Best Method of Shaving for a Newbie

Discussion in 'General Shaving Discussion' started by johnnyyt, Jun 6, 2013.

  1. First post on this forum. Found some good topics and I was hoping I could get some help from you folks.

    I'm an oriental asian in my early 20s. I started shaving sometime during high school but it wasn't frequent. Within the last year or 2, my shaving habits have really picked up and I shave every 2 or 3 days, at most. I started out using disposable razors. I started shaving more frequently after that so I stepped up to my disposable cartridge Mach 3 :001_smile. Ive been using disposable cartridge razors ever since and I'm currently using the Gillette Proglide Power.

    Over the years, I've gotten numerous cuts and razor burns. My shave has gotten better since I've started using better grooming products and techniques but I still get the occasional burn and ingrown hairs. I'm just not satisfied with my shave.

    I don't grow as thick as many other guys do. It's rough but I don't grow all over my face and neck. Its mainly above my lip, chin, and jawline. I don't let it get too thick because I just end up looking creepy.

    I've been doing some research and I'm stuck between what I should switch to. I like the convenience of electric razors because they don't require much prep work and I do travel somewhat so its pretty convenient to bring along on a trip.
    DE razors seem to be getting alot of praise on this forum and many people like the old school techniques.

    I'm just stuck and I don't know what to do. I just want my face to look more clean without all the red bumps and burns.

  2. Well, first things first - welcome! I've been shaving with a safety razor for around 2 months, and before that decades with electrics and cartridges. I, like many people here, prefers safety razors over either cartridges or electrics. Then again, that is what is called "selection bias" - posting here is like going to a Volkswagen enthusiast website and asking if you should buy a Volkswagen or a Ford. :biggrin1: Having said that, I find DE (double edged) razor shaving to be enjoyable to the point that I have shaved twice a day simply for the enjoyment of it (as opposed to an annoying chore with electric or cartridge shaving). I am still learning how to shave well, but so far I am shaving better than my electric razor and sometimes better thana cartridge. Plus, it is cheaper unless it becomes a kind of hobby. For me, it is a kind of hobby. :001_tongu

    As for how to get a good shave, I would Google "Mantic shaving" videos and look over all of the stickies here and in the "new shavers" forums. Don't buy anything until you have done some reading so you have an idea of what you would be getting into.

    Something I am learning - patience with learning how to shave without irritation (the most important thing) and then closely takes some practice and skill. Don't give up if you aren't getting god results right off of the bat. It does get frustrating when you can't consistently get a good shave, or at least it does for me. Then again, I have a very fast growing, coarse, and tough beard that would make a great weed garden.

    Lastly, for gear, some basic things I would recommend (other people will probably chime in) would be an Edwin Jagger de89 series razor (the different models just have different handles; pearled barley is supposed to be nice) for around $30, a pack of Astra razor blades, a decent shaving brush (I use an Ecotools kabuki, which is $5 roughly; sells the Badger & Blade boar for around $20 ish), a bowl I bought (you can use a cheap salsa bowl to be honest), and a good basic soap (Proraso, RazoRock, Cella, . . . there is a pretty darn big list). I am almost certain that I am forgetting things, but that is part of the fun - mixing and matching to determine what works best for you.

  3. Welcome to B&B! I've only been shaving with a DE for a month; but I already know I'll never go back to cartridges. I tried an electric once when I was 15 and it gave me some of the worst irritation I've ever had, so I never touched one again. My dad uses one every day though and never has problems. They work well for some guys but given my limited experience, I can't speak for them. If your main concern is convenience and quickness, electric might not be a bad idea.

    If you're more concerned with quality of shave though, which it sounds like you are, I would go with a DE razor. It doesn't even take that much more time. Once you get the hang of it, it doesnt take much longer than shaving with a cartridge. There are plenty of videos on YouTube of guys doing a full three or four pass shave, complete with prep and building the lather, all in under 10 minutes. And my skin quality has definitely improved since I started using a DE. I don't know whether it's the single blade instead of 5, the higher quality soap, the pre-shave oil, the hot towels treatments, the witch hazel, the various post-shave balms/moisturizers, or a combination of everything, but my skin is softer and more clear than it has ever been.

    Good luck figuring it out! Everyone's face is different and what works for someone else won't necessarily work for you. Whatever you decide, there's a lot of great information here to help you out.
  4. Welcome! I recommend you check out the ShaveWiki on the top bar of this page and start reading. also has good videos, as another poster mentioned. You might also pick up a copy of Leisure Guy's Guide to the Art of Gourmet Shaving, by Michael Hamm. It's a very informative and easy read. Garry's Sample Shop on this forum sells a beginners kit if you prefer a package to get you started.
  5. I have a baby face just like you with spotty hair growth. I switched to the Merkur 34c yesterday. I literally started using a DE razor yesterday. No razor burn and a close shave. It's more enjoyable because I found myself paying more attention and really appreciating the shave.

    Screw the electric razor. Grab a Merkur 34c, shaving brush, razor blades, shaving cream, and some after shave and call it a day.

    Good luck! There are a lot of really great people on this site. I had a few razors sent to me by a member here only after a few days of joining. You're definitely in the right place.

    Oh and youtube is your friend.
  6. Thanks for all the replies. Certainly helps knowing that my questions get answered on this forum..unlike others. :)

    I've been using a lot of reading for a few days and it seems that a lot of starters suggest using a Merkur first, particularly the 34C or 23C. One question with these, do those numbers mean anything or are they just model numbers?

    As for blades, I don't think I'm going to be needing anything like feather blades anytime soon because I'm new and my hair doesn't grow thick.

    As for the shave brush, I've been getting mixed opinions and reviews on this. Some ppl suggest investing in a high quality brush right away. Some say the cheaper brushes will be able to do the trick. Who's right? Could you guys recommend some good brushes?

    Shaving soaps vs. Shaving creams, which one is better? I've been so used to using creams and gels from aerosol cans.

    Lastly, before I venture out and purchase my kit, what are the necessary tools I first need to begin? I shouldn't be thinking like this, especially when it comes to my skin but I'm somewhat on a budget and I don't wanna break the bank on something I've never tried before. I only want to pick up the necessities first.

    Thanks for the help guys!
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2013
  7. Give DE shaving a shot. Some find it helps with ingrowns, irritation, razor burn, etc. Some find it to be worse. Some have to get past the initial learning curve to get to that shaving experience that they're seeking. We can't tell you which camp you're in. You have to find out through first hand experience.

    They're model numbers. They're frequently recommended because everyone is familiar with them. However, I'd suggest the DE89 for beginners. It's a mild DE that seems to be quite popular around here so plenty can help guide you if you find that the DE89 isn't for you or if you want to branch out. Many end up buying several DE's in the quest to find their perfect DE. I'm currently shopping around for an all-stainless.

    There's a bit too much fuss over the Feathers IMO. As is always recommended, get a sampler to try out different blades. I wouldn't rule out Feathers or any blade unless you've tried them. Even so, as your skill improves it's helpful to revisit blades. Quite often blades are dismissed and the problem isn't so much the blade but the person's technique. It's also advisable to reconsider blades any time you change DE's as blades will perform differently in different DE's.

    There's no right or wrong with any of this. What works best varies by person. If your budget is a concern and trumps all else then buy a cheaper brush and see how it works for you. It's impossible to really give recommendations (there's a brush recommendation thread that everyone should read in the post with all the stickied threads at the top of the brush subforum) until you have some experience and can tell us what you like and don't like and what you're looking for in a brush.

    Keep in mind that price is just price. There are those that are very happy with their brushes at the lower end of the spectrum. There are those that are happy with their brushes at the higher end of the spectrum. There are also those all along the spectrum in between. For example, there are many boar fans that will stick with boars and lower cost is gravy. I'm a badger person myself and prefer larger, dense knots with soft tips for face lathering the soaps that I use (mostly triple milled hard soaps). There are a lot of options and it may seem overwhelming at first but you don't have to figure it all out from the start. That last sentence applies to every topic -- not just brushes.

    Again, neither. You have to try them and see what works best for you. Many find creams to be easier to lather. That said, many prefer soaps for better protection and slickness (depends, of course, on the specific soap).

    At a bare minimum you need a DE, blades, brush and cream/soap. I'd highly recommend getting styptic as you will need it as a newbie. Alum helps with razor burn and weepers which are also common to newbies sorting out angle, pressure and equipment/supplies. Some prefer witch hazel over alum. Some use both. I find aftershave to be a must but your mileage may vary. Proper prep makes all the difference in my book so I have towels that I use to prep my face. If you're bowl lathering then you'll want a bowl. Again, you need to find what works for you and the rabbit hole is as deep or shallow as you want it to be.

    It's a journey and no matter what you choose there are learning curves.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2013

  8. 1- Feathers are not for everyone. They are very sharp, and some people find them too sharp and dangerous. Your mileage may vary though. Plus, they are probably among the most expensive blades out there. I suggest you to try Astra SP blades : they are sharp but smooth, and they go for about $15 for a pack of 100 (shipped, if you shop well). Each blade lasts me about 4 complete shaves, so this would give you enough blades for well over a year if you shave everyday.

    2- For my part, I use a cheap $9 Omega brush, and never had problems with it. It may just take a bit longer to obtain a good lather compared to high end brushes, but I am quite happy with this brush and do not plan to upgrade anytime soon.

    3- It depends on your preferece. Generally, creams are recommended to beginners because they lather easier than soaps. Have a look at Proraso creams (or soaps) if you want something affordable but exceedingly well performing. Oh, and performance wise, creams and soaps are quite equal and it is more a question of preference and lathering properties. Soaps seem to last longer though, because they are "hard" comapred to a cream.

    4- You can buy a decent kit (razor, brush, cream/soap, blades and aftershave) for about $70-$80. Plus, blades/cream/soap, if you are careful with their use, should last about a year. The thing is to avoid developing an Acquisition Disorder by reading these forums... You may end up wanting to try every product you read about on here. Consider yourself warned!

    Happy shaving and keep us updated on your choices :)
  9. Niles

    Niles Moderator Emeritus Contributor

    Welcome to B&B.
  10. I too have been wet-shaving with a DE for only a month or so, but I am hooked and very pleased with the results I am getting. I started with a cheap Weishi (Chinese SS-clone) but as soon as I switched to a Gillette Slim I started getting better and more comfortable shaves. Then when I found the Atra SP blades things got even better. Certainly my skills improved over this same time, but the razor/blade combination rally helped.

    You have already gotten great suggestions on razors to try. I'd suggest getting Atra SPs (less than 10 cents a blade) or Wilkinson Swords (easily found at any Walmart for about $1.50 for ten blades... and while you are at Walmart you can pick up a VDH soap puck that will be a good starter) and you should be well set. i'd also suggest staying with whatever blade you do get for a while... switching out blades will introduce too many variables while you are getting the basic techniques down.

    Lots of good technique suggestions above, especially getting your beard wet (hot shower, hot water, hot towels). Also learn what direction your beard grows (aka "mapping" your face) so you will know which directions you need to go when "with the grain (WTG)", "across the grain (XTG)", and "against the grain (ATG)" passes. When you first start out, you will like uses WTG passes, but soon you will add XTG and ATG passes to get closer shaves.

    Lastly, take your time, both during each shave and developing your technique. I used to speed through shaving, in part because I hated shaving, and in part because I was always stressed about time. Now, I enjoy shaving and find it a source of relaxation. I usually take at least 20 minutes start to finish... sometimes even 30 minutes. I get better shaves now since I am not hurrying, and feel better afterwords. SWMBO also likes it better, since I a a calmer person and according to her I seem more interested in my appearance. Win win.
  11. Welcome to B&B

    the two things that will make the biggest improvement to your shave are:

    1: Preparation. You must get your beard hydrated so that it cuts cleanly and smoothly. this can be done in the shower by using your hair shampoo on your beard area and leaving it sit while you complete your shower, rinsing it off last, then shaving right after showering.

    If you cannot shave right after a shower wash your face twice with a glycerin based soap (Pears or Neutrogena). The first wash is to remove dirt and oils the second you should leave to hydrate your beard on while you set up your shaving tools. sometimes I leave this second soaping on and apply lather directly to it sometimes I rinse lightly (just to dampen my face) than apply lather

    2: Technique. When shaving try to use short rapid motions, not long slow ones. You want to cut your beard not mow it down. Apply only enough pressure on the razor to keep it in contact with your face. Let the weight of the razor do the cutting.

    Try to lock your wrist and elbow and move the entire arm that is holding the razor from the shoulder. This will help you keep a consistent blade angle as the entire razor will move in one plain since you are not adding several additional movements with your wrist and elbow.

    Do not "flick your wrist" as the blade angle will swing wildly through your "flick".

    This may seem awkward at first but after 6 months to a year of concentrating on this technique it will become natural and not require any thinking.

    If you have not already done so, stop into the Hall of Fame and tell everyone a little about yourself
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2013
  12. Welcome to the family! You've been given some very good advice above, and there's always more of that here when you need it. This is without a doubt the best group of people, and they all honestly help one another. Keep us posted as you begin, and ask as many questions as you want. Someone will always answer!
  13. First, this thread should be a sticky! Great advice here...

    i can only add that if you take it easy in the beginning, follow advice here, and gradually add non-WTG passes over time you'll do well and have 90% of it down pat in under 2 weeks. After that you really need to figure out the best approach for your own beard and skin.

    Finally, avoid the temptation common to many who participate in market-oriented bulletin boards to buy multiples of various items like razors, brushes etc. That doesn't do anything to improve your shave.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2013
  14. +1
  15. +1. besides, there is already too much competition for the good stuff being sold. :lol:
  16. What are you using for shaving cream?
    can stuff?

    alum block after shaving will help
    around $1 - $2 at Indian store
    arko shave stick around $2- $3
    witch hazel for around $3 at Target

    And shick injectors are great for traveling, so easy it almost cheating.

    You just need to find a shave brush that you like, artificial bristles are good for travel.
  17. i've been looking around this forum and it seems like i have almost decided on what to buy first. any suggestions or recommendations are still welcome and encouraged :)

    razor - Merkur 34C or 23C OR EJ DE89
    shave brush - parker owst OR a synthetic brush
    shave cream - ive decided on cream because of the convenience of it. not sure which one yet though..
    blades - to be determined..

    i like the long handle of the 23C since its similar to my cartridge razors but if the DE89 or 34C can provide a better shave, i'm willing to make the sacrifice.
    talked to a few people and i like the parker owst because it seems to be a great bargain for a badger brush with a silver tip.
    one of my needs would be convenience and creams are probably easier to lather since they already contain water, and it goes well with a soft brush

    im still new to all of this so please correct me on anything
  18. Everyone suggests the Merkur for a starting razor, and that is what I got. Honestly, for me, it was a little aggressive. Luckily (unluckily for my wallet) my RAD set in early, and I had a second razor within a week. I got a 40's style Gillette Super Speed, and found it much easier to get a comfortable shave with than the 34C. I will probably try the 34C again once my technique has improved, and I'm sure if I would have just stuck with it I would have gotten the hang of it, but its worth thinking about. Especially if you're concerned about could get a 40's Super Speed or Tech from a member here in the B/S/T for less than half the price of a new Merkur.

    Again, if you're concerned about price, you don't need a silvertip brush to start. I got an Omega pure badger brush for $30 and it works great.

    Maybe try some Proraso shave cream? It's an absolute classic, cheap, easy to lather, and smells/feels good.
  19. I'd question spending $70 for a brush before you've ever used one and shaved with a DE razor. Parker sells a good one for like $30, I bought that to start, which you should consider. Then if everything works out you could buy a better brush and use one for travel or just have an assortment.
  20. First read the shave wiki. Then get yourself an inexpensive badger brush from Larry at And a puck of VDH soap ffor Walgreens and a ceramic mug from the kitchen or thrift store. Learn to map your face. You need to be aware of the direction of whisker growth on the various parts of your face so you can be sure you are more or less WTG (with the grain) on the first pass. Learn to make a good lather. Learn to stretch the skin to be shaved. You will find your cartridge shave can be improved greatly.

    Once you know how to get a good shave with your cartridge upgrade to a DE or a straight razor. If you go DE I suggest using one brand of blade exclusively until you have your technique nailed down. Once you have mastered the basic DE shave then get a sampler pack and find the blade that suits you best.

    As for which DE razor I highly recommend a vintage gillette adjustable. Start with it set on 2 and don't fiddle with it until you are getting good shaves. Then try different settings until you find your sweet spot. The adjustable can be customized for your face and your blade and your shaving style and you will never have to try another razor.

    A straight is more satisfying and ultimately is easier to use effectively. There are no disposable bits to continually buy and discard. It has more class and tradition. But you have to buy a strop and maybe a few other bits of gear like a balsa block and some diamond or other abrasive paste. If you think you will end up straight shaving then don't bother with a DE at all. Otherwise go with the DE for now.

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