I've been reading around these forums for two weeks now and would just like to finally register and introduce myself. I am new to the world of wet shaving and this board has been amazing in guiding me along my (mis)adventures. A little bit about me: I'm 23 years old and recently decided that I was fed up with spending so much on cartridge razors. I found myself driving home from the store with an $18 pack of four replacement cartridges for my Fusion Power Proglide. I remembered taking an interest in straight razor shaving a few years ago, but never got around to actually trying it. When I got home, I started looking online and ended up ordering a Parker barber razor and a box of Shark blades so I could get a feel for shaving with a straight blade. My first shave was absolutely horrendous. I didn't cut myself too bad, but I was too scared of the blade to actually get a good shave. I seriously considered opening the package of cartridges that I was saving as a backup. Thankfully, I didn't. My second shave came a few days later. Armed with a fresh blade, I was able to gather the nerve to shave a little closer. Slightly better shave, but more blood. I took it as a step in the right direction and my package of cartridges remained unopened. Third shave was the best one yet, but there was still blood. At that point I was starting to get slightly discouraged. It was at this point that my budget allowed me to finally obtain a brush and some soap. I ordered a Col. Conk badger brush and some Col. Conk Bay Rum soap. I went down to Target and bought the $6 CorningWare soup mug that I've seen on this forum. My items arrived today and I excitedly opened the packages and got to work. The brush was softer than I expected it to be and there wasn't as much lather as I thought that there would be, but the brush did a very nice job of loading up with the creamy and warm lather. I've been practicing my shaving motions without a blade in my razor and had some newfound confidence, which combined with my new soap allowed me to get a shave just as good as any cartridge, and I only had one small cut on my upper lip. While I'm not too thrilled about the wet badger smell (which I've been assured will fade with use), I'm comfortable enough to finally return the package of cartridges that I had as a backup plan and my almost-full can of Aveeno gel went in the trash. My birthday is in November and I'm seriously wanting to get a real straight razor, but I'm still a bit unsure about the maintenance aspect of the blade. I look forward to spending some time here and getting to know some of you as well as improving my own techniques. I'm not too sure how my wallet feels about it yet, I already have the urge to try more soaps even though I have three pucks of Col. Conk.