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newbie wet shaving update.....

well I've been wet shaving since I think around May now. Here's an update:

I'm using the C&E badger brush, the merkur HD razor, proraso shaving cream and a few diff kind of blades I've been trying.

I've yet to be able to get as smooth a shave as the panasonic electric I used to use. (it was baby butt smooth) but that of course came at a price of really really bad irritation.

a forum member sent me a sample of the "israeli" blades and I thought they weren't as good as the first blades I bought at my local albertsons.

I've been using the right technique (right angle, not pressing down, doing multiple passes) and I can do a decent job everywhere except right under my chin and just below my nose (have a lil mole there and it's easy to cut!)

I've noticed that using about an inch of the proraso cream yields just barely enough for 3-4 passes. I'm also using a candle warmer thing to set the bowl on while I shave which does keep the lather warm.

Problem with 3-4 passes is that my skin is pretty raw by that point which would make me think the skin should be smooth but it never is...

What is the absolute best, sharpest blade out there? I've noticed that the major difference in the shave is in the blade.. So far the albertson's brand one has worked the best.

I don't get anymore nicks really anywhere except under the chin. But I can only shave with the direction of growth on my neck. Anytime I try to go against, it gets red and irritated instantly.
I've only been at it about a month, but I can offer a bit of advice. What has been working well for me is to take it very slowly and don't have expectations of a BBS with no irritation for a while. I keep my goals to three parameters: Consistent, quick, and comfortable. I view closeness or BBS as the bonus that comes for free when the other parameters are met.

I went from an M3 Power with Jack Black "Beard Lube" to:

1960's Gillette travel razor (Passed down from gramps, found in an old drawer)
American Perssonna blades from Walmart
Target Proraso Green Tube
Proraso Boar Brush (Omega)
Big Blue cappucino mug from Kohls
Mary Kay Domain aftershave

My first two shaves were HARSH. I did four passes, got real smooth, but couldn't open my jaw for fear of screaming in pain from the burn. I kept it up for a few shaves, though, adding a light layer of the Jack Black as an aftershave/numbing agent. That worked Okay, but it was not what I would call pleasurable.

Then came my first monday and having to get to work. I decided to make just a two pass shave - NS, SN. My irritation was almost as bad, but it got the job done, but I was pressed for time because of how careful I was on the SN pass.

I decided the next day to save time, I would do two passes, NS and Across, leaving out the SN against the grain pass.

This was the revelation!

I did not get a super-smooth shae and could see visible stubble on my neck, but my face felt great, the coolness of the Proraso overshadowing even the slightest feeling of irritation.

I did some thinking, read some posts, and tried something else the next day. The next day I didn't try at all to get close on the first pass. I just went as light as I could, seeking only to remove some cream. I skipped the crosswise shave and added a second NS pass. Still an average shave, but no irritation.

I kept that up for about a week more. The 10 year old razor burn went away. I wasn't quite getting as good shaves as I was with the M3, so I tried to do some improving.

Next step: Focus on the form. I read in one of the posts here that it is all about slicing the hairs, not scraping. So, I visualized how that might work if I could see under a microscope and set out the next day to give it a try. I really focused on getting the blade as parallel (razor as perpendicular) to my face as possible yet still able to slice the hair. That helped, and my shave got closer.

This got me to the point where I couldn't see stubble, it felt smooth with the grain, a little rough against the grain -- A shave equal to my old M3!!!

That takes me to today, where I did a two pass shave this morning, incorporating a SN against the grain shave for the first time. My technique has gotten better. I can tell because I had very little irritation. It took longer out of being careful, but it is getting to be a pretty close shave.

My plan moving forward: Keep doing what I'm doing (2 pass with against the grain as second) until I get consistent, quick, and most importantly comfortable shaves. I think from thier, my progression will be:

1. Ditch the travel razor and get a real razor, like a Merkur HD. When I do that, I'll stick with it until I get consistent, quick, and comfortable shaves. I'm guessing about a month of practice.

2. Try LetterK's sampler to see if I can get improvement out of different blades. I'll get the 10 pack and use up each blade selection in order of sharpness. Decide which is "My" blade. Order a bunch of these.

3. Go at it for a while using "My" blade. When I add "brainless" to my required "consistent, quick, and confortable" parameters, I'll try a badger hair brush and a moss scuttle.

4. Start trying different types of creams and soaps.

I don't think I'll ever be a collector of razors or have a closet full of creams. I'm the type of guy who will either use a cream until it is empty, or throw it out in disgust after one or two uses.
well maybe I'm doing better than I thought then...I can get it fairly close, just the annoying thing is that the "shadow" remains... I can't do S-N because the blade simply just gets stuck, or jumps, no matter what angle I try... best I can do is SW-NE (diagonally)...

I think it just comes down to a trade off which is you either get a super smooth shave with an electric or mach3 with a lot of irritation and redness the next day OR a decent shave with the double edge but with little or no irritation.
I will second the suggestion for the sampler pack from LetterK. Blade can make a big difference and you won't know what works best for you until you try them.
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