What's new

Old routine no longer works: advice for modification?

Hello long-term citizens,

I took active interest in this forum 2-3 years ago when I first got into wetshaving and safety razors. After some experimentation I found a combination that worked for me, so that it became part of my routine, and I no longer read up on the topic.

However lately my shaves have gotten very rough, likely due to the fact that over time facial hair gets coarser with regular shaves. So I think some tinkering is required, to go up one-notch in aggression.

My current routine:
RazoRock Game Changer .84 (not Open comb)
Astra blades (I used to go 2-3 until shaves get rough, now it's by the ~5th shave)
Omega boar brush, soaked in warm/hot water
Arko soap

I don't think it has much to do with brush and soap, since I can create big lather (although I could upgrade the Omega, which is a daily shedder; prefer scratchy rather than soft, as I enjoy the exfoliation).

So that means it's either the blades or the razor. Blades I don't know much about, so happy to take suggestions (I have Derby, Astra, and maybe some Russian brand whose name escapes me).

On razor I'm also happy to take all suggestions. I was thinking of getting a brass one, maybe the Chris Bradley. Which plate(s) should I try, letter and OC vs. SB? Any other brass/copper alternatives? If you want to suggest non-DE options, such as SE I'm also interested.

My goal: to change one variable at a time, experiment, and see if I can get my smooth effective shaves back. I think it would be very easy to dial the aggression all the way up, but I don't think I will enjoy that! Instead I want to try the smallest increment in aggression, and fine-tune my routine; so I'm looking for experienced members to point me where to start.

Lastly: yes I know, I can probably find this out for myself by reading numerous posts here as well as other sites' articles. I'm being lazy/short on time. If you hate my attitude, there's no need to respond; and mods, if I'm breaking some rules by not doing the research before hand, please go ahead and delete my post.

Thank you for any assistance!!
 
You’re on the right track only changing 1 thing at a time. The fewer variables, the easier to find what is working or not working for you.
If it were me, the first thing I’d try would be blades. They are cheap enough, and easy to come by.
The Game Changer .84 is my go to, so I am biased in that direction. I wouldn’t change the razor.
Astra blades are fine, but not my first choice.
I have no experience with Arko soap.
My favorite blades are Gillette Platinum, and Personna Blue.
 
You’re on the right track only changing 1 thing at a time. The fewer variables, the easier to find what is working or not working for you.
If it were me, the first thing I’d try would be blades. They are cheap enough, and easy to come by.
The Game Changer .84 is my go to, so I am biased in that direction. I wouldn’t change the razor.
Astra blades are fine, but not my first choice.
I have no experience with Arko soap.
My favorite blades are Gillette Platinum, and Personna Blue.
+1
I would also recommend trying some sharper blades such as Feather, Gillette Nacet and Bic chrome platinum. If it is your beard that is getting tougher to cut then a sharper blade might be the answer. If that doesn’t help then try changing another variable.
 
It sounds like you are on the right track. I think I know what you are talking about re: getting older and having tougher whiskers.

I would leave everything as is except for two things: find a bit sharper/smoother blade and see if you can do anything to improve your shave prep to soften the whiskers before shaving.

I'd suggest getting some sample tucks of sharper blades. Some blades I would suggest trying out would be Feather, Kai, Personna Med Prep, Wizamet Super Iridium, Nacet, 7 O'clock Yellow, Perma-Sharp Super (gold pack), Gillette Silver Blue, Gillette Platinum, BIC Chrome Platinum.

There is a place called razorbladeclub.com where you can order from a big selection of different brands and build your own sampler pack. You get a price break when you order at least 5 blades of each brand, which is a good idea so you can try several of each brand. Flat rate shipping is around $2.50.

If you have not tried a pre-shave soap before, this might be a good time. I've had good success with the PAA Cube and Ice Cube. Sterling also makes a pre-shave soap. You can use these soaps to clean your face, then use a second time and after giving it a couple minutes to work, you lather your shave soap over top of it.
 
A few of my thoughts (and, as usual...YMMV).
I had the GC razor with both plates. Could not get a good shave out of it.
Sold it...and the new owner loves it (go figure!).
Arko soap with a boar brush? Yeah...OK...but a synthetic would be 'nicer'. Arko isn't too hard so a boar isn't really needed...but your choice.
Astra blades...I guess you are using Astra SP?
Tried the Astra SS? Better yet, just get some Minora Stainless and be happy.
My current herd includes Aristocrat Junior (love it...but it's mild), ss Karve (SB plates C to G), ss Timeless .95 OC, and ss Blackbird.
The latter razors are reasonably assertive yet I enjoy them more than the GC.
Maybe as an older guy (55+ years wet shaving now) my whiskers are a tad 'harder' than when I was younger?
I'd change out the blade for something better first (maybe Minora Stainless?).
Second step...Arko is fine, but maybe try 'something' a tad better...maybe Stirling?
 

Messygoon

Abandoned By Gypsies.
I agree you should only change one variable at a time.

My first guess is that you may have gotten a bad batch of blades. I recently switched from Astra Superior Platinum to Astra Superior Stainless, and it made for more comfortable shaves. I’ve had a few rough SP blades, but never a rough SS.

My second guess is that your technique has changed. Not long ago, I noticed a degradation in closeness. I discovered that I was going too fast, too much pressure, and no longer spending time doing a 3rd pass for clean up. Now I’m back to BBS shaves.

A third guess is the razor. I have a Game Changer, and I do like it. But my best shaves come from my Rockwell 6S, a very mild razor. I encourage you to try out the Karve. I have one waiting in my rotation soon to try myself.

And, it could certainly be something else. Like, I have discovered my shaves are better if I go 2 days between, rather than daily. Or something entirely different.

Which brings me to my last suggestion. I’ve found it best to consistently alter my shave routine. It allows me to concentrate more on each shave.

Best wishes my friend. You will discover what’s up, and it will be well worth the journey!
 
Assuming you've changed nothing else in your routine, with the rest of the crowd, blades first. The easiest thing to change, requires no other modifications, and likely to have the most impact. Might get a sampler pack and see if something in there improves the shave....
 
I agree with others above that there could be any number of possible reasons you're suddenly getting rougher shaves. A bad batch of blades or unrecognized change in technique, as Messygoon suggested, are both good thoughts. Switching blades and then really concentrating on the fundamentals of technique again may be all that's needed. At times over the years, I've needed to do a back-to-basics technique adjustment to break out of occasional bad/lazy habits I unconsciously developed and it helped. Pre-shave routine is another potentially significant factor that is also worth revisiting.

When it comes to skin-related considerations: coarser whiskers is one thought, although the issue may also lie with the skin itself. Specifically, it's possible you've developed some chronic low-lying irritation resulting in a mild pro-inflammatory state that gets exacerbated repeatedly during the process of shaving (micro-abrasions, heat, chemical irritants, physical irritants/exfoliation from the brush).

Thinking broadly along these lines, questions that come to mind include:
- If this is a recent change over the summer, and could sun exposure or use of sunscreen be a factor?
- Change in other products used on the face (face soap, creams/moisturizers, etc.)?
- Arko is pretty heavily-scented; you may have developed a chemical sensitivity to the perfume or another component of that soap. Skin chemistry can change over time, so I wouldn't rule it out. The solution here if that were the case may be to find an alternative shaving soap that's truly fragrance-free for a while.
- Could something as simple as shaving less frequently do the trick instead? I.e. shaving every 3-4 days for a while to give your skin a chance to "calm down" -- not sure what normal is for you though.
- If you use hot water at any point (either pre-shave or during the shave itself), maybe a switch to lukewarm or cool (not cold) water.
- Getting away from shave-specific products: adding a quality face moisturizer to use on non-shave days, and/or finding a mild, non-fragranced, and minimally-drying facial soap when you wash your face may also be helpful.

This is tough since there are a lot of potential variables at play. Hope these suggestions didn't complicate things too much further.
 
I'd suggest the first and least expensive thing to try is concentrate on getting the correct blade angle.
The angle which might have worked with softer hair now may tug.
A change in angle to cut the tougher hair may be all you need.
A razor will cut in a pretty wide selection of angles, but the further away from optimum means either tugging or scraping, both of which make for an uncomfortable shave.
 
First things first – myth busting: facial hair does NOT get coarser with daily shaves, nor it grows faster. It is what it is genetically. Period.

Facial hair nonetheless does get harder to shave, as it starts to turn white, becoming stiffer. This is known as the old man’s beard. In addition, as we grow old(er), our skin becomes thinner and loose and simply loses some of its youthful vitality… so with age the skin becomes more prone to damage and the hair becomes harder to cut – bottom-line: shaving becomes a greater challenge.

How and ever, this is not smth. that happens overnight, it’s a decades long process that occurs gradually and slowly.

That being said, if your shaves have become noticeably worse/rougher over the last couple of weeks, it might be what I call the never-healed-skin-phenomenon. This happens when you end up with irritated face, but keep shaving daily, so your skin never stands a chance to fully heal.

Beware that red bumps, especially on lower neck, can take up to several weeks to fully heal!

So, my most sincere advice to you, before changing any gear, would be to give your face a good long rest, at least a full week without any shaving. Instead wash your face daily with a mild nurturing soap, do not use any exfoliating/scrubbing stuff and treat your skin with good quality moisturizing cream several times per day.

I can (almost) guarantee you that your shave will get back to normal, using the very same equipment, which BTW is excellent. I would however pair that gentle GC .84 with a sharper blade and as always – go very, very gentle, no pressure, avoid ATG at first.
 
For me paa cube pre shave soap helps for a smoother shave.

A scrub with a sisal spongue with some shave soap also works wonders as a pre shave. If the missus has one give it a go.

blades wise get a sampler pack with some sharper stuff
Gillette silver blue, Nacet, platinum dark and light blue. Wizamet, bic, feather and Kai.

I like mild to medium razors but with sharp blades. So I leave that to others. Though I am smitten with my snmirn.
 
First things first – myth busting: facial hair does NOT get coarser with daily shaves, nor it grows faster. It is what it is genetically. Period.

Facial hair nonetheless does get harder to shave, as it starts to turn white, becoming stiffer.

How and ever, this is not smth. that happens overnight, it’s a decades long process that occurs gradually and slowly.

This.
Although there is an additional stage as young men with finer whiskers transition to adult men with the normal whiskers they will have till they start turning gray.
The transition from youth to adult is much faster than the transition from adult to aged.

Good advice in many of the posts here, and I would certainly advise the no cost avenues first.
 
I've been DE shaving for about 7 years now, and your current routine is exactly what I worked into! Hardware and software. I'm in my 50's with white stubble that used to be black. The only difference I can tell is that my shave results do change with the season. I'm not sure if the humidity is what changes my skin, but my results are not quite as good during the summer opposed to the dry air during the winter.
 
If you are sure your skin is rough only during/after a shave and not most of the time lately then it makes sense to look at the stuff you need to change most often first. That means your soap and blades. I suspect your newest batch is faulty. The majority of advice here is to try a blade sampler, but I would start from the opposite direction - try a different soap or different kind of lubrication. This is what stays longest on your face and has the highest chance to cause irritation next to a bad blade.
 
Assuming you've changed nothing else in your routine, with the rest of the crowd, blades first. The easiest thing to change, requires no other modifications, and likely to have the most impact. Might get a sampler pack and see if something in there improves the shave....

+2! As others note, changing one thing at a time is the way to go. I also agree that you start with blades.
 
+2! As others note, changing one thing at a time is the way to go. I also agree that you start with blades.
+3 Blades first and one thing at a time.

After you have experimented with blades you can also try one other approach not previously mentioned. Since you have a Game Changer .84, for not a whole lot of money you can try other base plates e.g. an open comb or .68 SB. I am so impressed with Italian Barber and what they have been able to do for a very reasonable price point.
 
Top Bottom