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I need a more agressive razor, I said. A cautionary tale (WARNING: long read)

So, while I've been impressed with my DE shaves, as a noob, I felt that they could be still closer yet. Of course, with a solid week of wet shaving under my belt, the only thing that could possibly remain as an obstacle between me and the perfect shave was my razor because I was using Astra SP blades (really like them), and I was doing the shaving so the technique was of course beyond reproach.

Armed with my desire to achieve a BBS, I took to the internets in search of the perfect implement of destruction; the tool that would bring my stubble to its knees. Finally, this beauty arrived$20140125_173402.jpg
a gorgeous Pearl open comb that was surely to be my salvation. I eagerly lathered my face up (wisely deciding not to attempt to use my new tool on my head without giving it a trial run first) and loaded it with one of my trusty Astras.

I began shaving, emboldened by this tool, taking angles that were impossible with my Merkur 180, destroying any stubble encountered. I finished my first pass, and smugly began lathering for a second. That's when I saw it. Blood everywhere! Bright specks of red were popping up everywhere! My new tool had forsaken me!!! Open combs ARE dangerous!!! Luckily, I had managed to get a pretty good shave with that first pass.
I decided to forgo incurring any additional damage & went straight into post shave triage (finally, a chance to use that styptic pencil!!). I got the blood flow stemmed, and went to work on my head w/ my Merkur. While shaving my head I cursed myself for being seduced by the beautiful world of the open comb, thinking how I should have listened to the warnings.

It was then that I came upon a shocking revelation; maybe, just maybe, the problem was...me!! Perhaps my technique wasn't all that I thought it was! Maybe the tool wasn't the problem after all!

I've now resolved to put the open comb aside (although I am looking forward to the day when I trust myself to try it again, that thing is amazing!!), and rededicate myself to perfecting my technique. I will become a master with my Merkur. Only when I have achieved a comfortable B.B.S. shave with my first razor, will I allow myself to once again dip my toe into the alluring pool of the open comb, perhaps the slant, and who knows what else from there.

Moral of the story:
A perfect tool in the hands of a novice will yield imperfect results.

Thanks for taking the time to read this; luckily I have a wealth of information available on this site to help me in my journey.:biggrin1:
 
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Dont be too discouraged! You're right though. With some more experience(NO PRESSURE) the open comb will do great. Also thats a really nice Pearl razor.
 
Thanks. I'm really looking forward to improving my technique & perfecting the art of no pressure so that I can put that fine Pearl razor to work without butchering myself. She is a beaut!
 
Great story! And you may be onto something; improved technique enables you to use milder shavers more effectively, I believe.

I'm always surprised when I hear the DE89 being described as a mild razor. For me, it is moderately agressive.

Have fun mastering that OC!
 
This is certainly a heads up as I have just bought an OC. Now I will be very very careful. Great story and what a fantastic looking razor.
 
...and there is the unwritten assumption that mastering a more aggressive razor is somehow proof that one is a more experienced shaver, and that mild razors are for newbies. Hogwash. Different razors are made for different skin types, with differing beard qualities. While a Tech, for example, may provide a more forgiving shave, it is not a razor to graduate beyond. Someone may find they like a more agressive razor more down the road. But thousands of men shaved with Techs for decades, and never felt compelled to try anything else. My grandfather shaved with a blue tip for many, many years. So do I. As Johant said above, as your technique improves, you may find that a mild razor is capable of incredibly close and precise shaves.

That Pearl is pretty to look at, though.
 
Great story thanks for sharing, that is a lovely looking razor. The gap between the underside of the blade and the comb look pretty big,,is that the type of gap you get with this razor?

Cheers.
 
Brought a slight chuckle to me this morning. Keep practicing and then don't get discouraged with the OC as you'll still probably bring blood the first few times you use it again.

I had a similar situation the last month of my DE journey. Got an EJ DE86 for Christmas and won a 2011 R101 ( black handled R41) in a contest the same time. Went a couple weeks with the EJ and felt I was okay to try the R101 on a weekend. Lots of blood and irritation was the result. Decided to let my face heal the next day and use the EJ during the week, but keep trying the R101 on the weekends since I don't have to wear a tie. Got 3 shaves last weekend with the R101 and my technique got better with less and less irritation. Then yesterday's shave was more comfortable without blood and very little irritation, even though it isn't quite as close as I can get with my EJ yet. We'll see how this mornings shave goes, but it takes practice and a positive outlook.

Best of luck with your journey and keep trying the OC every now and then when you can afford to have a day to heal if necessary. You'll be surprised at how you'll progress.
 
Great read.
I started with an EJ myself and foolishly experimented with a number of razors before I fully understood what I was doing. A very good lesson that you can't spend your way to a better shave, you have to actually learn the hard way with time and patience.

That being said, I bought the same OC as you with a different handle, showed it the proper respect, took my time to really understand what I was doing and became a real shaver because of this razor. Because it could bite I was very methodical with it and it paid off very well. I am sure the same will happen with you.
 
having been away for a while, I had not heard of Pearl. It is a handsome razor. But man it does look aggressive. the picture makes i look like you could slide a dime between the blade and the comb! good luck
 
IMHO: Technique doesn't exist in a vacuum. It is the nexus between you and your equipment. So, familiarity and practice with your tools is what makes technique work or not. A new tool brings with it a learning curve that one might or might not have the patience (or be willing to invest the time necessary) to master.

An OC is next on my RAD list. I kind of assume that no matter how comfortable I am with the tools I've been using, there will be new tricks to master.

Maybe there's reason that doctors are said to "practice" medicine and lawyers to "practice" law. Perhaps, we're all just practicing shaving.

I think one thing that goes on for all of us that we don't acknowledge explicitly as often as we might is that there's "technique"-- the skill you develop over time; and "execution" -- the way you deploy it any single time. Even with a well-honed technique, acquired over many hours of practice, all it takes is something like too little sleep, too much caffeine, or whatever variable you want to throw in to the equation to alter one's technique enough to spoil the execution any particular morning.

So, hang in there. You'll get it figured out soon enough.
 
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I think one thing that goes on for all of us that we don't acknowledge explicitly as often as we might is that there's "technique"-- the skill you develop over time; and "execution" -- the way you deploy it any single time. Even with a well-honed technique, acquired over many hours of practice, all it takes is something like too little sleep, too much caffeine, or whatever variable you want to throw in to the equation to alter one's technique enough to spoil the execution any particular morning.

Yes! Can I also mention squabbling children as a factor, as I discovered while shaving with my R41 loaded with a Feather earlier this week? Ow.
 
Barking dogs, ringing phone, wife bumping you with the bathroom door as you're in mid-XTG stroke with a Feather ...

Yes! Can I also mention squabbling children as a factor, as I discovered while shaving with my R41 loaded with a Feather earlier this week? Ow.
 
Thanks for all of the advice.

The gap between the blade and comb is pretty large, and I was surprised at how much blade exposure there was. I think I'll keep trying it out on the weekends (it really is too beautiful not to use), and continue improving my technique along the way.

T.Orso, I know what you mean with the children; my son thinks that the best time to run up and hug me is while I'm shaving. Cute, but potentially disastrous for my face!
 
I had a very similar experience with my new Merkur Slant - an incredibly close shave followed by considerable blood letting. Weird thing was - it wasn't the slightly bit painful - just looked like the scene out of a horror movie. I put that weapon aside for a while so I could continue to hone my technique. I'm now trying my new 1961 Adjustable tomorrow with a gentle setting.....still need the styptic pencil some days.
 
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