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Shaving Over Razor Bumps - turned in to a viscous cycle

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Shaving Over Razor Bumps - turned in to a viscous cycle

Postby bennay » Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:23 pm

So I'll admit I'm very new to wet shaving. My technique has come a long way however, it can still go further.

My current dilemma is on my neck... Now don't go crucify me yet, I have done some work. I have watched the manic youtube videos, analysed my grain... so it's getting better but there are still a few spots (really two main ones) where I get irritation. Basically they don't go away until my next shave, and then I re-aggravate (or cut/nick) them and it's turned into a viscous cycle.

It's mainly because when I shave over these areas, it's hard to not get irritation (this goes back to even my cartridge days). What happens when I shave over these areas is I often cut/nick these bumps or irritate them. Basically the only way not to, is to not shave - which I do. BUT eventually it gets to a point I have to for work/life... So I go with the grain in these areas, with minimal pressure and a careful blade angle. The rest of my face/neck has a much smoother (closer) shave with little to no irritation but it stills occurs there and these bumps remain until my next shave.

Any suggestions how to break this cycle other than not shaving completely?

I currently use pre/post Proraso, TOBS shaving cream, GFT skin food and/or Nivea balm.

I have this on order: alum block, styptic pencil, witch hazel, and gentlemen's refinery (hoping this would help).
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Postby Persius » Wed Feb 29, 2012 1:37 am

bennay - other members will be along very soon to give you more sage advice, but from another beginner's point of view, I would say that I had a similar problem when I started out, because of sensitive skin / psoriasis, but a little experimentation has led me to a (cautious) conclusion that the razor and the various products do make a difference.

My skin "likes" T&H Rose cream, but "hates" T&H West Indian Limes. I get on better with my Feather AS than my Merkur 34C (in terms of irritation, although the opposite is true for close-ness of shave). Personna blades work well for me, Merkur, Gillette 7 o'clock much less so.

I guess that you have permission to try lots of stuff out until you find what is best for you.
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Postby bennay » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:18 am

More product... Hmmm this addiction is adding up.

But I have read YMMV a lot throughout the forums... Seems like it should include your "reaction" may vary as well
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Postby Persius » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:24 am

bennay wrote:More product... Hmmm this addiction is adding up.

But I have read YMMV a lot throughout the forums... Seems like it should include your "reaction" may vary as well


Very true.
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Postby Jonnieboy61 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:33 am

Hi Bennay

Sounds like your off to a good start and FWIW I get a similar issue. For me I use use lots of cold water rinse and lay off any aftershave for a few days, if it is really sore in the neck area you mention. You can always put some cologne on your upper chest if you still want to smell nice.

I tend not to use some of the products that treat this as I find they make it worse, for me anyhow.

As Persius says Im sure more of the gang will be along later with some good suggestions.

Technique will of course improve in time and should help to minimise the issue.
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Postby jww » Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:31 am

First of all -- remember that learning to use a DE razor is a skill to be developed, not something you simply pick up and run with it perfectly within a few shaves.

Below, based on my experience, are the most important points to remember along with a few thoughts and suggestions for you.

1. Blade angle
2. Razor pressure
3. Practice
4. Patience

While I have been doing this for many years, I consider myself far from "sage" material, and note that I have much yet to learn.

However, I will say that the neck can often be the most difficult area to get right. When I first started off with a DE razor, I had issues with bumps and irritation on the neck for several weeks before I realized that my angle was still off and my pressure was too heavy - even after thinking I was paying close attention to technique.

Even now, if I am not careful and watchful, hubris will sometimes set in and I will come away with some irritation on some place on my neck as a reminder that I was not paying attention. It doesn't happen often, but can easily come into play.

I suggest that you may give shaving a miss for a few days and let your neck recuperate. The edge of a DE blade is really, really sharp, and can be quite harsh on the skin if anything goes awry. Then I the next time you shave after 2 or 3 days off - only do a light pass with the grain on your neck. This is normally from the chinline down towards the chest, although you will need to check your whisker growth pattern to be sure. Necks are a very nefarious thing when it comes to shaving with a DE razor as you have found out yourself so patience and care are the watchwords.

New DE users tend to want perfection their first time out. Worry less about the perfect shave and bbs results, and more about getting the technique right first. I learned for myself early on that "just presentable" was better for me than "redneck spots" because I was trying too hard. FWIW - I would say it was a good six months before I felt entirely comfortable with my results and changing up my tools at whim.

And one other thing -- try to keep your set up exactly the same. The more variables you introduce to your routine early on, the more difficult it will be to develop proper technique. For example, I used only US Persona blades, a '59 Fatboy, Vullfix 1069 OEM brush and C&E Sweet Almond Oil cream for my breaking in period. Others will likely share similar comments so take it all in, don't try to be perfect out of the gate, and you too will be rewarded --- however, Never, Never, Never .... give up.

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Postby Persius » Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:55 am

jaw wrote:... I consider myself far from "sage" material, and note that I have much yet to learn.


Our friend is just being modest, and is correct. Technique is all-important. For us new chaps patience gets us much farther down the road to the "perfect" shave than product-based excitement. I just get carried away far too easily ...
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Postby Esoteric83 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:55 am

If you can, let your skin heal for a couple days. Products like this (http://www.fendrihan.com/anthony-ingrown-hair-treatment-p-1142.html?manufacturers_id=77) may help break the viscious cycle, but think of them as a short term solution with the long term goal of getting your technique ironed out.

Tend skin is also an option and readliy availble in Shoppers Drug Marts (at least in Ontario), but it stinks to high hell and needs to be applied with a cotton pad. The AL stuff is a gel with a very mild lavender scent that works as great spot treatment.

Edit, to further JWW's comment - swing to get on base and not for the bleechers and you will start to notive results.
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Postby Quarterstick » Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:49 pm

I have been at this just under a year so I am definitely not a sage. Based on my experience I agree with the above that is it is predominately technique still. Given the neck is harder to flatten out so to speak than other parts of the face, it is too easy to get too much pressure going on part of the blade and not enough on another. To make things more difficult, the hair on my neck looks like a crop circle in one spot so staying with the grain is an exercise in futility. Add to it the fact the neck moves, you put a collar against it, and I believe you get the genesis of the term pain in the neck. Personally, as I continue to hone my technique and especially for those off days I have found witch hazel to be the ticket. Best of luck and please share your learning.
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Postby bennay » Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:50 pm

Seems like I need patience and a constant routine that I can improve upon.

From the products I am about to get (alum block, styptic pencil, witch hazel, and gentlemen's refinery aftershave blam) how would you recommend I use them? Styptic for bad cuts? Then alum before witch hazel? No witch hazel and just the aftershave balm?
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Postby Esoteric83 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:20 pm

Alum, rinse, witch hazel then balm. Use styptic pencil for nicks & cuts when they occur.
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Re: Shaving Over Razor Bumps - turned in to a viscous cycle

Postby mikey » Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:57 pm

Hello bennay,

Welcome to SMF.

You don't mention what blades you are using. The only time I get razor bumps/ingrown hair (usually on my neck) is when I use a blade that is poorly honed (tugs and pulls instead of shaving cleanly).

Also, I think you should simplify your routine rather than adding more products. I usually recommend the following:

1. Pre Shave (shower)
2. Rinse (warm water)
3. Shave (one WTG pass plus touch-up using single soap/cream/foam/gel)
4. Rinse (cold water)
5. After Shave (single product)

As for alum, styptic, witch hazel, other toners, etc., I would suggest only using styptic and only for cuts/nicks/weepers.

For after shave, I would suggest using just the Skin Food. Only a few drops are needed.

Finally, if possible, skip a day or two before shaving again.

Hope this helps.

Thanks,
Mike
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Re: Shaving Over Razor Bumps - turned in to a viscous cycle

Postby bennay » Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:56 pm

mikey wrote:You don't mention what blades you are using. The only time I get razor bumps/ingrown hair (usually on my neck) is when I use a blade that is poorly honed (tugs and pulls instead of shaving cleanly).


I have a sample set of blades. Over the past couple months I have used only three blades. Merkur, Derby, and Gillette. I really didn't like the Merkur (thought the value also wasn't very good). I was excited to use the Derby but I think my beard is too coarse and thick (lots of pulling). The Gillette is what I am currently using. It's been better than the other two I have used. I was planning to continue with that, and then move to an Astra or Blue Bird - unless there are some other suggestions? Note I also have feather blades - saving them for last. I'm trying not to switch too quickly - keep things as consistent as possible.
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Postby CMur12 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:09 pm

Hi bennay -

If you are afflicted with razor bumps and irritation, you really need to use a gentle razor. While these afflictions can come from undeveloped technique, it can also be that your skin doesn't tolerate a close shave.

I have sensitive skin and a coarse beard, and I started with a Merkur razor, which was too aggressive for me. (It still is.) When I switched to a gentle razor, my shaves improved dramatically and learning accelerated. I know that a number of gents got started with Merkurs and they did just fine, but I don't recommend it, especially if you have sensitive skin and a susceptibility to razor bumps or ingrowns.

So, I would recommend a razor such as a Weishi or a Gillette Tech. A used iKon three-piece with safety bars (not the open comb) is very gentle, as is the Feather All Stainless. An Edwin Jagger or Muehle is reasonably gentle, but it is more aggressive than the razors I just mentioned. Also, avoid Feather blades.

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Postby bennay » Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:13 pm

I have a Merkur 38C and EJ DE89 barley. Quickly started to stick with the Edwin - Merkur felt too aggressive.

Currently have used Derby and Gillette 7 O'clock blades. Derby's felt too dull (drag and pull). Gillette's have been okay so far.
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Postby CMur12 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:38 pm

My challenge with a coarse (but not very dense) beard and sensitive skin is to get a blade sharp enough to cut the beard easily without damaging the skin. So far, it has always been a compromise. I like the sharper blades, short of the Feathers, but I still get some resistance. Feathers mow right through the beard so effortlessly, but they take a layer of skin in the process, and I don't even realize it until later.

The Gillettes are sharp blades. You might be best served to spend a minimum of a couple of months with one razor and one type of blade while you develop your technique. Then go through your blade sampler when you have a clearer basis for comparison. Also, changing blades, alternating razors, soaps, and/or brushes slows down the learning process. Stick with one set-up for awhile. Then with some experience under your belt, venture forth into the wilds of acqusition disorders!

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Postby jww » Thu Mar 01, 2012 5:26 am

bennay wrote:I have a Merkur 38C and EJ DE89 barley. Quickly started to stick with the Edwin - Merkur felt too aggressive.

Currently have used Derby and Gillette 7 O'clock blades. Derby's felt too dull (drag and pull). Gillette's have been okay so far.

If you hadn't already started with your arsenal, I would have suggested a vintage Gillette Tech -- the king of gentle DE razors, imo. Nevertheless, if you are happy with the EJ/7 O'Clock combination - a fine razor and blade marriage, I would add - then keep it there until you have become fully confident in your technique.

I would add a bit of clarity on achieving the right angle -- now that you appear to have control of the tool side of things. When you start each stroke try this little easy-to-learn, but hard-to-remember technique. Start with the razor head on your face - the handle horizontal. Then, as you slowly let the razor fall under it's own weight (and I do mean slowly), start to let the handle drop (or raise depending on the direction you are shaving) with the stroke. As soon as you hear those tell-tale little pings, stop tilting the handle, and maintain that angle. Try to keep your elbow locked and use your shoulder for major angle adjustments to your face, and use the wrist to micro-adjust to slight nuances to the shape of your face. If you religiously follow this little technique, you will learn proper blade angle in a few shaves and will perfect it in 2 or 3 weeks (based on my experience).

And then - about pressure - it is absolutely essential that you allow the weight of the razor to do all the work of cutting. Any pressure at all - especially on the neck, will surely result in bumps.

I would say that these two things were useless to me until I determined to take my time and be patient with the process. Then everything finally came together and I could really enjoy my shaving routine. After all, that's still probably the main reason I shave -- because I love the ritual so much. That, and of course so as does my wife - like me clean shaven that is. So I kill two birds with one stone --- Comfortable Shave, Happy Wife, Happy Life.

Best of luck going forward - and do keep us posted.

Remember -- as one of our long-time members says -- "It's your face, not a race." :wink:
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Postby JarmoP » Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:25 pm

There is always the blade of your choice. In the neck, my skin is so thin. Especially at winter times. You say Derby is tucking and maybe so, I have not had experience with the newer ones. But if building a protective lather, definately not too watery and more soapy or creamy, milder blades like Derby could work better.

See Gillette 7 o'Clocks are not the most mildest of blades but rather sharp. I can and do use lately often the gillette dark blue blades. But they are not the gentlest on my neck. The Derbies I have or the Red Personnas, much better for my neck.

For me, the razor used is not that important, strange as it may sound to Wendell's comment about Gillette Tech. My Tech gets a use almost third of my shaves, but it is not any better than my Merkurs. The blade angle I think most important. Keep the head cap against your neck until it just starts to cut. And absolutely no pressure THERE if even needed elsewhere.

As much as I enjoy my Super Iridium blades or the gone Gillette "swedes", they never were the most gentle on my skin. Easiest shaves YES, but on my neck, them not most comfortable shaves. Better than Feathers though ;)

Do you have checked how your neck hairs grow? Always best use first pass WTG (With the grain) and next pass only to more aggressive direction. 2 passes on neck should be enough considering how thin the skin is there.
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Postby themba » Thu Mar 01, 2012 2:30 pm

Most tend to lump things together but there are different types of "bumps". The type of bumps you have will dictate your course of action.

If you have a razor bump, your razor, blade angle, or not shaving close enough, is leaving a tip on your hair that is not agreeable to your skin. If you have bumps caused by ingrown hairs, then you are shaving to close. It may also be the case where the blade draging across your skin is causing a bad reaction. There are places on my face, by my ears, and the nape of my neck, that can "bump up" from a blade. These bumps are NOT ingrown hairs, or razor bumps. They are a result of the skins reaction to the blade.

You have to make adjustments to either, your blade angle, pressure used, maybe a different razor, or anything that will solve the problem. Shaving over bumps will eventually lead to nasty scarring and possibly a bad infection.
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Postby bennay » Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:51 am

Update so far. Had a shave yesterday - waited longer for the bumps to subside. This morning, very little noticeable irritation or new bumps. I focused on five main things when doing those areas basically: Blade angle and pressure (basically none), WTG, stretching the skin, only two passes (the first being very, very passive).

While it's definitely not smooth there compared to the rest of my face, its only noticeable really by touch - and I can likely even shave tomorrow :D

I'll continue with this until I know I get no irritation at all, and then go for a closer shave down there.
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