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For New Shavers, the JCinPA's How to Get Off to a Right Start Guide!

JCinPA

The Lather Maestro
So, this is an enthusiastic wet shaving community, full of wonderful and helpful people! We'll give you advice on Double Edge (DE) razors! DE razor blades! Single Edge razors (SE), and SE blades! Straight Razors (SR) and hones, stops, and everything SR shaving! And we'll get you started with a dozen soaps and creams, a dozen blade sampler, how to get started in collecting vintage razors! You name it, we will help you! :lol:

Except it may not be too helpful right at the beginning. Razor geometry varies dramatically, blades vary incredibly in sharpness, smoothness, and longevity. Some products lather easily, others are a little tougher, and some may irritate your skin.

The problem with all of this is you can be smothered by extremely experienced shavers who are incredibly well-meaning, but they can overwhelm the beginning wet shaver, and greatly lengthen your learning curve. So herewith, some guaranteed tips to get you started easily and successfully. I don't pretend to have patented The Way, but it is a good way to get your shaving legs under you.

1. Get ONE razor and stick with it for a month of shaves. That means about 25-30 shaves. If you shave twice a week it will take longer, but do not change razors for your first 25-30 shaves.

2. Get ONE blade, and stick with that for the first 25-30 shaves.

The reason for this is that you are learning a new skill. It's not rocket science, but it is a new activity and involves fine motor skills, and you are scraping a sharp blade across sensitive areas of your neck. You need to limit all variables in the shave so that your first 25-30 shaves are focused on building your skills and learning your face and beard growth.

I recommend getting a popular mild-medium razor that is favored by a high percentage of us to start with. The King C. Gillette is a good choice. An Edwin Jagger DE89 or Muhle R89 are good choices (exact same heads). A Merkur 34C is a good choice. In vintage razors, a Gillette fat-handle tech or plain Super Speed Flare tip are good choices, but get one razor and stick with that for 25-30 shaves. It really is not a big deal which one you start with as long as you avoid very aggressive razors. Avoid open comb razors at the start.

I recommend a popular smooth blade, the Astra Superior Platinums are a good and economical choice. Might you find a better blade later? Of course. But the problem with blade samplers in the beginning is you have not locked down your technique, and when the blades start feeling way different you won't be able to determine if it's your technique or the blade that is the issue.
After this post everyone will tell you I'm wrong, some will tell you they hate the ASP, some will tell you that YOU have to find your own blade, and none of them are wrong, per se, but I'd ignore them if I were you. Whatever blade you start with will, in fact, not be the blade you run with 6 months from now, but I'd make two points.

a. You can't know, a priori, which blade will be your favorite, and no matter how vociferously someone else argues they have found blade nirvana, it may not be the same for you, so it really doesn't matter what blade you start with, does it?

b. The blade is one of the two most important factors in how you feel the shave after the razor. Blades feel so different that if you are jumping through a blade sampler and start getting uncomfortable results you won't know if it's the blade or your technique. The rest of us who have been at this would. We can judge blades, you cannot. Yet. So stick with one blade.

3. Lower the heat!

You do not need to prep your face with hot water. A few years ago people were keeping tea ketttles in their shave dens to heat up their face towels with hot water to prep for the shave. A nice shower is good prep. If you don't do that, by all means hold a wet towel to your face for a while, but warm water will do fine. Temperature will have no effect on your shave, but super hot water in the prep will set you up for irritation. Comfortably warm is fine. Cool is fine. Trust me, it won't affect your shave.

4. Use some easy, less scented lather products.

You won't know this for a while, but some folks get skin irritation from products most of us don't react to. Cella's almond scent sets some people's skin off, for example, albeit rarely. Some folks have a reaction to lanolin or bentonite clay. Lavender and other scents can cause skin irritation. I'd stick with very low scent products, like Taylor of Old Bond Street Jermyn Street or even their unscented shaving cream, or Haslinger's Schafmilch soap, stuff like that for the first 25-30 shaves. Cella Extra Extra Bio, I think, is an excellent choice, as well.

5. A good synthetic brush is a good starter brush, and economical.

And it dries out quickly and thoroughly after every shave. Set up your den with one razor, one blade, one brush, one or two lather products, and shave for a month of shaves, 25-30, and you'll be successfully having close comfortable shaves in no time at all.

THEN go nuts! Collect razors! Get a blade sampler! Try a dozen lather products! Try a Straight! Try a vintage injector! You'll probably be hooked and have a blast. I highly recommend YouTube videos by a guy who goes by Mantic59 and another called GeoFatBoy. Both will get you started off right.

Please understand I am not denigrating any of the tips experienced shavers share around here, and they all want to help. But it can be overwhelming and can really undermine early success for new shavers, IMO. Lock yourself in, read and watch all you can, but do not change anything for your first month of shaves, and you'll cut months off your learning curve. I guarantee it.

Good luck and good shaves!

P.S. I almost forgot! Use whatever after shave products you already use and like, when you start this learning process. Some folks are adamant that you need balms, and others just love the alcohol splashes (I'm in the latter camp). But use what you already like at first, there is no need to change that. You'll be playing with after shave products soon enough. One thing I do recommend, though is to get some Thayer's Witch Hazel with Aloe, unscented and skip the alum block at first. They do the same thing, essentially, but the WH is a lot less irritating for many of us. This is all about the easy start guide. I finish with the Thayer's witch hazel followed by an after shave splash. Get yourself a styptic pencil, though, those stop nicks a lot faster than an alum block. Put the alum block in the "play with later category", along with the blade sampler, if you want.
 
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I'd stick with very low scent products, like Taylor of Old Bond Street Jermyn Street or even their unscented shaving cream, or Haslinger's Schafmilch soap, stuff like that for the first 25-30 shaves. Cella Extra Extra Bio, I think, is an excellent choice, as well.
Are you suggesting these because they are lightly scented? or lightly scented *AND* easy to lather?
 
In addition to the OP's post, I would recommend against starting with a MicroTouch One, especially if using the (Dorco) blades that came with the MTO. I went that route and got bad shaves. I didn't realize they were bad shaves at the time because I hadn't had any good shaves. (I was around 40 years old and had never had a good shave! 😬)

I would recommend a DE beginner start with the West Coast Shaving-Charcoal Goods angled cap razor head, though. They're designed to teach a new user the right angle to hold a razor. While I personally like the open comb baseplate (the Toothsome), the complete set of these heads also come with a milder safety bar baseplate (the Lithe) and a more agressive safety bar baseplate (the Brawny).

All of the above is based on my personal experience. Of course, as with most things related to shaving, YMMV.
 

Rhody

I'm a Lumberjack.
@Rhody Remember the tea kettle craze about ten years back? :lol: I remember posts of people showing their electric kettle pics in their den. Thankfully that fad seems to have blown itself out.
That’s also a safety issue with an electric kettle around water and people getting burns from boiling water
 
If I may add a few things to the already rich assortment of valuable suggestions :

# Map your hair growth direction.
Use WTG and XTG passes for at least a month.

That way you'll develop a better sense of understanding about the direction of hair growth and number of passes required to achieve acceptable results in shave ACCORDING TO YOUR HAIR GROWTH.

I put the last part in capitals because the number of passes is also a YMMV factor and we should not expect to achieve same results in our shave to be similar to someone who is doing it for years.

# BBS is fleeting, reserve it for special occasions or for when you are comfortable with the shaving experience and know how to achieve it without irritation, otherwise it's just a bad shave and you may end up with irritation as well.

# ATG pass for when you have developed a good understanding and able to get a good quality lather as both of these factors will help in going ATG and totally avoiding irritation.

# Expensive does not necessarily equals to the best.

Best gears or items is what suits your needs most in the budget, quality and quantity that you are comfortable with.

One man's excess is another man's bare minimum, no point in comparing the gears with others.

# Enjoy the shaving experience and the solution to most of the poor lather is to load heavy and try not to rush it all.
 
If I may add a few things to the already rich assortment of valuable suggestions :

# Map your hair growth direction.
Use WTG and XTG passes for at least a month.

That way you'll develop a better sense of understanding about the direction of hair growth and number of passes required to achieve acceptable results in shave ACCORDING TO YOUR HAIR GROWTH.

I put the last part in capitals because the number of passes is also a YMMV factor and we should not expect to achieve same results in our shave to be similar to someone who is doing it for years.

# BBS is fleeting, reserve it for special occasions or for when you are comfortable with the shaving experience and know how to achieve it without irritation, otherwise it's just a bad shave and you may end up with irritation as well.

# ATG pass for when you have developed a good understanding and able to get a good quality lather as both of these factors will help in going ATG and totally avoiding irritation.

# Expensive does not necessarily equals to the best.

Best gears or items is what suits your needs most in the budget, quality and quantity that you are comfortable with.

One man's excess is another man's bare minimum, no point in comparing the gears with others.

# Enjoy the shaving experience and the solution to most of the poor lather is to load heavy and try not to rush it all.
Well said, great suggestions.
 
All excellent advice! I would also suggest a Merkur 23C as a starter razor, which is what I used for the first couple months and still use from time to time.

I also agree with your blade advice, and I would add the suggestion to NOT use that Merkur blade that comes in the box with Merkur razors!
Oh, if only I had known that years ago. I got the short handled version, the 33C and whatever blade that came with it was abysmal. Turned me off of wet shaving for almost 10 more years. So, I agree with the premise set forth but I have to add that, after several shaves, if you are still not seeing any improvement in you shaves, try a different blade. I wish I had!
 
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