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Beginner tips & guidance… From a beginner!

Hello Smooth-Faced Gents!

First post here. I just started down the double edged safety razor experience. I have been reading a lot and collecting info before ever putting blade to skin. This web site and several others have been wonderful for collecting information. I like to gather as much info and opinions as I can before buying something. There must be some other beginners out there who could benefit from the time I invested. So as a way to give back a little, I thought that I would write out what was found and what was done. As you’ll see, there is an aspect of “If I can do this, anyone can.” I’ll describe where I’m coming from, the decision processes that were used, the products tried, and the results. So let’s get to it…

In the beginning… There were whiskers:
Why start down the double edged road? I’ve been shaving for about 25 or 30 years. Lately it’s been 6 days a week and give the skin a rest on the 7[SUP]th[/SUP] day. As I got older and more advanced cartridge razors came out, I tried them. Mach 3 was better than what preceded it. The Fusion was even better. Fusion Power was worse and whatever came after that was even worse. So I’ve stuck with the Fusion. Pretty good. I’ve come to prefer the Neutrogena Face Clearing Shave Cream. Thick stuff from a tube. Works very well for me. Minimal acne, razor burn, and bleeding versus everything else I have tried. I like the thick nature of it. Foam from a can is much closer to just scraping a razor across your face dry. The Neutrogena is nice and lubricating.

Getting 6 days from a cartridge is possible, but a little harsh on the skin by the end. They definitely feel better on the first day. It would be great to use a new one each day. I have thought about it a fair amount. Although even by the end of that first shave, there is some scraping going on. So I’ve been using the cartridges for only 3 days each. Yeah, expensive, I know. Fortunately, I make enough money that it’s not too big a deal if it helps save my face. I mentioned this to say that cost savings was not my prime motivating factor to try the DE experience, although it is certainly a welcome one.

Shaving is just a chore and nothing fun at all. The biggest pain is trying to get all of the thick shave cream out from in between all those little blades. My home faucet does not have enough pressure to blast out the cream to clean the cartridge. Some, but not all, hotel rooms do, though. The method I worked out is to go to the doctor’s office and ask for sample pills. Of anything. “Just give me the drugs!” :tongue_sm Those plastic things (sleeves or packets with the bubbled pill holding part) that sample drugs come in are just thin enough and just strong enough to slide between blades and push out the cream. Sort of. It’s a mess, takes a while and often does not get it to be too clean. My sink clogs often, too. It could be the thick shaving cream, although I’m not sure. I wouldn’t dare blame my wife’s hair in a public forum. :tongue_sm Start to finish, it takes me 15 minutes to shave.

There’s got to be a better way to shave. The annoyance, the time, the trying to clean the thick cream out of the cartridges… I’m up for trying something different. Plus I just like the idea of a well designed item such as a chromed, heavy razor. And I want the shaving thing to be more enjoyable, less of a pain.

A wrinkle to contend with. Or: A preexisting condition:
A few years ago I ended up with some blood clots and even a pulmonary embolism, which, luckily, didn’t kill me. That means I am taking a blood thinner (Coumadin, i.e., Warfarin) for life. Eh, not super fun, but I’m alive so no complaints. It means that my blood is thinned and cuts can be a problem with regard to not clotting well. Many (most?) people on the drug use electric razors or just grow beards. Neither are pleasant to me. I have found that the cartridge razors make it just fine for me to wet shave. I know that the cartridge razor world takes a lot of flak around here. But they have allowed me to wet shave while on Coumadin, so I think that they do deserve a lot of credit here.

What about with a safety razor? It could be a risk. And so that is part of the reason that I worked out so many things in advance here. Use a pre-shave cream, post-shave cream, and all the details right on the very first shave. To increase the odds, as much as possible, that all will go well. I mention all of this to say that if I can try this kind of shaving and survive, you can, too.

The shopping spree:
OK, so I read about all the things that I might need to get. To make sure that the very first shave goes well, I don’t cut up my face, and I don’t bleed to death. Here are the products I settled on.

Apparently, you want a heavy handle to “let the razor do the work.” (Just like using a good knife in the kitchen). And you do not want too long of a handle. Shorter and held from the end helps control. These things, together, help to not push down onto the skin. From reading about recommended razors for a first timer, there are two that come up more than any others: The Merkur 34C and the Edwin Jagger DE89. Could have gone either way. I went with the EJ DE89. It looks nicer in the web photos. Went for the lined body so it won’t slip as much as the prettier smooth one. In retrospect, maybe I should have gone with a razor that has a knurled handle for even less slipperiness. That would be the Merkur 34C or I could have put in more effort to track down the knurled version of the EJ. It might be fine as is. We’ll see. $32 at Amazon.

The most common recommendation is to get a sampler pack to start. However, some wise gent gave contradictory advice that I liked. It will take a while to develop proper technique. No sense adding another variable in there, changing blades. So pick one generally well regarded blade and stick with it for a while. Several types fit the bill. Astra comes up a lot. And platinum coated seems to be a generally liked thing. So I got a 100 pack of Astra Superior Platinum blades. $12 at Amazon. Can good blades really be this cheap? I’m suspicious. Heck, I’ll use a new one every day if this all goes well. All the extra creams and such will add much more than 12 cents/shave, but we’ll have to see how it all goes.

Pre-shave cream or oil:
Here is a spot where one might skip to save a little money before their first DE shave. Maybe just switch to a DE razor and keep everything else the same. To see if you like it. But, as mentioned above, I wanted to make sure that things go well at the very beginning. I looked around at what people like to help get a better shave. Pre-shave oils can add to acne. So let’s go with a cream of some sort. Also, my skins gets very dry during the cold winter that we have here in Indiana. So keep alcohol out or to a minimum. The Proraso Pre-Shave Cream, Sensitive Skin (white cap) looks like a solid bet. Very well regarded and the smell is supposedly not too strong. $13 at Amazon.

Shave cream or soap:
A zillion good options here. Two brands that pop up quickly are Taylor of Old Bond Street and Proraso. Mitchell’s Wool Fat was in contention, too. Although loved by some, others complain about MWF lathering being difficult. I don’t want an overpowering smell. Maybe even as little to no fragrance as possible. At least to start. I decided on Proraso Shaving Soap in a Bowl, Sensitive Skin (the white capped version). Much loved, cheap, less intense smell than the green version. Supposedly just hints of tea, oatmeal, and citrus smells. The green version is a menthol and eucalyptus, which might be great. But kind of sounds like Vicks Vap-o-rub to me at the moment, which I would not want on my face. Eh, some of this is fairly arbitrary, trying to decide on buying smelly things online. $10 at West Coast Shaving.

Here is a place that you can get very fancy and spend a lot. For a beginner, it seems that a badger brush of the “best” grade hair is the place to start. The Edwin Jagger Best Badger brush is very popular for starters and was a contender at about $48. Comes with a stand that might be good for drying. The Whipped Dog Silvertip was in the running, too. High value for a silvertip, but possibly too soft for some applications. Some people prefer lathering in the bowl or cup and others prefer to lather on the face. I don’t know what I’ll prefer, so I need a good all ‘roudner. The Simpson brushes are very well regarded. I got a Simpson Colonel, which seems to be very well liked of their lower end of brushes. Supposed to be good for both bowl and face lathering. A minor extravagance in that the Edwin Jagger would have been around $16 less. I just liked the classic look of the Simpson and let it get a tiny bit fancy here. $64 from West Coast Shaving.

Post-shave treatments:
Here is another thing that you might skip if staring your first DE shave in the face, but looking to save some money. Many, many options out there. I do wonder what this whole “bay rum” thing is about. Similar to above, I wanted something with a lot of moisturizing for our cold winter. And not a strong smell that lingers. The Proraso After Shave Balm, Sensitive Skin looks to fit the bill. $16 at Amazon. Also, I decided to try some Thayers witch hazel. Alcohol will be too drying in the winter, so I went with Thayers Alcohol-Free Original Witch Hazel Toner, $11 locally.

As I type this up, it becomes apparent that I ordered most of the pre, post, and shave creams from the same company and the same line within that company. Hopefully I like them.

Another thing that you could skip if you dare. I should probably have it around to stop bleeding if it happens. Like a styptic pencil and such. The RazoRock Alum Stick looks like a very nice design, with the broad block of alum, rounded at the top, with a cover. $6 at West Coast Shaving.

Another luxury, but I decided to get a stand to hold a razor and brush. Not sure if I’ll need this or not. I’d imagine that standing up the brush to dry with the hair pointing up might have water trapped at the bottom of the bristles and nasty things start to grow down at the bristle base? We’ll see, I guess. This purchase was not essential, but might help in the long-term and also keep things a bit organized in the bathroom. I went with the 310 Beechwood stand from West Coast Shaving, which looks nice, $20. By the way, a cool thing on the West Coast Shaving web site is that on the page of each brush, at the bottom, they list all of the stands that a given brush will fit into. Nice.

Total cost:
Including all items and taxes (I pay tax at Amazon): $190. You could definitely get that to be less. Go with the EJ brush to save $16, skip the $20 stand, skip the witch hazel and you are at $142. You could go still lower, but then it seems to me that you will be increasing the risk of that first shave not going well.

Here is a thread on getting the lowest cost for your first DE shave, with lots of great info:

With taking blood thinners and, generally speaking, preferring to have my face not cut up, I decided to spend a little more and hopefully increase the odds of success. So $190 will be the cost of my first shave. My estimate for my current expenses are $40 per month in cartridges and cream. If I keep using these DE supplies, I break even versus my current cream and cartridges in about 5 months. About 2 months if I only count the consumables.

Another note on purchasing things: West Coast Shaving is excellent. I changed my mind on something midstream and they were great about it. After that experience, they will certainly be getting more of my business.

The Spoils

The first shave: There will be blood???
OK, breathe. It’s going to be fine. Just fine. Right? I mean… tell me that it will be OK, OK? I’m not going to cut my face into little pieces and bleed to death am I? Right? Someone? (tap, tap) Is this thing on? (crickets…)

Got to keep in mind the tips that I learned here:
-Do not push down into the skin.
-Let the razor do the work.
-30 degree angle between blade and skin.
-Always go with the grain of the whiskers.
-Use a pre-shave cream/lotion to help things go along well.
-Do not bend my wrist.
-Hold the razor loosely, from the bottom of the handle, not up by the blade.
-Take about an almond-sized dollop of shave cream into a slightly wet bowl and brush.
-Whip up a lather to the point of there being few or no bubbles, being thick like yogurt.
-Really study your whiskers to see which direction they go.

I will provide some details on the first round of shaves to potentially help others see the rate at which things got better, at least for me.

Shave #1:
I planned this for a day with two day’s of growth, to see where all of the grain directions were. I had never looked that closely before and some of it surprised me. I also planned this for a Saturday when I could take the Sunday to heal and not shave should the need be there. I took my time and, start to finish, spent 30 minutes on it. The first pass took off whiskers and, to the eye, it looked like I was done. But felt it and it was only down to maybe ½ or ¾ of a day’s growth. Added more lather, more shaving, and got things to an acceptable level after 3 or 4 passes. I did a couple more passes cutting down after washing up with soap, with the soap still on my face. Under the chin was the most difficult. I did not get too aggressive there, but reached an acceptable level. Had some noticeable razor burn under the chin for the day, but it was not too bad. Only a tiny amount of blood in a few spots and they were well gone by the time I washed my face at the end. In terms of lack of danger and blood, it was a great success. In terms of a close shave, not super, but OK, I guess.

Shave #2:
Took 25 minutes from gathering the supplies to being all cleaned up. And I got a closer shave out of it. Not amazing, but better than the first. Less razor burn. Almost none, really.

Shave #3:
Took 23 minutes. I’d still like to get the time down shorter, toward the 15 minutes I am used to with cartridges. I am getting more aggressive in terms of trying to get a closer shave. Going across the grain and, very gently, even against the grain in some spots where it really seems to be needed if I want a close shave, like under the chin. This one was the closest shave I’ve had in many years. More razor burn there than shave #2, but not too bad. A few red spots at the corner of the neck area. But a solidly good shave now. Just like they say, it takes practice and you get better.

Shave #4:
Likely the closest shave of my life. :001_smile I’m getting more aggressive with trying to be closer and closer to the proverbial baby’s butt. Especially under the chin where it is most difficult. I think that there is another level of closeness possible than what I got this day. But this here is approaching it. I went at it more and there were about a dozen weepers, almost all of which were invisible by the time I washed up. Found a magnifying mirror that the wife had in a corner of the bathroom and used that just a little bit. Took 25 minutes. Ugh. I don’t like the extra time here versus my prior cartridge experience. But I also can see exactly why people say that, once here, they will never go back to cartridges. I don’t think that I have ever felt my face this smooth in the past 25 years or so. Possibly, but I doubt it. Some mild under chin razor burn that I could still feel into the evening, but not bad.

One thing that I’m noticing is that it seems as though you can get closer with the DE razor versus than with a cartridge. With the cartridge, the blades are so surrounded by the sides, top, and bottom, that getting very close does not really happen. Just a lot of scraping. The DE razor allows you to get in there more closely. Also, I notice that you can hear the blade doing its thing, which is added feedback that you do not get with a cartridge.

Shave #5:
I had a TV interview first thing on this morning. No, I’m not anyone famous at all and there is zero chance that you will see the segment on a screen near you. (Weeks later, I have still not even seen it, myself.) Still, I’ll be on camera, albeit an obscure one. Play it safe and go back to cartridges so that I do not look all cut up and bloody or do it up properly? Nah, I’m too far gone, so it was shave #5 with the DE razor and all that. Went about as well as above. Left extra time for it.

Shave #6:
Better, still. A little faster, a little smoother, a little less blood (only one weeper and it stopped by soap time), a little closer, less razor burn. 24 minutes. Still red skin at the edges of the whiskers area on the neck. I used a new blade today and wonder if that helped it go swell. Will know tomorrow on shave #2 of the blade, I guess. I’d be totally fine using a new blade every shave if that helped. I shaved in the morning, as I always do. At 3 pm I was at a work meeting when someone started presenting slides, so the lights went out. I ran my fingers over my face and noticed that the level of whiskers I had at 3 pm was pretty much the same as what I get from a fresh cartridge shave. So this DE thing really does get a closer shave. It’s impressive.

OK, this may be goofy, but here it is. Today I had to sit in front of a camera again for a separate video shoot. As mentioned above, I’m no one famous at all. I’ve never done two shoots in a month, let alone a week and I have zero future shoots planned. Anyways, a few days later, I was sent a rough edit of the video to review. Seriously, when I saw myself on the screen, the first thing that came to my mid was “Now that is a good looking shave.” :001_smile You can tell a difference from the last time I was on camera, maybe a few years ago.

Shave #7:
More of the same. Still getting close, but there is also still some razor burn. Maybe because getting a really close shave takes some going against the grain, albeit gently. Not really bad burn, but it’s there and I never had it with cartridges. 23 minutes. Shave #2 on this blade. Cannot yet determine any correlation between the shave results and how old the blade is.

Shave #8:
Let’s change it up a bit and try a shaving soap, rather than the Proraso cream I have been using. I had a recent work trip to Germany and decided to pick up something that you can get there, but is difficult to get in the US. So I got some Klar shaving soap. On one hand, I did not like it in that the soap dried out both on my face and in the bowl, which didn’t happen with the cream. On the other hand, I had zero razor burn today. But that might also be because I did not try for a very close shave on this day. I’ll have to try a close shave with the soap and see how that goes.

Shave #9:
Best shave ever! Two days of whiskers. Quicker at 20 minutes, from setup to putting everything away. Probably the closest shave, even getting a whisker free under chin. I can now go against the grain under the chin (very gently!), which was tricky at first, but is now fine and the only way to get close under there. Almost no razor burn at all. I used the Klar shaving soap again and it was the second use of this blade. Not sure how much of the success here can be attributed to the Klar versus improved technique. The Klar did not dry out as much this time, having used a little more water to make the lather. Regardless, this is getting to be pretty good. :001_smile It could have been closer, but only by a tiny amount. I’m almost at the perfect shave.

Shave #10:
On no! Not a good shave! More blood than any other shave, with some spots on the neck still visible even after the shower (a first here). Some razor burn, although less than some of the earliest shaves here. Took 23 minutes. Used a new blade and the Klar soap. Perhaps related to the Klar? My skin was kind of bumpy. Especially around the neck edges. And very itchy there throughout the day. Maybe due to poor technique of a newbie. Acne? Allergic reaction to the Kal? Hmmm. Why not as good as yesterday’s top shave? Still learning, I guess. Not sure. Maybe yesterday’s 2 days of growth helped, which I also find to be the case with cartridge shaves. Well, calling it not good is relative, I guess. It was a close shave. My cartridge shaves were nowhere near as close. OK bud, stop getting cocky about this and be more careful. Will try the Proraso cream again for the next shave.

Shave #11:
Better, but not super. A little blood, a little burn, but not too much. 25 minutes. Went back to the Proraso cream. My face felt bumpy from yesterday’s shave, so that did not make for a clean start to today. It stayed bumpy into the day and very itchy at the neck edges. Using the Proraso needs 3-4 passes versus only about 2 passes with the Klar. After washing up I tried my first use of an alcohol-based aftershave, Thayers witch hazel. Wow, that burns! But just for a few seconds. So I think it means that my technique is poor and needing a lot more refinement. Despite these issues, in the mirror it’s a good looking shave. Maybe the alcohol aftershave helped there a bit. The bumpy, itchy skin means that I need some recovery. Tomorrow happens to be a Saturday, so I will skip shaving and let the skin rest.

Shave #12:
A very good shave. It was a Sunday, so no need to get the closest possible. Two days of whisker growth and day 3 on this blade. Took my time and things went well. The main thing to work on here was really trying not to put pressure on the razor. It helped. Not a super close shave by my new standards, but significantly closer than what I got with cartridges. Comfortable. No razor burn to speak of. When it came time for the alcohol aftershave splash there was some stinging, but less than the last time. Maybe ¾ of the sting hurt and ¼ felt good. Like it’s the sign of a good shave completed. 25 minutes.

Shave #13:
Another good one. I did not try for the closest shave ever, but just a new normal, quite close one. Although it did turn out to be a very close shave. All went well. 22 minutes. Hardly any razor burn, maybe none. Fresh blade and a single day’s worth of whiskers. Very close. Comfortable. The alcohol splash stung a bit, but also felt good. There is still a greater level of closeness possible, but it’s not going to get too much better. Achieving that last touch will have to wait for my skills to improve and no one else will ever see the difference.

Shaves #14, 15, 16, 17…:
More of the same and probably time to stop bugging you with more to read here. :tongue_sm Went generally well. Close. Nice. Still time consuming. No razor burn. Although the alcohol after shave still stings. And my skin can be red and bumpy in places afterwards. So I need to improve my technique. I’m working on it. Hopefully that will still come.

OK, well I need to improve my technique. What to do?
Things have been going generally well. But after all shaves there is still some redness and bumpy, itchy skin. The alcohol-based aftershaves still sting. So I need to get better at this. After reading around more and watching some videos, here are tips that I was not doing yet:
-Fewer strokes per lather. I was pulling the razor over the whiskers and going back several times. Almost scraping. It looks like you just want to make 1 pass, 3 at most. Stop there. Then add more lather and go back to the razor.

-Rinse the razor often, after each pass. I was not doing this. Looks like not rinsing the razor keeps whiskers, etc. built up on the blade and that will irritate the skin.

-No pressure from the razor onto the skin. I knew this, but it’s seemingly difficult to get something really close without any pressure. Trying to be better here.

-I got a heavier handle for the razor that has much more grip when wet, a Maggard MR 11 ($14). The extra weight seems to help a bit with using no pressure and general finesse.

Shave #20:
Excellent! The addition to my technique of only a few strokes before adding more lather, rinsing the razor often, and really no pressure made for a stupendous shave! No burn at all. No redness or bumpiness in the skin afterwards. And adding the alcohol aftershave had minimal burn. It just felt refreshing. Alright, if I can keep doing this I’m there. After the shave was over, it just felt good. I’m excited. Things are going very well.

Shaves #21, 22, 23…
It seems that I can either have a very close shave or one that does not sting with the alcohol after shave. Getting both is rare. So here we are many shaves in and I am still trying to improve my technique. I now see why people say that it really does take a while to refine your technique. Still working on it.

I need to take way too many passes to get a close shave. As in maybe 20 individual strokes in some areas. My method needs refinement, maybe even the razor and/or blade. I’ll start a separate post about questions there. Here we are:

My procedure:
Again, in the spirit of helping other newbies, here are the steps for my shaves. Different things will work well for different people.
-Run the water until it is hot.
-Fill the shave bowl with hot water and drop in the brush.
-Put hot water over my face.
-Rub the pre shave cream over my wet whiskers.
-Pour the water out of the bowl and shake the brush a bit.
-Use a chopstick to get a dollop of shave cream into the bowl.
-Whip up a nice lather. (Kind of fun.)
-Use the brush to put the lather on the face.
-First pass or two or three with the razor on part of the face, mostly with the grain or some across the grain. Three passes max.
-Rinse the razor.
-Shave other parts.
-Keep rinsing the razor.
-Add more lather for next passes.
-Mostly across the grain.
-Add more lather for future passes.
-Can go against the grain now, gently.
-Get things to where they are smooth.
-Wash face with soap.
-While soapy, feel around for places needing more passes.
-Shave over the soapy whiskers, gently.
-Finish soapy wash and dry.
-Splash on the alcohol-based after shave. Ahhh, nice. Or painful. :001_smile
-After that dries, rub in some after shave balm. Or skip it.
-Take a shower. (Was not included in the time needed to shave, above.)
-Splash on some alcohol-free Thayers witch hazel over the whole face.
-After that dries, another splash of the alcohol-based after shave.
-After that dries, rub after shave balm over the whole face.

Now that I have some shaves under my belt, I can provide…
A beginner’s impressions of specific products:

Edwin Jagger DE89 razor:
Mostly excellent. Gives a nice shave for a beginner. Low danger factor. Feels nice in the hand, looks really good, all chromed up. The size of the head is small enough to allow shaving into all the difficult little spots. The heft is just what you need to let the razor do the work. The shave quality is excellent. I have not sliced myself up. I am not completely sure what people mean by “aggressiveness” of a razor, but this one seems to be just right for a beginner. You can get a close shave without too much danger. It’s very nice. One complaint and I knew this going in: The handle can be slippery. When I am doing most of the shaving, it’s no problem. But I tend to finish up by washing my face with soap, all the while feeling around and it becoming more obvious where I need a little more work. So I then run the razor over the wet, soapy parts. For a quick once over like this, the soap and water is lubricating enough on the face to pass the razor gently. But at this point, my hands are soapy and the handle is too slippery. So a razor with a more grippy, knurled handle might be better. There is a DE89 version with a somewhat knurled handle. I ordered an MR 11 handle from Maggard Razors and that is a very nice improvement. Heavier and much grippier. (OK, that’s not a word. Fine: More grip.) The Merkur 34C could be a better bet for a beginner just looking to buy one thing. But the EJ DE89 looks better. :001_smile The DE89 is nice and, with me being a beginner, gives a good shave.

Astra SP blades:
They seem to do the trick. Cheap, too. I see no reason to change at this point.

Simpson Colonel brush:
I really like this brush. It’s great and I cannot see any reason to want to change beyond simple curiosity to try different things. It has lost a grand total of three hairs since I started using it. It’s stiff enough to make bowl lathering easy yet feels smooth enough on the face when lathered. A great part about it is a sort of lip at the bottom of the handle for grip. Feels good. I like it a lot. It was well worth the extra money spent here. I do now also have a synthetic brush, an Omega H- Brush 0146650, for traveling. It’s functional. But there is just something more fun and luxurious about the Colonel. :001_smileThe money spent on the Colonel was very much worthwhile.

West Coast Shaving 310 stand in beechwood
Looks good, does what it should. I’m happy with it.

Proraso Pre-Shave Cream, Sensitive Skin
I can’t tell if it helps the shave results or not, but I’ll keep using it for now. Smells OK, not great, not bad. Has a quite small amount of cooling sensation, which I like.

Proraso Shaving Soap in a Bowl, Sensitive Skin
Lathers and works well. Gives a good shave. Does not dry out the way I have read about others. Cheap, too. I’m not super keen on the smell. It’s OK, I guess. Not objectionable, but not nice, either. I will be looking into other shave creams for a difference scents and variety. The shaving performance is good as far as I can tell at this stage.

Proraso After Shave Balm, Sensitive Skin
Provides only a slight soothing sensation after a shave. But this stuff is super! I’ve never been so excited about a shaving product before. It has a light and really pleasant scent. I just cannot describe what it is. No idea at all. I do not like scents, generally speaking. Strikes me as a bit odd when, say, I’m at work and someone comes into my office and smells of cologne. Anyways, this balm is great because it has a very pleasant, light scent. But by the time I get to work, it’s gone. The real test will be in winter. My face gets really, really dry. Like flaking skin dry. We’ll see how it does for the moisturizing side of things.

Thayers Alcohol-Free Original Witch Hazel Toner
Another product that I really, really like a lot. It provides, again, only the tiniest hint of soothing after a shave or none at all. But I have been putting it on my whole face (not just where I shave) a couple times a day. And my skin, overall, just looks a little better. I can’t explain it. Lately, I have been exercising a lot more and that seems to have helped my skin look a little better, according to my wife. But I really think that this toner is contributing at least part of that healthy glow that I now sport. :tongue_sm

My routine has been finish shaving, wash up with soap, dry, and splash on some of the Thayers. Let it dry while I put things away. Then put on a little of the Proraso balm. Then take a shower. Then another splash of Thayers and, after it dries, more balm. So far so good.

RazoRock Alum Stick
I like the look and feel of it. Fortunately, I have not had any need to actually try it out. :001_smile I did have one cut, around shave #25, that I almost got it out. But did not really need it and that was only once so far.

Shaving bowl
I have been bowl lathering, which seems like a good way to go for a beginner and is somewhat fun. I started out with the largest coffee mug in the house. I was shaving really early one morning due to waking up from some jet lag. The brush kept hitting the side of the mug making a clink, clink, clink sound. Apparently, I woke everyone up. Ooops! I have switched to a small cereal or soup bowl from the kitchen, about 5.5” diameter. Much better. But I may try buying a dedicated shave bowl in the near future.

What comes next? (A travel rig of some sort.)
I still need more shaves to get better at this. But so far, so good. I travel about once a month for work. So I will next look into ways to bring this whole show on the road. Maybe some sort of collapsible bowl for lathering, a smaller synthetic brush, a case for the razor, and some tiny containers for all of the creams. Travel with just a cartridge razor and a tube of cream might be easier. But I suspect that going back that way will be a let down.

Some thoughts on the safety razor experience:
My face definitely looks better using the DE razor versus cartridges, everywhere, but especially under the chin. I see what you all mean. I can’t go back to the cartridges. It’s over for me. :001_smile

I have found two metrics for how good a shave is: First is how close things get under my chin, if there are really no whiskers there. There were always a lot of whiskers left there after cartridge shaves. Second is how much sting the alcohol after shave gives. Less is good.

I understand that the ultimate shave is “baby butt smooth.” But I have to wonder how much time you guys have spent around baby butts. I have a kid. I have changed a lot of diapers. And when I see the words “baby butt,” my mental image is one of my son’s butt covered with poop and I am trying to wipe it all off. So while I do understand why you might strive for a baby butt smooth shave, I just cannot seek to have my face smooth and soft, yet covered in poop. :tongue_sm

Wrapping up (for now)
So how does the safety razor experience compare to cartridges? This silly analogy comes to mind: It’s like cutting vegetables in the kitchen with a really nice and sharp knife… versus using sandpaper. :001_smile

OK, that’s the story as it stands for now. I wrote all of this up in hopes that other beginners might have an easier time getting started if they read about these experiences first. Be careful with those sharp objects- no running! Have fun!! :001_smile
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Great information thanks . I'm glad you're doing well with blood thinner that treated your ailment. You did well with great under 200 bucks.
Thanks to you all for the warm welcome. :001_smile I still have a lot to learn here. The perfect shave has not yet arrived in my bathroom. But it would be nice if any of the experiences that I have are helpful to others in the future.
Welcome to B & B. Ahh the perfect shave. The Quest for many. It will come.

Yeah, it is a quest. Maybe silly. But landing a perfect shave really is quite gratifying. And to think, 6 weeks ago, I hated shaving. Now I look forward to it. :001_smile
More shaves and more tips that might be helpful to others. I may keep updating this thread as tidbits arise. Here is the latest batch. Each thing is pretty minor, but might help get you where you want to be.

-Make up twice as much lather as you think you need. Somehow, having more is making for better lathers. And it's good to have extra around for when you need another unexpected pass. And this double lather costs an extra, what, 10 cents?

-Work the lather from the brush onto your face vigorously, in circles. Do not just paint the lather onto your face. Working the lather into the whiskers seems to help a tiny bit.

-Watch the angle of the razor to the face carefully. 30 degrees is a good starting point, but maybe not exactly right for your razor and face. Pay careful attention to maintaining the proper angle, whatever that is.

-Take short strokes, not full, face-long drags. Seems to help. Maybe in the maintaining proper angle department, I'm not sure.

-Hold the razor at the end of the handle, with only 2 or 3 fingers. It helps minimize the pressure you apply.

-Do not use an alcohol-containing aftershave until you are at least 2 weeks into shaving. Just don't. Or I will hear your scream from all the way over here. :tongue_sm

-Be patient with developing your technique. Really patient. I thought that I'd be good to go in 2-4 weeks. Nope, I'm not there. As I read more and ask more questions, I am seeing that it might be up to 6 months before I have my methodology down well.

OK, good luck with it!
This is an outstanding thread and helpful post for all! This would be a good wiki article.

Thanks so much! I don't know what it takes to elevate a post up into wiki territory. Perhaps it is a long process that takes years of campaigning, lots of TV ads, then a primary vote, and then a general election? :tongue_sm
OK, here is a tip for the day:

-Although called “safety” razors, they can still hurt you. I’m not really sure what happened today. Most likely it was a slip of the fingers. But I’ve got a cut, a couple inches long, at the corner of my neck that looks like a razor blade was just pressed right in. Hurts a little bit. My shaves are getting better, slowly, a month and a half in. But learning this process is taking a while. And you should not let yourself get sloppy.

More updates as they come down the pike. Be careful! :001_smile
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