The more I do this, the more questions I have...

Thoughts and input on anything related to wet shaving or men's grooming.
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ichabod
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The more I do this, the more questions I have...

Post by ichabod » Mon Feb 06, 2006 11:27 am

So, I decided to try shaving with a "real" razor recently, after a couple of years with a Braun, self cleaning thing (the name of which suddenly escapes me). The shaves with that were quick, and predictable. Predictably mediocre - I'd often end up hunting down odd hairs the razor missed with a Sensor at work.
Before the Braun (a Gillette company, I was intrigued to discover...) I was mostly using Sensor Excel. I have very tough stubble under my chin and on my neck, and any S-N shaving would have me bleeding like a stuck pig. Hence the electric thing.
I got myself a Merkur DE a couple of weeks ago, and have been shaving with it ever since. I'm not sure which model it is, it was simply the one in stock at Carr Barber supply in Tampa when I went in. It bends the blade into a curved shape sandwiched between the upper and lower screw top parts (I'm sure there are terms for these parts), but maybe all Merkurs do, I have no clue.

I'll typically do a N-S, and then horizontal (E-W?), and maybe a S-N pass if I feel adventurous.
I nick myself under the neck and chin, but nowhere near the way I used to with the Sensor Excel.

On a good day I can get my face as smooth as it felt when I was 15 (and, funnily enough, at 15 I would have done anything for a stubbly face). But I do tend to nick myself below the jawline. On most days my cheeks and upper lip are great, but below the jaw line is still rough. I've tried adding an extra N-S below the jawline before S-N. The grain below my jawline seems to be horizontal from the center out (on both sides, with the ends of the hairs pointing to my ears). Am I expecting too much too soon, being still in the learning phase?

I enjoy the morning ritual, and I think I'm in off the deep end as I've acquired 7 shaving creams/soaps already, and I just bought two razors on ebay. In two weeks. Two weeks from now I may well own a straight razor (I'm sure "my wife got me a cut throat razor for Valentine's Day" is the start of a few jokes), and in a month I dread to think how much space I'll need in the bathroom ;o).

So far:
Body Shop cream (not good, although I need to try it again now I've learned how to use a brush properly).
Caswell Massey hard soap (disappointing)
Cheapo Glycerine soap from Carrs - great lather, put the C-M to shame.
Cheapo "deluxe" soap from Carr's - still wrapped.
Truefitt & Hill 1805 cream - lovely smell, great lather.
Tom's of Maine mint cream - very refreshing, I used too much (maybe an inch long squeeze) this morning and almost drowned in Lather.
Kiss My Face Key Lime - yep, we were in Whole Foods yesterday. I haven't tried it yet. I love mint and key lime, hence the two choices.
I bought an Injector and a Gillette adjustable in the last couple of days, but they won't arrive for a while.
I'm using Personna blades, each wrapped in blue paper (once again, because they were in stock at Carr's). I have no idea if they are the fabled "Israeli blades", but I'd like to think so. Despite the words "Made in USA" on them. One seems to last three days or so.

Does anyone use different settings of the adjustable for different face areas, or different passes? I think I may experiment with that - more blade exposure for the first passes with the grain, maybe?

Okay, this got long really quickly. All I want is to be able to shave every hair off my face until it feels like freshly zambonied ice, with no bleeding or redness, and to do it with cool equipment and all sorts of awesome creams and soaps. Yep, that's all I want. Is that too much to ask? :D
Give us the luxuries, and we will forgo the necessities.
Give a man a fire, he'll be warm for a day.
Set a man on fire, he'll be toasty for the rest of his life.
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Re: The more I do this, the more questions I have...

Post by tonyespo » Mon Feb 06, 2006 12:38 pm

Ichabod wrote:So, I decided to try shaving with a "real" razor recently, after a couple of years with a Braun, self cleaning thing (the name of which suddenly escapes me). The shaves with that were quick, and predictable. Predictably mediocre - I'd often end up hunting down odd hairs the razor missed with a Sensor at work.
Before the Braun (a Gillette company, I was intrigued to discover...) I was mostly using Sensor Excel. I have very tough stubble under my chin and on my neck, and any S-N shaving would have me bleeding like a stuck pig. Hence the electric thing.
I got myself a Merkur DE a couple of weeks ago, and have been shaving with it ever since. I'm not sure which model it is, it was simply the one in stock at Carr Barber supply in Tampa when I went in. It bends the blade into a curved shape sandwiched between the upper and lower screw top parts (I'm sure there are terms for these parts), but maybe all Merkurs do, I have no clue.

I'll typically do a N-S, and then horizontal (E-W?), and maybe a S-N pass if I feel adventurous.
I nick myself under the neck and chin, but nowhere near the way I used to with the Sensor Excel.

On a good day I can get my face as smooth as it felt when I was 15 (and, funnily enough, at 15 I would have done anything for a stubbly face). But I do tend to nick myself below the jawline. On most days my cheeks and upper lip are great, but below the jaw line is still rough. I've tried adding an extra N-S below the jawline before S-N. The grain below my jawline seems to be horizontal from the center out (on both sides, with the ends of the hairs pointing to my ears). Am I expecting too much too soon, being still in the learning phase?

I enjoy the morning ritual, and I think I'm in off the deep end as I've acquired 7 shaving creams/soaps already, and I just bought two razors on ebay. In two weeks. Two weeks from now I may well own a straight razor (I'm sure "my wife got me a cut throat razor for Valentine's Day" is the start of a few jokes), and in a month I dread to think how much space I'll need in the bathroom ;o).

So far:
Body Shop cream (not good, although I need to try it again now I've learned how to use a brush properly).
Caswell Massey hard soap (disappointing)
Cheapo Glycerine soap from Carrs - great lather, put the C-M to shame.
Cheapo "deluxe" soap from Carr's - still wrapped.
Truefitt & Hill 1805 cream - lovely smell, great lather.
Tom's of Maine mint cream - very refreshing, I used too much (maybe an inch long squeeze) this morning and almost drowned in Lather.
Kiss My Face Key Lime - yep, we were in Whole Foods yesterday. I haven't tried it yet. I love mint and key lime, hence the two choices.
I bought an Injector and a Gillette adjustable in the last couple of days, but they won't arrive for a while.
I'm using Personna blades, each wrapped in blue paper (once again, because they were in stock at Carr's). I have no idea if they are the fabled "Israeli blades", but I'd like to think so. Despite the words "Made in USA" on them. One seems to last three days or so.

Does anyone use different settings of the adjustable for different face areas, or different passes? I think I may experiment with that - more blade exposure for the first passes with the grain, maybe?
Okay, this got long really quickly. All I want is to be able to shave every hair off my face until it feels like freshly zambonied ice, with no bleeding or redness, and to do it with cool equipment and all sorts of awesome creams and soaps. Yep, that's all I want. Is that too much to ask? :D
You answered your own question. Wait until your adjustable razor shows up and when you get to your neck area dial the blade down to a lower number and see if that doesn't help the morning blood taking. I would also suggest a better blade. Many think that a sharper blade such as the Feather is more dangerous to getting cut. That is not really the case if you understand that you must just use NO PRESSURE and let the blade and razor head do the work.

Before you use the Straight Razor you had better read about how to shave with one. Please be careful as it can be very dangerous.

Good Luck,
Tony Espo ( Lover of Knize )
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Through my will power I dare to do what I want.

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Post by divotmax » Mon Feb 06, 2006 1:34 pm

Ichabod;

Sounds like you have everything in place for getting good, consistent shaves. My go-to DE is a Gillette adjustable, but I have used others including the Vision and Futur (I like the Gillette best). Actually, after I found the blade exposure that suited me best, I don't change it during the shave. It was enough to do to figure out the adjustment that worked best, and I don't like to be changing it and throwing another modification into my routine. After a while, I know how the razor behaves and how to hold it so I get the best results, so I don't mess with it. I run into the same issue when changing razors; it's almost like learning how to shave all over again, so I don't change around much. Seems like messing around with the adjustment during a shave is when I get a nick or shave a little too close, so once I know my razor I leave it alone.

BobS

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Pressure

Post by ichabod » Mon Feb 06, 2006 4:37 pm

I think the pressure question may be the problem when I'm going uphill under my chin - I guess I use too much pressure as soon as I can't work with gravity. Trial and error is the key.

Thanks for the tips guys, and this is a great resource. I'm eagerly anticipating the adjustable as a way to dial in my shave.

As to using a straight razor, that's a long way off - I'm still learning how to lather up with a brush.
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Set a man on fire, he'll be toasty for the rest of his life.
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Post by Joe Lerch » Mon Feb 06, 2006 6:00 pm

I use the adjustable with different settings for different passes to help me get better beard reduction.

I start out with my lowest settings so I don't take off too much at the start. When I get down to a fine stubble, I'm ready to go against the grain and I'll do it with high blade exposure and lightest touch to shave as close as possible.
Joe

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Post by ichabod » Tue Feb 07, 2006 8:11 am

Joe Lerch wrote:I use the adjustable with different settings for different passes to help me get better beard reduction.

I start out with my lowest settings so I don't take off too much at the start. When I get down to a fine stubble, I'm ready to go against the grain and I'll do it with high blade exposure and lightest touch to shave as close as possible.
I'm glad you wrote that, I probably would have tried the opposite - high blade exposure for the first pass, and less blade for the uphill slashing.

In fact, I had my best shave ever this morning, simply by remembering what Tonyespo said about the light touch. No nicks whatsoever despite doing an uphill pass and a horizontal against the grain pass.
Give us the luxuries, and we will forgo the necessities.
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Set a man on fire, he'll be toasty for the rest of his life.
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Post by Joe Lerch » Tue Feb 07, 2006 10:44 am

Ichabod wrote:
Joe Lerch wrote:I use the adjustable with different settings for different passes to help me get better beard reduction.

I start out with my lowest settings so I don't take off too much at the start. When I get down to a fine stubble, I'm ready to go against the grain and I'll do it with high blade exposure and lightest touch to shave as close as possible.
I'm glad you wrote that, I probably would have tried the opposite - high blade exposure for the first pass, and less blade for the uphill slashing.
Until you think about why I do it, it does seem a little counterintuitive. Many irritation issues can be solved by simply shaving less aggressively. The lower exposure when you start out makes it easier not to cut to the skin in the early passes.

Until you get the feel of the DE you don't want to use too much exposure. Later on, you'll realize that the additional edge can be handled very easily by minimizing the pressure on the razor. Sometimes that means even supporting some of the weight of the razor. I call that "negative pressure."
Joe

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Post by bernards66 » Wed Feb 08, 2006 1:29 am

Ichabod, Well, well, don't tell me that there's another poor wetshaver stuck here in Tampa. All these years, I've struggled with this place alone, gloomily haunting the dept. stores and strip malls in a never ending, and generally fruitless search for quality shaving products, or another traditional shaver. Carr's huh? Yeah, up until recently they were right down the street from me, but now they've moved to Waters Ave, isn't it? I tried repeatedly to get him to bring in Merkur DE blades, but he never would. "Barbers want cheap...", he would tell me. I actually bought my Merkur Long Handle there. At the time, the only other Merkur he had was a Futur. I keep meaning to stop by his new shop and see what he has. BTW, here's what is available in the way of quality traditional shaving products in these parts, save you some shoe leather and gas:

1) Truefitt & Hill shave creams and brushes at Nordstroms and at Capelli's Barbershop on S. Armenia
2)Crabtree & Evelyn creams, soaps, etc at their shops in Old Hyde Park, and at Citrus Park Mall
3) Art of Shaving creams and soaps at Saks, Nordstroms, Neiman Marcus, and a couple of other places
4) Musgo Real shave cream at Caswell-Massey at International Mall
5) L'Occitane hard shave soap at the L'Occitane shop at International Mall
6) And if you're feeling flush ( wasteful even ) there is the Creed shave soap and cream at Neiman Marcus

That's about it for traditional shave goods of quality, in Tampa. I buy most of my stuff in NYC, or mail order.
Regards,
Gordon

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Post by ichabod » Wed Feb 08, 2006 8:22 am

bernards66 wrote:Ichabod, Well, well, don't tell me that there's another poor wetshaver stuck here in Tampa. All these years, I've struggled with this place alone, gloomily haunting the dept. stores and strip malls in a never ending, and generally fruitless search for quality shaving products, or another traditional shaver. Carr's huh? Yeah, up until recently they were right down the street from me, but now they've moved to Waters Ave, isn't it?
That's about it for traditional shave goods of quality, in Tampa. I buy most of my stuff in NYC, or mail order.
Regards,
Gordon
Wow! There's a bunch of great information, thanks! I'm a recent transplant from Denver, CO - in fact the humidity here is one of the many reasons I ditched the electric razor. Move around too much in the morning, never mind take the dog for a walk, before trying to shave with the face mower and it was a hopeless cause. With wet shaving a little natural moisture on the face can only be a good thing.

Carr's is now on Waters, and I think he's really still geared towards professional barbers and perhaps not realizing the possibillities of catering to the new wave of the old school. He had one kind of Merkur non adjustable - not a Futur otherwise I'd have snapped one up.

He's got some Feather products - the web site lists the Artist straight (but I didn't see one on display) and he had the feather Nape shaver in a display area. I'm thinking he could get feather blades if he can get that stuff, but he probably just thinks in terms of bulk blades for barbers. I bought a baggie with 25 Personna blades, which is what I'm using so far.

I asked him about getting a shave in South Tampa, and he pointed me to Capelli's. I got a shave there last Saturday (from Laura, she used a Feather Nape shaver). She said she took it easy on me because I have a tough beard under my jawline, and because it had been irritated by my own shaving of the days prior. It was a new experience for me, and I really enjoyed it - practically fell asleep in the chair. I also got some 1805 cream, which I really like.

I work about 5 minutes from the Musgo Real, sorry, I mean from the International Mall, so I'll have to see about #4 and #5 on your list very soon. I got some L'Occitane shave oil a while ago (stocking stuffer). I love the smell of it, but I haven't really perceived a difference in terms of helping me shave. Having said that I'm still very much learning my way.

Right now I am in this phase where I am accumulating shave cream and soap everywhere I see it. Shaving has become a great little ritual in the morning instead of somehting to rush through and get over.

I think I'm getting much better at whipping up a lather with the brush, and the last two mornings after Tonyespo gave me the pressure reminder I've shaved with no nicks whatsoever. Unheard of until now. I decided to get the no nicks technique better before trying to buffer every hair down to one micron. This morning I got the best combination of nick free and closeness ever.

I tried a couple of antique stores and thrift stores around here, but nobody seems to have any razors - maybe you got there before me ;o).
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Post by bernards66 » Fri Feb 10, 2006 6:11 pm

Ichabod, ( chuckle ) So, you have already found your way to Capelli's huh? Well done. I tried like hell to get her to bring in a line of quality shave brushes, even gave her the contacts for Simpsons and Vulfix, but she never did it.

Here's a couple of other odds and ends. Our local Walgreens usually has the surprisingly good ( and very inexpensive ) Palmolive lathering shave cream ( in the tube with the red stripe ). Some Kash 'n Karry supermarkets stock Schick DE blades, and there is a pharmacy on S. Westshore Blvd. that again has the Wilkinson DE blades. No Merkurs since the end of 2000 when the cutlery shop at University Mall closed.
Regards,
Gordon

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Post by javyn » Fri Feb 10, 2006 6:39 pm

Ichabod, my neck probs were cleared up once I realized I had been an improper (too aggressive) angle. When doing my neck, I make it a point to be sure the bar under the razor blade is touching my skin at all times, that way there is no way I can nick or burn myself. Also dialing down to a lower setting helps. 3 on my Fatboy seems to be the magic number on my first pass, with 1 against the grain and for touchup. I use 7 for my cheeks. Listen to Joe, he is the man when it comes to the neck, which is a problem for most newbies :)
John

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Post by ichabod » Mon Feb 13, 2006 9:34 am

bernards66 wrote:Ichabod, ( chuckle ) So, you have already found your way to Capelli's huh? Well done. I tried like hell to get her to bring in a line of quality shave brushes, even gave her the contacts for Simpsons and Vulfix, but she never did it.

Here's a couple of other odds and ends. Our local Walgreens usually has the surprisingly good ( and very inexpensive ) Palmolive lathering shave cream ( in the tube with the red stripe ). Some Kash 'n Karry supermarkets stock Schick DE blades, and there is a pharmacy on S. Westshore Blvd. that again has the Wilkinson DE blades. No Merkurs since the end of 2000 when the cutlery shop at University Mall closed.
Regards,
Gordon
Capelli's has the T&H stuff, including million dollar shave mugs and super duper Mach 3 handles (are they obsolete all of a sudden now we have Fusion?), and even brushes.
From your posts to my to do list, goes a couple more places to stop.
Thanks!
Dominic (how'd you know my name isn't Ichabod? :D )
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Post by ichabod » Mon Feb 13, 2006 9:37 am

javyn wrote:Ichabod, my neck probs were cleared up once I realized I had been an improper (too aggressive) angle. When doing my neck, I make it a point to be sure the bar under the razor blade is touching my skin at all times, that way there is no way I can nick or burn myself. Also dialing down to a lower setting helps. 3 on my Fatboy seems to be the magic number on my first pass, with 1 against the grain and for touchup. I use 7 for my cheeks. Listen to Joe, he is the man when it comes to the neck, which is a problem for most newbies :)
The improvements I've made in the week or so since I posted here have been amazing - no pressure, follow the grain, I keep repeating these things to myself as I shave, and I haven't had one single nick since I saw Joe and Tony's replies. A little redness still at the edges of my neck - but then, if I had nothing to strive for, I'd get all complacent.
I'll add the angle thing to my shave mantra.
Give us the luxuries, and we will forgo the necessities.
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Post by Joe Lerch » Mon Feb 13, 2006 11:04 am

Ichabod wrote:A little redness still at the edges of my neck - but then, if I had nothing to strive for, I'd get all complacent. I'll add the angle thing to my shave mantra.
For the redness try stretching from a point closer to where you're shaving. The extra control may do the trick.
Joe

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Post by ichabod » Mon Feb 13, 2006 12:18 pm

Joe Lerch wrote:
Ichabod wrote:A little redness still at the edges of my neck - but then, if I had nothing to strive for, I'd get all complacent. I'll add the angle thing to my shave mantra.
For the redness try stretching from a point closer to where you're shaving. The extra control may do the trick.
I've followed your grain tip, and your "rinse between passes" tip, with enormous improvements. Thank you.

You know - the parts of my shave that could stand improvement at this point are probably all ones where I need to stretch the skin more.
Give us the luxuries, and we will forgo the necessities.
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Set a man on fire, he'll be toasty for the rest of his life.
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