Neck irritation--should I consider a milder razor?

Discussion in 'Double Edged Razors' started by Mr. Igg, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. Gents, I could use some help.

    I'm trying to remedy ongoing irritation on my lower neck, and I'm thinking of shifting my AD focus to razors for the first time as a way to do it. My question: Would a "milder" razor help, and if so, which would you recommend? I'm considering a Tech or a Superspeed, both of which I understand are milder than an HD? The reviews suggest these razors greatly reduce irritation. Can I still get BBS, too? Is there a compelling reason to choose one over the other? I've made it almost a year and half without really getting into razors, so I'm embarrassingly slow in the area. I'd sure appreciate any guidance!

    (I'm also open to encouragement to redouble my focus on technique, but I'd also like your help on the razor option, too.)

    If more background would help, my work environment encourages a fairly clean-shaven appearance, and my facial hair grows pretty quickly; so, I really need to end up if not at BBS, at least very, very close to it. Happily, I've been getting a BBS shave for a while now, but always at the cost of some visible razor burn/irritation on my lower neck.

    I've been using a Merkur HD for the last year, and so far, Israelis work the best for me as a blade. My beard appears to be fairly heavy and, while it follows a general grain pattern overall, it has several exception areas where the grain switches. As a consequence, to get BBS, I need to do at least 4 passes + a touch-up (5 is often better). The passes are the typical WTG, XTG, XTG, ATG, with often a chevron thrown in.

    That number of passes seems to be relatively independent of the major blades (I've tried Merkurs, Dorcos, Derbys, Israelis, and Feathers). Given that number of passes seems to be a "must", I'm thinking that leads to greater irritation all else equal than, say, a 3-pass shave? And since it looks like I'm a more-than-fewer pass guy, that leads me to consider a milder razor.

    Again, I'm very willing to reconsider/refocus on my technique, so feel free to point me in that direction. But, if a milder razor would help, I'd like your help in that vein, too.

  2. you're going to get a lot of replies to this one, i'm sure.
    for starters, try an adjustable superspeed or a red tip.
    i'm completely ignorant of the multitude of acronyms you've thrown out there, but as one with sensitive skin, i'll remind you of something i'm sure you know but may need reminded of; the fewer the passes the better. hence, each pass needs to be as effective as possible. hence, one pass should be with the grain and one against.
    my neck grain grows basically in the same direction until it reaches the adams apple then radically changes direction. i shave as if there were a physical line in place that prevents me from shaving into the area of redirection so that i can shave it with its grain following the simple two pass method (with and against the grain). fortunately, i very rarely have any neck irritation. however, when i began wet shaving over 20 years ago, it wasn't uncommon. the chief reason? shaving neither with nor against growth pattern... however, all this is just my experience with my skin and beard growth.
    also, if your skin will tolerate it, check out a pre-shave oil. i myself use proraso pre/post crema. they can work wonders.
  3. I get some redness on neck adjacent to adam's apple where patch of hair seems to grow in God knows what direction. With lots of my gillettes, I need to do multiple passes, blade buffing, J-hooking to try and get it BBS, being a perfectionist. Believe it or not, I would recommend a Merkur slant on a barberpole (39c). I've had two shaves with it, with no nicks, bumps, redness, irritation. The slant gets the trouble areas on my sensitive neck with first pass; blade angle seems second nature. Less passes with BBS shave. I've noticed others with tough beard and sensitive neck have voiced similar results with the slant. The long, heavier barberpole handle makes manipulating it easy with no need at all for using any pressure while shaving.It is definitely not to be feared and is a very safe razor. Highly recommend it. (see my two posts on Futur vs Sledgehammer rating). Good luck and happy shaving.
  4. jkh


    What he said. I have had much less irritation using an aggressive Merkur Slant as opposed to "mild" Gillette shavers such as the SuperSpeed and Tech. For me I had to do 3 passes plus cleanup with mild shavers, whereas the slant wipes the plate clean in 2 passes ... so the third is just light touch up.

    As always, YMMV
  5. See, this is why I love this board.

    I'd considered a Slant a long time ago, in what was probably my one slight tilt toward developing RAD. It wasn't at all because I thought a Slant would "cure" my irritation; it was just a mild case of of razor envy. I didn't pull the trigger.

    To get two recommendations to (re)consider a slant specifically to address the irritation, however, really makes me sit up and take notice.

    Thanks for the idea!
  6. I've been thinking about this for a minute here and I think you ought to do an experiment of some sort to help guide your search for a new razor.

    Do you notice at what point in your routine (i.e., on which pass) that your lower neck becomes irritated?

    Case 1:

    If it's in the first few passes (especially the first pass) then i would wonder if you are perhaps not shaving the area properly (that is, it may be a technique issue with your first or second pass).

    Case 2:

    If however, you are experiencing that the irritation begins somewhere in the later passes, then you may have an issue with the sheer number of passes, after all dragging sharp metal over skin repeatedly will eventually irritate it no mater what you do (hence fewer passes generally better for skin).

    The resolution for Case 1 may be a less aggressive razor (like many of the Gillettes I am sure will be suggested to you.

    If it is Case 2, then you may consider the sledgehammer(39C), or perhaps an adjustable merkur.

    The reasoning behind my advice is hopefully apparent, Case 1 is either a technique or aggressive razor issue; Case 2 is a number of passes issue.

    Each scenario requires a different resolution (in fact an opposite resolution).
  7. On my lower neck, the hair grows opposite from the rest of my neck and face, so when I'm doing the first pass (WTG), I go North-South until I get about 3/4 down my neck and then stop. The bottom fourth of my neck gets a South-North WTG.

    I save ATG on the lower neck for the absolute last part of the shave, and I go VERY gently ATG , or North-South. Then I relather and do just a very few light diagonal strokes to get the oddballs. Whatever whiskers I can still feel will settle back down beneath the skin surface in about 10 -20 minutes and I have an irritation free BBS neck.
  8. My advice would be to try a tech. It would be a fairly cheap experiment and it is one of the most mild and forgiving razors.
  9. I've been reading posts on this forum for about three months, and I've noticed that the neck issues are brought up very frequently.

    My angle on this:

    I think most of this has to do with basic geometry, and much less to do with the type of razor. The neck is a circular cylinder, versus the more "flat-planed" areas of the cheeks and under the jawline. Not to mention the tricky landscape of the throat and adams apple. Thus, when one shaves N-S or S-N on the neck, more passes are needed because less surface area is covered by each pass due to the razor being flat and the neck being circular, which can result in the blade tracking over the same area more times than one realizes. E-W passes would cover more surface area of the neck per pass, but obviously this direction might not be accommodating in terms of the way one's beard grows. The additional passes one has to make when shaving the neck, IMHO, are the primary cause of all of the problems.

    So what's the answer? Besides the standard advice (map the beard direction, no pressure, good prep, etc., etc.)? For me, very light blade buffing WTG seems to help on the neck, as does keeping the following in mind:

    For me, keep things light, and don't take yourself so seriously; just be comfortable with a decent, comfortable shave on the neck. We are our own worst critics. I would say that few people who observe us in daily life, if any, would give a passing thought to the microscopic stubble left over with a WTG shave on our necks; no one has ever came up to me and said "hey man, you should really go ATG on the neck, what are you thinking?" Myself, I just go WTG everywhere, with light, "negative pressure" blade buffing WTG as well, and go XTG on the cheeks, as this area permits it from a comfort standpoint.

    I know that many people have conquered the neck and routinely get it BBS, and my sincere kudos go out to them. My contention is that is all well and good, but there is nothing wrong with being just comfortable and irritation free. BBS on the neck doesn't happen to be a priority for me, and it doesn't have to be for anyone unless they choose it. It's not a requirement; people vary widely in skin sensitivity, coverage of beard per square inch, coarseness of stubble, beard growth direction, elasticity of skin, ad infinitum; one guy's theories or advice that works for him may very well not work for someone else. Some people's (like me) genetics and environment may render getting a BBS shave absolutely everywhere a pursuit that is simply not worth pursuing.

    I also realize that for many, shaving is a hobby and the quest for BBS is a fun journey. But the new guy of girl should feel free to just be comfortable, and not feel automatically compelled to go for BBS, and realize it is just simply a preference.

    As another member commented, "I'd rather have invisible stubble versus highly visible irritation." Well said.

    I came here because I was tired of paying for high priced cartridges and I was sick of razor burn/irritation. Thanks to the help of people here, I've been getting comfortable, luxurious, cheap shaves, with no irritation what-so-ever. For me, that will do.
  10. I would go slant/feather for this one combined with reducing the number of passes to 3. To reduce the number of passes, between each pass, feel the hair on your neck. Look for areas that have more stubble than others. These are areas that you need to change the direction on as the pass is not as efficient there as it could be. Some guys have 16 or more zones on their face.

    For me, I used to have terrible issues with irritation on my lower neck, close to collar. Basically this was caused that on my first pass, I was accidentlly going ATG and I basically was going ATG on subsequent passes.
  11. I've only been wet shaving for about 6 months now, but have the same kinds of problems mentioned here. (Neck irritation, course beard) Do you think it's too soon for me to try a slant barber? I can get BBS easily on everywhere except for the pesky neck. I know that part of it is that I am going ATG accidentally in some of my neck areas. If I do go for a slant would I be okay with still using the derby's that I'm currently using, or should I try a different blade also? Thanks all!
  12. +1 keep the pressure light and the shave comfortable.
  13. Hi,
    I guess that my third DE shave is really soon to achieve a good technique. My cheeks and shin go moderately well, but my neck is terrible. No way. I have a 11C (open comb) Merkur and used a Merkur blade for the two first times. I just swapped to a Bolzano blades (Feathers alike).
    I bleed a lot and have a great number of really bulky and red spots in my neck. I tried to wait for three days between shaves for my face to calm. Didn't help-
    I shave after shower, clean face, uberlather, jojoba oil as apre shave before each pass, and so on.
    I try to pay attention to my technique, guess that's the problem, with no success. What if I need to shave daily for a few days? I am worried.
    Concerns and advices, please.
  14. I don't think a different razor is the answer. You mentioned that your job requires a nice close shave. My guess is that you may be using a little too much pressure to attain that close shave. I can use the most aggressive razor you can think of and never get irritation. But with each step up in aggression it takes less and less pressure. Give it a try.

  15. + 1 with Len
  16. How do you keep the pressure light when going ATG? You basically have to lift the razor to the my opinion, this is the most challenging aspect of shaving the neck. The dreaded ATG pass...I've yet to truly master it, but it is getting better.
  17. htownmmm

    htownmmm Moderator Emeritus

    A SS + Feather may be the combo for you. When I need(want) to get ridiculously smooth(my skin squeaks when doing the hws and cws), I use this combo.

    There was a time when I suffered from ngrowns that waited for the opportunity to show up and say 'hi'. I no longer even worry about them.

    The lighter razor helps me to use a lighter grip and doesn't allow me to bear down-plus, with a Feather in there why would I want to.

    I do agree with the choice of the slant and feather combo also. However, I do get some minor irritation w/ that combo-but easily handled w/ after shave.


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