Don't use a shaving brush.

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Don't use a shaving brush.

Post by jaybee » Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:12 pm

Don't use a shaving brush. That's my advice to anyone who is just starting out with a DE and is still facing a steep learning curve. It's advice I wish someone had given me two years ago.

Too many people read forums like this, or other articles etc. and get excited about the wetshaving process. They throw away their their electric buzzsaws or their 5-bladed monstrosities and their cans of foam and in their excitement to finally get a decent shave they buy themselves a new DE (or two, or more), a shaving brush and an array of new, quality soaps and creams, and then they dive in headfirst. And although all of new gear is an undeniable upgrade, they now face a very steep learning curve, and--for many--a few weeks (or more) of uncomfortable shaves as they get used to using all these different new products.

Why not slow down and introduce a few less variables all at once? There are a number of very good shaving creams available today that do not require a brush -- cremo cream is perhaps the most well-known, but there are plenty of others that work fine without a brush, including this stuff, orthis stuff, or palmolive "brushless" or even just proraso.

Don't get me wrong I love my brush, and none of the creams listed above is among my very favorites. But they're all quite good, and I think it would a very good idea for a new DE shaver to use one of the above for a while until he gets the basic technique down with his new razor. (I'm not talking very long--a few weeks? Maybe more if things are going poorly, maybe less if things are going well.) Too many new converts have trouble making proper cream every day, and often shave with lather that is either too runny and watery or too dry, in either case resulting in bad shaves. And when you're new it can be very difficult to figure out whether the problem is that you're doing something wrong with the lather, doing something wrong with the razor, or maybe most likely, doing something wrong with both.

So my advice to any convert is to get a DE and some good blades (not Merkurs! :wink: ), and a tube of some high-quality brushless shaving cream. These creams are foolproof--there's no way to get the lather wrong. So you can spend a few weeks focused on learning the basic mechanics of the DE shave. Your shaves should improve rapidly, and after a few weeks or so, when you are getting consistently good shaves (your technique will likely continue to improve for some time, but most people should get the basics pretty quickly), then and only then should you pick up a brush and some traditional soaps and creams and start learning to build your own lather. This shouldn't take you very long either, but I think both learning curves will be shorter (and your face will likely be much less irritated and nicked in the process) if you separate the learning curves from one another, and tackle them sequentially.

So, if you're new, don't use a shaving brush.

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Post by mrsankey » Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:59 pm

I suppose the opposite could be said as well. Use a brush to create lather, but stay away from the DE until your lather making technique is perfect? Either of those may work for a while, but I didn't have trouble jumping in with both feet to the world of DE shaving.

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Post by bernards66 » Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:00 pm

Jay, Well, that is one sensible approach, but I've always been an advocate of the reverse. That is, get a decent brush and a good shave cream, but hold off on the DE razor. Shave with a Bic disposible for awhile, getting used to a single non-pivoting blade without having to worry about the blade angle, and with less likelihood of using too much pressure. While the newbie is doing this, he can be working on learning how to make a good proper lather with his new stuff. When he has that down, and is getting decent and consistant nick and irritation free shaves, THEN he's in a good position to start working on mastering DE technique. But yes, either way, I agree; changing EVERYTHING, all at once is often overwhelming and contra-productive.
Last edited by bernards66 on Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Killian85 » Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:12 pm

Before I started on my DE journey, I bought some cartridge razors but decided to use a better cream (Proraso Red). That move alone was a big upgrade for me. I wanted to get as good a shave as I could from the cartridge without using too much pressure. It was challenging since they are designed so you would have to use pressure to get results (at least in my opinion). Once I got decent shaves with the cartridges, it was time to add a brush and a DE razor to the mix. It certainly was the right way to go for me.

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Post by diggity » Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:21 pm

I agree with Gordon here. I actually started the way you are suggesting, Jay...kinda by accident. I was using my good ol' Mach 3 (cringe, now) using Kiehl's shaving cream out of a tub. My shaves were improved over Edge gel, but were still missing something. After introducing a brush and a DE, I was using a helluva lot less shave cream and I was getting a much better intro shave. If I had started without the DE as Gordon had mentioned, it would have definitely been a little less bloody, but still fine to start wetshaving with.

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Post by Squire » Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:14 pm

Brush+soap/cream+Bic, learn to use them and the world of DE shaving is open for the journey.

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Post by MiloFinch » Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:36 pm

I agree that getting off the goo should be the first step. When I first got into it, I started with an Omega Boar and Omega soap along with a disposable twin bladed Bic. Yes, I used my Mach 3 for a while, but I put it away quickly. But this is where I move away from traditional thought.

When I felt my lather was up to par, I started on with the DE, along with my soap and brush. It was awful for the first few shaves, because I didn't really know how to use a DE. So I went back to the Barbasol. I got decent shaves, and my technique improved tremendously.

I think, when learning, the two skills must be developed independently. Then, and only then, put the two back together. And what a reunion it will be. Worked great for me.

I still use the twin Bics from time to time when an experiment went bad, and my face is a little chewed up. I tried the Mach 3 again, and retired it for good a while back. I even toss back in the Barbasol every now and then when time is in a serious crunch, though I try to make time for my shaving.
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Post by bernards66 » Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:21 pm

David, Well, that's interesting. Actually, canned Barbasol has more cushion then traditional lathering products, so it's easy enough to see how you could have had that experiance. So, that's one approach. But generally, if a shaver is desireous of going the traditional route, it's the shaving medium I suggest changing first, while using an easy transitional sort of razor, like the Bic. I think it's important to make it a single bladed one, though, so that you can start getting used to making more traditional and consistant cut; stretching the skin and the rest of it. But, yes, one could go from the other direction and go directly to the DE but with a more 'cushiony' product; either a brushless cream as was suggested in the original post...cremo cream, Nancy Boy, etc. Or with just plain old canned Barbasol ( and maybe a little shave oil, like that Pacific stuff ). But personally, I'm in favor of going to a traditional lather first, and the DE later.
Last edited by bernards66 on Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by CMur12 » Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:21 pm

I somehow did it all at once, though I don't actually remember the details. I do prefer the idea of reduced variables, however, and in my mind either the <DE and brushless lather> or the <brush, soap/cream, and Bic single> would work. It would be up to the preference of the individual and what he is most eager to try first.

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Post by Gene » Tue Apr 08, 2008 5:01 am

Not that I have it all down, either, but I jumped in with the move to a DE and doing my own lather.

I did reason that I had experience from all those years ago using my first DE back in the '70's, and decided I could learn both simultaneously.

I watched the you tube videos on building a lather (thanks again Mr. Mantic) and practiced with some cream several times standing over a sink. When I thought I was doing a fair job I started using that on my face, and the lather has improved a little bit each day after that.
But - that's just me.

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Re: Don't use a shaving brush.

Post by Chifunda » Tue Apr 08, 2008 5:12 am

jaybee wrote:Don't use a shaving brush. That's my advice...
Don't use a shaving brush? What the hell is wrong with you, boy? You ain't one o' them tree huggin', spotted owl kissin', tofu eatin' hippie radical "Save the Badger" fellers are ye ? "Don't use a shaving brush" my dyin' a...[wanders off waving arms and mumbling incoherently.] :)

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Post by nteeman » Tue Apr 08, 2008 5:21 am

I guess everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I strongly disagree. I think, by the number of words needed to express your point, you are making too much of too little. My advice to someone new would be get a modest brush, boar or badger, soap or cream, and a DE ( a Tech, Weishi, or even a HD). Learn slowly and carefully. Hey, it's shaving not brain surgery! :roll:
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Post by jww » Tue Apr 08, 2008 5:30 am

mrsankey wrote:I suppose the opposite could be said as well. Use a brush to create lather, but stay away from the DE until your lather making technique is perfect? Either of those may work for a while, but I didn't have trouble jumping in with both feet to the world of DE shaving.

I used a brush and a few different soaps and creams over the years before I jumped into the DE foray. I think the point, however, of the potential for intimidation with brush and DE razor is a valid one - so it makes some sense to work out one before the other, imo. ymmv.

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Post by drumana » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:11 am

Don't use a brush. . .? Sure, why not, I guess. I'd encourage anyone trying this to use the 'non-brush' technique as a temporary crutch though - using a brush is a treat!

Also, in terms of creams and soaps - you can use ANY cream or soap without a brush, even if it's 'made for the brush'. Just use your hands and rub it into your beard.

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Post by RJ » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:20 am

While I think the DE is an improvment, I think the biggest improvement (and most pleasruable experience) in my shaving came from using a good cream or soap and a brush to rub it in and lift the hairs for cutting. This allows/aids in shaving with less pressure and more passes (stubble reduction).

I have never used a brushless cream other than barbosal or edge, and at this point, why would I?

I'm with Gordon and Squire on this one. Learn to lather. Then introduce the blade if you must do it seperately. Although I learned how to do both at the same time and I don't have a single scar to show for it. With the help of the people on this forum I think a monkey could be wet shaving with a DE blade within a few tries. Working out the issues thereafter is part of the fun.

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Post by Gareth » Tue Apr 08, 2008 3:30 pm

I agree that it can probably be a little daunting to new DE shavers to have to deal with a new razor, blade, brush and cream/soap. It's a lot to learn all at once. When I started, I carried on shaving with my cartridge razor, but used a good quality badger brush and cream/soap to learn how to build a good lather. After I could do this, I then went on to using a DE. If I could have my time again, however, I would have spent a couple of weeks shaving with a BIC disposable before moving on to the DE.

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Post by BlankTim » Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:34 pm

Like pretty much everyone else, I started with the brush and moved up from there. It's been a little over 2 years since I started with the brush, and I've progressively moved up from cheap soaps (Williams) to higher end soaps and cremes.

I still haven't had much luck switching to the DE full-time, but, that will come along eventually as well.

For me, If I'm not using a brush, I'm not really wetshaving.
The aspect I like most about wetshaving is the pampering I give my face with the prep work and brush. The brush is the biggest part of that. It's relaxing.

The shaving itself is just the, next to, final step in the process.
...So I lathered him with me shillelagh...

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Post by paperpundit » Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:46 pm

While I enjoy using a DE, my neck requires a single edge disposable.

That said, I'd never give up my creams and brushes.

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Post by Scrapyard Ape » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:00 pm

This entire thread gets the fish.



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Post by i_shaved_something » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:15 pm

Yes, don't use a brush, in fact, send it to me, I'll take one for the team. :)

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