I wish my dad had been old fashioned shaver. After about 12 years of shave hating, I've finally come to the old school methods. I'm only in my 3rd week and I've already said goodbye to the awful neck irritation, bumps, and ingrowns I've suffered from all my life (even with electric shavers).
I suspect that I have extremely tough whiskers though. I swear that if I hung upside down, I could hang the razor on my stubble and it would just dangle there. I started with the Merkur Super Platinum blades, and tried a red Personna today. The Personna seems slightly sharper, as it tugs less, but I still think it would hand off the side of my face upside down. I don't know if these are just less than very sharp blades or what. I'm moving to a derby on my next swap, since people seem to consider them quite sharp.
I'm also not getting a particularly close shave yet. I've gotten very aggressive on the easy part of my cheeks though and done up to 7 passes (2WTG, 2XTG, 2 somewhere between XTG and ATG, and some j-hooking) trying to widdle it down, but in the end it still feels like sandpaper when rubbed ATG. I don't do ATG passes at all, because the razor basically just snags on the stubble. And my primary goal has been to shave without irritation or cuts, which I have been very successful at (only got a couple nicks my first few tries, and scraped my neck a bit 4 or 5 times.).
I'm using the Merkur 23C, classic long handle. A pink VDH puck, and cheapo Omega Boar brush. I do the full shower, lather, hot rag, rinse, re-lather prep too but the whiskers still seem tough as nails. My lather doesn't seem as nice as what I've seen in the videos and I'm wondering how much that is contributing the toughness. So far, the lather feels best when it's just starting to develop on the brush. It's not very creamy and doesn't make for a very thick or cushioning layer, but it seems slickest at that point. If I keep working it until it gets closer to what I see in the vids, it feels too light, and loses it's gloss and moisture after about 10 seconds on my face. I would write it off to the soap and brush, but mantic gets a really nice looking lather from the VDH soap and cheap brush in one of his vids. I just can't seem to get it rich and creamy. It goes from thin and creamy, to light and airy.
Any tips beyond what I've been doing for identifying bad lather or getting through my tough whiskers. My skin has always been very sensitive to scraping and gets bumps and ingrowns pretty easily, so I'm not inclined to use additional pressure (as that will scrape) or do any skin stretching (a sure fire way to get me ingrowns). I'm actually quite happy with the shave I'm getting, I just want to know how to get that BBS if I want it. Do I have to go ATG to get it? Do I need a more aggressive razor? I don't feel like I'm just missing the right angle, I've been very slow and precise with my face nearly against the mirror trying to get my cheeks smooth. I hear what I think is the cutting with each pass (even the 7th). It just never ends.
Any other super tough beards find that they need some higher end soap/cream?