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Mantic59′s 4 Tips For Shaving Success With The Merkur Progress Razor

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It is no secret that my favorite DE razor is the adjustable Merkur Progress.  I’ve often said that it will have to be pried out of my cold, dead hand.  I have plenty of razors in my collection but I keep on coming back to the Progress.  Here is how I use it with success.

Shaving With The Merkur Progress

First, like some other razors (such has the Bakelite Slant) there is no need for a high performance blade.  My personal favorite blade for the Progress is the quite middle-of-the-road Israeli-made Personna, also sold under the Crystal brand.  Derby blades–which many people dislike–also work well for me in a Progress.  High performance blades such as Feathers will work in the Progress but for me but there’s something about the combination that makes it less than ideal.

Second, rest a finger on razor head when installing a blade.  This will prevent the head from shifting slightly, causing an asymetrical blade exposure on the sides of the razor.

Third, grip the razor so that its angle is more parallel to the skin.  Unlike most other razors the Progress bends the blade quite dramatically so if you are used to another razor you will have to adjust your hold accordingly.  I now find this grip more “natural” than othe DE razors (and similar to Single Edge razors like vintage Injector or GEM units, even some modern cartridge razors).

Forth, start mild.  I always make my first reduction pass on a low setting: about “2” on my Progress (remember, Progress razor settings are not necessarily consistant across all units manufactured) will comfortably reduce the worst of my stubble.  Then I raise the setting for the rest of the shave (usually about “3” or so).  If I need to do a “touch & cut” cleanup I will drop it back down to a much milder setting.

This post originally was published on the Village Barber website blog.


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

24 thoughts on “Mantic59′s 4 Tips For Shaving Success With The Merkur Progress Razor”

  1. Pingback: Merkur Progress Review - Old School Adjustable

  2. It is an easy and safe razor to use with very little learning curve, and not fussy with blades. I have used Kai blades in it with good results, the first razor of the ones I own in which they seem to perform well. I seem to do the first pass at 3 or 3 and 1/2 and then go down to 2 or 2 and 1/2. I have actually bought the Mergress version, and I like the weight, balance and how it seats in my hand very much, even if it is the shortest of the razors I own. Last, but not least, it is very elegant and the finish is flawless.

  3. Dear Sharpologist- I beg to differ slightly with your approach to using the Merkur Progress, but I realize everybody’s face and beard are different. I use a relatively higher setting (around 2 or 2.5) for my first two passes in the direction of beard growth, then use the very lowest setting for my final pass mostly opposite the direction of beard growth. This seems logical, as shaving “against the grain” would seem to have a greater potential for irritation than would shaving “with the grain”. If you have not already, I humbly suggest you try it my way. I get miraculously close and comfortable shaves with it. In any case, I find the Merkur Progress the very best razor out there. I am glad you suggested it (without recommending it). I tried it your way, with the lower setting used on the first passes, and it did not really reduce the beard much, seemed like a waste of valuable shaving time. Best wishes!

  4. I got a Progress after years of happy shaving with a DE89 and Feather blades. Started at setting “4” – ouch! Went to “3.5” — ouch!
    Then noticed that the blade was more exposed on one edge, than on the other (as you warn). Fixed that. And reduced the setting to “2” (as you suggest) —
    . . . I had a nice shave with the Progress this morning.
    Thank you!
    I measured the DE89 blade locating pin diameter against the Progress. They’re both 4.8 mm. But I’ve never had a problem with the DE89. Perhaps the design of the Progress lets the whole razor-holding assembly shift, relative to the blade guards.

    1. Charles, I shaved this morning for the first time with the Progress and I also believe that the razor-holding assembly can shift, relative to the blade guards. fortunately I always check the blade alignment before I shave, so I quickly and easily repositioned the head assembly and got a good clean shave…

  5. Unlike the Merkur Futur which stops at setting 6, the Progress doesn’t stop at setting 5 (assuming by some miracle that your Progress is calibrated correctly).
    The adjustment handle turns around 2 and a half times before the top cap thread loosens, so you can actually shave at would be would setting 10. I’m wondering how many Progress users do shave at a setting past #5?
    I should add that despite the asymmetrical blade problems with my top cap along with the calibration error (my long handled Progress starts at setting #5!), I still get an excellent shave with the razor.

  6. After struggling to obtain comfortable close shaves with my Progress (mine zeros at the+ btw) using Astra and Persona Blue (usa) blades, I was ready to give up. Rea the comment about the high end blades not being ideal, and remembered the Shark Chrome pack I tossed in the drawer. Damn, first fantastic shave I’ve had with my Progress….. BBS and comfortable with no blood by applying the slightest pressure with my index finger to the shaft. After the past few days, it might be my favorite razor combined with the Shark Super Chrome blades. (I have a vintage Slim and the Parker I started with as well).

  7. Ive been using Progress for almost 4 months now. My way:
    start with higher number 3-4 and dial it down 2-2.5. I tried the other way; starting with lower and than increasing the aggressiveness. Too much irritation.
    One thing I have learned is that type of blades kinda goes out the window. Over the course of 2 months, I logged every shave /blade type. Some blades worked great, some were just too dull. BUT, since I started changing the aggressiveness, blades which were dull for me now work great.
    I think depending of shave and hair growth, blade brand does not matter as long as you play with the dial and adjust it.

  8. Tried it your way going up between passes. I believe you are correct. It was a smoother shave. End result may have been equal but it was more comfortable using your technique

  9. Hello Mark,
    great post as always. The one thing that you have not addressed is the fact that you can “zero” your Merkur Progress. What do I mean by this?
    All of the threads on the adjustable shaft of the Progress are the same, but is the base setting dot directly above the +, or somewhere else? How do I “zero” my Progress?
    “My Way”
    1) Have no blade in your Progress and tighten it down to where it stops. If the setting is not where the + aligns directly below the dot, then you need to adjust it.
    2) Loosen your Progress two complete turns, and grab the shaving head firmly.
    3) Turn the handle, only while gripping the head, in the proper direction so as to align the dot with the +. This may take a few tries before you succeed. You need to re-tighten it each adjustment to see if it lines up properly.
    4) Once the + aligns with the dot, you now have a “zero’d” razor. Now reinstall your blade.
    I use this as a “baseline zero” due to the fact that I use between two and three different blades, depending on how my facial skin condition is. This way I have a definite setting, and can adjust the blade’s aggressiveness depending on which blade I am using.
    For instance, with a Feather blade, I use setting 4, and with a Merkur blade, I use setting 5. Both settings could be exactly the same angle of the blade, but depending on the thickness of the blade, it’s flexibilty, and sharpness, I get a completely different shave.
    However you wish to “zero” your Progress is up to you, but this is my own general guideline.

  10. I have been using it for about a month and it has become my favorite. It provides a smooth shave. I start out with a one for the first two passes and for the final pass I crank it up to a four. Because of its flexibility it can be used by many people in different ways.

  11. Pingback: Mantic59?s 4 Tips For Shaving Success With The Merkur Progress Razor | rasage

    1. Even holding the top cap, I find the blade and the cap to be asymmetrical. There’s an obvious louder feedback when shaving on the side with the greater blade exposure.

      1. When did you get the razor. I just heard today that Merkur may have tweaked the head design slightly. I will have to buy a new one to see what’s going on!

  12. Thank you so much for this post. I have heard of two techniques for an adjustable. One starts more aggressive and dials it down for the 2nd and 3rd passes. The other is mild for the first pass, with increasing blade gap for later passes. I think the former makes more sense. Feedback?.

  13. Hi Marc,
    Totally agree with these points, with maybe the exception of the last one – I generally start off at about a 4 then dial it down for any further passes, as this would be where I would be likely to get cuts or irritation. Just a thought…

    1. That is how I use it. Works well for me this way, starting on a higher setting then dialing it down

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