What's new

[Long] Newbie check-in + Need help

Hey there all, I just joined the community so I decided I might as well introduce myself. (TL; DR at the bottom, if you're not inclined to reading through it all)

I've been wet shaving pretty much since I started shaving, entirely self-taught (yikes). I don't know how much text is welcome here, but I'm a reader and fancy myself a bit of a writer, so I'll give you guys my history if anyone is interested. Do expect some issues despite my fluency though, as English isn't my mother tongue.

So, I had to start shaving when I was about 14~15, as many do, because those fine whiskers were getting me some mockery in high school. Not that the mockery bothered me as such, it was a single guy and that was the only thing he had to use against me. It just turned out that he was right on the money that my whiskers, thin and pale as they were then, were getting rather long. I asked my dad for some advice getting started, but I think my vestibular lesson lasted all of 5 minutes. My dad has had a deficit in the father department himself, so he didn't much know how to help. To this day he shaves with electric razors/cartridges in the shower without mirrors, with canned stuff, if he decides to go clean shaven at all. When I was younger, he used to do more of an effort to be shaven cause my mom and I hated "itchy kisses", now not so much.

So by the time I was 16~17 I got into uni, I had a bit more beard everywhere and I wasn't very happy with my shaving. — For some context, I'm a gay male (sorta, more like non-binary, but let's keep it simple as this story is shaping up to be long enough as is), and always looked much younger than my actual age. I don't know what the goals and perceptions are for straight men, but in the gay community there's a niche for young looking men called twinks, and I certainly took efforts to fit the label. Don't get me wrong, this was not out of pressure, just that inherent appreciation for the look in others, so I attempted to mirror it on myself. — That's when I decided to get more serious with my shaving, learn some about technique, lathering etc etc. Got myself a pure badger brush (from The Art of Shaving) which has been with me for the past 8~9 years, and a shaving cream on a tube. It wasn't great at anything, looking back in fact it was pretty iffy, but it certainly felt better than using canned goop.

That lasted me a couple of years. No matter what I did, I just couldn't get the shave I wanted without having to let my face rest for the following 3 days at least. I tried all sorts of things, improved my technique as much as I could on my own… but no matter, that close perfect shave just wrecked my face the following day, even if no nicks or weepers were apparent. — I guess this is as good a point as any to point out my goal when shaving: its the baby but smooth feel, when running my fingers against the grain. Aye, I know it's ambitious. Some would say impossible, even. I beg to differ, at least, when I was younger it was very much a reality. The cheeks are pretty much a guarantee, and the feel tends to last even to the next day; the issue lies in the neck, but I'll get to that soon. — As that cream ended and I got myself another, I started to try a few more things, —by this point I already had a skin care routine to prevent the mild acne I'm prone to (mixed face, so mostly eruptions in the forehead and nose and immediately adjacent to it, even to this day) so my face would always be proper clean — I experimented with canned creams again, with cartridges with more blades, with less, with vibration, with sensitive skin products, with using aftershave, hot water, cold water, electric razors/trimmers, you name it!; results were not very satisfactory. For all my face looks young, my beard has aged, and its only become harder to be contented with my shave.

Some years into this chase, I decided to give the OneBlade a try. It was a unique experience: it gave me a shave nearly as close as a cartridge, but without the irritation afterwards. Sure, it didn't feel perfectly smooth against the grain like I could achieve, but it didn't feel rough either. I don't know if this is a me phenomenon, but when I go WTG/XTG/ATG, unless I get the angle just right and do some buffing on some problem spots, the leftover hair is just prickly as all heck. With the OneBlade it didn't get that holly smoothness, but the hair stub felt like it remained entirely in the folliculum, so the touch was very uniform regardless the direction I ran my fingers through it. For a while it satisfied me: I could shave more often, keep my face looking fairly clean, didn't get irritation, and it took way less time than wet shaving.

But it didn't last. The skin started to dry out visibly with the OneBlade, and should I date to pass it without some prep, it would leave my skin flaky, because it would lacerate the outermost epidermis. I'd still treat my skin well in general, but I sometimes find myself not having the energy to invest in the complete self-care package, and the shaving tends to be one of the first places where I start to skimp. I'll let the hair grow longer and and shave less often, and when I do shave I'll do it with less enthusiasm.

At about 5 years into my quest (22~23) I had gained some weight (I've since lost it), was working at a law firm, and had a busy routine. I had to wear a suit every day, so I tried for a month to shave daily, or as close to it as my face allowed. After that, I resorted to growing a full beard. Thus, I went from baby-face to bearded for a year, just contouring to keep myself presentable. At the same time, I had moved cities, my hair was behaving very differently due to weather, so I also went from straight/wavy hair to full on curly. Basically, I transformed into a very different looking individual. That didn't last beyond the year, however. I wasn't cut out for layering, and I moved back to my parents'.

At this time I was trying to rethink what to do with my life, and with the extra time I could spend more in grooming again. We've always had a sauna at home, which I'd use with my grandpa since I was a kid, and I remembered that he'd sometimes shave in it too. If part of the recommendations for a good shave is to warm up your face well, it seemed to make sense that shaving when doing sauna would result in superb shaves, right? Mostly, yes. I started going twice a week, and was getting some great shaves, much like the ones in my late teens, and with a little less effort too. But the constant bleeders and neck irritation never seized. They might have reduced a little but were never gone. I was using a proper soap, my faithful badger brush — by now very broken in, that guy feels so soft now, I seem to remember it feeling much course — a good skin clean-up (washing my face with Effaclar daily), and a 5 blade (either pro-glide or pro-shield) cartridge. But to make things worse, despite my satisfactory feel, I now had that permanent shade of a moustache in my upper lip. One thing I noticed (rather obviously) was that when the cartridge was brand new, my shaves were A LOT better, but I just couldn't afford to change it every 2 weeks at the price they are.

Fast forward a few more years, and we get to today. I decided I need to get this shaving business down. For starters, I re-ordered my favorite fragrance I'd found in a small South African shaving shop some years ago, and they sent me a complimentary soap tub (250ml). This is my first trully dry soap, — for those wondering, comparing to something like Prorazo (the one in the tub) it makes prorazo look liquid. The soap is arid, lathers well, but requires a lot of water, and in small increments, otherwise it just makes a ton of foam. I have no idea about ingredients, they are not listed anywhere —and I have since learned to lather it accordingly, showing me that for the past 9 years I have been doing a very very very terrible job at lathering.
I also got myself a Henson mild last month for my birthday. I've used it with no problems, my first shave was pretty much comparable to any cartridge shave I've ever had, sans most of the irritation the next day (still some).

So, I tried with a few things in this past month:
  • viability of shaving daily;
  • viability of reusing blades;
  • some variety of blades (tried BIC Chrome Platinum, Feather, Gillette 7 o'clock Super Stainless, Astra Superior Platinum, Henson's RK, and have yet to try Astra Superior Stainless, Gillette 7 o'clock SharpEdge, Kai, PhoenixShaving Platinum Strangelet)
  • ascertaining the direction of my hair growth patterns;
  • making sure I touch/angle the razor/blade correctly in my face (the lack of the pivoting head took little adaptation in terms of safety, but my coverage has suffered a little);
  • perfecting my lather (also I got myself a few synthetic brushes as they seem to be actually good now, I'm waiting for two YAQIs to arrive, and one Rarorock Plissoft noir, a Muhle STF arrived ~10 days ago (I LOVE IT)).
What I've found so far/Where I'm at:
  • as far as daily shaving goes, I need to get less irritation to be able to do it, so I'm letting my face heal at the moment (4 days in now), but as soon as I got the razor, I was able to shave for 4 days straight. Only mild irritation and I could only go ATG every other day. But in trying some different blades I did get some minor bleeds I decided to let heal before I attacked my face again;
  • as to reusing blades, at this point, its a no-no, all blades I've tried to re-use have given me much more tugging the second time around, just not comfotable and increased irritation. It's led me to only use any of the blades a maximum of two times before discarding them;
  • out of the blades I found the BIC to be too flexible, which gave me poor results, despite sharpness. Only the Feather (first use) so far has given me a satisfactory shave every time. All the others present some tugging even in the first pass. I'll still try the others and I'm looking forward to the Kai, but my hopes are low, I think until I'm 100% sure of technique, I'll use the Feathers despite their price;
  • my hair seems to grow
  • in the face its fairly consistent in angle from the midline laterally and inferiorly, angle differs a bit in the very center of the mentum and on the upper lip (I study medicine now, so hang in there with the anatomical terminology, or you can just look at the attachment and see for yourself)
    • in the neck it's trickier it grows nearly perfectly down the length of the neck in the very middle (so posteriorly to the bend of the neck at the hyoid bone and then inferiorly along its descent, following the submental triangle),
    • as you distance from the midline (at the lateral aspects of the submental triangle) the growth angles laterally, so at the bend of the neck it grows from a 15° angle (relative to the midline), up to nearly 60~70̣° at the most medial areas (ending at the lateral margins of the carotid triangle), mostly symmetrically. I often end up leaving some small patches that I could remove with one more localized pass, but I'm choosing not to to spare my skin;
    • past the hyoid it extends to just above the thyroid cartilage medially, with growth underneath that axis more laterally, unlike any other area it angles much faster, going from growing fully downwards to almost fully upwards, in a very asymmetrical disposition. This area I often get many patches, even if I follow the general growth pattern, because the hair itself is kind of criss-crossed, leading me to need more passes I haven't figured this region out;
  • this is proving tricky, while I don't cut myself besides the occasional minor bleed, I don't get a good enough hair removal to my liking. In the face, the very edge of the mandible gives me unsatisfactory results, with considerable shading under the skin, even if there's no hair feeling to the touch. The neck from the jawline to the curving at the hyoid has always been iffy and continues to be so. Especially as I get to that area with less underlying support, my skin stretches but always leaves a bit of a depression that the blade can't touch. And the lower part of the neck always gets some amount of irritation. In general, however, I have a bit of trouble stretching my skin anywhere, it just doesn't go very far, like I can't pull it into a place with better support to ensure proper contact. It's considerably worse when the face is wet and slick of shaving soap;
  • lathering has become a fun game; I've even toyed around lathering my bar of body soap just to see what I'd get out of it. I'm confident in the quality of my lathers now. Excitedly waiting for the new brushes to experiment/play with.

So that's that. I've started trying to J-hook, with promising results, but I'm not quite where I want, that BBS with minimum/no underlying greyness, and no feel of hair to the touch against the grain. I realize that even if all of this is achievable, it might not be something that I can consistently/daily strive for, but I still want to reach the point where I can do if/when I want to. I've summarized below what I think the current challenges I'm facing are.

Other than that, I've also gone on a bit of a spree recently. When the brush arrived I got myself one tub of each of the Prorazos, I had no idea they were any good, and thought they were just something local (in Italy at the moment), the stuff I used before was from AOS or another "men's skin care" brand I don't remember. I'm waiting for a Mitchell's Wool Fat and Tabac soaps after I read good things about them (though I only found out today about the change in the formula for both, so let's pray I get the old one, as the Amazon listing of both was still for the formula containing tallow), they should arrive tomorrow or next week. I don't feel a lot of difference when switching soaps, maybe just a bit more dryness on my skin after the shave, but I do follow up with a balm (currently a Nivea for sensitive skin with witch hazel) and my facial sunscreen/moisturizer. Also, at night I apply cream to my face to help it along, so a mild temporary dryness is something I'm likely to overlook if the remainder of the shave is good.
If I touch my face with an alum stick, I get some stinging just about anywhere I touched with the blade (so literally my entire face), even if there's no apparent bleeding. Because of this, I don't bother, as it just serves to overly dry my skin. I did buy a bottle of Taylor's witch hazel unscented, which should arrive on Friday, the Nivea's creaminess doesn't much please me.
Back on the subject of soaps I really wanted to get a Stirling, but the sheer scent diversity kind of oppressed me. In fact, I rather prefer something scentless, as the fragrance I got from S.A. is alcohol free and meant to be applied alongside the aftershave (that's one way they recommended using it back when I bought it, or just like regular perfume).

I don't particularly feel like I have sensitive skin. I have a propensity to develop acne if I don't wash my face daily, but I don't explode in pimples, nor is it an overnight infestation, generally takes a few days for any to show up and then it's often on the crease of the nose because it accumulates oil. Regular soaps dry the skin out too much, so I find that the Effaclar I use does a very good job, and I've stuck to it for some few years now with good results in regard to oil/spots control. Nor do most problems give me any kind of irritation, it's just really shaving that causes a fairly mild case of pseudofolliculitis barbae, and not in all spots.


My hair is medium/thick, able to grow a full beard/nearly perfect face coverage. I've been using a badger brush for a long time, but got new synthetic ones recently and improved my lather. I have my eyes on a few products at the moment, but I'm sticking to a tube of prorazo red and feather blades on a Henson mild until I improve my technique some more.
My main challenges, especially now with the DE razor, are (in order of importance to me):
  1. getting rid of the grey beard shade in my face (I used to be able to get full skin tone from my shaves, save for the upper lip. Now I'm always left with the greyness and I utterly dislike it, even if the touch is always smooth);
  2. not getting irritation/razor burns on the last part of the neck;
  3. getting all of the neck spots without need for extra passes;
Thanks for reading the whole thing! All comments are welcome, whether you have any tips to improve my shave, or just want to point out my stupid standards or senselessly long ramble… I admit I'm prone to circling around the point in my stories, but for me context is everything when I'm trying to make sense of what I'm doing right/wrong and what's been tried/ignored.

Here's also a picture of my neck, so you can see what my beard pattern is like/the thickness and whatnot.


  • IMG_0360.JPG
    1.1 MB · Views: 42
Welcome aboard!

Congratulations on your progress.

I agree with your decision to focus on technique. For me that includes a few points:
1. Great prep.
2. ’No’ pressure.
3. Maintain optimal razor angle.

Stay with this and you will get the results you want!

Yeah, that's pretty much the sum of what I read, I struggle. Prep I think I have covered, honestly. Pressure and angle however, I'm not sure that using the Henson follows the same logic as other DE razors. The Henson sits against your skin with a gap that is very comparable to a cartridge, in the sense that, your skin doesn't get bitten, and the angle is the one provided by its design.
Even regular passes with the Henson (or any shaving apparatus I've used) has somewhat lacklustre results. I believe my hair grows out of the follicle too parallel to the skin, as such, shaving with the grain literally leaves entire hairs behind, utterlly untouched by the blade. I don't think I can scape using extra pressure. Also, it doesn't seem to cause any irritation/razor burn on my skin anywhere else, just the neck (which is already a place I'm more careful with, but just have terrible contact).

I've tried twisting my neck this way and that, stretching forward while shaving, combining the two, spreading the skin with my fingers (even though that makes the whole shave take forever, since I have to reapply shaving cream to each zone, as I don't get any purchase if the face/fingers are wet). Still, the blade has a hard time reaching the skin on the hollow that forms.

On the angle department, what really changes is the angle of my face, since the head doesn't pivot to conform, I have to manually adjust to the curvature, which is what I partially atribute to my less than stellar results in the jaw.
But I'm not confident that's the whole story. It's not like the resulting shave has spots where I get the clean shave I want and spots that I don't. It's uniformly leaving me with a shadow, and that I can't seem to figure out the why of.

I don't know if its my imagination, but looking at the picture I get the feeling that some of those lighter hairs are literally growing underneath a layer of skin, even if there's no associated inflammation you'd expect of an ingrown hair.


I shaved a fortune
Welcome to the B&B community. I'm making an assumption here.... but you love to write, so I suspect, you love to read as well. I know I do. You'll find your way around the forums over time..... and you'll find lots of great advice here. You'll find people who have struggled with similar issues and what they've done to mitigate them.

Have fun on your journey here on B&B.
Welcome to the B&B community. I'm making an assumption here.... but you love to write, so I suspect, you love to read as well. I know I do. You'll find your way around the forums over time..... and you'll find lots of great advice here. You'll find people who have struggled with similar issues and what they've done to mitigate them.

Have fun on your journey here on B&B.
Love to read, yes!

Have time to browse for what I need, not as much. In fact, I spent way too much time today in that retelling and a few other answers, when I should be studying (ahem) anatomy 🤦
Thanks for the welcomes!

It's nice to see the community is this warm to newcomers :D

I did a shave today:

Lukewarm water (it's way too hot in here now for actually warm water).
Prorazo red pre-shave cream.
Lather with Prorazo red tub soap, did a bit of a dryer lather today, very rich and velvety, but the first layer ended up drying up on my face and flaking midway through the first pass.
I went at it slowly, so there was that as well.
WTG, XTG, ATG/J-hooking.
Showered afterwards (and washed my face with my routine cleanser).
Applied the Nivea after-shave balm with which hazel.
This was the result.

As shaves go, doing it cooler didn't change much. I didn't hurt myself less nor more, but it did feel a bit easier for the blade to slide closer, the skin was firmer. I might just try to repeat this a few more times.

In general, this is a pretty average result. It's very smooth to the touch, though a few hairs decided to pop out only after the shower. I'll deal with them on the next shave.

But look at the neck, this is what happens, every time, for 9 years.
And also, the grey under the skin, can I do anything to get rid of the permanent shadow?
OP, I may have missed something in your lengthy initial post, but if you can't use any blade for a second time, I strongly suspect you're not hydrating/softening/lathering your beard sufficiently.

This is coming from someone who generally changes blades after shave #3. I can push to 4 shaves with a Personna on either my Henson AL 13+ and Gamechanger on occasion, but I tend to play it safe and stop at 3.

You mentioned having been lathering wrong for quite some time, and seemed to focus on gear more than technique.

Check this lathering post and report back. In my short time DE shaving, I find it to be much like Chinese cooking. It's in the prep. After getting prep dialed, additional issues can be explored.

... Thom
Last edited:
Welcome aboard, @C Elliot! Great to have you here!

It sounds like you've done an excellent and careful approach. I don't know if there is much to be added. You've already thought of and have been working on it all. Some minor thoughts, in hopes of helping you...

For your #1, there isn't really anything one can do for whiskers showing through translucent skin. I too have that. My skin might be a shade darker than yours, but still white and translucent. If the shave is smooth to the touch that is the best anyone can do. In the summer, when I have a bit more color it shows less, but I'm not going to suntan for that.

For #2 and #3 - since you like the Henson (I do too!), you might want to try the medium or even the aggressive. I found the mild to require too many passes and touch ups. The medium worked better in that respect, and was still very safe. You have to use a lighter touch, as the medium has more blade exposure. Henson offers a 100-day guarantee, so you could try it. The aggressive is another step up, only try that if you are sure your technique and light touch is ready for it. It has double the exposure of the medium and they don't sell it directly so no free returns.

So part of what I am encouraging is for you to continue your great and careful work on your technique. Focus on that, rather than the perfect shave and, counterintuitively, that will get you there faster. But even with a perfect shave, dark whiskers will show through translucent skin, so don't set a goal you can't achieve.

I hope my rambling thoughts help. Again, welcome!
Last edited:

Old Hippie

Somewhere between 61 and dead
Shortest. Intro. Ever. :)

Welcome to B&B!

Yeah, there's no more perfect confirmation that we all have different contexts, is there? I'm an aging retired guy, head shaver, with a beard. Dark hair, once fairly thick but now I shave the dome for a reason. Otherwise I look like Bozo the Clown with a little tuft in front and skin all around it. Not a good look for me, though I have been a performing clown in years past. Then I was a professor, which is the same thing with a larger paycheque. :)

First, foremost, everlastingly important: technique. And it's never the same technique! It changes and modifies as we age, grow and learn. That's actually a hopeful thing, in my opinion. How to develop technique? Well...shave. That's almost all of it. That, and what I often refer to when teaching meditation classes: mindful reflection. That is to say, think about what works and what doesn't, gauge their relative importances and if it seems congenial make a small change and then reflect on that. There is no one-shave-fits-all answer, for which let us be grateful.

Once you've wrung all the possibilities out of your current razor, or while you are wringing but want something to think about :), do a little dive into different styles of razor. DE, SE-AC, SE-Gem, Slant, shavette, straight. Not that you'll ever use all of them -- I've gone as far as shavettes and then returned to more personally congenial shores. But looking at how people use various platforms might offer some interesting insights. From the straight shavers, for instance, I learned thin slick lathers, which translates pretty well into most other styles. My personal favourites are DE slant, SE slant (there's only one) and SE-Gem.

I find that too much (any, really) prep really makes for an irritating shave. I also find that hot water does the same. My current procedure is to plug the sink, start the hot water running while it's cold, and then use some hot water to fill my little brush soaking cup. (I prefer boar brushes, which need a little soak first but deliver a wonderful lather.) Once I've filled that cup I shut off the water. We are now at the highest official drought level here, and water is precious. I'd quit shaving for a while to save water for the garden! The sink water is luke warm but good enough for rinsing the razor. I rinse off with cold water.

Since a razor is really just a holder for a blade, it makes sense to consider blades. I prefer a mid-sharp blade in a mid-aggressive razor. I've also had good luck with very sharp blades in otherwise somewhat mild razors. I've had frustrations with mild razors and mild blades. Just not worth my time. Ask a Gem fanatic to recommend a blade and they'll smile and usually say "Personna PTFE." Which is, aside from two other styles of Gem blade, all you can get. EZ;PZ. :) Same question to a DE person and they'll send you all over the map. Early on I chanced onto Astra SP blades, and have preferred them ever since.

One last thing. I got the idea that every shaver should "chase the baby." It's kind of the gold standard around here but really -- some days just getting a little cleaned up is good enough. I have my good and bad shaves, but I've paid attention to that technique thing and seem to get pretty good shaves every time. Plus, hey, retired; I don't have to be perfect. :)

Welcome. YMMV, but you might want to try a different, still mild razor with a little more blade feel, such as a Muhle R89, along with a medium sharp blade, a thick but still soapy lather.
I would suggest: get a Muhle R41 head with a sharp blade, and try a one pass with touchups for those areas not well shaved. Or do a 2 pass with and against....that may work.
Top Bottom