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My son's first shaving kit - a couple of questions

Hey, all! Our eldest son's teen-whiskers are getting to the point where I know I need to teach him to shave soon. So, with that in mind, we recently ordered a 'kit' for him:

razor — Parker Variant adjustable, satin chrome
soap — Proraso, red in a tube
brush — Semogue 610 boar, black acrylic

I was going to buy the razor locally, but the only store in town only had one in stock, and, when I inspected it, the knob appeared to not be calibrated correctly: fully tightened was nowhere near the '0' mark. I realize now, after the fact, that maybe the dots just weren't matched up. Oh well, it felt good to support Italian Barber.

Now, I've been at this game awhile. My last login on this forum was in August 2016, and it was probably around that time that my b/s/t RazoRock Jaws open comb broke clear through the handle from presumed water damage, and therefore it's been probably eight years that I've been shaving with a Merkur 34C exclusively (except for the rare occasions that I decide to use my dad's old '63 Slim for giggles). My point is that I've spent a long time using only one razor, and it's been years since I've tried anything else. This brings me to my first question.

1. Tips on using the Parker Variant adjustable? (a) I notice right off the bat that it's significantly heavier than my HD. Do I assume correctly that this means I should actually heed the traditional advice of using zero pressure? With my HD, I do actually use pressure, but I assume the extra weight of the Var's head might make that unnecessary. (b) The paper that came with the razor recommends a n00b to start on a '1'. Do you agree with that advice? Or should I start my son on something a little further up the scale? (c) Shallow or steep angle on this razor?

2. Tips on teaching him to shave his mustache? I've kept a beard since 2019—except for those rare times when I decided to make my wife unhappy by shaving clean—and now only shave my neck. But back before the beard, shaving my upper lip was always the most difficult, and it's where I would most commonly get razor burn from trying too hard. Do you recommend teaching XTG only? WTG only? Both? I notice that the Var has quite a bigger head (no jokes please) than my HD, so I anticipate WTG not quite cutting it (pun not intended) right under the nose.

3. Tips on de-funking the piggy? I lathered with Dawn dish soap, left it half a day, rinsed, lathered with Proraso red, left it half the day, rinsed, lathered with Proraso red again, rinsed, lathered with Lea mentholated, left it 24 hours, rinsed, and it still smells like pig when wet. And the smell bothers him. I'm considering letting him use my own stench-free Semogue wooden-handled boar brush and just using his myself. But does anyone here have some super secret Semogue swine scent stopping system to pass along? Much appreciated if so.

4. Teach him on a forgiving blade or an unforgiving blade? I first learned on Voskhod blades, which I consider to be very forgiving but not the most effective, and I still have scores of them under the sink. My favorite and best performing blades are Gillette Nacet, and I have scores of those as well, but they are much less forgiving. Basically, should I ease him into sharper blades, or should I try him by fire at the get-go and let everything after that point be easier? I also have a bunch of Astra SP and Personna Comfort Coated, both of which I consider to be in the middle of the road. (The Personna blades are, I believe, what everyone used to call 'lab blue'. I was never entirely clear on all the iterations of Personna blades, and I bought these right when the packaging was changing and people on here were going berserk. The sales clerk at the local store, though, told me back then that they were the same item number in their catalog—that one day they just started showing up in different packaging instead—so I say they're the same thing. Also, they're overrated. They're decent, to be sure, but not worth all the hype they were getting back then.)

I look forward to reading everyone's advice!
First, CONGRATULATIONS on raising your son!! I am especially impressed that he listens to your advice.

To answer your questions:
1. I have not had a Parker razor, so I cannot provide advice on that.
2. Your blade choices are solid. I might also include a blade sampler or two.
3. My approach with any new brush is to just use it. KISS works!!
Honestly your son is lucky to have father interested in him learning how to shave right way.

Show him how to do it several times. Say you got questions? If he says no. Turn him loose.

The only way he will learn is doing, Don’t be helicopter parent, kind need expirrence.

Only way to get is DOING👍. Jmho


My wallet cries.
Sounds like a great kit, start! Hard to go wrong with tried tested and true you know? For my 2 cents, personally I would start with something non-adjustable just to take out the variables/less variables and have them focus on one thing that doesn't change on them, but thsts just me.

I used my son's hardware today. With a blade loaded, the Parker Variant tightened down to a '1', which seems good enough. I shaved with it on a '3'. From that experience, I'm very encouraged that it's a good razor to learn on. I was never in danger of even the slightest weeper. I even had a pimple/ingrown, and shaving over it didn't draw one drop of blood. I do a single pass with touch-up, and it took quite a bit of touch-up buffing to get rid of the roughest patches, but I assume wouldn't be an issue on a more aggressive setting. I didn't get a good feel for whether it needs a steep or shallow angle, probably because only shaving my neck doesn't provide a long-enough runway for testing that out.

The tube of Proraso red took more water than I anticipated. I've used shave sticks almost exclusively for a long time now, and for my rare occasional cream use I gravitate toward Arko Comfort. Actually, now that I think about, I don't think I even have any Proraso of my own anymore. At any rate, it was easy to lather—easier than some others I've tried, which seem to go from zero to blown-out in three drops of water. This should be easy to teach him with.

My approach with any new brush is to just use it. KISS works!!

Most of the piggy-wiggy-stench was gone by the time I lathered up this morning. And afterward, after I had cleaned the soap out, I had my son give it a sniff. He said the smell was still slightly there, but not enough to bother him anymore.

For my 2 cents, personally I would start with something non-adjustable just to take out the variables/less variables and have them focus on one thing that doesn't change on them, but thsts just me.

Good point. I learned on an HD, and I had a very long learning curve. I don't know if that curve would have been shorter or longer with an adjustable. At any rate, I'll probably heed your advice by encouraging him to always shave with the razor on the same setting. He's a logical thinker, so he'll definitely understand the one-variable-at-a-time thing.
My son is DE shaving for over a year now (going on 1.5 soon I guess). He uses a Gillette Slim and used the setting changes to find his current level. He has that dialled in and doesn’t change (that I know of).

His blade is the Dorco Titan on my recommendation. He likes it and hasn’t asked for any other brand or type.

His brush is synthetic and I thought it would be good to get him that because they dry quickly and no hogging. I wanted it to be as simple as possible.

Enjoy your son’s progress!

Just soak the brush in an ounce of Vinegar and warm water for 15-20 minutes, then lather with a dollop of shampoo in the palm of your hand a couple of times until the vinegar smell is gone.

It will also bloom the brush nicely. I give my brushes a vinegar soak a couple times a year, it can revive a tired brush in a few minutes.

It also remove the smell from new brushes.
It’s great that you’re teaching him to shave properly with the right equipment.
I was never shown how, just left to my own devices using rubbish plastic razors, foam in a can and cheap splashes.
I was very surprised at age 40 something, just what a difference could be made with a shaving brush, good soap and a good quality razor.
A DE is almost certainly the way to go with a young lad but I wish I’d started straight razor shaving in my teens.
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