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Begining the Journey - A Convert's Journal

As with many other fourmites, I stumbled upon this community by accident. After reading many informative threads and watching Mantic's excellent videos I have since developed an interest in the fine art of wet shaving. My goal is to transition into a fulfilling morning ritual that provides both quality results and an enjoyable process. As an effort to both maximize my learning curve and to reciporocate something back to the community I have decided to use this thread as a type of journal. I hope it is to the enjoyment of those who have come before and as a detailed account of one man's journey to those who will follow.

Perhaps I should first begin by relating my current situation and my personal reasons for making the change. I candidly admit to increasingly enjoying the finer things in life. Both the 'simple pleasures' and quality/luxury items have become more enjoyable into my early 30s. I seem to have completely missed the opportunity to enjoy what I have, up until this point, considered simply a necessary chore in shaving. I temper this with a pursuit of buying and consuming environmentally responsible products. Packaging with this in mind is a personal consideration.

My current shaving regime, as yet unchanged by my recent education by the above pundit sources, includes the following. As you may note, several features are consistent with traditional wet shaving techniques and practices while others can certainly improve drastically. I begin each and every morning with a shower. This has always facilitated what I considered a proper preperation for shaving in that my skin always reacted much better to the shaving process. Typically, I prepared my face with the warm-to-hot water of the shower in combination with various face washes. Predominantly, I use my wife's St Ives Apricot exfolitaing scrub as it seems to be her product of choice. It generally does the job with minimal tightening of my skin. After the shower I towel dry and proceed to begin the actual shaving routine.

After the shower, I proceed to lather my shaving cream or soap. I have used many can gels and creams in the past (Nivea being my favourite can gel) but was recently persuaded by a friend to try the Wilkinson 'blue' shaving soap applied by a Wilkinson shaving brush. Typically, I lather the soap in the containg dish. I have experimented with applying the lather via my hands from the brush and directly from the brush itself. I have since only used the brush and feel it does indeed do a better job than my hands. So, after creating a solid lather, I would again soak my face with hot water and apply the lather accordingly. Post shave consists of a cold water rinse and Nivea balm.

I have tried many disposable razors in the past but have found that the three-to-five blade 'systems' are over kill and generally end up iritating my skin and/or cause ingrown hair and neck pimples. Over the years, I have settled on and always came back to the Gillette 'Custom Plus' disposable pivots. These are dual-bladed disposables with the green and blue handle and the green lubricating strip. These do get the job done with minimal negative effects. I have always found they are the best razors for my money and generally provide a decent shave. That said, I am hoping a switch to a safety razor will yeild significant results when combined with a few new products and a refined regiment.

As mentioned, I have always enjoyed quality and have increasingly moved towards purchasing luxury items. I certainly can afford and do not mind paying for quality but I do expect a return for my money. I understand that simply paying more cash for a product does not guarantee it will provide increased enjoyment and/or performance. For these reasons I have decided to forgoe spending a small fortune on equipment and consumables and focus on developing technique and excellent practices. I shall endeavour to use only the bare minimum of products with little variation in efforts to achieve a solid technique and discover what does and does not work for my personal preferences.

Thus far, I have pruchased the following based on tradition, forum knowledge and experinece, location/availability (Maritime/Eastern Canada) and (percieved) cost effectiveness. I plan on using the following products for a minimum of 30 days before switching. The only product I plan on rotating within the first 30 days are the blades. Please note that I will not start my new regiment until I have assembled my first kit - which should be the begining of next week (24/05/10). As I am on vacation for a week it will be a perfect time to start.

Preperation Facewash: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
I chose this product as it is very affordable (if not dirt cheap), accessible, gentle and generally regarded as a decent product.

Brush: Wilkinson Sword
I have yet to purchase a new brush. Hearalded as the most critical piece of equipment, perhaps second only to blade selection, I feel the need to make a well informed choice. Since I already possess a brush, I believe I will begin with the Wilkinson. This will allow me to compare the new regiment with the old and see what differences the utensil actually makes regarding lather. I believe I will be going against the grain and looking into a synthetic brush.

Shaving Cream: Proraso (Eucalyptus and Menthol)
Both tradition and review dictated this choice. As with the Cetaphil, this product is easily accessible, down righ cheap and highly regarded.

Safety Razor: Merkur HD 34C
From my research I have narrowed the choice down to a vintage Super Speed and a new Merkur HD 34C. These razors both appear to be the stalwart choice for beginers and the experienced alike. I decided to purchase new and bought the Merkur.

Razor Blades Sampler: Precision, Dorco, Derby, Lord and Astra
Again, simplicty and cost effectiveness was the key. That said, I will certainly mix up my blade selection and order another sampler if need be.

Astringent: Thayer's Lemon Witch Hazel
I decided to add this phase in after more reading about witch hazel's properties. It will fit into my regiment post shave and pre after shave balm.

After Shave: Baxter of California Aftershave Balm
I chose this product based on the consensus of the reviews stating it was a decent product, provided a cooling sensation and had a pleasant yet temporary lemon scent. My work environment is scent concious.

Moisturizing Lotion: Baxter of California Enriched Night Cream
I chose this additional nocturnal moisturizer and expholiant to compliment the aftershave and provide a skin care treatment that lasts a full 24 hours.

I would like to thank everyone on this forum for providing such a detailed resource. I look forward to begining my journey into traditional wet shaving and I look forward to comments, suggestions and interaction.
 
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Welcome to the forum! I personally fail to see the risk factor involved in purchasing a Super Speed; buy it, hit with Scrubbing Bubbles followed by alcohol and peroxide or Barbicide, and shave away. I've bought and sold, and shaved with, a number of used razors in my year or so of DE shaving, and have yet to have any kind of an issue...

Of course, you're free to buy whatever you want to buy, but I would hate to see you miss out on a great shaving experience by passing up the older Gillettes...
 
Welcome to B&B...great first post! :thumbup:

The Wilkinson Sword brush is not bad as a starter...it certainly does the job adequately. Nothing wrong with synthetic brushes, if that's the direction you take. There's also boar to consider if you're not interested in a badger brush.

Don't completely forget the WS soap. Again, it's a decent product (especially at the price).

Keeping with the one, basic set-up for a month is a good plan...it lets you judge the different blades fairly.

I've never tried a Merkur, I went straight to vintage Gillettes, so I can't comment on it. However, they're well regarded here (unlike Merkur blades). Super Speeds are excellent razors to learn your technique with. Don't restrict yourself to NOS...as Chuck stated, used models are easy to sanitise.

Keep us posted on your progress and feel free to ask any questions.
 
I really would like to suggest a Gilette tech as well, probably one of my favorite DE razors as well as it can be made mild by a mild blade or more aggresive with something like a green 7 o clock or a feather. It's always a constant standby for me whenever I want to try something new because I know that razor will give a smooth shave every time.
 
Many thanks for the welcome.

My main concern buying a used instrument is not the 'santitation' factor. My concern is rooted in the possibility of purchasing a razor with an issue that may influence the quality of shave it affords. I do realize the chances are not great - slim at best - but I have read many posts where people ask if there are issues with the razor they are interested in. Purchasing new would simply be avoidance of any potential risk - no matter how minor. As I would like to purchase and use only one razor in my introductory period I felt it logical to purchase a new instrument.
 
After a few more hours of reading I believe I will add a Witch Hazel astringent before the final balm. It seems to be a very popular step. My original post is edited accordingly.
 
Purchased a Merkur this evening. I have also asked my mother to look through my Grandfathers' possessions to see if she still has either man's razor. I am hoping she does.
 
If you're looking for luxury, try a scuttle. Hot lather on every pass dramatically increased my shaving enjoyment. I made the mistake of thinking it a minor point until I bought a scuttle. Either the Moss or a Dirty Bird (I own both) will contribute to your enjoyment.

You might also want to think about a badger brush. I've found them much better than synthetic or boar. There's a terrific group buy going at the moment for a Simpson Eagle -you should at least read through the buy thread.
 
After a few more hours of reading I believe I will add a Witch Hazel astringent before the final balm. It seems to be a very popular step. My original post is edited accordingly.
+1
Try Thayer's WitchHazel.
It's a great astringent and a solid value--I purchased a bottle about a year and a half ago and it's still with me.

Welcome!
 
Many thanks for the welcome.

My main concern buying a used instrument is not the 'santitation' factor. My concern is rooted in the possibility of purchasing a razor with an issue that may influence the quality of shave it affords. I do realize the chances are not great - slim at best - but I have read many posts where people ask if there are issues with the razor they are interested in. Purchasing new would simply be avoidance of any potential risk - no matter how minor. As I would like to purchase and use only one razor in my introductory period I felt it logical to purchase a new instrument.
Vintage Gillettes are pretty solid. I'm not aware of any members not disclosing any faults on BST so have a look and see if there's a good/very good rated razor that catches your eye.
 
Vintage Gillettes are pretty solid. I'm not aware of any members not disclosing any faults on BST so have a look and see if there's a good/very good rated razor that catches your eye.
I did peruse the BST before purchasing the Merkur but could not find what I was looking for. I missed the NOS Merkur slants by a few days and the interesting Super Speeds were sold.

That said, my mother actually found her father's old razor. She does not know much about it but it does say Gillette Super Speed on the case. If it is in good shape it will be an excellent find for the sentimental value alone. If it is useable I will start with that razor and put the Merkur on the back burner.
 

htownmmm

Moderator Emeritus
I wish I had taken the time to think through my choices as you have-this trait will serve you well in your B&B futur. Welcome to the site!


marty
 
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