DE's and tough beards? My experience

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ToughBeard
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DE's and tough beards? My experience

Post by ToughBeard » Tue Mar 28, 2006 8:49 am

I found this board about two months ago and decided to try DE shaving based on the overwhelming support for it as well as the rising price of cartridges. So I ordered a Merkur HD with Merkur blades, a Vulfix brush, Nancy Boy and Trumper's Sandalwood. The Vulfix brush and premium creams are far superior to the canned goo, without question. I'm really glad I went down this whole trip for those items alone. But after shaving with the DE for about the last two months, I've reached my final conclusion: DE shaving is probably good for many people but for a person with a tough beard like mine, multiblade cartridges are superior.

For the first two weeks, I just used the DE. The first week was just N-S passes and the second week involved final against the grain passes. I wasn't content with my shaves though as they required many more passes than with a multiblade and frankly, they were very uncomfortable against the grain.

So I started doing one side of my face with a DE and the other with a Mach 3. Without question, the Mach 3 was more comfortable for me. Each pass also took off more stubble. It would take me 2-3 passes to get the same reduction with my DE. On the against the grain passes, the Mach 3 was vastly superior. In fact, the DE left my skin flaky and left small bloody spots from where it seemingly was snapping hair instead of cutting it.

For 1.5 months, I tried this method or would occassionally do a full DE shave. The multiblade is just better for me.

Now, I will say that once I had gone over my face with a Mach3, the DE shave was very smooth and could shave closer. But using a Mach 3 was a necessity. I couldn't just go straight at it with the DE or my face would be in serious pain. A DE is definitely superior in terms of closeness than the fixed-head Mach 3.

I also tried the Fusion and it is superior to the Mach 3 for my type of beard. It shaves more aggressively (for closer shaves) and the single blade on the back definitely helps edge and get hairs right under the nose.

I concluded that the addition of several blades, despite what most people on this board say, really is an improvement for a person with a tough beard like me. One pass got more of the beard than with a DE. Since I've never had problems with the razor bump issue or sensitive skin problem that many here have claimed with the multiblades, I have to conclude that multiblades are best for me.

I gave it a shot, and I'm glad I did, but DE doesn't work for me. The superbadger hair brush and creams are keepers though. I'll never go back to the canned goo.
Last edited by ToughBeard on Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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mantic
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Post by mantic » Tue Mar 28, 2006 8:59 am

I officially forgive you for your blasphamy. :lol:

Seriously, traditional shaving can be a very "bespoke" experience, different for everyone. As you've discovered, using a shaving brush and decent soap/cream is probably the most important factor for a good shave. I got better shaves with a Mach3 for several months until my DE technique finally "took." Now my Progress will beat the Mach3 for closeness and comfort every time.

--Mark

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Post by f308gt4 » Tue Mar 28, 2006 9:15 am

Hi Toughbeard,

I understand where you are. I am a relative newbie as well.

What I've found is that both can give me a great shave, but that the DE takes a lot more work to get there.

First of all, however, I must point out, that before discovering this board, I did not know what a great shave was. Thanks to this board, I know what it is to get a great shave, and realize that one pass with the gillette sensor wasn't doing it. Damn you all for making me see the light :)

A great shave requires 2 passes for me with the gillette sensor (one with the grain, one against the grain), but 3+ passes with the DE. Also, with the DE, it requires alot of stretching, and touching up that simply isn't necessary with the gillette sensor.

I still like the DE and will continue to try to master it, but I am thinking on weekdays, when I just don't have the time, it will be back to the sensor for me.

I think the bottom line is find what works for you, and go with it. I agree that creams and a brush probably make the biggest difference.

obsessis
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Post by obsessis » Tue Mar 28, 2006 10:00 am

i could prob. get a similar shave a lot quicker from a cartridge, but i enjoy shaving with a DE more. i don't mind the extra passes.
joseph

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indy
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Post by indy » Tue Mar 28, 2006 10:19 am

I agree with Obsessis. It's not about how efficiently I can shave as it is about the ritual. I could shave in five minutes, but I enjoy taking 15 minutes or more to enjoy my shave.

Toughbeard, you don't meantion your prep so I'm wondering if maybe there's something that could be done there to improve the shave you get from a DE? If you have a particularly dense or coarse beard a pre shave treatment may be needed to soften up your beard. I shave right out of the shower which is plenty of prep for me before lathering up which I generally spend at least a couple of minutes on to give the cream time to work.

Regards,
Indy
Cheers,
Bill

Shorty......Where's my razor?!
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Prairie
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Post by Prairie » Tue Mar 28, 2006 10:41 am

If you want an easy, carefree, 5 minute shave pick up a plastic injector. So much fun.

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With The Grain
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Post by With The Grain » Tue Mar 28, 2006 11:24 am

For some people the mach3 and fusion do an amazing job, my father also gets great and fast shaves with these that he wont even consider changing and Ive dropped the issue, no point in it for him. That said you dont mention if you ever tried a cross grain pass before going against the grain, if you have a real tough beard like that and only make 2 passes than im not really surprised by the result (id say i have a med-light beard and i even make 3 passes, being with, cross, against). that said if youve tried the cross grain passes and a beard reduction approach and still didnt get as good results as with the new cartridges or found it was taking an unacceptable amount of time than there's nothing wrong with sticking with what works.

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Post by ToughBeard » Tue Mar 28, 2006 11:36 am

Further explanation. I shave after I shower. I've frequently used Art of Shaving oil for beard prep. I then lather up with my brush using Nancy Boy or Trumper's. I go with grain, cross grain, against grain. With a Mach 3 or Fusion, that's all that is required. With the Merkur HD, each direction must be done at least two or three times.

If I did just three passes in the different directions with my HD, my face would be beat up and I'd have a crappy shave. In fact, I've tried doing that. For people with lighter beards, I'm sure it works just fine. But not for me. One pass N-S with the HD doesn't take off much hair. The cross grain then takes off a bit more. The against grain absolutely kills at that point because there is still to much beards. My hairs are snapped rather than cut.

Sometimes I'll take a Mach 3 and do my with grain pass once. Then I'll take my HD and do it again. It does shave a bit closer because you can change the angle. And that pass is painless and really is shaving. In that moment, I know what you are talking about. Picking up the HD and going N-S on my face after showering and lathering is painful. It really feels like the blade is snagging on my beard rather than slicing.

Look, I'd really prefer to use the HD. Blades are cheaper. But it's far more of an excruciating experience by comparison. I've tried it for over two months, constanly reading here to pick up tips. It's simply not better than the Mach 3 or Fusion for my beard.

So unless a Feather or different shaver would work better, it's cartridges for me.

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With The Grain
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Post by With The Grain » Tue Mar 28, 2006 11:46 am

Yeah i hear ya, my beard simply isnt that tough so it's hard for me to relate (we do have some guys running around here with steel cable hair though). Feathers are sharper from all of our experiences and the slant bar is apparently designed for tough beards but having never used it i cant in good spirit recommend you grab it after such trials youve had, id leave that for someone with wire hair to chime in on. Check back in on this thread and hopefully one of the guys with the ultra tough hair can give some more insight.

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Post by z » Tue Mar 28, 2006 5:56 pm

I know you've been using it for a while, and I certainly agree that the Mach 3 or similar product may work better for some people. However, I must wonder if technique and blade may have something to do with your troubles. I've always personally had problems with the Mach 3 and Schick Sensor. The DE is indeed *more* work to get a comparably close shave, but I find it to be infinately more comfortable on my face. I also have a pretty tough beard, and it grows in several directions.

I found that the Israeli Personna blades worked much better for me than the Merkur blades. Merkur blades scraped my face, left irritation, and "dragged" on my beard at times. It may be something to consider.
Zach

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Post by Nitrox » Tue Mar 28, 2006 6:04 pm

z wrote:I know you've been using it for a while, and I certainly agree that the Mach 3 or similar product may work better for some people. However, I must wonder if technique and blade may have something to do with your troubles. I've always personally had problems with the Mach 3 and Schick Sensor. The DE is indeed *more* work to get a comparably close shave, but I find it to be infinately more comfortable on my face. I also have a pretty tough beard, and it grows in several directions.

I found that the Israeli Personna blades worked much better for me than the Merkur blades. Merkur blades scraped my face, left irritation, and "dragged" on my beard at times. It may be something to consider.
I have trouble with the Merkur blades too. The funny thing is that in the beginning I got some nasty shaves, got really good shaves after a while and now I am getting crappy shaves again. I use the Futur and the HD Merkurs with the same result using different soaps. I also get scrapes and irritation.
I am going to try some of the Israeli blades and see if they are different, right now the Fusion is giving me awesome shaves after I had initially ridiculed it as a gimmick. Trust me, it's not a gimmick, I like it better than the Mach 3 and even my beloved Excels.

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ichabod
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Post by ichabod » Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:46 am

I have a pretty tough beard. Especially below the jawline.

If you want to give the DE another try, I'd make the following observations/suggestions:

Shaving oil is something that divides opinions - I've read some comments that it actually lubes up the hair so the blade can't cut it as much. It could be limiting the efficacy of the first pass. I quit using it. I occasionally rub hair conditioner on my beard as I shower. I can't honestly say definitively if it helps, but you could try it.
Rinse your face between passes. That helped me a ton.
Don't go against the grain for a while, and maybe do two or three with the grain passes instead. When you feel ready to go against the grain again, try doing it diagonally instead of 100% against the direction of growth. There's a patch under my chin where I have to be amazingly gentle against the grain or I cut myself. Some days I'm just not up to the challenge, and I simply go across it a couple times instead. It's the one remaining place I need to work on to get an all over great shave.
The angle of the blade, reflected in the angle of the handle to the face, is a huge factor in a DE shave, it's been factored out of a Mach 3 shave.
I've been DE shaving a couple of months, I'm still learning, but I'm getting great shaves. However, I got crappy shaves with a cartridge, especially against the grain.

On the other hand - if you're done with DE shaving, I've got a nice Mach 3 faux ivory handle I'll trade you for the Merkur HD... :twisted:
ToughBeard wrote:Further explanation. I shave after I shower. I've frequently used Art of Shaving oil for beard prep. I then lather up with my brush using Nancy Boy or Trumper's. I go with grain, cross grain, against grain. With a Mach 3 or Fusion, that's all that is required. With the Merkur HD, each direction must be done at least two or three times.

If I did just three passes in the different directions with my HD, my face would be beat up and I'd have a crappy shave. In fact, I've tried doing that. For people with lighter beards, I'm sure it works just fine. But not for me. One pass N-S with the HD doesn't take off much hair. The cross grain then takes off a bit more. The against grain absolutely kills at that point because there is still to much beards. My hairs are snapped rather than cut.

Sometimes I'll take a Mach 3 and do my with grain pass once. Then I'll take my HD and do it again. It does shave a bit closer because you can change the angle. And that pass is painless and really is shaving. In that moment, I know what you are talking about. Picking up the HD and going N-S on my face after showering and lathering is painful. It really feels like the blade is snagging on my beard rather than slicing.

Look, I'd really prefer to use the HD. Blades are cheaper. But it's far more of an excruciating experience by comparison. I've tried it for over two months, constanly reading here to pick up tips. It's simply not better than the Mach 3 or Fusion for my beard.

So unless a Feather or different shaver would work better, it's cartridges for me.
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indy
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Post by indy » Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:57 am

Nitrox wrote: I am going to try some of the Israeli blades and see if they are different, .
I received my package of Israeli blades this week; they're great!
I'm getting the closest shaves I've ever had.

Cheers,
Indy
Cheers,
Bill

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Post by notthesharpest » Wed Mar 29, 2006 10:29 am

I have found in my own case that stroke direction is a very big deal with the DE, while with the cartridge it pretty much doesn't matter. You might experiment with that if you want to experiment.

You might also try a more aggressive DE, such as an adjustable or even a slant bar.

Tell you what. I have an old Merkur slant bar razor that you could experiment with. I propose that I send it to you to try - if you like it, then send me $15 for it. If you don't like it, send it back, no cost but the postage. I'll use it if you don't. :)

ToughBeard
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Post by ToughBeard » Wed Mar 29, 2006 11:39 am

Wow, that's a pretty generous offer! I'll take you up on it. I feel that the slant is my last option for DE. Check your Inbox for my address.

Thanks!

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Post by gkennedy34 » Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:13 pm

I have been slowly changing my razors and blades, trying to find the best combination and technique to get a great shave. I started out with a Merkur HD and Merkur blades. I liked the shaves I was getting but it was early on and was a great learning experience for me. I bought some Feather blades because the Merkurs just didn't feel right after a period of time (intermittant pulling and just not as sharp as I felt they should be). The Feathers were great and my shave improved even more.

Most recently, I bought a Merkur HD Slant Bar and some U.S. Personna blades at Walmart. When I started with the Slant Bar I used my Merkur blades because I felt they were the safest option. I IMMEDIATELY noted an improvement in ease of shaving. The shaves were good and definitely better than the Merkur HD and Merkur blade -- probably just as good as an HD razor with a Feather blade if not better.

This week I put a Personna blade in my Slant Bar and I am amazed at how great my shaves have been. There is hardly any resistance as I shave and the Slant Bar just slices my stubble like it was nothing...NOTHING!

Next week, after I donate some blood, I am going to put a Feather in my Slant Bar and give it a go. I'm expecting I will either fall in love or realize that I need to stick with Personnas.

The point is that I went through stages of DE shaving and, at times, didn't know how things were going to end up. I highly recommend the Slant Bar and trying some different razor types. I can't wait to shave in the morning!

Good luck.

gk

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Post by acoldspoon » Thu Mar 30, 2006 5:49 pm

ToughBeard,
I am in the boat as you are. While my beard is sparse, the hairs are thick, a bit curly, and grow in many directions. The only combo I've found that works for me is a Slant Bar and Feather Blades. Anything else, and the razor actually snags on my moustache hairs. I can just barely get away with using a Progress and a Feather as well, but the Slants work much better. I see that somebody is sending you a razor to try. Do you have a Feather Blade to try as well. I found the Slant Bat to be a waste of my time without a really sharp blade.
Cheers,
Peter J
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Post by vontech » Fri Mar 31, 2006 12:50 am

I'm one of those who have a steel beard. By far, my best and easiest shaves have been with a Slant/Feather Platinum combo, and I change the Feathers after every two shaves.

Excessive compared to most other folks here, but it works for me!

Toughbeard, let us know how it goes with the Slant!
-- Tom

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Post by obsessis » Fri Mar 31, 2006 6:24 am

Yeah, hopefully the slant will work for you.

good luck!
joseph

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Post by crackstar » Sat Apr 01, 2006 4:18 pm

Myself, I have an extremely heavy beard, and a Mach 3 or even an M3P just doesn't work as well as a DE, or a straight. I find that the best blades for me are the Merkurs. Even if I just do a single N-S pass, my shaves are close and comfortable, absolutely no irritation whatsoever. Usually Sunday is when I do my 2 pass shave for the baby butt smooth feel.

Jeff

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