Help - New Routine is Still Not Working

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Starbuck1975
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Help - New Routine is Still Not Working

Post by Starbuck1975 » Tue Jan 09, 2007 10:25 pm

I posted a few weeks ago with questions regarding my wet shaving technique and choice of products. Based on the recommendations from that original post, I shifted my routine, but I am still encountering a lot of problems.

Here is the routine:

Start off with a hot shower, I typically wash my face every morning, exfoliating with Neutrogena Razor Defense Face Scrub.

After the shower, I splash some hot water on my face and use Proraso Pre-Post Shave cream to soften my beard.

Using the Proraso bristle brush, I lather up some Proraso shaving cream and apply liberally to my face.

I use a Merkur HD open comb razor with Merkur blades, making sure to shave with the grain on the first pass, lather up again, and then shave across the grain on the second pass.

I finish up with Proraso Balm, and finally Aveeno Ultra Calming Daily Moisturizer.

This routine seemed to be working, and then bam...as if my face doesn't want to cooperate, the old problems started to emerge.

Now here is the problem. Immediately after shaving, I notice little flakes of dry skin sticking out from my face. Similarly, my neck area is almost always red and irritated.

By afternoon, as my 5 oclock shadow starts growing in, I get what appears to be little pimples congregated mostly on my neck...not always, but enough to be a nuisance...I assume these are ingrown hairs, or perhaps razor burn, or maybe a combination of both.

Similarly, my cheeks are typically sore to the touch, and my skin overall feels very dry as the day progresses. Along my cheeks, I have bumps and blemishes, sometimes clear or skin colored. Sometimes these blemishes burst as a pimple would when prompted to, and honestly, I never noticed these blemishes until recently. You really can't see them unless the light hits my face just right, but you can definitely feel them.

I have tried a couple of other creams by obtaining samples at various stores...Art of Shaving, Truefitt & Hill 1805, etc. A couple of observations:

1. The Truefitt & Hill 1805 did work wonders with the sample I used. My face definitely felt softer and better moisturized after shaving. I wonder if the menthol present in the Proraso products is drying out my face? I may switch to Truefitt & Hill to give it a whirl. May stick with the 1805 or try their Ultimate Comfort Shaving Cream on for size. I have also read some great things about Nancy Boy. Apparently, what I need is a cream that provides a lot of cushion and has moisturizing properties. Scent, I am not so much concerned with.

2. Someone recommended conditioner as a pre-shave treatment while showering, but it didn't work all that well. Was wondering if someone could recommend a suitable facial soap or cleanser with solid moisturizing properties that will adequately soften my beard when showering.

3. I need an after shave balm or treatment designed with sensitive skin in mind...that will combat ingrown hairs from getting inflamed, and with moisturizing properties. Any recommendations? Not sure if the Proroso balm or the Aveeno stuff is doing any good.

4. Should I consider a night time routine as well...like I said, my face is very dry and senstive by the end of the day...perhaps a shea or cocoa butter application, or something along those lines?

5. How many days do people typically get out of their blades. It seems that after only two shaves, my Merkur blades are dull and need replacing. Granted, my beard does come in thick and coarse, but I thought Merkur blades were supposed to last a bit longer?

Haven't given up on wet shaving, as even these irritations are mild in comparison to what I was dealing with using cartridge razors.

notthesharpest
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Post by notthesharpest » Tue Jan 09, 2007 10:58 pm

Try one simple change: skip the scrub. Instead of it, wash lightly and quickly with a mild soap. Try that for three days without changing anything else.

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FiReSTaRT
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Post by FiReSTaRT » Tue Jan 09, 2007 10:58 pm

I'm sorry you're still having these issues. I'll try to help you out with some info...
1) T&H 1805 is a great cream. I love it and if it works for you, stick with it. Menthol is a mild irritant and may increase skin sensitivity. You may also want to try Crabtree & Evelyn Sweet Almond Oil cream. I hate their soaps but this cream leaves my skin feeling great.
3) Try Neutrogena Razor Defense. It's cheap enough and it's been leaving my skin soft yet not greasy. If not, Trumpers Coral Skin Food may do the trick but try to get a sample b/c it ain't cheap. No aftershave will prevent ingrowns. Those have to do with your blades and shaving technique.
4) Whatever it is, make it non greasy. You don't want grease to clog your pores. Maybe wash your face using a mild facial soap and then use some non-greasy moisturizer.
5) Some people just have really tough stubble. I've never used Merkur blades but I've had great experiences with Derby blades in my Gillette Tech. You may want to order a sampler pack and experiment.

In any case you may want to let your face rest for a day and try shaving with the grain only for a little while. Even though my skin isn't as sensitive as yours, I let it rest from time to time.
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dasein_geist
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Post by dasein_geist » Tue Jan 09, 2007 11:00 pm

Start off with a hot shower, I typically wash my face every morning, exfoliating with Neutrogena Razor Defense Face Scrub.

After the shower, I splash some hot water on my face and use Proraso Pre-Post Shave cream to soften my beard.

Using the Proraso bristle brush, I lather up some Proraso shaving cream and apply liberally to my face.

I use a Merkur HD open comb razor with Merkur blades, making sure to shave with the grain on the first pass, lather up again, and then shave across the grain on the second pass.

I finish up with Proraso Balm, and finally Aveeno Ultra Calming Daily Moisturizer.


Starbuck1975,

While I claim to be no expert, I may offer a few things for you to try:

First, you may want to try skipping the exfoliation step, prior to your shave. The process of shaving, itself, exfoliates the skin, making your extra step redundant at best, irritating at worst. Like wise with the Proraso Balm and Aveeno after the shave. While an after-shave or balm can be very soothing, you may want to pick one or the other - at least as an immediate follow-up. I typically use either just an aftershave or witch hazel. If I later (an hour or two) find my skin dry, only then will I apply a lotion, like the Aveeno; but, only on an as needed basis.

Second, many forum posters have reported mild irritation from Proraso products. If you can, you may want to try a "milder" soap/cream, and use that - alone - in place of your pre-shave treatment. Later up, and apply your wet hot towel over that for a couple of min. (re wetting the towel as needed), rinse, re-lather, and shave.

Third, the irritation you have described - once you eliminate a reaction the the Proraso products - may be related to either blade angle or applying too much pressure. You should be applying almost no pressure (only enough to keep the razor in contact with your face (letting the weight of the razor head do the actual cutting - if it helps, you can think of actually using negative pressure whereby, you actually "lift up" on the razor head, trying to "float" the razor's blade just over the skin's surface). Likewise, try and resist the temptation to get every last bit of stubble. Over time, this will come. For now, you should focus on getting a comfortable shave, over a "closest" shave.

Fourth, you may want to experiment with various stretching of the skin, on the area you are shaving. Your goal is to provide the "flattest" surface for the razor to glide over. This has, perhaps, been the greatest advice I was ever given - one which VASTLY improved not only the comfort, but quality of my shaves.

Finally, if all else fails - if you are able to do so - let you face rest for a day or two (if possible, don't shave at all. At the very least, do one WTG pass, and call it "good enough"). This will help you face to heal, and provide you with a "clean slate" for which to try the previous suggestions.

Best of luck, and report back on your findings...
- Sean -

"What am I afraid of? I'll tell you: a feather. that's right, a feather...did I say it was a poison feather?"
-- Jack Handey [Deep Thoughts]

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Post by timc » Tue Jan 09, 2007 11:03 pm

1. It sounds like the Proraso isn't agreeing with your face. I think it would be a good idea to give something else a try for a while.

2. I just use soap in the shower, and that works for me. Of course, YMMV.

3. Have you tried the Nivea sensitive aftershave balm? It's relatively inexpensive and readily available (at least, it is for me, so I assume it is for everyone).

4. I don't have a special night time routine, but my skin doesn't behave the same as yours. :-)

5. I change my blades once a week. It does depend on how coarse your beard is though.
- Tim -
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notthesharpest
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Post by notthesharpest » Tue Jan 09, 2007 11:13 pm

I don't think there's any indication (yet) of Proraso not agreeing with his face. Let him try not rubbing broken glass into his skin beforehand, and see what happens.

If you change two things at once, then you don't know which one made the difference.

(note: I know it isn't really broken glass, I was just trying to be dramatic. Sorry.) :)

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Post by enlightenment » Wed Jan 10, 2007 1:44 am

I see the same thing that everyone else has pointed out. Skip the scrub. I use to do the same thing, then once i realized that the act of shaving alone exfoliates te skin i skipped the daily scrub. I find regular soap drys out my skin. One of my cousins turned me on to Aveeno foaming cleanser. It's a very gentle cleanser and has helped me out quite a bit.

As for aftershave balms, i've had a lot of success with L'Occitane CADE Afltershave Balm. Also give Thayer's witch hazel a try immediately after you shave. I use their medicated super hazel after i rinse my face with cold water. i rub it against the grain in a circular motion to try to expose any hairs that may have been cut too close. Once that has dried i apply a small amount of the L'Occitane balm in the same sort of manner.

Another cause of the irritation may simply be a factor of trying to shave too close. I would try backing off a little bit on the closeness. I only do one pass with my feather artist club. it gets me close enough to last all day. it's not bbs, but it looks it. i can pretty much guarantee that no one will notice if you don't have a bbs shave. Your face will feel much better this way too. Your face is most likely sore because it is raw.


In summation,

1. Aveeno Gentle Foam cleanser
2. Light one pass shave
3. Super Hazel (rubbed against the grain to lift hairs)
4. L'Occitane CADE Aftershave Balm (applied in same manner as witch hazel)

Hope that helps.

- Vincent

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Post by notthesharpest » Wed Jan 10, 2007 2:30 am

Vincent - don't advise him "in summation" to buy all new stuff while he's at it. What he's got is probably just fine, in fact he's using too many things already.

Starbuck1975
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Post by Starbuck1975 » Wed Jan 10, 2007 9:30 am

All,

Thank you for the suggestions. A couple of notes on what I tried this morning:

1. Skipped the exfoliating facial wash scrub, but chose to still use the Proraso pre/post shave, as I do need something to soften my beard a bit.

2. Used my last packet of T&H 1840 as the cream.

3. Went back to shaving in the shower, as opposed to at the sink. One problem I was having with shaving at the sink was that my face was drying out considerably. The steam from the shower definitely made things a bit better, and kept the lather nice and warm.

4. Now here is the thing on technique. I know most say not to apply any pressure, but if I let the razor glide across my skin, as recommended, some of my stubble simply pushes the razor off my face...if I don't apply a little pressure, I don't cut any whiskers...of course, this might be contributing to my taking off a whole lot of skin as well. Will still have to play with technique a bit to find a balance. I do get better results on my cheek and jawline then I do on my neck. For whatever reason, after my first pass with the grain on my neck, if I even attempt across or against the grain on subsequent passes, I get some major irritation...may have to accept that my neck will never be baby butt smooth...would prefer a little stubble to ingrown hair irritation and blemishes.

5. Only chose to use the Proraso after shave balm this morning. Will save the Aveeno moisturizer for before bed.

Needless to say, there was some improvement, and with the exception of some irritation lingering from yesterday, there was no new irritation...face didn't feel as tight or dry after shaving either.


I chose to post this time, as I am close to needing a replenishment on most of my products, and as someone else pointed out, I might be using a whole lot of too much. What I might do is the following:

1. Find a mild soap to wash my face, and take the Proraso pre-post shave out of the routine.
2. Switch to a better cream...as I am having some luck with T&H, may go with that for my next cream purchase.
3. Try a different after shave balm.

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dasein_geist
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Post by dasein_geist » Wed Jan 10, 2007 10:25 am

Starbuck1975,

It sounds like you are on the "right track" to discovering a technique that works for you.

As you keep at it, your face will eventually "adapt" to your methods, and your technique will improve. This will, undoubtedly, lead to both closer and more comfortable shaves.

Best of luck...
- Sean -

"What am I afraid of? I'll tell you: a feather. that's right, a feather...did I say it was a poison feather?"
-- Jack Handey [Deep Thoughts]

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Post by notthesharpest » Wed Jan 10, 2007 10:47 am

The command to use "no pressure" feels true to many people, especially if they're used to cartridge razors - but as you have found, it isn't literally true.

There is another possibility - you could be mixing you shaving cream a little too thick, making it hard to shave. Is your razor fairly easy to rinse, or does it take some effort to get the residue off of it?

Starbuck1975
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Post by Starbuck1975 » Wed Jan 10, 2007 11:33 am

There is another possibility - you could be mixing you shaving cream a little too thick, making it hard to shave. Is your razor fairly easy to rinse, or does it take some effort to get the residue off of it?

The cream is definitely thick, and takes a few shakes to come off the razor...that, and because I am using an open comb razor, the cream will occasionally clog the comb, which then requires rinsing.

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Post by notthesharpest » Wed Jan 10, 2007 11:48 am

Well, it will need rinsing for sure - if it shakes right off then it's too thin - but if it's really sticky and hard to rinse, try adding a little bit more water to your lather.

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Post by Joe Lerch » Wed Jan 10, 2007 11:49 am

I don't know what you did before or if you have ever successfully done wet shaving.

I think what you're seeing is unusual enough that you should see a dermatologist before doing any more. If he can rule out a skin condition, my suggestion would be to eliminate everything and simplify.

Start out with a good soak in the shower and go right to a gentle shave. If there's still a problem, drop the Proraso and go to something simple, like Palmolive brushless. That eliminates everything except the razor. Concentrate on good technique and gentlem shaving with reduction.

If you get down to this basic state and still have problems come back and describe them in detail.
Joe

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Re: Help - New Routine is Still Not Working

Post by Blue As A Jewel » Wed Jan 10, 2007 1:30 pm

Starbuck1975 wrote:Here is the routine:

Start off with a hot shower, I typically wash my face every morning, exfoliating with Neutrogena Razor Defense Face Scrub.
Your skin type may be too sensitive to scrub and shave on a daily basis. If you really want to try the scrub save it for the summer months...otherwise skip it altogether.

After the shower, I splash some hot water on my face and use Proraso Pre-Post Shave cream to soften my beard.
Fine

Using the Proraso bristle brush, I lather up some Proraso shaving cream and apply liberally to my face.
Fine

I use a Merkur HD open comb razor with Merkur blades, making sure to shave with the grain on the first pass, lather up again, and then shave across the grain on the second pass.
Ok

I finish up with Proraso Balm, and finally Aveeno Ultra Calming Daily Moisturizer.
Ok

Now here is the problem. Immediately after shaving, I notice little flakes of dry skin sticking out from my face. Similarly, my neck area is almost always red and irritated.

By afternoon, as my 5 oclock shadow starts growing in, I get what appears to be little pimples congregated mostly on my neck...not always, but enough to be a nuisance...I assume these are ingrown hairs, or perhaps razor burn, or maybe a combination of both.

Similarly, my cheeks are typically sore to the touch, and my skin overall feels very dry as the day progresses. Along my cheeks, I have bumps and blemishes, sometimes clear or skin colored. Sometimes these blemishes burst as a pimple would when prompted to, and honestly, I never noticed these blemishes until recently. You really can't see them unless the light hits my face just right, but you can definitely feel them.

These are signs of over-shaving or shaving too aggressively. Remember a minimal blade angle. The little bit of skin you are seeing means you are cutting skin not hair.

I have tried a couple of other creams by obtaining samples at various stores...Art of Shaving, Truefitt & Hill 1805, etc. A couple of observations:

1. The Truefitt & Hill 1805 did work wonders with the sample I used. My face definitely felt softer and better moisturized after shaving. I wonder if the menthol present in the Proraso products is drying out my face? I may switch to Truefitt & Hill to give it a whirl. May stick with the 1805 or try their Ultimate Comfort Shaving Cream on for size. I have also read some great things about Nancy Boy. Apparently, what I need is a cream that provides a lot of cushion and has moisturizing properties. Scent, I am not so much concerned with.

You can get a really good shave with most creams or soaps. What you need to do however is improve your blade technique. In terms of cushion and moisturizing - the NB and UCC are both very good - so if you are going to be buying something new anyway you might want to consider these. Also, I'm not sure if the menthol in the Proraso might be contributing to some of the redness and irritation - which stems from your blading.

2. Someone recommended conditioner as a pre-shave treatment while showering, but it didn't work all that well. Was wondering if someone could recommend a suitable facial soap or cleanser with solid moisturizing properties that will adequately soften my beard when showering.
Yes. you apply conditioner while showering - then rinse, do not apply soap over top to wash your face. Before shaving in front of the sink - re-apply the conditioner and leave it on. One of my favourite pre-shave conditioners is the Feather Pre-Shave from Classic - not necessary but does add to the comfort of a shave.

3. I need an after shave balm or treatment designed with sensitive skin in mind...that will combat ingrown hairs from getting inflamed, and with moisturizing properties. Any recommendations? Not sure if the Proroso balm or the Aveeno stuff is doing any good.
Nivea Sensitive, T&H Ultimate Comfort or higher end Hydrolast or Gentlemens Refinery

4. Should I consider a night time routine as well...like I said, my face is very dry and senstive by the end of the day...perhaps a shea or cocoa butter application, or something along those lines?
In the winter consider washing your face just at night with a mild cleanser, then apply a few drop of Rose Hip Seed oil or a night time cream such as Nancy Boy Ultra Marine.

5. How many days do people typically get out of their blades. It seems that after only two shaves, my Merkur blades are dull and need replacing. Granted, my beard does come in thick and coarse, but I thought Merkur blades were supposed to last a bit longer?
Everyone's beards are different, but I'll be as you blade technique improves you get longer lasting blades. You might also get the letterk blade sample pack and see which blade works best for you.

Haven't given up on wet shaving, as even these irritations are mild in comparison to what I was dealing with using cartridge razors.

Good!!!


BTW - I've made some suggestions, but everyone has their personal favourites...explore and enjoy....BUT first work on your technique!!! :lol:
- Ravi -

You can mistrust me less than you can mistrust him. Trust me.

Starbuck1975
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Post by Starbuck1975 » Thu Jan 11, 2007 12:00 pm

Tried a few new things.

Last night, I applied a thin layer of cocoa butter to my neck, as this is where I typically get ingrown hairs...my beard is sometimes like a field of razor blades, and as it starts to grow in, the whiskers tend to grow back into my neck like little splinters...I read that cocoa and shea butters help the whiskers break through the skin, and sure enough, this morning most of my neck hairs had actually broken through,

Well I tried a new routine this morning...washed my face with a mild conditioning soap, chose not to use the Proraso Pre/Post shave, and used a sample packet of Art of Shaving hypoallergenic shaving cream. Focused on my technique, and as I was quite deliberate and slow, I didn't notice the audible scraping sound I typically hear.

Finished up with a splash of cold water, and only my Aveeno moisturizer as an after shave treatment.

What I did notice was that my face did not feel as tight, and several hours later, I am not experiencing a dryness sensation on my skin. I think I was having a reaction to the menthol in the Proraso products.

Think I will stick with hypoallergenic products from here on out...will pick up the T&H non scented hypoallergenic shave cream, will stick with my Aveeno moisturizer as my dermatologist recommended it, and will probably shift to a mild Aveeno face scrub for my pre shave prep. Cuts my routine down to washing my face, shaving and applying a moisturizer. Will probably stick with the cocoa butter as a night treatment for the time being, and see how this works out for a week or two.

I have already been to a dermatologist, and he recommended the Aveeno shave gel and moisturizer, and switching to a safety razor...that was how I discovered wet shaving to begin with. However, the Aveeno shave cream, a can based gel, does not provide the glide and cushion that I have noticed with the better quality english creams...and luckily, T&H and others do offer hypoallergenic options.

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Post by ichabod » Thu Jan 11, 2007 12:07 pm

Starbuck1975 wrote:... I think I was having a reaction to the menthol in the Proraso products...

I find that if I have even the tiniest hint of irritation then the Proraso products will aggravate the irritation to the point of, well, horror.
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Post by dasein_geist » Thu Jan 11, 2007 1:14 pm

Starbuck1975,

Great to hear you are making progress.
I have no doubt you'll figure out a routine that will work for you...
- Sean -

"What am I afraid of? I'll tell you: a feather. that's right, a feather...did I say it was a poison feather?"
-- Jack Handey [Deep Thoughts]

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Post by FiReSTaRT » Thu Jan 11, 2007 11:20 pm

WTG! You may want to try some soaps from TGQ. Contact Colleen at thegentlemensquarter@verizon.net. She has some great scents that are EO-only and even gentle on those and also unscented ones. Same goes for creams. Just explain your situation and ask for a suggestion. She'll be glad to send you some samples. Got me hooked -- currently running 5 of her different scents with a spare. Unfortunately my top 2 would not be suitable for your skin.
Vincent and Joe were correct about simplifying things and I'm not surprised that it's already yielding good results for you.
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Post by -=seth=- » Fri Jan 12, 2007 7:50 am

for some people shaving 1st thing in the morning can produce problems as your face is puffy when youve just got out of bed, i know you said you get 5 oclock shadow by the afternoon, but if you could experiment perhaps on the weekend with shaving later in the day might help

also have you tried Institut Karité - Moisturising Shaving Cream, its made with shea butter, very good for sensitive skin, if you cant get hold of it try Geo F Trumper Coconut Oil Shaving Cream

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