And so it begins: my first DE shave

Discussion in 'Shave Clinic & Newbie Check-In' started by dszpiro, Sep 15, 2006.

  1. My First DE Shave: Mostly Good News

    Well, the day arrived. After reading the B&B site and other sites dedicated to wet shaving, I decided to take the leap. I have always been a multi-blade shaver, having progressed from a Trac II in the 1970s up to a Fusion today, so using a blade, brush, and shaving cream / soap was not a novelty (I did, however, discover how much more effective a good brush and the right cream / soap can be thanks to the B&B page). The idea of a DE shaver was a bit scary, but the personal stories I read here convinced me I had to try.

    I ordered a Merkur HD as it appears to be widely recommended, especially for those new to wet shaving. The same day I noticed a Merkur Vision 2000 for sale by a member of B&B and I decided to buy that too: mostly because it looks so great! My plan was to use the HD and work my way up to the Vision, but the Vision arrived first and I couldn’t wait.

    My typical routine is to shave before I shower. I don’t use any pre-shave material; simply wet my face with hot water for a minute or so before starting. I started off by making a bowl of lather (Taylor of Old Bond Street Pure Badger P2234 brush, Palmolive cream). I loaded the Vision with the Israeli blades from letterk’s 5-blade sample pack: this seemed to be a good compromise between the Merkur and Feather blades for starting. I dialed-in the Vision to “N” to play it safe to begin with.

    The first few north-south strokes were an anticlimax as nothing happened. Well, almost nothing. Even as I tried various angles for the shaver, I found that this low setting was just not removing any hair. Of course, I was careful not to apply pressure as I read in so many places that this is a no-no: I wanted the (considerable) weight of the razor to do the work. I dialed the Vision up and tried again. Well, I repeated this process until I found myself all the way at “V”. Now things were happening.

    I recall reading (or seeing a video) that claimed that shaving with a DE razor was all about beard reduction, not beard elimination. I understand that very well now. I have a pretty heavy beard and getting a close shave with a multi-blade razor has always required that my last pass is south-north (even east-west passes are not sufficient). After a north-south pass and east-west/west-east pass with the Vision I could still feel considerable stubble, so I decided to try south-north passes with this behemoth of a razor too. This did the trick and left me feeling far smoother. I am pleased to report I did not nick or cut myself once during the entire shave! (Maybe I was being too timid with my passes?)

    By this time, my face was starting to burn a bit as I had taken many passes, including my “test” passes to adjust the blade. I decided to rinse off and grab a shower. After the shower I applied Sharps ASB which works very well for me. I did feel razor burn for the first couple of hours after the shave, but I blame all of my test strokes for that. It is now 2.5 hours since I shaved and the razor burn has passed. I do notice several spots where I did leave some stubble (e.g., chin, under nose), but this is something more noticeable by feel rather than appearance. I also think this is symptomatic of the DE learning curve.

    So, here’s my recap of my first DE shave:

    - Love the feel and heft of the Vision in my hand (it is as close to driving a Panzer tank as I will ever get)
    - Love the audible feedback of using the Vision (I think my neighbors now know when I am shaving)
    - Ultimately I achieved a very nice, close shave

    - None, really.

    Remaining Questions:
    - Am I doing something wrong with the Vision? Is it normal to dial it up to “V” on your first drive?
    - Could I have a significantly different experience with a different blade (e.g., Feather)? I have read many people on B&B describe the differences between various blades, but can this alone explain the need to dial all the way up to “V”?
    - The Palmolive lather is not the thickest of my shaving creams: should I be trying a thicker lather with this razor / blade combination?
    - Should I be changing other elements of my routine to help make this transition to DE shaving more effective (e.g., a pre-shave, shave after the shower)?

    I look forward to climbing up this learning curve and doing this all over again tomorrow! Thanks for reading this note and sharing any thoughts you might have.

  2. hello and welcome to B&B

    1)first i dont have a vision but i am sure you dont need to dial it up to V
    2) yes blades shaves very different from each other and tehy shave different in each razor and for each face. for me the israeli blades were dull. they pulled and didnt remove the hair very well.
    3) pamolive should be fine but i suggest that you find a cream you like and stick with it while you learn.
    4) eithier shave after a shower (what i do) or make sure you spend pleanty of time wetting the beard (at least four minutes) other than that your routine sounds goods.

    now my thoughts. your closeness problem is most likley due to the wrong shaving angle. the blade should be at 30 degrees to your face. the best way for me to find this is start with the safty bar against your skin (handle pointing at the floor) and bring the handle up until the blade starts to slide down your face on its own. [this method risks cuts and many will disagree with it]. the other method is to put the top of the razor against your skin and rotate the handle down while making a stroke and find the angle when the blade starts to cut.

    also the best advice i can give any new DE shaver is dont try to get too close a shave. only do two with the grain passes (and stop) for the first week or so.if you dont get all the stubble just dont worry about it. this will keep your face safe as well as improve your technique. after a week or two do one with the grain pass and one across the grain pass (and stop). stay away from against the grain until you have a few weeks experience. somtimes its just too tempting to push too far chasing that close shave too soon.

    as always just IMHO

  3. I don't know about too timid. I have thought that a time or two, but it seems that no cuts or weepers would be a good thing. And you are right on the "stubble". I notice that some too. Scotto and others have mentioned that some blades take a day or two and then do a better job.

    Can't comment on the Vision razor, but it sounds like you did okay.
  4. If you want to shave before shower, I would wash the beard with soap and water and leave it wet when you apply the lather. (Some don't think using soap is a good idea, but it works for me and seems to wet the beard more.) Do order the blade sampler packet and try different blades. You may well want to end up with a different setting on the Vision for a different blade. I can't imagine dialing my Vision up to V, but I use Feather blades.
  5. Thanks for the thoughts. I have a feeling that my technique still leaves something to be desired if I need "V" on the Vision. I think I will try a Feather tomorrow and experiment with the angle. I'll also try shaving after the shower tomorrow (hey, its Saturday!).

    Thanks again! Have a great weekend,
  6. Danny, I always shave after a shower, never before. My beard is also very heavy. When I first started to use a Vision, I did only one single pass from N-S. Now, I'll do 2 passes like that, except along my neck, where my second pass is S-N. I think I only got some razor burn once or twice since I've been using the Vision, and it was my fault, because I thought I could do a second S-N pass, so I was rewarded with some razor burn and even a little nick! Since then, I'm very careful.

  7. All the advice received is very much appreciated!

    Yesterday I received my new Merkur HD in the mail. This morning, my second day of DE shaving, I tried the following:

    - Merkur HD loaded with Feather blade
    - Shower first, with Proraso preshave applied in the shower
    - Charles Trywhitt cream
    - One N-S pass, one S-N pass
    - A couple of "touch-up" spot S-N patches here and there
    - Sharps ASB

    The HD is certainly much quieter than the Vision. I found what appeared to be the optimal blade-face angle and took frequent short strokes. The N-S pass did some beard reduction, but the single S-N pass (neck and cheeks) worked very well. Limited to the two main passes, my face had a slight "tingle" afterward but no real razor burn. Overall, a step in the right direction!

    I think I'll use the HD for a couple of more days and then re-try the Vision loaded with a Feather too.

    Thanks again to all for thoughts and advice.

  8. When I shave before I shower I wet my face then wash it with a small amount of whatever I'm going to shave with, Proraso at this time. A hot water rinse then lather..

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