Wanna get this right

Discussion in 'Shave Clinic & Newbie Check-In' started by beengone, Nov 29, 2011.

  1. Goals
    Being sick of junk shaves and a hurt face, I want to see if I can get a good shave on a regular basis. To that end, I'm providing details about my face/beard, what I've tried, and anything else I think relevant in hopes of getting great advice leading toward shaving perfection. I'd like help choosing products and methods that won't leave my face bloody and dry and that might even let me shave more than every 3-5 days. I hate shaving in the morning, playing basketball at lunch or at night and dreading the first bead of sweat running down my cheek and chin. Plus, getting this right should keep my face from drying out in the winter. Oh, and I'd like to get all this without breaking the bank or having a lingering smell. Maybe if I shoot for inexpensive perfection I can get close.

    My Face
    I have thick, course, VERY dark beard. Even when I have a decent shave and cannot feel any hair, I have a nice dark five o'clock shadow - oh well. My skin seems to be rather normal from what I can tell. The only weird grain I have is on either side of my Adam's Apple and it's almost totally horizontal for an area about the size of a silver dollar. I'm also rather skinny, so I have somewhat sharp corners at the jawbone and Adam's Apple.

    The Old Shave
    Through the years I've mostly used disposables, opting for 3-blades. I tried some store brands that worked alright, but they change too frequently to have settled. I usually end up buying BIC Comfort3 Advance for well under $2 each. The Schick Extreme3 tore me up like none other. I'm using BIC Flex 3 now and it's alright. I've tried some cartridges also and was satisfied enough with the Mach3, but couldn't justify the price when I could get about as good a shave from the cheaper disposables, plus in time the blades would pop off the handle regularly. I had a cheap 2-foil electric I used in a real bind for a while, but it just pulled and dried me out. In fact, I remember it cutting me worse than disposables.

    As for creams, I've tried the stuff from cans, both gel and foam. The best for me has been plain old original Barbasol with some of the gels being close, but more expensive.

    My Routine has been to wet my beard well and apply cream by massaging it into my face for a few extra seconds - probably about 60 seconds total application time. Lately I've been shaving after my showers, but I used to shave before so I'd mostly stop bleeding by the time I got out. I'm finding if I'm careful I can usually end up with only one or two real bleeders with the other nicks stopping without intervention. When I'm done I pat dry and apply lotion, usually Lubriderm Advanced Therapy or whatever decent stuff we have on the shelf. The aftershaves I've used in the past never did any better, but I haven't tried anything decent and haven't tried any at all for years.

    In short, the old shave was terrible. I was always irritated, a little dry, a little bloody, and almost always scratchy since I avoided shaving for days.
    With the goal of improving both the frequency and quality of shave as well as reducing discomfort, I've been researching shaving for a little while now. Of course, that leads to B&B. I've read a bunch of beginner stuff and asked a few family members questions. My grandpa and uncle both switched to electrics and both love them. They say they have to do 5+ passes, but that it's faster and, if you buy a good electric, does a good job. Come to find out, my uncle switched to the electric from years of a straight razor and supposedly proper techniques, but loves the convenience of the electric. I had trouble justifying the cost of an electric without relatively-certain results. Add to it the very mixed reviews and I opted for trying to improve my wet shave.

    The New Shave
    After reading and reading and watching videos, I decided to move forward a little without great cost. I purchased a Colonel Conk 1001 Badger Brush, Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood cream in the travel container, and some Thayers Unscented Witch Hazel. This morning I tried it all out with my BIC Flex3 (third day's use) after my shower.

    I realize I didn't whip the shave cream quite enough, but watching some videos it wasn't all that bad. I saturated the brush while I showered in hot water first. It was stickier than I anticipated, but seemed to cover well with the brush. The shave was alright with a few nicks and one that bled a tiny bit. The shave wasn't close as I'd like in the trouble areas. I did two passes and noticed I was getting cut so I didn't give those areas any more attention. I then rinsed with cold water and noticed white streaks down my chest where the wet razor caused the shave cream to run. These were only able to be cleaned up with water on a wash cloth after. Is that normal? I then applied the Witch Hazel and called it done. I now realize I should have applied lotion after the WH. Oops.

    Hours later, I still smell the sandalwood from the cream. I'd prefer not to.

    Now for the Questions
    Aftershave - I'd like to pick up a good aftershave and don't know enough to know if I should try a balm, lotion, or splash. From what I'm reading here, it sounds like a lotion or balm, especially heading into winter. I'd like something with a VERY low scent or no scent if possible. Please recommend some decent, but not too expensive products you think might fit this bill. If I'm stuck with scented, I'd prefer a fresh/sport scent. No musks.

    Razor - What should I get? I'd prefer to buy one and be done or pick a line of cartridges and stick with it for quite a while. I could do an Sensor or Mach3 or am willing to do a DE if everyone thinks it will be a noticeable improvement. I'd even contemplate a straight razor if I'm nearly certain it would be worth learning, though I haven't seen that recommended here as much as a DE. Please give suggestions, facts, and even anecdotal evidence. Please keep cost in mind, though that's not my primary concern.

    Pre-Shave - Should I be using something extra in my routine like a pre-shave solution?

    Missing anything?

    Thanks for all your help.
  2. Niles

    Niles Moderator Emeritus Contributor

    Welcome! A Merkur HD or a vintage Gillette Super Speed would be great razors for you to start out with. I would get a blade sampler pack from an online vendor such as West Coast Shaving.
  3. Welcome Aboard!!
  4. djh

    djh Moderator

    Welcome aboard. I think that with a couple more practices under your belt, using a brush and shave cream will be a dramatic improvement over "goo in a can". This will allow you to enjoy better quality shaves with your disposible/cartridge or be the right stepping stone to a DE shave. You can easily pick up a well regarded DE razor from our BST Forum (saving some cash over the new price) and then you will need to try a few different blades to see which one suits you best.
    As far as After Shave goes, it would be easier to make suggestions if I knew where you were located. Guessing North America, I would suggest that Nivea is a good place to start- very mild scent and a good value product.
  5. Thanks all. I am in the US, so Nivea is available. Thanks for suggesting that. Also, I'll look into getting a DE and will watch for one at a good price.

    So the consensus is to stay away from electrics and go to a DE instead of cartridges/disposables or straight, right?
  6. Snargle

    Snargle Contributor

    Welcome to Badger & Blade. You're going to get a lot of good advice here...some of it's going to be YMMV (Your mileage may vary), but for the most part, we'll try to steer you in the right direction.

    DE razors are going to be the easiest way to get started. I'd definitely stay away from the electrics or carts (that's what drove me here in the first place!), and straights can come later once you get your daily routine perfected.

    An excellent starter razor is the Edwin Jagger DE89 series...a high-quality tool, reasonably priced, and an excellent performer. If you want to go with vintage razors, Gillette Super Speeds or Techs are great beginner razors and inexpensive. An essential ingredient in your kit is a blade sampler pack. There are many different DE blades manufactured, and it might take a few tries to find the one that works best with your face, your razor, and your technique. Several of our esteemed B&B vendors offer blade samplers at reasonable prices.

    Be sure to read the Wiki and Stickies and check out the mantic59 videos on Utube for a lot of good instructions and hints.

    Good luck!
  7. ackvil

    ackvil Moderator Contributor

    Welcome to B&B.

    Some good advice above.

    Now that the wiki is back, take a look at the one on lather. If you are using Thayers WH that is a fine AS. If you want a balm Nivea and Neutrogena make some decent ones.

    I happen to use a pre shave oil - but I have sensitive skin with a thick beard. If you don't have sensitive skin you probably don't need it. If you want to read about it you can find some info here.
  8. Welcome. Also take a look at the Merkur 1904.
  9. Welcome to B&B
  10. +1 on the EJ89. I can't think of a better razor for the price. Van Der Hagen often just called VDH is available at WalMart and several drug stores. Lathers well and is often complained about because it has almost no scent. I melt it down in the microwave and add some Old Spice but sounds like you'd like it fine as it is.
    When I started I had some Gillette after shave stuff that was sort of a jell. Light clean smell and very moisturizing. Similar to Afta but cleaner smelling to me. I've moved on to Aqua Velva though.
    Keep us poster, and All The Best,
  11. Welcome to B&B mate!
  12. Welcome to B&B!
  13. Regardless of what gear you buy, there is no substitute for good technique.

    Al raz.
  14. Short update. Today I shaved again. That's the first I've shaved two-in-a-row maybe ever.
    I again showered first and went through mostly the same process. This time I made better lather, not perfect, but really quite good. I started with a fresh razor and only had a few nicks. I noticed I am getting red razor marks from these BIC Flex3s. I also am not able to get close with these things without really pressing down. I was extra careful to work on my technique until the final pass when I had to press - these razors aren't worthwhile for that, they pull as much as anything. I have some BIC Metals on the way and will see if they work for a good travel razor.

    All day again today my face feels different. It's a little dry or irritated, but not bad. But, it never burned yesterday when I played basketball and didn't feel dry, just a little sensitive like now. I also don't smell the shave cream as much, so I must have washed it off better. The WH seems good, but I'll add aftershave too as it's getting cooler and drier out.

    And the biggest news is I asked for an EJ DE89 for my birthday or Christmas. I also asked for a blade sampler pack, etc. If anyone sees a good deal on the EJ DE89 or another razor named above, please let me know. I'll keep my eyes open too and watch the BST forum and posted a WTB.

    At the above suggestions, I ordered some Nivea aftershave to try out. I'll order the VDH when my current cream runs low, but for now I think I'm heading the right direction.

    Thanks again for all the help and advice. Can't wait to get a DE and go to work.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2011
  15. Welcome, sounds like you're off to a great start. Be sure to check the ShaveWiki above for great info including a list of vendor discounts to B&B members. Also, Samplers are great inexpensive ways to try things and are available from e.g. Queen Charlotte Soaps, garry's (two r's) samples, T&H ; and sample blade packs are available from many vendors. Good luck and enjoy
  16. Welcome to B&B !!
  17. Welcome to B&B.
  18. Day three. Better lather. Better shave, but still not perfect. Hoping the EJ DE89 on the way for my b-day is the silver bullet.

    Though I'm using a cheap disposable, I'm trying to work on my technique so I don't lose all my blood on day 1 with the DE. I've watched some mantic videos and what-not, but am having trouble figuring out the best way to keep my face from peeling up at the jawbone. I'm a skinny guy with sharp angles on my face. Do I pull the skin up over and down below the jawbone that effectively creates a corner along my face?

    One final question about cream. After my first pass I re-lather. Should that be burning? I didn't have any cuts when I was done today (?!), but the cream burned a little. If that's normal, fine. Or does that mean I need a less harsh cream.

    Thanks to everyone for what, so far, have been fantastic recommendations and spot-on advice. I'm using the Nivea Arctic Freeze AS for the first day and it worked well and smelled fine. My wife even liked it - not bad for buying online reading descriptions of the scent. Keep making shaving better.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2011
  19. Hey beengone,

    First the jawline: being a fellow with an angled face there's 2 ways you can do this, first pull up the skin so that the corner as it were comes up OR push you chin down into your neck to make that area bunch up (like making a bullfrog face). A mantic video I saw described both ways really nicely.

    Second you may want to test allergies to creams and soaps; rub some onto the inside of your wrist or elbow and leave on for a few minutes. If you get a rash it's an allergy to something in the product. Is shouldn't burn the way you described but it could also be your technique having irritated your face: razor burn.

    I would also recommend a good preshave for you: some of us dig the Proraso pre/post which you apply whilst lathering up and just let sit and do it's work. I also apply between passes.

    I use Proraso AS: it's a light fresh scent which fades real quick so I can put cologne etc over the top. It's also full of good stuff like witch hazel, alantoin etc to help heal and protect. Their sensitive version in the white label is good too.

    Question for you? Are you doing an alum pass after your shave? Sorry if I missed it mate but I found when I've forgotten my alum when traveling my face really feels diffo all day. Strange!
  20. Fantastic, thanks. My EJ DE89 arrived today; I can't wait to try it out.

    I hadn't seen much mention of alum. I just read up on it and will order with some nick repair stuff and maybe a pre-shave. I'll also check to see if I have some allergy to my cream, but more likely it's the razors I'm using. That's solved! Now for the bloodbath of learning the DE.

    I'll hunt down that mantic video about shaving the jawline, hadn't seen that one. Though there's lots to learn, I'll get there with all this pointing the right direction going on.

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