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Neck irritation and modern cartridge razors - Not what I expected!

Hello everyone!

Yesterday, I bought a Gillette Mach 3 razor that came with two cartridges just for the fun of it since it was on sale in the store. I've been shaving exclusively with safety razor and brush for almost 10 years now. Right from when I started shaving! :D For only a brief period of a couple months I used a cartridge razor when I started shaving. The experience at the time was fine but the cartridges wouldn't last very long, but they were store brand so perhaps that had something to do with it.

I switched to safety razors not long after starting and My trusty Merkur 34C has been my workhorse for all those years. Only recently have I acquired a King C. Gillette razor (King C. Gillette blades are awesome btw) as well as a vintage Gillette that I found at an antique market.
Now coming back to the topic:
Yesterday's shave with the Gillette Mach 3 was actually quite pleasant. It didn't feel tuggy and I got a great shave out of it. Perhaps not quite as close as I could get with a safety razor but very much nice and comfortable. The thing I noticed immediately is absolutely no irritation whatsoever, especially on my neck. Usually I do two pass shaves, first WTG, then XTG (this is usually even only a bit of a cleanup pass anyways) On my neck I always get slight irritation when I use my safety razor, and if I shave daily it gets really bad. I've tried so many things that have been suggested on the forums here but none seem to do much for whatever reason.

I was really surprised yesterday, especially after also having tried a Fusion 5 a week or two ago and abandoning it not even halfway through the shave because it was just painful to use (brand new cartridge).

I could see myself using the Mach 3 for the neck area if it works so well.

Some details from yesterday's shave:

- Merkur 34C with King C. Gillette blade (used to clean up some edges)
- Gillette Mach 3 with a brand new cartridge
- Some Omega boar brush that I have long forgotten the name/number of
- Proraso Green Preshave (not sure how helpful this stuff is, I only bought it and used it for the first time yesterday. Smells nice though...)
- Arko Soap stick
- Nivea Fresh kick after shave

So, some questions/discussion points:

- What has your experience been with neck irritation for both cartridge razors as well as safety razors?
- What can I possibly do to stop it from happening when I use a safety razor?
- How long can I expect one of these Mach 3 cartridges to last?
- Are there better cartridge razors than the Mach 3? I've seen this one pop up quite a bit over the years in threads.


I hope you all have a nice Sunday! Thanks in advance :)
 

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Oh also something worth noting is that I've never been able to shave ATG, no matter what blade I use in a DE, it always pulls and tugs :(. Yesterday with the Mach 3 however, that was not an issue at all. I only tried it for a little bit just to test and it felt just like a regular WTG pass. (how it should ideally also be with a DE...)

Any tips on ATG shaving with my DE?
 
I’ve tried about every cartridge on the planet, and I still grab one if I travel. The Mach 3 has been around forever and is an extremely popular world seller because it works. I think Gillette also has another 3 blade cartridge that fits on the fusion handle.
I think the fusion is the best of the bunch as far as cartridges go, smooth fast no cuts and last a long time. Schick 5 and 3 blade razors are good too and I have used them with no standout issues, Harry’s is the least preferred but works just fine for traveling. When home though, I use my Henson Ti22 medium. I just like the safety razor better when I have the choice. I just ordered the Yates and am excited to try it but rest assured carts will always be on the menu for me when I do quick trips.
 
I’ve tried about every cartridge on the planet, and I still grab one if I travel. The Mach 3 has been around forever and is an extremely popular world seller because it works. I think Gillette also has another 3 blade cartridge that fits on the fusion handle.
I think the fusion is the best of the bunch as far as cartridges go, smooth fast no cuts and last a long time. Schick 5 and 3 blade razors are good too and I have used them with no standout issues, Harry’s is the least preferred but works just fine for traveling. When home though, I use my Henson Ti22 medium. I just like the safety razor better when I have the choice. I just ordered the Yates and am excited to try it but rest assured carts will always be on the menu for me when I do quick trips.
I like the Fusion's handle but I think it's just the 5 blades that weren't working for me. Perhaps it was a bad cart...
 
I like the Fusion's handle but I think it's just the 5 blades that weren't working for me. Perhaps it was a bad cart...
I doubt it was a bad cart but rather the fusion just doesn’t work as well for you. After having five blades pass across the same area could be a bit much. Different ones work for different people (just like safety razors) that’s why there’s so many different razors and razor companies and they are all able to stay in business just fine.
 
And another chapter of YMMV is written! My best shave results overall come from a Mach 3. I prefer a DE for the skill and fun factor but in my hands there is no beating the M3. I consider it the best cartridge razor ever made:

I invested in a razor pit and believe that it prolongs the life of the cartridge. I get over 30 shaves per cartridge, and I've seen claims of over 100 shaves per cartridge. "Stropping" on a towel or denim is probably almost as good if not as good as the razor pit.

I don't get irritation from the M3 but would imagine that the etiology is similar from that with a DE razor ie too much pressure, too many passes, insufficient prep, poor lather, etc.
 
I’ve actually had the same experience. I used the fusion for many, many years and had absolutely no irritation, nicks, cuts or weepers each and every shave. The reason i switched to DE was like you, it was a very close shave but never perfect. DE can get just that little bit closer but personally i pay the price with a little irritation or a weeper chasing that perfect BBS shave. It’s a price i’m willing to pay but for me, nothing tops a cart for comfort. I still keep the fusion around for those rare times when i need to shave quickly and it works just as well as it always did. I think you just need to determine if you value the comfort of the cart over the closeness of a DE.
 
Any tips on ATG shaving with my DE?
I have had terrible results, but things are improving. The biggest thing I found was MORE WATER, literally running down your neck. I wet then soap then spray more water then more as I go. Second, obviously, make sure your beard is actually reduced before attempting. Third would be long gliding strokes without much stretching. I usually have to use short fast strokes to get started with mid range sharpness blades, but with the sharpest blades it just glides along right away. This won't reduce as much hair and I only do it to catch patches, which it does do. Some of those take buffing strokes, but I know where not to push my luck on my face. When I stretch and use short strokes like I do with a straight, it roughs up my skin(unlike the straight) and shaves very close. But when I let the safety bar do it's job, everything works. Just make sure it is gliding because a sudden catch and stop can equal blood.
 
In my opinion, Arko is a cheap soap that performs like a cheap soap. If you are getting irritation during your shave, you might want to upgrade to a better soap. The Proraso preshave might help improve the performance of Arko, but there are numerous soaps that will provide a slicker, more protective lather to minimize irritation.

For what it is worth, Arko is not the worst shave soap I have ever used, but it falls into my bottom 10 out of more than 100 I have tested.

I know there are folks who love Arko, primarily because it is cheap. For some folks it works just fine, but I would never recommend it for those with sensitive skin.
 
And another chapter of YMMV is written! My best shave results overall come from a Mach 3. I prefer a DE for the skill and fun factor but in my hands there is no beating the M3. I consider it the best cartridge razor ever made:

I invested in a razor pit and believe that it prolongs the life of the cartridge. I get over 30 shaves per cartridge, and I've seen claims of over 100 shaves per cartridge. "Stropping" on a towel or denim is probably almost as good if not as good as the razor pit.

I don't get irritation from the M3 but would imagine that the etiology is similar from that with a DE razor ie too much pressure, too many passes, insufficient prep, poor lather, etc.
I’ve never heard of a razor pit. What is that?
 
I have had terrible results, but things are improving. The biggest thing I found was MORE WATER, literally running down your neck. I wet then soap then spray more water then more as I go. Second, obviously, make sure your beard is actually reduced before attempting. Third would be long gliding strokes without much stretching. I usually have to use short fast strokes to get started with mid range sharpness blades, but with the sharpest blades it just glides along right away. This won't reduce as much hair and I only do it to catch patches, which it does do. Some of those take buffing strokes, but I know where not to push my luck on my face. When I stretch and use short strokes like I do with a straight, it roughs up my skin(unlike the straight) and shaves very close. But when I let the safety bar do it's job, everything works. Just make sure it is gliding because a sudden catch and stop can equal blood.
Thank you for these tips! I’ll experiment with them all :)
 
In my opinion, Arko is a cheap soap that performs like a cheap soap. If you are getting irritation during your shave, you might want to upgrade to a better soap. The Proraso preshave might help improve the performance of Arko, but there are numerous soaps that will provide a slicker, more protective lather to minimize irritation.

For what it is worth, Arko is not the worst shave soap I have ever used, but it falls into my bottom 10 out of more than 100 I have tested.

I know there are folks who love Arko, primarily because it is cheap. For some folks it works just fine, but I would never recommend it for those with sensitive skin.
I’ve never had issues with Arko. It’s a recent discovery for me and it’s quickly become one of my favorites.
My last shave with it and the Mach 3 was irritation free. With DE I’ve basically had irritation on my neck every time no matter what soap or blade I use.
 
And another chapter of YMMV is written! My best shave results overall come from a Mach 3. I prefer a DE for the skill and fun factor but in my hands there is no beating the M3. I consider it the best cartridge razor ever made:

I invested in a razor pit and believe that it prolongs the life of the cartridge. I get over 30 shaves per cartridge, and I've seen claims of over 100 shaves per cartridge. "Stropping" on a towel or denim is probably almost as good if not as good as the razor pit.

I don't get irritation from the M3 but would imagine that the etiology is similar from that with a DE razor ie too much pressure, too many passes, insufficient prep, poor lather, etc.
Would stropping not damage that soft strip that’s at the top of the cartridges? I’m not sure what it’s for (soothing effect maybe? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) but it seems that it would come off quite easily.
 
My experience with cartridge razors is not pretty. I started shaving at about 17 years old. I got myself a Mach 3 and a package of cartridges. I didn't go through them to this day. I would not get irritation on my neck from a cartridge, but a clean shaven look lasted about a day and a half. My neck would be covered in bumps 24-48 hours after a shave and would take 2-3 weeks to heal up.

I reduced the ingrown hair problem up to 90% with safety razors. New problem in form of irritation occured however, that too I have reduced to 80-90% in a year. On my great shaves, I would get one or two bumps and they would clear up in 2-3 days with the right products and irritation would be gone overnight if any occured. Some shaves are worse. As a matter of fact, I didn't get a shave since before christmas as I got myself an R41 and destroyed my neck. First shave was perfect, second one was terrible (during the shave I was furious because someone dropped my brand new razor on the bathroom floor and I wasn't paying much attention to my technique).

I've heard about stropping cartridges and I've heard only praises so there must be something to it.
 
Congrats, Sir beepbeep on your shaving discoveries!!

FWIW, in my personal experience, irritation is almost always the result of insufficient or improper shave prep!!
Whether it's a hot towel soaking for couple minutes, pre-shave oil, pre-shave soap or cream, whatever, they are all intended for two results...soften the whiskers and provide lubrication on the skin. Personally, I tend toward pre-shave glycerin soap these days and find it's the easiest, cleanest and fastest. My routine is to rub the puck all over the face and neck, lather with the brush, wipe off the lather with fingers, then proceed to lather with shave soap or cream per normal.

ps...arko is fine!!

arko glyce simpson mythus penhaligon's racquets august 26 2021.jpg
 
Congrats, Sir beepbeep on your shaving discoveries!!

FWIW, in my personal experience, irritation is almost always the result of insufficient or improper shave prep!!
Whether it's a hot towel soaking for couple minutes, pre-shave oil, pre-shave soap or cream, whatever, they are all intended for two results...soften the whiskers and provide lubrication on the skin. Personally, I tend toward pre-shave glycerin soap these days and find it's the easiest, cleanest and fastest. My routine is to rub the puck all over the face and neck, lather with the brush, wipe off the lather with fingers, then proceed to lather with shave soap or cream per normal.

ps...arko is fine!!

View attachment 1394838
This might be a dumb question, but what do I look for when looking for a glycerin soap? I’m EU based and so far I’ve never seen them in stores here and I’m not sure what exactly to look for hahaha
 
Neck irritation is the very reason that I moved away from carts and into DE shaving and then ultimately now into SR shaving. You would think that with 4, 6, 8, 12 blades and a thinga-ma-jig with lubrication as a strip that our necks would fare better.

For me, I threw out the carts and found the peace, tranquility and economics of DE and SR shaving.

Great YMMV share.
 
Neck irritation is the very reason that I moved away from carts and into DE shaving and then ultimately now into SR shaving. You would think that with 4, 6, 8, 12 blades and a thinga-ma-jig with lubrication as a strip that our necks would fare better.

For me, I threw out the carts and found the peace, tranquility and economics of DE and SR shaving.

Great YMMV share.
YMMV really is an interesting thing isn’t it? :D

I’m glad you found a way that works for you. I agree with you on the tranquility and economics of DE. It’s just nice to take a moment to enjoy shaving this way.
 
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