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Old routine no longer works: advice for modification?

If you’ve been doing the same thing for years but only now are having rough shaves, I’d start with skincare/healing. Allergies, sun exposure, wind burn (we hike a lot), .etc can all make for a rough shave.

My most used razor is a GC .84 and Astra blades did not work for me at all.

Also Arko is extremely drying and irritating for my face.

Good advice in this thread.
 
Agree with what others have said. Try a sharper blade like Feather, Kai (which is also slightly wider and will increase blade exposure; thanks @Ron R ), or Accutec US Lab Blue Personnas.

Next, swap out the Arko with another soap and see what happens. I had a great stick of Arko, followed by a terrible stick of Arko. Good luck!
 
The place I would start with is the blade or soap, and eventually both. I wouldn’t worry about the rest, you have good stuff there.

The Astra is a very useless blade for my tough whiskers, Gillette Silver Blue, Nacet, Permasharp, Feather, are all pretty dang sharp and very similar to one another and SHARP. I’d try the Silver Blue first, very smooth and more forgiving than the others.

The Arko. Yeah, it’s crazy slick, it’s crazy cheap, etc. But it doesn’t soften the whiskers like lots of the other mass-market great stuff like Proraso and Speick does. Heck, even Barbasol does a better job in that area, but I’m not here to start WW3. Anyway, you need to get those whiskers SOFT, and Arko just doesn’t do that, for me anyways.

Good luck!
 
Okay, I will chime in here with my $.02 worth. As previously mentioned, change your blade first. I have used Astra SP's and in some razors they are fine, but overall IMHO there are better blades. My choices would be Gillette Platinum, Gillette Silver Blue, Personna Israeli Reds or Med Prep, Feather and Kai. Blades are your cheapest to change, get a sampler pack.

Next I would change your soap. Stirling is a good slick hydrating soap that won't break the bank. Try Stirling's Mutton based soaps, they make a great lather and give a great shave. I also use Stirling's Pre Shave Soap, unscented.

Prepping for your shave is very important, I probably go overboard, but I get good results. I always shower first, wash my face with my bath wash, then before I leave the shower i use the Stirling Unscented Pre Shave soap. I wet my face right before I lather my shave soap. After my shave I use a cold water splash, Unscented Witch Hazel and Nivea Unscented Post Shave Balm. At night I wash my face before bedtime then I use a serum afterwards.

Only change one thing at a time. I learned that the hard way a while back! Like you, my shaves went downhill after a while and I learned that adjusting my technique, mapping my beard and changing my blades, soap and prep helped me.
 
Lots of good advice here. As many have mentioned, I'd start with trying new blades.

OP mentioned that his brush was old and shedding, perhaps this could be the reason for the shaves not going so well. A properly well hydrated lather makes a world of difference. The subpar lather could be contributing to rough shaves.
 
My guess is a change in your skin, due to season, weather, age. I would try a more neutral unscented soap and a softer brush. An inexpensive preshave glycerine soap like Pears or Neutrogena may help, as they are not scented like the PAA cube.
 
For my money the GC 84-P (safety bar) is one of the most overrated razors on these good boards - it's not bad as such, I just found equal performance from much smoother razors so why bother with it?

That said, it's unlikely to suddenly stop working for you overnight, so I would perhaps leave that alone for now.

Blades are cheap and plentiful - it can't help to try different options out...
- Feathers are extremely sharp, perhaps moreso than most people need but definitely worth trying. BIC likewise.
- Kai run a fraction wider, simulating a razor with a tad more blade exposure - if the answer is a more aggressive razor, a Kai may be able to indicate this.
- Gillette silver-blues are particularly smooth in most razors and one I'd recommend to anyone happy to buy Gillette branded blades (I prefer not to, but wouldn't blame anyone who does!).
- Derby's are underrated and if you have some on hand then it makes sense to give them a go - the top of the line Derby blade (the Usta) is a super blade, but I'd try what you have first anyway!


It's worth considering whether you may have developed an allergy to something along the way...
- It could be that animal hair (boar brush) bothers you now when it was okay to begin with - fortunately the basic Omega synthetics have that scrubbiness you like, and are pretty affordable.
- It could be something in the soap, so trying others could show that up.


You're definitely right to look at changing just one thing at a time!
 
Allergies, sun exposure, wind burn (we hike a lot), .etc can all make for a rough shave.

Funny thing...

I'd also add that I've noticed over the last year and a bit of routine mask-wearing, my skin has been more sensitive than it ever had been before (and a week off work the shaves would improve until daily masking up resumed!).

I hope this doesn't fall afoul of the rules regarding Covid entering discussions - I offer no judgement on anything medical and mention mask-wearing only in relation to factors that may affect shaving (this does not mean I don't think we should wear them!!)
 
So, basically with the same razor and blades the shaves got rougher? Many factors can be envolved, but you mention the Omega boar sheds a lot. The brush loses it's efficiency after some time if it sheds much. Buying a new one, even an Omega boar will probably be a significant improvement.
Changing from the Arko to something else might help also. Try creams in a tube, they are more protective generally.
 
A lot of very good suggestions about what to change first. the only thing I would throw in the mix of advice. Since this is a recent change for you, before you change anything, focus for the next shave or two on technique - angle, pressure, speed and also lather - thickness, consistency, need to remake lather before second or third pass. I have found it is too easy to wander way from lather and shave techniques that work and focusing on them, getting back to what did work, may be the answer.
 
I posted in another thread thinking it was here, so I'll repeat it at the risk of being boring.

I did a reality check on my own technique with an English Tech and a new Spoiler.
I found that even I had been lazy and not paying attention to blade angle.
After correcting my error, I had one of the best shaves in a while.
We can all get complacent in our own perceived expertise and can drift off course.
I encourage folks, especially those who think they have it down pat, to really focus for one shave and see if things don't improve for you.
 
Lots of thing to try. If you do what you did, you'll get what you got. Changing one thing at a time sounds like a very good idea.

Blades are cheap, and you might find one you like better even if that's not the root of the problem. And it's a fun adventure to have 4 or 5 new blades to try.

You might want to try moisturizing your face at night. I know that's changing two things, but this is a little one, and Arko is pretty drying.

At some point you want to try a different soap, because it might help and it's fun to tweak the Arko guys! :001_tt2:

I'd be amazed if the razor was suddenly the problem unless you've dropped it recently.
 
I posted in another thread thinking it was here, so I'll repeat it at the risk of being boring.

I did a reality check on my own technique with an English Tech and a new Spoiler.
I found that even I had been lazy and not paying attention to blade angle.
After correcting my error, I had one of the best shaves in a while.
We can all get complacent in our own perceived expertise and can drift off course.
I encourage folks, especially those who think they have it down pat, to really focus for one shave and see if things don't improve for you.
@luvmysuper this is such an important notion. I totally, totally agree.

That said, my own problem (for a LOOOONG time) was that I never wanted for a shave to be an exercise in concentration, focus and undivided attention.

Hence, the likes of my Feather AC SS, R41, my real SR, even my beloved Blackland Vector were never fully satisfying, as I had to pay close attention to shaving motions, instead of feeling relaxed and daydreaming while shaving. Likewise, the likes of my Feather AS-D2, Hawk V3-SB and R89 were pain-in-the-*** to use as their mildness requires that ideal angle to yield a perfect shave...so much work, so much hassle.

And so, I kept searching and searching, until I stumbled across a post where people described the Timeless SS as ultimately mild, yet extremely efficient. And in deed - it is the very first razor that I can use on auto-pilot without struggling to either find that ideal angle OR not irritate my face in the process. That .68 scalloped allows me to shave without paying ANY attention to angle, stroke, pressure and I still end up BBS and irritation-free.

I know a lot of this is YMMV and some folks actually enjoy that high focus and dancing with the death, so obviously their perception of what a "great shaving experience" should be like will quite differ from mine, but utility wise there's no denying some razors require MUCH more "work to get the job done". I, for one, was always looking for the one that requires NONE, that allows for that auto-pilot shave. The problem was however, both the highly efficient (aggressive) ones and the ultra-mile ones demanded a lot of attention and work, respectively. And that's smth. I'm not looking for in my shaves.

Maybe we should start a new thread, smth. like "Best auto-pilot DEs" or smth. like that. I wonder how many (would) share my preferences 😀
 
I get you.
I do this in the way I do this because I want the enjoyment of the heat, the water, the smell of the soap, the aftershave etc., not for the act itself.
For many starting out though, it's a progression from focus on getting it right, then sliding into it as an experience.
I wouldn't suggest anyone who has been doing this for a while to give up the experience and make the shave a technical chore.
I do think I benefited from taking part of one shave to make sure my muscle memory was getting it right, and I think my overall experience will be better for it moving forward.
 
I get you.
I do this in the way I do this because I want the enjoyment of the heat, the water, the smell of the soap, the aftershave etc., not for the act itself.
For many starting out though, it's a progression from focus on getting it right, then sliding into it as an experience.
I wouldn't suggest anyone who has been doing this for a while to give up the experience and make the shave a technical chore.
I do think I benefited from taking part of one shave to make sure my muscle memory was getting it right, and I think my overall experience will be better for it moving forward.
Tnx!

I got so excited about it, I decided to start a fresh thread on the topic: DE / SE conundrum: What's the best "auto-pilot" razor? | Badger & Blade (badgerandblade.com) 😀
 

thombrogan

Lounging On The Isle Of Tugsley.
My shaves slowly deteriorated from “being on the right track” to becoming roadmaps to Scraped Face City and Weeperville.

What helped get me back on the right track was loading my brush with a little more soap and adding a lot more water.

With a lather that’s slightly-to-very runny, using a lighter touch and finding the correct angle have become much easier.

Adding more soap and water instead of adding or subtracting one helps avoid the pitfalls of patchy slickness from too little soap and stickiness from too much soap.

Whichever things you try; changing soaps, blades, angles, brushes, technique, skin care regimen; I hope this all gets sorted to your enjoyment quickly.
 
My shaves slowly deteriorated from “being on the right track” to becoming roadmaps to Scraped Face City and Weeperville.

What helped get me back on the right track was loading my brush with a little more soap and adding a lot more water.

With a lather that’s slightly-to-very runny, using a lighter touch and finding the correct angle have become much easier.

Adding more soap and water instead of adding or subtracting one helps avoid the pitfalls of patchy slickness from too little soap and stickiness from too much soap.

Whichever things you try; changing soaps, blades, angles, brushes, technique, skin care regimen; I hope this all gets sorted to your enjoyment quickly.

I have always preferred my lather a little on the wet side rather than the whipped cream version that many seem to like.
 
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.
This, this, and this some more.

I have been exactly where you are. Exactly. I use Arko. I have always used Arko. It's not the Arko. It's not the blade. There are some better blades, yeah sure, but there is nothing wrong with Astra. It's not your razor. I have used the GC .84 many times. I have a Karve. It's not your razor.

When I got to exactly where you are now, I was ripping my hair out (see what I did there?) trying to figure out why my shaves were so rough. I hate going more than 4 days without shaving, but my wife told me there were still some weird little reddish bumps on my neck at 4 days, so I went 6 without shaving. It was like magic. One of the best shaves I've ever had, and that was with an ATT SE2.

Now am I saying that is definitely it? No, but I strongly suspect so. What I *am* saying is to wait a week before your next shave. You said you wanted to eliminate one variable at a time. Very logical and sensible. This is your first variable you should approach, IMO. The reason for this is simple and also logical. If indeed it is your skin not ever being fully healed without you realizing it, nothing you do will help. You will continue to try one thing after another and all your shaves will be different levels of not-very-good all the way to horrible.

If you can't wait a week for whatever reason, wait as long as you can. Then shave with one pass WTG and leave it for as many days as you can again. Your skin must heal. I will also add that you don't have to shave every day to get what DaveHStone calls never-fully-healed-skin phenomenon. It depends on your skin and how you shave. I can get it shaving every 3 days, but going for BBS each time. Now I know better. Sometimes, when circumstances are just right, I can get a beautiful BBS with no irritation. However, if I try to get that again, even in 4 days, I don't get the BBS and I end up with some rawness and irritation from trying. I'm speaking from 12 years of wet shaving experience. It happens without fail.

The most difficult thing about never-fully-healed is that you don't feel it. Unlike a cut or a bruise, you can't see it, or feel it by just rubbing your hand over your face and neck. It seems fine the next day or even two days later. But it's not.

I urge you to go without shaving as your first step. If DaveHStone, a few others, and myself in this thread are correct, you will get nowhere trying other things. Your shaves will remain as they are now.

I will repeat this for emphasis: There is nothing wrong with your equipment. It worked before, it will work again. There is plenty of time to buy new toys when this is sussed out. But new razor, new brush, new soap, new blade? I say no. No, that's not it.

My two cents from someone who has been there. In a sense, I'm still there but I know what to do about it now.

I wish you the best with whatever you decide, but please keep us posted on your process.
 
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