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DE as smooth as Cartridge?

After not wet shaving with a blade for years, I used a Gillette Venus from my wife, with Gillette shaving gel, and got the smoothest shave of my life. It was amazing.

Based on online recommendations here, I decided to buy a Merkur 34C and bought a bunch of blades, a bunch of soaps & two brushes. I was all in. However, with an Astra as my first blade, and with not quite enough soap, I got the worst shave of my life. Razor burns & a bloody mess. Second shave was better, but no closer than an electric. Switched to Gillette Nacet blade, which was better, but not what I hoped.

What DE razor & blade will get me as smooth a shave as the cartridge? Do I need something more aggressive? Adjustable? A vintage Gillette Slim with a Feather blade?
Following. Sorry I can't help, I'm forced to use carts with my physical limitations, but love the soaps.
...What DE razor & blade will get me as smooth a shave as the cartridge? Do I need something more aggressive? Adjustable? A vintage Gillette Slim with a Feather blade?
People in your situation usually do best with a mild razor + very sharp blade combination.

There are razors that shave more like cartridge razors such as the Henson Mild or Medium. These are lightweight razors that guide the user to use a very specific shaving angle. You would need one of the sharper blade such as Feather, KAI, 7 O'clock Black, Wizamet Super Iridium, Perma-Sharp Super, etc. Henson also sells blades for their razors under the RK brand. Hard to say which blade you would like most, so maybe get a sampler.

Another mild DE razor would be the Feather AS-D2. Usually paired with Feather blades or something similar.

Vintage razors are another possibility. You might like a Schick injector with modern blades such as the Chinese Schicks (Chicks) or Personna injector blades. Another idea would be a 1950s vintage Gillette Tech which was the inspiration for the modern Feather AS-D2.
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C.C. & D.U.
Staff member
A cart razor has the benefit of allowing someone with 10 thumbs to get an acceptable shave with almost zero effort.
Any quality DE razor is capable of delivering a smooth great shave, but - particularly for those new to the process, it is NOT effortless.
There is some learning involved. Technique is important, and muscle memory must be learned by repeatedly concentrating on proper methodology in the beginning.
Those who think they can get a great effortless DE shave by purchasing the "right" razor or blade without the necessary effort to learn how to use it are in for a disappointing experience.
If you are not prepared for the effort to learn how to use the equipment properly, you're probably better off just sticking with a virtually zero learning curve cart razor.
’Traditional‘ wet shaving has a learning curve. IMO there is no way around this.

Technique is the key! I suggest you stick with your current razor (a solid option is the ‘mild/moderate’ category) while you work on your prep, how to make lather, figure out which razor angle works best, use ‘NO pressure,’ etc.

Stick with this for awhile, limit the number of variables and you will get the results you want!! :thumbup1::thumbup1::thumbup1:
Welcome to B&B @Feldgrun! I was in your shoes not too long ago, you'll figure this out and there are lots of folks here who will be happy to help. I didn't find this forum soon enough, I could have avoided some trial, many errors, and much blood. There is so much to learn in this hobby/daily duty, here are a few things...

That Merkur is an excellent razor, what you are experiencing is likely due to not yet knowing DE technique. Stick with that razor and don't change too many variables all at once. You likely have to lighten up on the pressure - A LOT. It took me a while to figure that out, especially because with a cartridge razor one just pushes and rakes over areas, often without repercussions. Lighten way up and only go over an area once, don't rake, once the soap is removed, you are done with that area for that pass.

I would stick with just with-the-grain passes for the first few shaves. You can do two of them, rinsing and re-lathering between. This won't give you a terrific shave, but it will help you develop your technique without doing amateur surgery on your face. Counterintuitively, this approach can get you to a great shave faster, as your technique can develop more quickly. After the first few, then add an across-the-grain pass. Then once you've mastered that without blood, you can add an against-the-grain pass. I jumped in with all three to start and it was not pretty.

Map your beard grain - to do the above you need to know the direction your whiskers point at all locations of your face. Every person is different and most of us have lots of changes and challenging parts. For instance when I first did this I was surprised to learn that above my adams apple my whiskers grow down and below they grow up! Then I learned further that there are even more different angles on my neck. Now I have a good mental model and use that information for every shave.

You've got this! Take it slow and enjoy. It takes months to develop a good technique, then years to perfect it. Nobody picked up a safety razor and immediately gave themselves a baby butt smooth shave. Most of us ended up looking like Freddy Krueger.
Welcome to B&B. No matter what you use (DE/Straight, etc.... soap, cream, foam, with emphasis on good prep and technique), you can get great shaves. The technique is well documented here. The rest is a simple matter of practice. If there is one bit of advice I would give... that would be to find one of the cheaper means of shaving - DE blades, straights, hard soaps, etc. It is simply not necessary to cave to the mass market blade to find great shaves.


Head Cheese Head Chef
Welcome to B&B! Toss a Feather in the 34c, figure out the brush and your lather, and dial in your technique (that mostly means finding the best angle and pressure... little to none). Skip the against the grain pass until you have everything else figured out (a week or two) it will just cause you more irritation unless you're an above average student. The rewards of shaving with a DE razor don't unfold in the first few shaves. Don't know what brushes your working with, but you seem to have a good kit. Lastly buy the missus a Rockwell 6c or 6s and get her into the game. Those Venus carts aren't doing anyone any favors.



three-tu-tu, three-tu-tu
I'm sorry to say that razor burn and blood indicate poor technique, and no razor will remedy that.

Blood usually indicates poor razor angle. Irritation usually indicates too much pressure, but can and is often compounded by that poor razor angle.

More bad news: the razor angle is going to take some experimentation and practice.

Good news: less pressure is available immediately. Carts are very light and don't seem to care much about heavy pressure. DE's will do bad things with just a little too much pressure. I suggest you lighten your pressure considerably and then cut that in half. If you're not dropping the razor you have plenty of pressure.

If the razor isn't cutting it doesn't want more pressure (very bad, as already discussed), it want's a different razor angle. Move the handle closer to your face and then the other way - one of them is going to be an improvement.

More good news: it isn't golf, anyone can learn this stuff. Hang in there.
You've got this, @Feldgrun! I was in your place not too long ago. Take your time and you'll make progress. Enjoy it along the way. We'll be here cheering you on and ready to help along the way!
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...with not quite enough soap, I got the worst shave of my life. Razor burns & a bloody mess...
Not surprised at all. With improved technique it will come great shaves, much smoother than with a cartridge. But good lather is paramount.

Welcome to B&B and enjoy the journey.
Welcome to the best community I have seen.

I'm also newbie in DE, started 3 weeks ago using Muhle R89 which they say is quite similar to Mercur 34C in mildness. This is what I learned so far:
- use short strokes with minimal pressure, especially if your face is not very flat and your skin is not very tight. This will allow the DE razor to follow the contour of you face without cutting the pronounced places. The cartridges with moving head do it for you but with DE razor you have to take care of it.

- use the weight of the razor, don't press and experiment to find the proper angle. You can experiment with holding the razor handle. I found that holding more far from the head helps me feel the weight and avoid pressing.

- move the razor with you whole arm, don't use your wrist as this changes the angle. It is just the opposite of what we usually do with the cartridge razors.

- strain your skin with the fingers on the other hand in the direction opposite of the one the razor moves. My face is quite skinny (not sure if this is the proper word to describe it) and I need to strain the skin in order to flatten the surface for the razor. In order to do it without my fingers slipping on the the lather when I go against the grain I lather first the neck, and after shaving it, I lather the face.
There are some videos on Youtube teaching on the proper technique with short strokes and skin strain. If you can't find them, ask me and I'll search. You can also see videos when someone does a long stroke passing the whole face but if you look carefully you will notice that his face contour and skin tightness allows him to do it.

- test different blades and find what works with your razor and technique. I started with a Muhle blade, had one perfect shave on the third use but the rest were mediocre. Now I'm testing Razolution and then will test Feather. Each blade I use until it starts feeling dull. This way I go from mild to sharp blades trying to find the best that works for me. Also, I ordered some Derby, Dorco, Treet, Tiger blades for testing (I'm not buying any Russian stuff).

- you need a good lather which to help the blade doing it work. Don't stroke second time a face area which is not lathered. It takes time to learn how to build a good lather. I'm still experimenting and learning. I use bowl lathering only because I have a chin strapped beard. My best shave was when I build the best lather and I was using the same Muhle blade which was disappointing before.

- you don't need an expensive soap for a good lather. I use Proraso and although it dries quite quick it works great for me. I just relather the places when it looks dry.

- be patient, experiment and learn.

We are with you in this journey and we all learn from our and others experience shared here.
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the YMMV is so true with this DE shaving you can get ideas but have to carve your own path

for me started with a 34c for a month doing over wish I got something with plates like a GC 68 and 84 or the rockwell to play around with ?

my take use one combo for a few weeks or month even if its a be a bad combo of blade razor for you so just learn the light touch face mapping/direction of growth etc. and then get a sample pack of blades and try various ones and WOW you will be like these make a huge difference :) then try some other razors more mild more aggressive see what you like and keep them all around for a while to come back to again ! like many I went through phases a bit learning over the years and now kinda settled on what I like but so so so happy I tried so many various razors

now do the same thing for soaps/creams as a few I had were horrible for me yet other love them ? then just play around more and remember the journey you are having make it fun participate in some of the weekly fun to switch things up etc..

I can say @ 59yr old I never ever thought shaving could be comfy and NOT tear up my face or any irritation and actually make my skin way more healthy !!!!

but yeah IMHO going to take a while to really figure out what you like and with the main moving parts being the razor the blades the soaps that is A LOT of combos and to me the post does not matter as much but again you will find if you like just a splash or toner and what types or balms or a combo or like me splash and Neutrogena Hydro gel cream you will also see hyaluronic acid is quite popular with many as a additive (basically helps retain moisture sounds gnarly but its not)

some find their combo quicker than others so dont get bummed if it does not come in the first week !
Welcome to B&B!!

Phil (luvmysuper) essentially provided THE response early on in the thread.

I was a cart user at one time (many moons ago) and could whip through a shave quickly and have a very smooth shave.

If you are looking to do the same thing with a DE, in terms of smoothness of the shave, it takes time. Need to work on technique.

Again, welcome!
Try the Merkur 33C. I like it better than my adjustable Merkur Progress set to the mildest possible setting.

It shaves closer with no razor burn. I'm using all brands of blades and getting the same results.
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