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My experience switching to wet shaving after a lifetime of electric.

I've been using electric shavers all my life. My dad never taught me to shave, because I didn't want to learn. The idea of putting what I saw as three knife blades on my face was insane to me. I didn't understand how anyone could survive shaving with a manual razor. So my parents got me an electric when I was 14 and I've used them for 15 years.

Electric shavers are decent now. You can use them with cream and they get you presentable. But they can't get close enough to not have to shave the next morning, and that's why I looked at manual razors. I was tired of looking like a homeless bum if I went without shaving for one day.

But then I looked at the price of cartridges, and haha, no. At those prices, even my newest $200 electric would pay for itself in four months. And that's when I found this place (and a dozen other blogs and sites) talking about DE razors. And by will of the shaving gods, later that week I actually found a DE razor set at Walmart. A factory rebrand by Wahl, it's basically a Merkur 34C knockoff, but far more aggressive blade exposure. Enthralled by the promise of blades for 8 cents each, I bought it to try. Wilkinson Sword shave soap, brush, bowl, Wahl 34C razor with I think a Derby blade.

A few hours of youtube videos later, I gave it a try. "30 degree handle angle, apply no pressure, short strokes, let the weight of the razor do the work, here's how you lather soap", I watched all those videos.

So I added way too much water in my lather, and it may as well have just been a soapy film on my face. I got the handle angle part fine, but I applied way too much pressure. Using an electric, you pretty much ram that thing against your face by necessity, and you'll still never cut yourself. DE shaving requires the complete opposite, and even though I was careful and light to the touch (out of terror), I got at least a dozen knicks. The alcohol based aftershave was quite the experience there.

Oh, and it probably took 45 minutes to get three passes down, for results that weren't that good, least of all on my neck. Definitely practice this on evenings and weekends, or you'll be late for work without much to show for it.

I watched more videos and refined my technique. Acquiring the 'feather touch' of just letting the razor's weight do the work took a few frustrating weeks. It was about three weeks before my first knickness shave, and about two weeks before I could get the length of time down to about 20 including all the cleanup. Getting my face baby smooth took maybe two weeks, but getting a decent and then a smooth shave on my coarse neck took three. For the neck, I learned that I just can't go directly against the grain. It's too coarse, and even with a fresh blade, hairs just end up tearing out. My neck hair grows left to right, so instead of a northsouth, southnorth, and rightleft, I go northsouth, then 45 degrees to the right downward, then 45 degrees to the right upward. As for my face, it's northsouth, southnorth, then from the chin to the ears. Don't stick with angles that tutorial videos follow. Start with them, because you need that practice, but then find what works for you.

I still have a bit of trouble with my jawline, because that's exactly where my hair starts growing from left to right. So on one half of my face, the hair starts growing in complete opposite directions like lanes of traffic, and I always have to buff it out after three passes. Stretching the skin up and down seems to work a little, but not completely, yet.

One thing I've learned is, sadly, I just can't get shaving soap to work. I've watched plenty of videos, I've tried to replicate each one, but I just can't get any kind of lather to appear in the bowl. So I've given up on it and I use Proraso cream. Full bowl of lather within a minute.

Another thing, regarding knicking yourself, I'm not sure it's possible to avoid it if you're like me and switching over from electric shavers. I could tell that my face was not used to being exfoliated by the blade like that. I've never really had razor bumps or redness, but I could feel some discomfort all across my face for the first couple of weeks. If you're switching over from a lifetime of cartridges, I suppose you won't have this issue. It wasn't a visible irritation thankfully, but it was an odd feeling.

Finally, to newbies starting out, don't be afraid to give your face a break if you're struggling. I actually bought a Mach3 set (getting over my childhood fear of the three knives), and I used it twice in my first three weeks of DE shaving, on days where the previous shave got uncomfortable and my face needed to heal. Never knicked myself with it once, so they're definitely idiotproof, but even for a guy who had been using DE razors for two weeks, the Mach3 couldn't get nearly as close. I'm not sure it even got as close as my electric, since it too can use cream.

As for the Wahl 34C razor, I ordered a proper Merkur 34C a week after I bought it. And now that I'm actually good enough to shave reliably and without cutting myself, I've actually just purchased a Feather ASD2 (thank you, tax return). But even with the Merkur, definitely the best shaves I've ever had, even back when I was just learning how to use it.

So yeah, that's the story of my past month. To newbies who have read this far and are considering switching to DE razors, do it. Be dedicated enough to fight through the first few weeks. It'll be so worth it, in terms of the quality of the shave, and in terms of being able to buy a year's worth of blades on Amazon for $10.

As an aside, I've actually just ordered a Sanguine R5 shavette to try on my days off, just to try what that's all about. We'll see how that goes.
 
Great write-up of your experiences so far, thanks for sharing - and a positive read also to newbies. Always interesting to hear how others have fared in those first DE shaves.

The AS-D2 was also my big break, I do love that razor. And then I got into vintage Gillettes, seems like you could be going down that fascinating road too. But a word of warning, those things are truly addictive - I just love them, especially the adjustables!

One things is for sure, don't believe the money saving argument, you'll end up like me spending heaps on razors, creams, brushes etc. :blush: But I absolutely love this new hobby of ours.

Enjoy - and keep sharing your journey :thumbup1:
 
Thanks for sharing your experience. All I can say is that you have multiple moving parts here. The main thing is technique IMHO. Once you get that down you can concentrate on figuring out how to get the lather you like.

Bottom line is that DE is definitely a skill that takes awhile to acquire. Well worth it in the end!
 
I was a long-time electric guy, too. Tried carts for a year and went electric at 16. Never was satisfied, but it was better than the alternative. 30 years later, I discovered DE wet shaving.

Four months later, and I'm still refining. I will say that lather is harder than it looks. C.O. Bigelow (Proraso) canned foam is pretty good stuff as an alternative (available at Bath & Body Works). There were times I would just experiment with lather - one soap, different brushes, bowl/face, soap/water ratios. Now I feel pretty comfortable with that aspect, but not a "pro".

I still wouldn't go back even with the minor issues every now and then.
 

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The Instigator
Great story, and welcome aboard!

Try a better soap - you already have one of the best razors!

Yeah, my dad always used Norelcos, so that's what I started with. Since they give you zits, a twice-lousy choice for an adolescent.

A Braun was better, but still: dirty and dull blades.

Like a samurai, a single pure blade is best for the ultimate battle: self vs. unkempt self.

AA
 
Great writing OP. The pleasure will be growing exponentially. There are many members on here with great guidance. As for lathering, check out some of @KillerQ post/videos. They have helped my technique a great bit. There are also journal posts here that give good ideas. (What razor/ blade used today, etc.)
 
Try a better soap - you already have one of the best razors!

I've been looking at the Proraso soaps, but maybe I should at least wait for the Sandalwood cream to arrive from Amazon before buying more!

I've had a bit of a disaster with aftershaves, though. I thought the redness from the Nivea aftershave lotion I was using would go away when I stopped knicking myself, but it hasn't. So today I bought some sensitive skin aftershave with no alcohol... would you believe it irritated my face MORE than the alcohol stuff?

Tomorrow I'll just use 100% aloe vera gel, see if that works.
 
I've been looking at the Proraso soaps, but maybe I should at least wait for the Sandalwood cream to arrive from Amazon before buying more!

I've had a bit of a disaster with aftershaves, though. I thought the redness from the Nivea aftershave lotion I was using would go away when I stopped knicking myself, but it hasn't. So today I bought some sensitive skin aftershave with no alcohol... would you believe it irritated my face MORE than the alcohol stuff?

Tomorrow I'll just use 100% aloe vera gel, see if that works.

Suggest that you get a bottle of Speick - that AS has true healing powers, I always use Speick if I have a rough shave, works wonders :thumbup1:

Speick is alcohol based, for me alcohol based has always healed my skin better than balms.

Sometimes I even apply Speick first, then another aftershave 15 min after, e.g. Proraso Green, just for kicks. The Speick scent, which is very nice, doesn't last very long. But it feels absolutely great on your skin and makes rashes go away.
 
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Great introduction and nice story. I think you'll really like the AS-D2. Use it with a Feather blade. They're sharp but this razor was made for them. You'll find this razor to be mild but efficient.

I think we all get a few nicks for a while when we start. Welcome!
 
I'm curious about what soaps you've tried? There are some no-good soaps out there, but there is very little differene between lathering soaps and creams. Creams just load faster.

Great write up, by the way. I always enjoy reading people's starting out stories.
 
I was tired of looking like a homeless bum if I went without shaving for one day.

I've been wet shaving since 1980 and still look like a homeless bum if I go without shaving for one day. :001_302:

I've tried shaving with an electric though and after the "shave" I looked
like a homeless bum that hasn't shaved for a day ....
 
I'm curious about what soaps you've tried? There are some no-good soaps out there, but there is very little differene between lathering soaps and creams. Creams just load faster.

Great write up, by the way. I always enjoy reading people's starting out stories.
Just the Wilkinson Sword soap, actually. Gave up after a few tries and went to some Nivea shave cream I had, then Proraso green cream I found on the shelf. Awaiting some Red I ordered from Amazon.
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Is this stuff no good?
 
Hello and welcome. Great to have you here on B&B. Wander on over to the Hall of Fame and introduce yourself more fully.
 
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