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A newbie's shaving journal

Hello there! New wet shaver here!

For starters I'm a 21 year old engineering student and obvious firefly fan ;) with pretty sensitive skin and what seems to me like pretty tough facial hair that's also a bit curly. I've been shaving regularly (every day or every other day) with a Gillette Fusion and whatever canned stuff I had on hand for about 4 years and it's never really given me good shaves. Tons of irritation, ingrown hairs, and pain pretty much every day but until recently I didn't know there was any alternative and figured that my skin would "toughen up" as my father always told me.

I recently changed up my routine a bit after discovering this site and lurking for a while by making an attempt at multiple passes with the Fusion (very light and usually doing 2 WTG, 1 XTG, and 1 ATG if I felt brave and had a middle-of-its-life cartridge) and being much more careful about my pre and post shave routine which got me good, but not amazing, results and still left my skin too irritated and unsightly for comfort. Even still it wasn't nearly as miserable as before, at times my shaves even bordered on relaxing!

Now that summer is here and I'm out of school with little besides a part-time job to worry about (and fusion cartridges are up to a whopping 15 bucks!) I decided to finally give the full wet shaving kit a proper go so that I might actually enjoy shaving in the morning. I didn't want to sink too much into the whole enterprise just yet (I'm prone to ADs in whatever hobby I attempt, being a poor college student is not conducive to this) so I think the brush might have suffered a bit but overall I think it seems decent enough to start. So after a few weeks of research and video watching (thanks mantic59 wherever on the internets you may be!)

I've decided to finally stop lurking and try to get the advice of people more experienced than I. I’m also going to try to make my own contribution to what has so far been an extremely helpful community (even for a lurker) by starting a shave journal detailing my own successes and failures, hopefully day by day, and hopefully for at least a month until I get the hang of DE shaving. Hopefully it’ll be something helpful to newbies like myself and entertaining to veterans like well…everyone else!

To kick it off here's a list of my equipment:

- Merkur HD
- Derby Extra Blade (out of a West Coast Shaving sampler pack of Feather, Merkur, Astra, Derby, and Israeli)
- Tweezerman Brush
- Random ceramic bowl (deep and fairly wide. Pretty much hemispherical because i'm not sure what shape is best yet)
- Tabac Soap (in the nifty ceramic bowl)
- Thayers Witch Hazel with aloe
- Col. Conk Styptic Pencil
- Nivea for Men Post-Shave Balm
- Neutrogena for Men Face Lotion (spf 20)​
 
Day 1:

Did not shave this morning. All my stuff came in the mail today. After staring down all the shiny new baubles for about an hour I decided that I was much to exited to wait till before bed or (gasp!) tomorrow morning to shave so 5PMis the new 7AM.

Procedure:

1. Shower - Before getting into shower put both brush and bowl in hottest possible tap water (not boiling but hot enough that I couldn't put my hand in it for more than 5 seconds). Shower as normal. Face and neck soak for approx. 1.5 minutes in hot, but not scalding, water. No soap on face, water only.

2. Lather - First I removed brush from water and emptied the bowl, leaving approx 1 teaspoon water inside. Shook most water out of the brush gently, covered soap in hot water for approx. .5 minutes, then emptied and loaded brush till it seemed decently foamy (approx 30-45 seconds). Then I moved to bowl and began mixing until the lather seemed to build to a good level of "creaminess", then tested it on my hand. The lather seemed too dry so I added approx. 1 tsp of water to mixture and began to lather again. It seemed to be "lathery" enough to shave with so moved on.
When I started brushing (circular motions) on my face I noticed immediately that the lather was not right and not really covering my face so I added another teaspoon of water, washed my face off, and began to build up lather in the bowl again until it seemed to reach the right consistency. Tried covering my face again and the lather seemed okay, not as good as many of the pictures I've seen, but not terrible. Brush seemed a bit scratch but I guess it softens over time and it wasn't irritating so no big deal

*note: First time using brush. It smelled like wet animal but not nearly as bad as I expected it too. It did lose a few hairs though (about 4-5) which seems a bit worrying. Could this be caused by my technique or is it a natural consequence of the (admittedly) cheap brush?​

3. Shave - This seemed to be the easiest part. Noticed the razor seemed to be skipping and sticking but after adjusting the blade angle and maintaining it more carefully the problem (mostly) disappeared (I assume any other skipping was due to bad lather). Completed 2 WTG passes and 1 (very careful and light) XTG pass without weepers or cuts (yay!). Final result was closer on cheeks than chin and neck area, but not very close on the whole.

4. Post-shave - 1.5 minute cold water rinse followed by passing alum over face followed by a splash of witch hazel, Nivea ASB, and finished with Neutrogena lotion (the SPF is pretty much de rigueur here in South Florida). Noticed a little burning with the alum, mostly in the neck area. Could be a sign of irritation? Not too sure about that.

Thoughts:
For a first attempt I would count this one a success. Shave wasn't the best but I expected that until my technique improves. Definitely need to practice lathering. Considering doing it with a cheap bar of Williams shave soap that I picked up at Walgreens for $1.50 so as not to waste the Tabac. Another thing to consider is that I have a tube of C.O Bigelow that I could use instead of the soap for a while. Overall my face feels much better than with my old fusion, which is my main aim anyway. This bodes for the new hobby. Actually anticipating tomorrow’s shave!
 
First of all, welcome. Helfpul site and all that... In any case, I think it's handy that you're keeping such a detailed journal of your venture into the world of wetshaving. Being this observant will probably help you progress quickly as you'll see any changes to your routine and be able to pinpoint problems and correct them.

As for the brush shedding, my brush shed about 4 or 5 the first time, then less the next couple times. After a week or so I saw no shedding and haven't for months. I suspect yours may be the same (you're just losing the loose ones.).
 
Welcome to B&B and congrats on a great start. If you haven't watch them already, definitely check out the Mantic videos on YouTube. They are invaluable.
Just remember, light to no pressure and the idea is whisker reduction with each pass, not elimination.
Enjoy the journey!
 
Welcome to B&B!

Sounds like you are off to the right start. For the soap lather, I like to face lather better. I have found that this technique works best for me with soaps. I like to bowl lather with Creams. and for post shave, I can't really get cold water off the tap, so what I like to do is, right before I jump in the shower I get a small face cloth good and wet, and put in some tupper ware and use that to wipe my face down. It's one of my favorite parts of the shave......

In the warmer weather you might want to try some proraso mentholated shave soap, and some osage rub. It's a great combination on a hot day!

Keep at it!
 
I wouldn't shy away from jumping right in with the Tabac as opposed to 'saving it' and using Williams instead. While Williams is inexpensive, and can produce a good lather, it is often difficult to get that good lather (at least that's what I've found).

On the other hand, Tabac is a soap that lathers quite readily. I think it's a great starter soap for that reason. Not to mention that a puck of Tabac will last you a very long time. I wouldn't consider using Tabac right off the bat as a waste. Especially since you mentioned that you thought the lather may have been an issue in your shave.

Long live Tabac.
 
Day 2:

Thanks everyone for the warm welcome and advice! Going to try to incorporate as much of it as possible while keeping the general procedure pretty constant. This log seems to be good for that purpose. That and a little bit of accountability keeps me from getting sloppy while I’m learning.

Procedure:

1. Shower – In the interest of keeping things as uniform as possible to reduce the number of possible variables, this part of the procedure was kept the same with the small exception of Neutrogena Razor Defense Scrub, which I use on alternate days. For the sake of brevity I’ll leave this part out of future entries.

2. Lather – Practiced a little with the Tabac last night and got a little better result. Seems the key for me was making sure to work the soap INTO the brush rather than just letting it accumulate at the tips. This resulted in a much better lather and much better coverage and feel on my face than my first attempt even though the rest of the lather-building procedure was kept the same as yesterday.

3. Shave –Two WTG and one ATG pass like yesterday. Experimented a bit with blade angle today. I think I have the “no pressure” idea pretty firmly in mind from practicing with the fusion but the concept of holding a blade at a specific angle is foreign to cartridge razors. It seems for me that the best way to tell when the blade is at the right angle is the sound it makes going across the skin, which should be “popping” rather than “scraping” from what I’ve gathered.

I got two little nicks today, one on the neck near my Adam’s apple and one about midway up my jaw line. I think the cause might be carelessness or
maybe improper angle since the neck is pretty hilly terrain.

4. Post-Shave – Alum block bears out the angle problems I think. Most of the stinging it causes seems to be around that area of my jaw line and around my windpipe. I’m not really sure how to mitigate this with the razor though since it seems to be a little difficult to work around those areas. Rest of the post shave procedure is the same and seems to take care of any of the irritation I caused before.​

Thoughts:

Definitely a better and much closer shave than yesterday and I’m pretty happy about it. I think that keeping the procedure constant in as many areas as I can helps quite a bit with identifying problems with my technique. I’ll definitely focus on keeping the blade at the right angle around the more curvy areas of my face tomorrow. Lathering still needs work too but I’m getting there. Loving the smell of the Tabac in the morning!
 
Sounds like you are off to a great start!

I recommend practicing your lather building technique a little more. The soap you use for this will be considered a good use.

One thing you my want to try is Kyle's Prep I use a variation of this, and have found that saving my neck is much easier, and I get less irritation.

Enjoy the shaves! They get better!
 
Good progress. Pass the glory of wetshaving on to others in your (or should I say our? I'm only 25 myself) generation.

Oh, and Firefly absolutely rules.
 
I got two little nicks today, one on the neck near my Adam’s apple and one about midway up my jaw line. I think the cause might be carelessness or
maybe improper angle since the neck is pretty hilly terrain.

4. Post-Shave – Alum block bears out the angle problems I think. Most of the stinging it causes seems to be around that area of my jaw line and around my windpipe. I’m not really sure how to mitigate this with the razor though since it seems to be a little difficult to work around those areas. Rest of the post shave procedure is the same and seems to take care of any of the irritation I caused before. [/INDENT]

Thoughts:

Definitely a better and much closer shave than yesterday and I’m pretty happy about it. I think that keeping the procedure constant in as many areas as I can helps quite a bit with identifying problems with my technique. I’ll definitely focus on keeping the blade at the right angle around the more curvy areas of my face tomorrow. Lathering still needs work too but I’m getting there. Loving the smell of the Tabac in the morning!
Remember to make funny faces and stretch the skin a bit to make the jaw line and neck flatter. This is not really needed much in the world of 5 blades and a flexible head, but unless you can changes the blade angle with each curve, it is easier to try to change your face a bit.

Also was wondering when someone else was going to mention the Firefly/JW reference. I too am a fan :biggrin:
 
Sounds very similar to my on-going learning curve. One thing I've picked up on that helps ME in the problem areas like windpipe and jawline, is to make very short strokes. It makes it easier to maintain the proper angle in the "hilly terrain" as you put it :lol:
 
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