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Need advice on razors blades

I am new to wet shaving. I am taking things slow, and have about 4-5 shaves under my belt. I have a (basic) Merkur long handle and I am using Merkur blades. I am in a holding pattern with Scotto on cream samples and am still using Barbasol shaving cream. I am using a badger brush to apply the cream to my face. I am finding that the Merkur blades are not giving me a close shave. I am trying to get a grip on how my facial hairs grow and do perform a N-S pass and a S-N pass and am bit concerned on my neck with a S-N pass. Should I try a different blade? Should I wait for the creams to arrive and see how the blade responds? Will the high end creams really make shaving different? Any suggestions?

Thank you.

You are off to a great start. The use of a quality shaving cream vs. the Barbasol, by itself, should make a difference. If there is a CVS store near you, drop in and pick up a tube of Palmolive Shaving Lather, the one with red printing on the tube. Not the best, but inexpensive and really decent stuff. Also, check with LetterK and order his sampler pack. A quick and easy way to broaden your horizons with blades. Remember to be patient. You've spent a lifetime NOT getting great shaves, and they won't happen overnight. But one day...nirvana!

Oh, check your PM box,

I doubt its the blades, and for a newbie Merkur blades are definitely sharp enough. I've been using a DE for about 4-5 months now and I love the Merkurs, anything sharper irritates my skin (plus my technique isn't all that great, but that's my own fault for not taking my time). You are doing multiple passes aren't you? I do at least two, and sometimes I still miss a spot or two. The new creams will help, too. Just be patient, make sure you take your time, and it'll all come together in a few weeks.

Hi Dallas,
There are a few issues here. First is your attitude and you've got the right one going! Patience is a big thing when first starting out.
When we begin using a double edge we are all looking for that Baby's Butt Smooth shave and seldom get it in the first few weeks or months of shaving. There's a great deal at play here.
If we look at all of the major items involved in getting a good shave we have the following list:
  • Prep
  • Lather (Soap or Cream, Brush and Bowl-optional)
  • Razor
  • Blades
  • Technique
Let us skip around a bit and discuss those things of which you have told us.. As to your choice of razor, the Merkur Long Handled Classic is a really enjoyable, not overly aggressive razor. Merkur blades are noted for their smoothness and, despite all of the other blades loved by other wet shavers of the world, are capable of producing a good shave. There are those lads that just can not get a good shave without their Derby, or their Feather, or their Israeli Persona, or their blade du jour. Truth be told, while you may work at it a bit more or a bit less, most modern blades will deliver a good shave when you have all of the as yet discussed items in the above list right.
Now that it seems I have endorsed all the blades in the world let me add, for me to attain that grade "A" BBS shave with my LHC and my old, heavy, wirey beard, I use a Feather. Your beard, skin and facial topography have a great deal to do with attaining the be all end all in smoothness, which I must add is not really a reasonable goal in the beginning.

I had a tube of Barbasol given to me as a "Why don't you try it" gift by a good friend. I like the smell and, if I recall, it is a brushless cream. For me, it does not provide the best results in a shave, but I don't necessarily seek an "A" shave everyday. After you shave every day for forty or fifty years, you find good also means variety on occasion..I believe that you will probably gain a smoother shave with some of the creams that are formulated for application with a brush. Luxury aside, many of these HIGHer $ creams produce a slicker, wetter lather that helps provide a smoother shave.

Making and applying you lather borders on other items in the list. Prep, an often overlooked item, is like saying, "Start off on the right foot!" I am not going to discuss the shave after, in, or before shower schools of philosophy, but the end goal of prepping is a moist, softened beard. How you get to that condition is a topic for a stand alone treatise. In short, I find after washing my face with a suitable cleanser, I like to soak my beard with a (comfortably) hot, wet wash cloth for a few minutes.

Hopefully you haven't succumbed to eye strain as yet. We arrive at our list's final topic, technique. Blade angle, blade angle, and blade angle are probably the three most important items in the beginning. It would seem you have a grasp on this issue or you would be staring irritation and nicks squarely in the eye. The LHC is a relatively light razor (for me) and that is a good thing. Quite often, a gent will press a bit and run into those two show stoppers I just mentioned, irritation and nicks. What stands out most to me is that you were doing a N-S and S-N pass. I find with my beard, that going against the grain (S-N on most areas of my face) after only a with the grain (N-S) pass would produce a disaster of blood and stubble. Through multiple passes, reducing the remaining stubble a bit at a time, I get the closest shaves. You might wish to read my four pass approach, remembering it is not necessarily for the novice DE user, but has some points that may help you on your way to that BBS shave.

Happy to answer questions on the foregoing, I hope this helps at least in some small way.
Some people always give great advice, no matter how long or short their posts are. Two names immediately come up in my mind and those are Ron and Kyle. It's very nice to see their dedication to good, quality minded information for just about every member of these forums.

Of course others provide great informational posts as well so if I forgot to mention you, please don't take it as an insult. It's the very informational community in a whole that makes this forum so great!
I just want to say that I appreciate all the effort and thought that has been put into everyone's response.

Merkur blades are pretty good to learn with. I used them for a long time before realizing all the other options I had. I can also recommend Derbys or Israelis, as they're a bit smoother than the Merkurs. You don't need deathly sharp yet. (Or, necessarily, ever.)

Stepping up from a canned cream will make a nice difference. There's such a wide variety of soaps and creams for you to try! Great decision on talking to Scotto about sample packs. I can also highly recommend QEDman soaps - they have just about anything you could ask from a shaving soap, and in my opinion, are easier to lather. Plus, Charles at QED is a pleasure to work with.
Let me put a pitch in for Proraso, it's available at Target (look in the Spa section with the other high end cosmetics). I suspect you'd find it a step up from either Barbasol or Palmolive.
Proraso + HD Merkur + Feather is your friend
You should also have slantbar in your collection.
Use proraso preshave cream and a/s balm too.
Shaving before/after shower is your chose, I shave before shower and it works for me.
Try to keep it simple otherwise you are going to end up posting razor burn ingrown questions :biggrin:
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