First SE Shave

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First SE Shave

Post by ingrownwarrior » Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:42 pm

After a lot of discussion on here, I finally shaved with my new (to me) G-Bar/HFT. I was a bit hesitant as I brought it up to my face for the first time (as one should be), but I think the hesitation was all for naught as I got a decent shave. I did a very slow and technique focused, two-pass, with-the-grain shave. As a result of my cautious, non-aggressive approach, I ended up with a 'presentable' shave, though definitely not that close. However, on the plus side, I do have minimal-to-no irritation and only one very small nick on the lower chin (didn't even know it had happened).

After all the hand-wringing and research, it wasn't nearly as much drama as I had imagined (yet another example of my imagination getting the better of me). As I've mentioned elsewhere, I've been using the Bump Fighter razor for a while now, and for whatever reason, I did feel like there were some similarities with the way the SE shaved. I think the built in angle of the BF's single blade and the auditory feedback are where they share similarities. And this brought a comfortable bit of familiarity to an otherwise totally new experience.

All-in-all, I am pleased with the first shave. As I said, it was definitely not close, but given the results, it's 'one down' and much of the initial trepidation of trying something new is gone. I am sure that with additional shaves, both the technique and closeness will improve. But, perhaps more importantly for me, I guess I'll now need to see it the irritation and ingrown hair issues crop up...

I did have some trouble with shaving the upper lip/mustache area and just below the lip. I feared starting strokes on the lip itself to get to those hairs that are around it. The head of the GBar is large and it was tough to maneuver, and to know where the blade actually is in order to start strokes in that vicinity. I'm sure this will improve with familiarity due to repetition. As for the upper lip, I have read on here about going side-to-side, but as I attempted this, it just felt all wrong somehow and so I abandoned the effort. Any suggestions about how to approach these areas (below the nose, upper lip, and just below the lip)?

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Post by ShadowsDad » Sat Mar 10, 2012 10:12 pm

Hi Isaac.

I'm glad the first shave went so well for you. Any 1st shave you can walk away from was a good one. :lol: You aren't the first person to approach a saftey razor with a bit of anxiety . Let's face it, it's not that they won't cut, only that they won't cut deeper than 1/4", or at least most of them.

Don't get anxious now, but that first shave was with a SE razor, had it been a DE, would be considered low mid aggressive, but that's as mild as a SE razor gets. You did fine.

Those Ted Pella blades are on the sharp side and little weepers won't be felt. Even nicks can go unnoticed until you see the red. Do you have a styptic pencil? Just a few bucks and it'll last for life. It stops minor bleeding. There are other forms of "styp" (my word I think) but the pencil or stick is by far the best bang for the buck IMO.

I never go side to side in that little groove below the nose if that's where you mean. One technique I use is to force my tongue under the lip to change the shape of it from concave to convex. In fact I do that everywhere my tongue will reach between the teeth and lip area. You'll find it'll also force the whiskers out for a closer shave. If you're prone to ingrowns this might be a last resort for you since the closer the shave the more risk. Anyway, in those areas I always use n/s and s/n strokes. You'll get it, just continue to go slowly. Oh, and don't change the tongue position when the razor is in mid stroke over where the tongue is doing it's push out routine.

I'm not exactly sure what a bump fighter razor is, but if it's a cartridge type, the biggest thing you'll need to overcome is the tendency to exert pressure. The razor works best and cuts closest with as little pressure as possible. You want it to maintain firm enough contact so as not to chatter or skip, but not so much as to deform the skin. That's the best I can describe it. It's also been described as using the weight of the razor alone, but I don't like to write that since an ultra light razor won't have enough weight and you'll need to control it with the fingers and hand pressure, or lack thereof.

What are you using for soap? Just curious, not writing a book. Better soaps will help fight ingrowns. If I had remembered you had that tendency I would have sent another item along with the razor.

You might want to continue repeating the same shave for a time to see how the ingrowns go. If that goes OK, then add the side to side passes for a time. Then finally add a s/n pass. The whole time seeing what you can do without the ingrowns showing up.

I don't know about you, but when I was getting ingrowns I'd have them after a few days and they'd grow out in about a week or 2. So I'd give each step at least that long. Modify that for your circumstance. BTW, I haven't had an ingrown since blade shaving, and for 40 years I didn't dare make more than one n/s pass. So they can be beaten.

Are you using Witch Hazel? It's a great irritation fighter, and works way above it's pay grade. I just use the cheap stuff, but I like the smell and always have. You may also need a balm or other conditioner. All to fight irritation and ease the whiskers smoothly out of their sheaths w/o being ingrown.

That's all I have. I know others can help as well.
Last edited by ShadowsDad on Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Jonnieboy61 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:19 am

Well I am not an SE user, but I would like to say that I fully enjoyed both the post and the response. What a brilliant read.

Well done gents.

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Post by ingrownwarrior » Sun Mar 11, 2012 12:14 pm

Now I've completed my second shave, and it was similar to the first (who would've ever have guessed!). I felt a bit more confident this time, perhaps too much so - I only got one nick, but did get more irritation than yesterday. I think this is because I was a bit impatient, which I know isn't an ideal state of mind when you have a sharp SE blade near your face. However, I got a bit frustrated once again when it was time to shave the goatee area. I just can't seem to figure out how to get that huge HFT to shave under my nose and below the lip. Since I'm just getting started, I understand it's going to be new and awkward, and will take some practice, but however clumsily I am approaching it now, I can definitely use some advice...

SD - thanks so much for the great response! Here's some answers to your questions:
ShadowsDad wrote:Do you have a styptic pencil?
Yep, and luckily so, since I needed it with my nick today. Good advice for sure.
ShadowsDad wrote:I never go side to side in that little groove below the nose if that's where you mean.
That is indeed a part of the area I'm having issues with, but really it's the entire mustache area, as well as the 'soul patch area' (that's the technical term), and the transition area around the upper chin. It's just a confusing mess when I get to that part of the shave. Strangely enough, my neck, which has been the main source of problems in the past, is not that big of an issue at the moment (*as he knocks on wood).
ShadowsDad wrote:What are you using for soap?
I am currently using some Razorock artisan, Palmolive stick, Spieck stick, and some Honeybee Spa soap. I just got most of these recently as I'd been using the Honeybee Spa, but thought I'd get some tallow-based soaps for these SE shaves. I'm definitely impressed...
ShadowsDad wrote:Are you using Witch Hazel?...You may also need a balm or other conditioner.
I have a bit of witch hazel and after today's shave, I think I'll add it into my routine post-cold-rinse. I generally finish with a cold rinse and go straight to my Jason 6-in-1 aftershave (discontinued - argh) which has aloe, witch hazel, and other ingredients.'s all coming along slowly but surely. Practice, patience, angle, no pressing down, etc. So far, the ingrowns and irritation haven't flared up just yet, and here's hoping they don't. That being said, I am hoping for some suggestions as to how to approach shaving the goatee area...

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Post by CMur12 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:29 pm

Issac, you may be experiencing cumulative irritation.

I experienced this the most obviously when I used a Feather blade, even though I was shaving only every other day. My first shave was very smooth. It cut right though my coarse beard effortlessly and I was aware of no irritation. Two nights later, I repeated the shave and noted more irritation than the last time. Two nights later, I shaved again, and the irritation was quite a bit worse, even though I had had a night off between each shave for the skin to recover.

I have a coarse, but not very dense, beard and very sensitive skin. I have to find a blade sharp enough to cut the beard smoothly without taking off a layer of skin as the Feather apparently did. In my case, most any sharp blade short of a Feather works.

By the way, in an SE razor, I do much better with the sharper carbon steel blades, such as the Treets. They cut through the beard with the lightest touch. Stainless blades, coated or not, are very noticeably duller. I have to apply more pressure to a stainless blade to get the same cut that I get with a carbon steel blade and this results in more irritation. This is very much a YMMV situation, as more SE shavers seem to prefer the coated stainless blades, such as the GEMS you can get from Ted Pella.

The next challenge is to figure out how close a shave works for you and how often to shave. In my own case, I do better with a 3 1/2 pass shave three times a week than I do with a single pass every day.

With any new razor it will take some time to learn how to get the exact blade angle for a smooth shave over all the contours of your face. Eventually, you will get to the point where you know immediately when the blade is cutting most effectively and you will spontaneously make needed adjustments.

Starting out, you want to go for a consistently comfortable shave. Your shave will get closer as your technique develops. Later on, you can work more specifically on closeness if needed.

Stick with it and don't push for a close shave before you master a comfortable shave. In your own case, too close a shave will result in ingrowns, so you will ultimately need to determine how close a shave you can get without that result.

- Murray
Give me Soap or give me death!

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Post by ingrownwarrior » Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:52 pm

Thanks for your thoughts Murray.
CMur12 wrote:Issac, you may be experiencing cumulative irritation...
When I wrote my post earlier today, I indeed felt like it was a pretty solid second shave. However, as the day has progressed, I feel much more irritation than I did at first. In fact, there's so much irritation that I'm going to take tomorrow off. And I guess tomorrow I'll start to see about whether or not I have some ingrown hairs.

This is actually pretty frustrating. I know I'm 'just getting started', and if I am going to be successful with this, then it will take time and practice. However, I feel like my specific background is starting to come into play here.

As I've mentioned before in other posts, I first ended up on this site because of extreme frustration with my ingrown hairs, razor bumps, and sensitive skin irritation. Also, as I've learned here, other factors include crazy 'swirl growth' in some spots and some hairs that basically lie flat on the skin. A couple years ago, when I first found this site, I incorporated the wet shaving method (face mapping, good prep, brush, proper soap/cream, light touch, beard reduction not elimination, etc.), and this, combined with finding the BumpFighter (BF) razor eliminated many of my problems: ... or-system/

Yes, the BF is a (one-blade, guarded) cartridge. But this razor, combined with the rest of the techniques, had virtually solved my specific problems. I still have some occasional issues, but all-in-all, my shaves have been above satisfactory. In fact, without having issues, and with all the variation in soaps & creams, I've been pretty much 'enjoying' shaving - which I've never ever been able to say before in my life.

A perfectionist by nature, I thought I'd return to the drawing board to try to get a closer shave since the BF basically gives me "9 o'clock shadow" (as in a.m.). Which I guess now brings me to this:
CMur12 wrote:[D]on't push for a close shave before you master a comfortable shave. In your own case, too close a shave will result in ingrowns, so you will ultimately need to determine how close a shave you can get without that result.
I guess I'm now starting to wonder if in fact I'm trying to perfect something that doesn't really need messing with. You know, 'letting the perfect be the enemy of the good', and all that. My face is currently giving me this message. I'm not necessarily ready to throw in the towel or anything, but I'm now wondering about this entire 'new project' in my shave routine. Perhaps I'll try a more 'mild' solution, like an adjustable injector. Perhaps I'll continue on with these SEs. Perhaps I just need to sleep on it and relax! I know at a minimum, it's the later for sure :wink:

Anyhow, sorry for the long post and the exposure of all my inner dialogue. I just get writing and it just goes on and on. Perhaps it is too much info for some, but it just seems like if anyone would understand, it'd be some of the folks around here. Again, I really can't thank everyone enough for all the advice and opinions...

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Post by CMur12 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:22 pm

Issac, I still think you got off to a good start, all things considered. A lot of guys knick and scrape themselves up during their early shaves with a DE or SE razor - with the latter, in particular, while you did much better than that.

If you can get away with it, try skipping days until you have more familiarity with the razor.
You could also try using carbon steel blades and an even lighter touch. (You can get Treet carbon steel blades at Rite-Aid. GEM Blue Star blades are also good.)
I've also heard from another member with the same issues you have that a cold water shave results in less inflammation.

Ingrowns can be a daunting problem to overcome, but you could still get there with this approach. I wish you the best.

- Murray
Give me Soap or give me death!

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Post by themba » Tue Mar 13, 2012 3:35 pm

Quit messing with that Heavy Flat Top. What you need Sir is an Ever Ready patented 1924. The one with a collar under the head where the handle screws into. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Seriously, the tricks with SE razors are the shaving angle, pressure, and maintaining a flat shaving surface when using the razor. Unlike the Bump fighter, SE razors are not good at handling uneven shaving surfaces. They will nick or cut the uneven area. Bumps, moles or other skin imperfections will be "removed." Though they do not shave the same as straight razors, they were the next step along the evolutionary chain in the development of safety razors.

As for shaving under the nose, I usually make a pronounced "O" expression, and move my top lip down when I am doing it. This allows me to get to the eareas I need to. However, if you have a large nose, then this may not work as well.

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Post by ingrownwarrior » Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:19 pm

themba wrote:Quit messing with that Heavy Flat Top... :lol:
Well, after some reflection, I think this is what I've decided to do. Yes, I do know my technique will improve with practice and the irritation will decrease. But, I went back and re-read my other post and have decided to try an adjustable injector. At the moment, I'm back to the BF. It seems like the injector will be a bit of an 'easier' transition and less of a learning curve - in addition to being a possible solution to my particular shaving issues, which is all I'm really shooting for here anyhow. I haven't given up completely on the older/more traditional SEs yet or anything, I'm just thinking that this is the approach I'm most comfortable with at this time. Yes, as always, my MMV...
CMur12 wrote:I've also heard from another member with the same issues you have that a cold water shave results in less inflammation.
This advice, coupled with that other thread that is currently getting some hits right now, has helped a bit. I'm enjoying experimenting with the different approaches to the point at which I introduce the cold, and so far I am favoring the cold water rinse between passes as that point. It's interesting...

Again, many thanks to everyone. When I get the adjustable injector, I'll give another update.

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