass I was still following my normal routine. I lathered, touched up around my ears and then did long strokes from forehead back to the base of my neck. At this point I could really tell I was making progress. The blade only seems to work well against the grain.
Third pass was still my routine pattern. I lathered, touched up around ears and then went up and across my head, right to left, stopping just passed the middle of my skull and then repeating the process from the other side. The areas I hit I hit well and they were fine. I just missed so many spots I decided on another pass.
Fourth pass diverged from my day to day routine. I lathered, hit the ears again and then went kitty corner to the middle of my head and repeated from the other side. I only do this when I'm struggling with a blade or razor. I still had left quite a few patches.
I don't remember ever doing a fifth pass before. Fifth pass was lather and then I just did my entire head going only against the grain. At this point I knocked most of it down to BBS.
Finally back to my normal routine, I slicked up with water and residual soap and started buffing. I had to do a lot of work around my ears. I was expecting the narrow cartridge to excel here but I ended up doing quite a bit of work to get everything cleaned up. I also struggled with a slight flat spot on my the back of my head. I buffed and buffed to get it smooth. I also struggled more than usual with my other normal trouble spots.
For my next shave I'm going to just hit it against the grain from the start.
Update: I managed to source an NOS unopened 10 pack from eBay at $2.56 per cartridge so I'll be able to give the Trac II a do over. A little steep for 35 year old blades but worth it to keep the experiment on trac. See what I did there? It's a pun.
Update: 6 1/2 hours after the shave I had to hit my head with a couple of sprays of witch hazel. I don't remember the last time I had this much burn. It wasn't bad to start with but kind of got annoying an hour ago. What else to expect with a 5.5 pass shave. It's still BBS though.
Update: I decided that I'm going to limit the passes to three full passes and cleanup/buffing (3.5). Five and one half passes (5.5) with the Trac II was just too much. If a razor can't provide a BBS in 3.5 passes then it just needs to be graded appropriately. I may even have to just do one pass with cartridges and just live without a BBS.
Personna Israeli Red (7/1/2020):
This was my first time using Personna Reds. I was surprised how much smoother they got after the first two shaves. I was very impressed with the consistency of their feel and the length of time I maintained BBS.