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Does SR shaving ever get as comfortable as a cartridge razor?

Okay, just completed a first SR shave. I did it in patches, tried different soaps - Alles Seife, Geo F. Trumper, even Irish Spring just for grins. Best of all, I didn't end up in the ER. :)

It cut down the beard, I would say the results are maybe 80% as thorough as when using a Mach3. If I rub my fingers against the grain I feel more grab than I normally would after shaving with the Mach 3, with which I shave pretty much exclusively against the grain.

The most obvious difference between using a cartridge razor or an electric is the irritation factor. I'm sure my technique is part of it - I think I got better as I went, probably don't have the optimal angle or pressure down consistently. The soap might be a factor - I find that Geo F. Trumper cream I got gives a better lather than I'm able to work up with Alles Seife Shaving Soap and the Trumper feels a bit more comfortable. And of course the condition of the razor is a question mark. I gave it a stropping and it did cut the hairs - whether it's doing it as well as it's capable of is a question mark. In middle of the process I ran it over a wet Naniwa 12000 Super Stone and stropped again - I'd say it's inconclusive if doing that improved the edge or not given my almost surely inconsistent technique. I don't think it made it any worse.

I probably made four to six passes over each area, did a lot of re-application of lather. Took it really slow - staying out of the ER was my primary goal.

Does SR shaving ever get to the comfort level of a cartridge razor or does that irritation factor always remain to a certain extent?
Well done on your first SR shave. Staying out of the ER is the primary goal at this stage. Don’t rush it. To
answer your question directly: yes, straight razor shaving is the most comfortable shave you can get. It’s a fact. I don’t know why, it just is what it is. With a little practice you will soon experience zero irritation shaves every single time.

Closeness will follow with practice. Sharpness is very important for closeness. People normally find that it starts to click around 10 shaves and by shave 30 it starts coming together very quickly. If you keep at it, you will soon experience that most comfortable shave you can get. BBS is very achievable with good technique.
Congratulations on a successful first SR shave. As @Tomo said, it only gets better. It is also import to try and shave daily with your SR. This will more quickly develop your muscle memory for SR shaving.

Once you get to about 30 SR shaves, you will start to be asking yourself why you didn't start this in your teens. It takes time to develop your technique which is unique for everyone.

Welcome to the gentlemanly art of straight razor shaving.

I don't know who honed your SR to shave-ready. If it was you, it probably is not. You also need to be careful with your stropping. Bad stropping can deteriorate an edge. Don't believe what a lot show on YouTube. Keep the strop tight and strop with almost no pressure so that the leather stays almost flat.

For shave angle, again don't believe that 30° thing many on YouTube tell you. Aim for a shave angle of about ½ to 1 spine thickness from the skin. The sharper the edge, the lower the angle.

For pressure, use just enough to remove the lather. Don't worry about the whiskers, they should come off with the lather (if your edge is shave ready).

As a starter, just shave WTG. If needed, you can always finish off with your cartridge. As you feel more confident, you can start adding a second pass XTG. Later you can go for a full three passes; WTG, XTG and ATG. Then you will start to be getting close to BBS.

If you are leaning to razor hone, strop and SR shave all at once, you are doing it hard. It's not impossible, just harder. I had to do it that way as I had no one to readily available to hone my SR to shave-ready.
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@Brassplyer, you bet it does! One thing I hated about multi-bladed carts was their ability to collect dead skin cells/soap/bacteria and leave you with minor skin irritations and white heads. Since a straight is a single blade you can keep it clean (not necessarily sterile) and avoid skin irritations. Since swapping I don't have that problem, same with my son.

It takes time to develop the technique and become used to the equipment. There are many points of failure and you'll be able to read about them all on this forum. Chances are whatever you experience has been posted on the forum, so reading will get you out of a lot of problems. There are also lots of straight shave videos on YouTube so well worth a look (how to hone/strop/shave).

It is a journey, but a very rewarding and enjoyable one. I would never go back.
I shaved for years with a DE razor, decades with carts and occasionally with an electric before starting SR shaving almost two years ago. For irritation it went like this:
  • Electric always irritation
  • Carts mostly irritation
  • DE occasional irritation
  • SR nil irritation
Until I got into SR shaving, I thought that shave irritation was just something a man had to put up with in life.
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@Brassplyer, you bet it does! One thing I hated about multi-bladed carts was their ability to collect dead skin cells/soap/bacteria and leave you with minor skin irritations and white heads.
Not trying to bring you back to the multi-blade world but the way to eliminate that buildup of gunk is to use the hard-pulse setting on a shower head and angle the razor so the pulse is parallel to the space between the blades and hit it thoroughly along the width of the cartridge both front and back, you're basically pressure-washing it - it'll come out sparkly clean. Just rinsing it under the aerated stream of a faucet doesn't cut it.
SR comfort with a decent edge will exceed cartridge shaving after a few days, IMO, if your using lather that has a high density soap & water with low air volume. Highly aerated lathers do nothing for me.

Having used Taylors of Old Bond Street Cream a bit (similar to Geo F Trumper creams), I found it didn't provide me with good skin protection and I had my worst shaves from that. I would keep your options open on the soaps.

All the best in your shaving journey!
I always got ingrown hairs with a Mach 3, especially on my neck. Never do with straights.

IME closeness if a function of sharpness, and comfort/ lack of irritation is a function of the type of finisher you use to reach that sharpness. Plus technique, of course. So it is a balancing act of several factors to get the best shave, but done right, it gives the best result.
Absolutely - what's your favorite?
Knowing your location would help.

See if you can get a stick or puck of ARKO or Tabac (tallow based). They are not expensive if you find that or don't like one, and they are highly recommend for SR shaving. There are of course many other shave soaps that provide a similar quality SR shave. They will just cost you more. I'm sure that others will suggest them.

When starting SR shaving, I recommend that you use a very wet lather. As your technique improves, you can use a slightly less wet lather. I found for me that, after my technique was well developed, that a lather about halfway between very wet and what I would use for DE shaving was about right.
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Absolutely - what's your favorite?
I've had good success with Taylors of Old Bond St (TOBS) Soap which is fairly priced and keeps with the UK theme, and to my nose has a classic scent that is hard to beat. I mostly use Saponficio Varesino which is a fair bit more expensive and not necessary needed.

I haven't used either, but Arko and Tabac brand sticks are also fairly priced and highly endorsed by many here.
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