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Not sure that I'm cut out for a DE

Hi Guys,

I purchased the HD from Cheasapeake and got an open comb so I sent it back. I couldn't find ajother good deal on a HD so I bought Merkur's travel razor. The handle is basically the same length as the classic, but it's pretty light - certainly not as balanced as the HD. Anyway...I've been shaving with the travel DE for the last few days. My first few times weren't that great and yesterday's shave was actually bad. Today, I got up 45 mins early, took my time with the prep, and spent 20 mins shaving. I got a good shave - not fantastic, but good.

So here's the problem: I don't have the time to spend 20 minutes shaving. I have a goatee so that's 20 minutes skipping some of the hardest parts. Overseas where we are even more strapped for time, I shave my goatee, so I assume it will take even longer. I'm certainly committed to wet-shaving, but I don't know if I can do the DE thing. Combined with the time shaving, I'm not sure that I have 2 months to learn to do it properly. We're missionaries, so we travel almost constantly. We are in different peoples homes nearly every weekend. I don't think people will appreciate it if I spend 45 minutes in their bathroom.

My main motivation has been disgust at the price of cartridges, and now that I'm into wetshaving I love the relaxation and the ritual of it. The DE may not be for me, but I have a few questions before I bail:

  • How much do you think that the travel razor (vs. the HD) is affecting my experience?
  • How long does a typical (3-4 pass) experienced DE shave take ?
  • How long should it take to learn proper DE technique (is 2 mos. a good estimate)?
  • Advice?
Thanks
 
Hi Birch.

I have no experience with the travel razor, but it can indeed take some time to get really good shaves with a DE. If time is going to be a factor, might I suggest a Schick Injector? Still a great shave, but you can really whip around your face with one, unlike a DE. I use one occasionally, and when travlling - it may be an option to consider. This allows you to take what time you have enjoying lathering without dragging things out too long.
 
I have shaved with a DE but primarily shave with a straight. I find it fundamentally impossible to believe that anyone needs 2 months to learn. I don't care what kind of razor your using. If its too light you could use a touch of pressure, too heavy use a light touch.

The key is getting the angle right, thats it. Its NOT like shaving with a cartridge blade. Get the handle out away from your face, use a light touch and shave. Its really, pathetically easy. I'd give it atleast one more week. Its worth it. You'll get a great shave and very low irritation levels. I doubt its the razor, but its worth buying another razor rather than giving up. Again, its just the angle.

Sell the one you have if you want, but atleast give the process another week. Really, its worth it. I have no idea why it takes you 20 minutes to shave. It takes me 10 with a straight and 5 with a DE. Practice maybe? If your going to give it a week lets talk about what the heck is happening to your beard during that 20 minutes . . . are you doing like 5 passes? Two is all you should need.

What angle are you using? What blade are you tossing in that thing?

A DE is the perfect blade for a missionary. Nearly unbreakable in some models and 20 weeks worth of blades takes up no room in the dopp kit at all.
It should take one week, 5 shaves to start getting pretty good shaves. Again, its mostly just angle and sliding the blade down while maintaining the proper angle.
 
I take a bit longer than the above poster. Probably not quite 20 minutes but maybe as long as 15. When I travel I still use a M3 and I get better results using good cream and a brush than I did with the canned goo. An injector may prove a better option for you but if you do end up going back to a cartridge (at least while traveling) keep the cream/soap and brush. This in itself offers an improved experience.

I also took longer than the above poster to learn. I don't think it was quite 2 months but I am still improving slightly day to day. Somewhere in the 1-2 month range is probably a reasonable expectation.
Good luck,
Jeff
 
Birch,

The two razors you've mentioned are not ideal for beginning your wet shaving walk. I own a vintage model of the Merkur travel razor and am not impressed with it aside from it being designed to fit into a tiny metal box. If you are interested, PM me and I will send you a well engineered beginner's DE razor that will serve you well for many years.
 
Wow thanks guys for all the encouragement

AFDavis11 said:
A DE is the perfect blade for a missionary. Nearly unbreakable in some models and 20 weeks worth of blades takes up no room in the dopp kit at all.
It should take one week, 5 shaves to start getting pretty good shaves. Again, its mostly just angle and sliding the blade down while maintaining the proper angle.

Yes, this is another reason I really want to stick with the DE.

What's taking so much time?

Good question, I'm doing 3 passes, but at this point I'm also trying to determine the proper angle nearly every time I rinse my razor. I start with the handle parallel to the floor (the head of the razor is HOT). Then I angle down until it looks/feels right.

Routine
Shower (I put conditioner on my beard in the shower, rinse it off just before getting out)
Turn on hot water only in the sink
put brush in sink
wet hands
work water into face repeatedly
one shake of the brush
3 swirls of C&E Sandalwood cream in a tub
Lather in my hand
brush on face in circular motion
rinse razor
Start on upper left cheek, find angle, and stroke
N-S
Lather
EW-WE
Lather
S-N
Rinse off
AS balm

Comments
I think what is really slowing me down is the angle (what else is there?) Perhaps I’m being too careful. I’ve had a few bleeders, but no actual cuts. I’m using Personna blades from Wal-Mart. (I have more exotic ones in the mail). I'm going to give this at least one more week. Hopefully 2 depending on our schedule.

Thanks Again
 
Hi Birch,
You might try skipping the conditioner step. I do this too from time to time and have mixed results. I suspect you are correct that you are loosing time trying to maintain a proper angle. This is time well spent IMO. There is no getting around the fact that this process takes more time. As your technique improves you should be able to get through it in less time.
Best of luck,
Jeff
 
Two weeks would be exceptional! Now, follow all the advice on here. Get a new razor, preferably from Rik and try this. Hold the razor in your fingers lightly and use a light touch. I mean REALLY lightly. Holding the handle lightly will allow the razor to adjust. Now picture this, the edge of the blade is against the face and is in the wrong cutting position, technically it won't slide down your face without the presumed pressure needed to work against the grain of the tugging whisker ......now lets flash over to my place . . . .

I grab the DE very lightly and place it on my face. I have no honking clue what angle to put the blade and I sure don't read about it on a forum .... now, I angle the razor head, using a light touch on the handle, moving outward from parrallel from my body. At some point the razor just wants to slide down my face because it has reached the angle of least resistance against the whisker, which concurrently happens to be coincident with an expceptional cutting angle.

Cool huh?

Ok, so now you can see how a really light razor might be more difficult to shave with.

Stick with it a little longer, its soooooo worth it. A DE shave is exceptional and very fast and easy.
 
I am glad that I learned to shave years ago. All this angle talk would have driven me maddddddd!!!:eek:
In a quiet bathroom, the sound will tell you proper cutting angle as well as the cream itself. If you hear the whiskers screaming to get out of the way and see no cream left behind, chances are you are at least very close to the perfect angle. In time, this will be an afterthought. You will simply know by instinct how to hold the razor at the proper angle. Take short strokes.

Many a wet shaver has sacrificed a few extra minutes of sleep (myself included) in order to not be rushed. It is time well lost. IMO
Stick with it!! You will be a master shaver in no time.

I own the Merkur travel razor in the small leather case. I have used it twice while traveling. It shaves ok in a pinch, but I recommend getting something a little more substantial to hold on to. It is very light....Too light! The HD or the 1904 would be a better choice as far as Merkur goes. Better yet, get an adjustable until your tecnique is worked out. Once you have dialed it up to 3 or 4, you will be ready for the angle of the Merkur fixed heads.
IMO.
Good Luck and keep em sharp.
p.s. Though it is possible to get 5-7 shaves on a single blade, change your blade every 3 or 4 shaves. Better to have it as sharp as possible during the learning curve. When first learning, one tends to be a little harder on blades with wasted passes and.....Gulp....I am going to say it............Improper angle:w00t:

Ok....Time for the rebuttle.................................
 
Laney,
The only rebuttle I shall offer is that one should not go through the trouble of creating an exceptional signature graphic only to give it a can of Barbasol :001_rolle .
Cheers,
Jeff
 
Hey Guys,

Thanks again for the encouragement. The past three shaves have gotten better and faster. Still not BBS or particularly fast, but much better. I'm down under 15 minutes. I've actually stopped thinking about the angle so much and I'm allowing the razor to find it's natural spot. If my pressure is light enough it's seems to end up in the right place. I'm essentially thinking of my face as a plane that touches the saftey bar and the head simultaneously.
 
birchhook said:
Hey Guys,

Thanks again for the encouragement. The past three shaves have gotten better and faster. Still not BBS or particularly fast, but much better. I'm down under 15 minutes. I've actually stopped thinking about the angle so much and I'm allowing the razor to find it's natural spot. If my pressure is light enough it's seems to end up in the right place. I'm essentially thinking of my face as a plane that touches the saftey bar and the head simultaneously.
Good for you, Birch. It sounds like you're really getting a good command of the necessary techniques. Stay after it and you'll be giving the rest of us advice in no time.
 
Things have been getting better. Not particularly faster at this point, but better shaves overall. I've been getting rather close to BBS - certainly on my cheeks, but other places as well.

Sunday night I came home to a Adjustable and a ton of Derby blades that Rik generously sent me. I shaved with it this morning. I got a decent shave, but I really felt like I got set back a week or so on my shaving. I don't understand how guys who suffer from RAD can change razors on a regular basis. The angle seems different and the head and safety bar seem to land at a different angle than on the Merkur. The Kyle method seems to work better with the heavier adjustable than the travel razor. (here's a pic of the razor)

But I've learned my lesson not to give up too early. I think I'll stick with the Adjustable this week, but then I have to decide what to take on my trip next week...

So far my 2 pieces of advice to newbies are:
  • Don't give up too early.
  • Start with a brush and cream immediately (today, if not sooner), but carefully choose the week you start with a DE. Don't pick a week that you have to be at the office early every day like I did.:blushing:
  • I've also noticed that the first shave with a new blade isn't necessarily the best.
 
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