Still not converging

Thoughts and input on anything related to wet shaving or men's grooming.
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shred
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Still not converging

Post by shred » Mon Aug 14, 2006 1:09 am

Synopsis: Fourth week with Merkur Futur, Merkur blades, silvertip brush, and sandalwood cake soap. Shave right after a hot shower, typically every other day, etc. I've also tried a couple of consecutive day shaves in the mix - yeeeeouch.

Still haven't grokked "no pressure", the 30-degree magic angle, or the art of not nicking myself. I've let the beard grow enough to see the patterns and I do a pass with the grain, one across, and a third either against it or "south west". I relather frequently - sometimes within the same pass when the lather has come out a little runny. I've stopped using the crosscheck with the Mach 3 on the odd chance it is hurting the DE technique I'm trying to develop.

The cheeks usually come out ok. The jowls always need extra attention. The neck and moustache are an ongoing disaster. There's _always_ scruff on the neck which means I have to go after it. There are always small patches laying flat against the skin and no amount of badgering gets them to stand up and be sheared. This therefore means nicks, cuts, and that glowing feeling of burn after the fifth or sixth pass. Same for the moustache area where the blade feels like it is dragging no matter what the setting or how homeopathic the pressure. Yes, I know this is not good practice but quite simply the three pass procedure just doesn't get it.

The Futur's weight is fine for going down from sideburn to the jaw but hard to handle everywhere else. If it is time to punt with one or more pieces of the kit, which do I swap first? Keep the brush and revert to the Mach 3? Change DE blades? Write off the DE as a bad debt move to something even more gutsy like the Dovo Shavette?

Thanks,

Shred

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kd7kip
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Post by kd7kip » Mon Aug 14, 2006 1:50 am

Shred-

Several things caught my eye that cause me to raise an eyebrow. Just a few humble suggestions you may wish to consider.

1- You are using soap. Have you considered creme? Run to Target and try some Proraso, you may find the additional cushion cremes provide beneficial.

2- You mention the Progress, but not the setting. I personally do not care for adjustables, preferring to go for the simple Merkur HD.

3- 5 or 6 passes of the same area will result only in irritation. Just how bad is this stubble that haunts you-- is it noticeable to others, or only when you rub your face? You may need to lower your expectations a bit; there will always be a little stubble here or there. I usually suggest (for what its worth) that you limit yourself, at least at first, to two passes plus a little touch-up. Sure you won't get BBS at first, but that seems to come with time. In the meantime, see #4 below...

4- I can already hear Joe (and several others) saying "work on your technique"-- and they're right. Get the angle perfect. Get the pressure light. Take short strokes. Practice a bit on your arm to observe the angle of the blade closely-- you want the blade almost perfectly parallel to your skin. If you're really daring, practice applying greater and lesser pressure on your arm and observe the effect.

5- Consider a different blade. Merkurs aren't bad, but there are better, such as the Israeli's or Derby's. Hold off on the Feathers for a while, but do consider them down the road, as they give a beautiful shave once you have good technique.

Have fun and let us know how it goes.

-Scott
Dumb as a stump and twice as ugly...

shred
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Post by shred » Mon Aug 14, 2006 6:59 am

Scott,
kd7kip wrote:Shred-

Several things caught my eye that cause me to raise an eyebrow. Just a few humble suggestions you may wish to consider.

1- You are using soap. Have you considered creme? Run to Target and try some Proraso, you may find the additional cushion cremes provide beneficial.

Yes, I was actually at Target the day I posted but couldn't find the Proraso products. They had the normal foams and gels. I asked one of the clerks about it but he'd not heard of Proraso. Maybe it hasn't made it to that branch yet.
2- You mention the Progress, but not the setting. I personally do not care for adjustables, preferring to go for the simple Merkur HD.
I think mine is the Futur, not the Progress. In any case, I am working at the low to mid settings as part of the learning process: 1-4
3- 5 or 6 passes of the same area will result only in irritation. Just how bad is this stubble that haunts you-- is it noticeable to others, or only when you rub your face?
I feel it when I rub and I can see it when I look in the mirror. The reason I am going after this is that rightly or wrongly I didn't have this issue with the Mach 3 and the foam that I used before giving the DE a try.
4- I can already hear Joe (and several others) saying "work on your technique"-- and they're right. Get the angle perfect. Get the pressure light. Take short strokes. Practice a bit on your arm to observe the angle of the blade closely-- you want the blade almost perfectly parallel to your skin. If you're really daring, practice applying greater and lesser pressure on your arm and observe the effect.
Yes, I've gotten some good suggestions here on this and am trying to understand the angle and pressure issues. I will also see if I can find some of the other blades. At the moment, I think the Futur is just too heavy for me to develop the light touch that so many have described here.

Thanks for the suggestions, I'll try them out.

Shred

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wenestvedt
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Post by wenestvedt » Mon Aug 14, 2006 8:15 am

St00pid Target!

Look for the Proraso stuff in the "Spa" section: there will be one vertical shelf unit of manly stuff amid an aisle or two of women's products.

- Will
P.S. I wrote them about this but they didn't seem to care: it's as if they're deliberately scuttling their wet-shaving initiative. Makes me think of the 'Pentavirate' conspriacy-theory speech from "Spo I Married an Axe Murderer" when I think about it...

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shavetheline
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Post by shavetheline » Mon Aug 14, 2006 8:18 am

Yes, I was actually at Target the day I posted but couldn't find the Proraso products. They had the normal foams and gels. I asked one of the clerks about it but he'd not heard of Proraso. Maybe it hasn't made it to that branch yet.
Look again at Target for the Proraso. They like to keep it in the SPA section of the cosmetic/toiletries isles.


^^^ beat me to it! ^^^
"Because you're mine, I shave the line..."

Bob
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Post by Bob » Mon Aug 14, 2006 8:25 am

Six passes? You are certain to have irritation. Ditch the soap and get a good cream.

As for the adjustable, I'm not sure what the Merkur numbers mean. On a Gillette, 1-4 would be a mild blade exposure. I keep hearing Merkur guys talk about 1.5 being mild, so I'll let them respond to that.
--Bob--

mparker762
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Post by mparker762 » Mon Aug 14, 2006 8:42 am

I disagree on the cream. If his problem were getting razor burn in only 3 passes, then maybe try the cream. But his doing 6 passes means the problem is getting close, not the effing razor burn.

You might want to change blades; some blades get me close faster than others. Every beard is different: the conventional wisdom may lead you astray here so try lots of different blades. The best blade for me is the el-cheapo american personna, I can get BBS in 3.5 passes, while merkurs and feathers need more like 4.5 passes. Straights are the best for me, usually only needing 1.5 - 2 passes.

Also make sure you're lathering with a swirling motion rather than a painting motion, this helps the lather get underneath the whiskers and lift them up.

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ScottS
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Re: Still not converging

Post by ScottS » Mon Aug 14, 2006 9:16 am

shred wrote: Still haven't grokked "no pressure", the 30-degree magic angle, or the art of not nicking myself. I've let the beard grow enough to see the patterns and I do a pass with the grain, one across, and a third either against it or "south west". I relather frequently - sometimes within the same pass when the lather has come out a little runny. I've stopped using the crosscheck with the Mach 3 on the odd chance it is hurting the DE technique I'm trying to develop.
My own opinion is that until you get the "no pressure" and the angle thing right, don't bother worrying about a close shave. Do one with the grain pass, and maybe one across the grain pass, and stop right there. Basic technique first, then the close shave. You'll feel scruffy for a few weeks, but you won't look nearly as scruffy as you feel, plus you won't look irritated, red, and nicked up. The irritation will only make it more difficult for you to develop good technique.

The close shave will come with time, assuming you can get the basics down. No need to torture yourself until it happens.

Also, there's no need to deal with runny lather. I like the Proraso idea that many are pushing. Palmolive lathering cream (red tube) would be another very inexpensive but bulletproof option. IMO, even the canned gels will provide you with a better cushion than an improperly lathered soap, provided that your face is GOOD AND WET when you apply the gel, which doesn't add any water, but is designed to hold the water that's already on your face through the whole shave.

jmw19psu
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Post by jmw19psu » Mon Aug 14, 2006 10:15 am

I'll try not to rehash what's been said already - the Futur is a weighty razor, and using it with no pressure takes some concentration, at least for me. I like the weight, as it seems to make the shave closer and easier, though the risk of burn does increase.

I started with Merkur blades in the Futur, and found them very mild. With practice, I could dial the razor fully open and not irritate my skin. After going through several packs of Merkur blades, however, I started to find they weren't as sharp as some others. I was using a number of different razors and blades at this point, trying to find "the best".

So, on to the recommendations:

Get some different blades, and use them for a few weeks each. You need time to adjust to any change, and switching blades will change how the razor feels. Unless the first shave is horrific, go through 2 or 3 blades and evaluate the shave at the end of that period. Then go to another blade and repeat.
I'm pleased with Derbys, Israelis and American Personnas in my Futur, but that doesn't mean you'll be.

Try shaving every day. Yes, this means you should limit yourself to two or three passes per shave, even if you still feel or see stubble. The combination of a gentler shave and more frequent shaving should help your skin adjust to the DE, as well as giving you more practice with the angles and settings.

Try a different lather product. Not sure what brand of soap you're using, but I know my face has trouble with some sandalwood scents, among others. If you feel tingling, burning, or numbness after lathering (especially after relathering), switch to a different soap or cream. Proraso has been mentioned; it's quite good, though the cooling may take some adjustment. Palmolive lather is also very good and inexpensive, as are the Kiss My Face creams. Williams soap is easy to find and works well.

Also, try not to overlather on the face - some brushes can be rather harsh, especially on just-shaved skin. "Silvertip" is often softer, but it really depends on the grading. Using a mug to develop the lather, and only working the brush on the face enough to coat it, is perfectly acceptable.

Finally, come to accept the fact that you won't be baby-butt smooth every day. Some areas just won't be without unacceptable irritation, and some will have to be saved for special occasions. This is fine and good.
Me, my mustache area is never smooth unless I go against the grain, which leaves me raw. Same with the divot under my lower lip. It looks clean, but I can feel a touch of stubble. It just doesn't bother me any more (nor does the wife complain, which is arguably more important).

Hope this helps - shaving should be pleasant, but, like anything, getting there may take some effort.

Best,
Jon

yomuppet
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Post by yomuppet » Mon Aug 14, 2006 2:33 pm

A good trick that helped me with angle, is to hold the razor completely perpendicular to the face:

|:-

And then slowly rotate down until the blade just barely comes in contact with the hairs. Good luck.

J

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Scorpio
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Post by Scorpio » Mon Aug 14, 2006 6:43 pm

As far as prep your face I did not see anything posted. Maybe a hot towel followed by pre shve cream might help lift and soften the hair. While at Target pick up Proraso preshaving cream. It helped me.

Rafael
"A well lathered face is only half of a good shave"

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wenestvedt
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Post by wenestvedt » Mon Aug 14, 2006 7:16 pm

Sometimes I find that I shave too close when I re-lather and irritate my neck.

Instead, I have better luck when I lather very well once and shave, re-shaving across or against the grain immediately. And I mean right away, too: shave downward alng the top ridge of my cheek, then pull it taut and shave upward across the same area. Then I shave the rest of my cheek downward, and promptly shave the same area upward.

I do a little blade buffing (shaving with just water on the razor blade) for a couple of stubborn spots, but re-lathering is often a recipe for disaster with me. Clearly, I still have a lot to learn, but at east I'm still enjoying myself.

- Will

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nteeman
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Post by nteeman » Tue Aug 15, 2006 5:15 am

wenestvedt wrote:Sometimes I find that I shave too close when I re-lather and irritate my neck.

Instead, I have better luck when I lather very well once and shave, re-shaving across or against the grain immediately. And I mean right away, too: shave downward alng the top ridge of my cheek, then pull it taut and shave upward across the same area. Then I shave the rest of my cheek downward, and promptly shave the same area upward.

I do a little blade buffing (shaving with just water on the razor blade) for a couple of stubborn spots, but re-lathering is often a recipe for disaster with me. Clearly, I still have a lot to learn, but at east I'm still enjoying myself.

- Will
I have found similar results. I do not re-lather neck, cheeks, or jaw line. I do those areas as you described. I have found that re-lathering the chin and moustache is needed for additional passes in those areas though. This is what works for me. YMMV.
-Neal (DE user since 1998)
I shave therefore I am


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Joe Lerch
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Post by Joe Lerch » Tue Aug 15, 2006 7:11 am

Flat lying whiskers are a very difficult problem.

The Futur was an unfortunate choice for a beginner. It's not only heavy but tends to be unfriendly (harsh) if you go much past a 3. You haven't told us about your adjustment.

If you're convinced your teechnique is right you need to concentrate on reduction. Don't go for broke on the first (or second) pass. Be content with cutting the beard down to a fine stubble for the third pass. And for the time being leave it at 3. The idea is to cut the whiskers but lay off the skin until the end. If you must add a pass do it during the reduction phase to get down to that stubble, not when you're going to skin.

With flat whiskers you need to pay special attention to how you're stretching. Remember, you pull the skin opposite to the direction in which the whiskers lean. That will stand them up. If you pull the other way you'll just flatten them more. Also, flat whiskers may have a tendency to cause the blade to skip over them when cutting with the grain, so use a slight cross angle.

Whatever you do don't go over an area where you've shaved off lather (add lather if you must) during reduction. When you're down to light stubble (barely visible or detectable only by touch). Reduction is over.

Now you're ready to cut to skin. With flat whiskers, don't go directly against the grain, but diagonally against it. If there are particularly troublesome areas, leave them for the time being. You may shave the same area twice without relathering. Go diagonally against the grain from directions that are 90 degrees apart. Make the pressure even lighter than before. In some places you may even need to support some of the razor's weight (negative pressure). You'll know when if the razor hangs up. You don't want to plow down the hairs as much as cut off their tops. If you have a very flat hair, you can flatten the blade angle more and add SLIGHT pressure with the side of the blade to depress the skin and get low on the hair. Pressure is always a potential problem, so add it very gradually and make sure the skin is flat so you don't have a fold in front of the edge.

Don't give up. You've presented yourself with a difficult problem by starting with a Futur, and you have a difficult beard. Keep the blade exposure below 3. Find something that works well for you and don't change it.

Keep working on your technique and don't change anything just yet. We want to see the results of technique changes and not mask them with product changes.

Don't worry if you're not getting the closest shaves. It will improve. And remember that the Futur can give you the ultimate shave when you're ready for Feather blades. That's right, my Futur with Feather blades givess me the closes, cleanest and totally comfortable shave of any razor, including str8s, which I use a lot. The only comparable shave is the one I get with a Feather AC.

My final words are concentrate on teechnique and learning from your mistakes. Don't try for the ultimate shave yet, but settle for a good one.
Joe

Rob

Post by Rob » Tue Aug 15, 2006 8:06 pm

I also bought a Futur for my first DE experience. I used it for a while with it set to 3 and experienced very painful shaves. Then I decided to seek help from the masters here. See here: http://www.shavemyface.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9970

Using their suggestiongs the past two shaves I had the Futur set to 1 and received no pain whatsoever. Nor did I have any bleeding or razor burn.

Try setting it to 1 and do with-the-grain passes only for a few shaves. Don't go across or against. I am doing it that way right now and I have had two amazing pain-free, bleed-free shaves. Yes, I do have some of that annoying stubble from those pesky flat hairs...but it's stubble that I feel and yet don't see in the mirror.

Try the 1 setting and going with-the-grain only. Made a world of difference for me.

-Rob

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JakAHearts
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Post by JakAHearts » Tue Aug 15, 2006 8:22 pm

Lerch and Rob gave some awesome advice. I would just like to jot in and mention that I shave with a futur at 1.5 and get BBS smooth shaves over and over with 3 passes and a T&C. So.... dial that sucker down and do a three pass with the grain shave. See how it goes. :D

shred
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Post by shred » Tue Aug 15, 2006 9:50 pm

Greetings Gents,

Some positive news with this post, having taken many of your suggestions to hand if not heart.

Thanks for the xyz on Proraso at Target. I went back and there it was in the Spa section as mentioned here. I never would have thought to have looked for men's shaving products in a spa section.

My sandalwood cake was getting close to the end so I tossed it and tried a Proraso shave after 2+ days, again after a hot shower, soaking the badgerhair in a cup of hot water in the meantime. I did no other facial prep apart from washing my face thoroughly and keeping the beard wet while prepping the cream.

I dialed the Futur with its now ~1 week old Merkur blade down to 1.5-2 per recommendation and concentrated on removing a reasonable amount of hair per pass while keeping as light a touch as I could manage. I essentially tried to keep the blade and only the blade on the skin. I know this isn't strictly physically possible given the construction of the thing but that's the feeling I was trying to get hooked on.

It worked quite well.

After three passes and some touchup, I had similar smoothness as with the best hair removal I've experienced with a DE but with no burning sensation and only one or two minor cuts in the moustache area where I pressed a little too hard.

I changed too many things to know what made the difference. Bad science. I have not understood why the lather matters so much and I'm not sure I believe that different formulations can have measurably different properties when everything is taken into account. DE, Mach 3, or whatever, waiting a day between shaves usually gives a smoother result. This makes some intuitive sense - the hairs are longer, the actual and psychological effect is greater. On the other hand, it would be nice to be able to shave every day.

But, it is good to have a shave that resembles my Mach 3 experiences as proof that I can do it, if only once. Now to see about repeatability and improvement.

Onward.

Shred

Rob

Post by Rob » Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:31 am

Ta da! Way to go! Whew, doesn't it feel nice to finally get a pain-free shave? It's quite amazing because I didn't think it was possible until it happened to me. I'm quite sure dialing the Futur down to 1.5 helped you tremendously. Setting it to 3 seems to expose way too much blade.

-Rob

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Joe Lerch
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Post by Joe Lerch » Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:48 am

Rob_TN wrote:Setting it to 3 seems to expose way too much blade.
It also brings out its teeth. The Futur can be quite harsh above that. You can only learn to deal with it after your technique is grooved.
Joe

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