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How long until problems solved?

How long did it take you to resolve your issues with your new/preferred shaving gear?

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Some newbies report problems the first time they use a new kind of shaving equipment, e.g. DE razors. Some give up pretty soon. There is a thread on B&B where somebody put up with consistently poor shaves for years before turning back to carts. How about you? What was your bottleneck? What took you the most time to experiment with? How did you achieve gratification?

For me, this about sums it up:

Started with a Merkur 15C. Initially happy, then not. Tried out a dozen others, currently using Rockwell 6S and happy with it. Took me 8 years to find.
Tried out every manufacturer on RBC, 1-5 brands per manufacturer. Found my first good blade after 3 months (Feather).
Shaving brush
Had 3 - first badger, then boar and currently a synthetic (bought 2 years ago). Managed to repeatedly shave comfortably without any this year, took me 8 years to find out.
Started with a Proraso soap and liked it immediately. Tried out other soaps, creams, gels, foams and oils over the years and found virtually all soaps and creams very good, a few gels too. Currently using creams and, more rarely, gels.
Started with alum and balms. After technique improvement, found out I rarely need any balm and alum only irritates me more; took me about 6 months.
Tried Proraso pre-shave cream and after a month found out it had no benefit.

In summary, my first comfortable shaves came after a couple of months. Consistently good shaves maybe after a year. Reliable tools came years later (max of my second column and my response).
Once I got my SR shaving gear together and putting my first true SR through the Method honing system, it took me about a month to solve almost all the problems that I had with SR shaving. After that, it was just a matter of further refining my technique.

Two years later, I am still learning but now in much smaller steps.
Initially, getting my first Gillette Tech solved a lot of the issues I was having with getting weepers/irritation (although did not solve it entirely). Perhaps less than a year in? I can squeeze out good shaves with the Edwin Jagger I was using now but in that stage of my infancy regarding this hobby, I didn't have the technique yet.

Honestly, at this point if I were to shave every single day it would have to be a straight razor, but my heart is in vintage Gillette's so I still like to play with those toys too. Once I "got good" with a Gillette Old Type though I'm now able to keep that little bit of neck irritation at bay with daily shaving (although the razor likes to put me in my place once in a while).

My setup/technique still isn't perfect but it doesn't have to be. I stopped chasing anything to enjoy things that I already have. The GRUME has helped me quite a bit. I learned early that all I need is Arko and Stirling shave soaps.
I purchased my Merkur 23C in early 2013, but did not buy my Gillette Slim until early 2014. The 23C worked well, but the Gillette was and is in another class entirely when it comes to smoothness and lack of irritation and nicks. Though a year's experience with the 23 had taught me a lot already.
After years of shaving and buying lots of razors in this hobby of mine I will just recommend a few things for a Newbie who wants to learn how to Traditional wet shave successfully.
Before getting into shave gear I would strongly recommend to map your beard growth direction so you enjoy all shaving tools regardless if they are electric, cart, DE ,SE or straight. That is best beginning advice I can suggest. 2 to 3 days growth will tell the tale of beard grain directions(with the grain=WTG) (across the grain=XTG)(against the grain=ATG) and most folks know this but a lot of Newbies might not.
Razor: A good upper mild range razor is a good starting point and I bought the Razorock SLOC for my Son to use 3 years ago to learn and he seems to like it and is excellent to learn with and I own one also and that's why I bought him the RR SLOC. I started out with a Gillette slim and still use it once in a while in my large razor collection rotation. Henson also makes the AL13 that folks like to start out with from what I read in reviews.
Brush: Just buy a good 24mm synthetic brush to start out with while learning because they are almost maintenance free & never store a brush in a enclosed area when still damp.
Blade: I would buy a Gillette brand or Personna brand because both manufactures have been making blades for over 100 years!
Soap: There are so many good ones out there I not even going to try to suggest one.
Have some great shaves!
Took me quite awhile before I ’settled’ on my destination razor (Wolfman WR1) and ’top-tier blades.

The soaps, brushes and AS pretty much took care of sorting out my preferences during that time!


Remember to forget me!
It's been so long since I started shaving with double edged razors, that I can't really remember how long it took to get completely settled. What helped immensely, compared to today, was that I had the grand total of one razor and one blade brand to choose from. No internet, no vast array of choice, no option to blame the kit. If it didn't work, it was my fault, and I just had to get better at it. Quick!
Tried Proraso pre-shave cream and after a month found out it had no benefit.
I can relate to that. I think pre-shave creams and oils are the biggest scam in the world of wet shaving (they don't do anything useful), followed closely by beaver hair brushes (over-priced but barely any noticeable benefit over synthetic). I suspect the oils are made from snake oil.
I am shaving for a little bit more than 3 months and I am improving slowly throughout this period. If you integrate it, overall it is a big progress.

In general, I didn't see many differences with the blades, apart from the very beginning where my technique was lacking a lot. I ended up using astra green or perma sharp - I can't find any difference between the two.

I didn't see huge differences in soaps/creams. I think that a decent soap will do the job. I currently use Arko stick and I am very happy. TOBS had a better post shave but in terms of efficiency is not overall better. I suspect that there is some technique in making the lather properly and this is what I am examining by watching others who shave.

The way you handle the razor, the razor itself, the mapping of the hair growth direction seem to me the most important. I still cannot get used to putting the correct pressure (or no pressure) and with the moves. I use Rockwell 6C on plate 3 or 4. I also suspect that different razors may require different techniques.

My extrapolation from the progress that I have made is that I will be able to have perfect shaves by January, i.e. 5 months after I started. Remains to be seen if my prediction will be verified :)


Remember to forget me!
I suspect that there is some technique in making the lather properly and this is what I am examining by watching others who shave.

Like many things with traditional shaving, lather preferences are highly subjective.

I can't recall if I've subjected you to this yet...

... but that spells out my own lather preferences (amongst many other things). The thinner lather helps me shave pressure free, because I have a greater awareness of the blade/razor, and am not fighting through rich lather, which can fool you into using more pressure than you should.

If I made my lather like most people online seem to, my shaves would be a lot less close and comfortable than they currently are. :)
I suppose I feel a bit sorry for people who struggle so much. It took me a month or so to really adjust to DE and SE shaving but now I’m finding it somewhat trivial to pick up a new razor and get a good shave with it. I have had zero issues with brushes, soaps, making a good lather, etc. That’s not to say I don’t have the occasional disappointing shave but I think that’s likely true of most people. If it’s all just good luck then I’ll happily take it.
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