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Setting expectations - questions for experienced DE shavers

I love the feeling of a nice smooth shave. That's main reason why I stick with my DE razor and try new blades and products. A perfect 10/10 for me would be BBS with zero nicks, weepers, irritation, or missed areas. Ideally I'd want that every time, but that's obviously unrealistic, especially as a relative noob. I can get a CCS with no weepers and minimal irritation if I skip going ATG. Or if I go ATG, I can get (depending on the blade) a BBS or DFS, but with a few or lots of weepers, varying degrees of irritation, and usually but not always still imperfect on either side of my Adam's apple.

So what I'm wondering, from experienced DE shavers, is how often you're able to achieve an irritation-free BBS shave? 90% of the time? 10%? What's a reasonable expectation for when I get good at this? How long (weeks/months/years) did it take you to get to that point? And how much time does a typical shave take? (For all this I mean when you put the time into doing it right, not the days when you have to just get it done quick to get to work or whatever.)

Finally, how much of it is the products you use (razor, blade, cream/soap, brush) versus just technique? Obviously technique is important, I'd like to think I'm better than when I started, but certainly have some ways to go. I'm not likely to buy another razor any time soon unless there's a good case to be made that my Henson is what's holding me back. I've tried 8 different blades and have been surprised that I could tell quite a difference, mostly with irritation/weepers but also with closeness. I've only tried a couple of creams so far and am thinking about what to buy next, but don't want to put too much effort there if that's just a marginal difference.

That's more questions than I planned when I started typing, but thanks in advance!
 
Whenever I used to think I had achieved a BBS I would proudly proclaim my achievement to my lovely wife. 'Let me see' she would say and carefully smooth her hands over my face and look at me intently. Then would come the inevitable....... "You missed a bit". I never once achieved a BBS and no longer have any interest in doing so, indeed the closeness of the shave is of no importance to me. Now, what I do, and enjoy very much, is occasionally claim to my wife that I have at long last achieved a BBS, and then have her check - that is the real pleasure and is better than any BBS. I have found what makes me happy and that is the secret; I don't do it too often or she will catch on 😁
 
I stop at two passes and an occasional touch up. That's almost always a DFS. I could strive for a BBS with a third pass, but that defeats the purpose of a shave for me: its the process that is enjoyable, not the result. Also, the only area that would require a third pass for a BBS is my neck around my adam's apple, and I never rub there so I don't see the point... :p
 
I can get an irritation-free shave almost every time, even with three-pass shaves, but I still get a nick or two most of the time because I value closeness/BBS over avoiding nicks. That said, I can easily avoid nicks by using razors with less blade exposure - but then I don't get as close a shave - that is the tradeoff for me.

It took me a few months of daily shaves in the beginning to dial in my technique, and that was it.
 
I love the feeling of a nice smooth shave. That's main reason why I stick with my DE razor and try new blades and products. A perfect 10/10 for me would be BBS with zero nicks, weepers, irritation, or missed areas. Ideally I'd want that every time, but that's obviously unrealistic, especially as a relative noob. I can get a CCS with no weepers and minimal irritation if I skip going ATG. Or if I go ATG, I can get (depending on the blade) a BBS or DFS, but with a few or lots of weepers, varying degrees of irritation, and usually but not always still imperfect on either side of my Adam's apple.

So what I'm wondering, from experienced DE shavers, is how often you're able to achieve an irritation-free BBS shave? 90% of the time? 10%? What's a reasonable expectation for when I get good at this? How long (weeks/months/years) did it take you to get to that point? And how much time does a typical shave take? (For all this I mean when you put the time into doing it right, not the days when you have to just get it done quick to get to work or whatever.)

Finally, how much of it is the products you use (razor, blade, cream/soap, brush) versus just technique? Obviously technique is important, I'd like to think I'm better than when I started, but certainly have some ways to go. I'm not likely to buy another razor any time soon unless there's a good case to be made that my Henson is what's holding me back. I've tried 8 different blades and have been surprised that I could tell quite a difference, mostly with irritation/weepers but also with closeness. I've only tried a couple of creams so far and am thinking about what to buy next, but don't want to put too much effort there if that's just a marginal difference.

That's more questions than I planned when I started typing, but thanks in advance!
All my shaves are BBS. It’s a process or learning curve. The more you shave and practice with the same kit. The quicker you will get there. The most important thing to learn and accomplish LIGHT TOUCH. No pressure. A three pass shave is the beginning, beard reduction. When you can do that shave in comfort without issues. You now have options. My three pass shave has morphed into an ATG Single Pass BBS shave every time.
My shaves forward are to achieve a higher level of comfort. Luxurious shaves. This took 2 1/2 years.
It’s a progression built on a basic three pass shave. I recorded progression of my shaves in my B&B journal. A journal can be very helpful on your journey.
 
Thanks for the responses so far. Recent shaves have been kind of frustrating, but my expectations have probably been a little unreasonable. Sounds like getting a DFS+ or no nicks/weepers isn't too bad at this point. If I want to get a BBS and no weepers, even sometimes, it'll just take more practice and perhaps also finding the right products. I'd be interested to hear about other peoples' experiences though too.

I recorded progression of my shaves in my B&B journal. A journal can be very helpful on your journey.
I hadn't seen this section of the forum before. I'll have to take a look and see how people use that.
 
Thanks for the responses so far. Recent shaves have been kind of frustrating, but my expectations have probably been a little unreasonable. Sounds like getting a DFS+ or no nicks/weepers isn't too bad at this point. If I want to get a BBS and no weepers, even sometimes, it'll just take more practice and perhaps also finding the right products. I'd be interested to hear about other peoples' experiences though too.


I hadn't seen this section of the forum before. I'll have to take a look and see how people use that.
I included some nice pics as well

GC.68OC, GOLD GRANDE, YAQI CHROME MELLON - A JOURNEY - https://www.badgerandblade.com/forum/threads/gc-68oc-gold-grande-yaqi-chrome-mellon-a-journey.585819/post-10647511

Many answers in the forums and wiki
 
I stop at two passes and an occasional touch up. That's almost always a DFS. I could strive for a BBS with a third pass, but that defeats the purpose of a shave for me: its the process that is enjoyable, not the result. Also, the only area that would require a third pass for a BBS is my neck around my adam's apple, and I never rub there so I don't see the point... :p
^^this (except change adam's apple for jaws ;-) )
 
I had been shaving 35 years with electric, injectors and carts before switching to DE. With well water, getting a good lather was the hardest part of the DE experience. It was only after abandoning the bowl and scuttle, and switching to face lathering that I finally achieved BBS. Once achieved, it no longer mattered. I still keep an excel spreadsheet, only to remind me of how much stuff I have. While I get a close shave most times these days, I now only equate true BBS with a release of endorphins. I can feel the difference.
 
how often you're able to achieve an irritation-free BBS shave
On demand. But I typically shoot for DFS.

What's a reasonable expectation for when I get good at this?
Kinda hard to answer that one. If you want a guess something between 2 weeks and 6 months.

How long (weeks/months/years) did it take you to get to that point?
I spent a lot of time experimenting with different razors and blades. Probably wasted time. From the time I started to the time I could achieve BBS on demand with no irritation and zero alum burn, maybe 6 months.

how much time does a typical shave take?
15 to 30 minutes.

how much of it is the products you use (razor, blade, cream/soap, brush) versus just technique?
I'm in the "technique is everything" camp. Better products just make it easier.

IMO, an experienced shaver with crappy products should be able to achieve a much better shave than a newbie with top tier products.

That being said, products are still important. Everything fits together. If one piece of the puzzle is missing you're definitely going to notice.

I'm not likely to buy another razor any time soon unless there's a good case to be made that my Henson is what's holding me back.
IMO the Henson is not holding you back. It's most likely something else. In my experience, the Henson is an absolutely fantastic razor.

I've tried 8 different blades and have been surprised that I could tell quite a difference, mostly with irritation/weepers but also with closeness.
Which blades? Have you tried Nacet? That would be my suggestion. If you're getting irritation you probably need a sharper blade and less pressure.

I've only tried a couple of creams so far and am thinking about what to buy next, but don't want to put too much effort there if that's just a marginal difference.
Which creams? What is the consistency of your lather like? This is most likely where you have the most room for improvement. If the consistency of your lather is not awesome them I would suggest you dedicate some time and effort to improve that. Waste some soap of you have to. If your soap is a poor performer or the consistency of your lather sucks then that is definitely holding you back.
 
When I started 4 years ago traditional wet shaving I was striving for BBS to know what one was like to feel (Use the cotton ball test to confirm it :laugh:). My challenge was to use just the right amount of passes with the right shaving gear to reach it because the next day you start all over again. What I like is a shave in the DFS,BBS range and if I get a BBS fine I will take it with a smile.
If a person gets a perfect shave every day his sorry skin will let him know that's enough of scrapping all the skin off.
My first BBS was with a Razorock 37 German made slant with a stain less steel handle for around $20 with the famous GSB blade.
4 years later I get a lot of great close shaves in the BBS or 9-10/10 range because my feel and technique is dialed in and my routine is WTG + ATG + pickups & always cold water rinse if possible.
If you got to have those close to perfect shaves my secret is just use a good balm like CeraVe moisturizing lotion(balm) + scentless or Nivea balm with a few drops of Hyaluronic Acid (HA). The balm will moisturize & expand the skin surface and root of the whisker is deeper so it feel very smooth yet the hair is below the skin slightly with in a 1hr after shaving(Cheating by observation over the years :letterk1: :a22:).
 
I can get a BBS smooth shave every time with some occasional irritation under my jaw but no hydraulic leaks. Most days I get a BBS shave with little or no irritation. In my personal experience, by far the most important variable is the razor itself, with most of them yielding a lot of irritation. It seems to be the geometry of the blade and razor opening (the safety bar and the cap), specifically the angle at which the blade contacts the skin. Most razors I find are too 'flat' over the crown or cap of the razor. The very best razor I have used yet is a Merkur Progress, and even then only on one side as the other side irritates my skin. The next best razor I have used is a Rockwell 6S #2 plate. After those all the other razors I have or have used range from quite lousy to downright masochistic. Gillette adjustables basically have two settings for me: the first one is not cutting anything (1 and sometimes 2) and the other varies from a lot of irritation to just kill me and end the pain (usually 3 but always 4 to 9). The worst razor I have tried is.... hold on to your seatbelt as this is new, virginal ground and defies what seems to be the entire wet shaving community's opinion, is a Feather AS-D2. There, I said it! To me this is a medieval torture machine with the minor side effect of hacking away some hair while harassing my face. It is also the loudest double edge razor I own, what I would call a 'singing' razor if it was a straight.

This of course is not the entire basis for a good or bad shave, but the most important single thing in my experience. So I would suggest trying on a Merkur set at '1' and see how that works out for you. I found my Merkur was being stopped from dropping the cap by the alignment pins hitting the razor body, a little work to take off about 0.030" or 1/32" from the pin tips allows the razor, at least my Progress, to allow the cap to set on the razor body directly. I always resist spending other people's money for them and would not normally mention buying anything of any particular value but in this specific case, the actual razor makes or breaks the shaving comfort for me.

BTW, I only shave under my jaw with a DE razor and that is a very sensitive area for me and I think most people. The rest of my face I use a straight because it is at least as close to a DE and I have to shave all around a beard where a DE is not practical.

Best of luck going forward!
 
So what I'm wondering, from experienced DE shavers, is how often you're able to achieve an irritation-free BBS shave?

Great questions, thanks! I'm not sure whether I'll add anything other than just another voice in the conversation.

I guess I get a BBS about once a month. I shave my head only, three days a week. I don't "chase the baby" but like @RonR if it drops in my lap by surprise I'm not gonna throw it out with the rinse water.

Mostly I aim for a DFS and mostly I hit it. I think it took probably two years or a bit longer to get to that point. Most of it was letting go of the idea that a BBS was the always-desired end point. I get irritation in a couple of spots, so it's a balance between sharp enough to get the job done without a lot of passes and an edge presentation that keeps my skin happy.

For me a typical shave takes 45 minutes from dropping the boar brush in a cup of warm water to wiping up the lather and water around the sink and going my merry way. Sometimes longer, with a straight or a new razor that I haven't learned; sometimes as little as 30 minutes with a razor that I know well and all else going ticketyboo. If I need a fast shave I reach for the Wahl 5-Star Super Close -- it'll give me a DFS in about 10 minutes but then I need a litre of Nivea to calm the skin and a shot of non-bay rum to calm me. :)

To me technique is king. I use several formats: Slant DE, Slant SE, AC SE, Gem SE, barber straights both AC and 1/2DE. Each one has its own technique and switching between formats usually means a shave or two while I remind my muscles what they're supposed to be doing up there. Basically, by using so many formats I've probably extended my learning curve by a lot, but I've also learned what good shaving feels and sounds like and I know the approximate technique for each format so I can usually adjust fairly quickly.

I really only get excited over razors. Brushes? I use a boar and have a couple. Soaps? Yardley Oatmeal and Almond Moisturizing Bath Bar at the equivalent of $1.25 a puck or my own Old Hippie Red Cedar Shave Soap which costs about the same.

I've learned that while a nice scuttle full of warm lather makes me feel happy all over it also blows up my skin irritation. So I just lather in a mug with cool water and it's fine. I don't use colognes. My apres-rasage is Nivea Men Sensitive Balm, and not all that much of it.

Except for some of our B&B special shaving celebrations (SEptember, SLANTember, OCtober) I tend to stay with one razor for at least a couple of weeks before switching. I get usually two weeks out of a blade, so it's a good rotation. I also occasionally pick out a razor I haven't played with for a while and use it for several blades just to reset the technique. I'm doing that right now with a RazoRock Stainless Steel Stealth Slant V4, and I may have another razor in mind for after that.

Like others, I generally submit my result to the approval of my wife. Mrs. Hippie usually runs nice warm hands all over my scalp and pronounces herself well pleased. She'll occasionally ask for my deeper analysis of the shave.

O.H.
 
I have always suggested to new DE users to use one mild or medium razor to learn technique. Try a few different blades to see what works best and stay with that combination. Any decent soap will work fine. If you can go 1-2 months (depending on how often you shave) without drawing blood or major irritation then your technique is good and no problem to start switching up your tools.

When people get excited over something new many have a tendency to want to try everything. It may be fun but you need to put the time in to really understand the capabilities of the tools you are using. By doing this you will have a better ability to compare other tools and products.

Shaving time is 5 minutes or less. A BBS shave will take maybe a minute longer for an extra pass of my chin and under my jawline. I often hear people suggesting short strokes. I do not agree with this, from cheek bone to bottom of neck and vice versa. Learn the contours of your face and it is quick and easy.
 
>What's a reasonable expectation for when I get good at this?

Kinda hard to answer that one. If you want a guess something between 2 weeks and 6 months.
I meant what's a reasonable expectation for frequency of BBS without significant irritation when I get good at this. As in, when I'm more experienced, can I expect a BBS most of the time, or even then only on my best days? But it sounds from other responses that even the definition of BBS varies, so anywhere between "sometimes" and "almost always". (Sorry, I wasn't asking for predictions about how long I'll remain this incompetent, I'll see if I can edit the question to make this clear. 😂)

>I've tried 8 different blades and have been surprised that I could tell quite a difference, mostly with irritation/weepers but also with closeness.

Which blades? Have you tried Nacet? That would be my suggestion. If you're getting irritation you probably need a sharper blade and less pressure.
LOI, Derby extra, Feather, Voskhod, Sharp hi platinum, Gillette platinum, Shark SS, Astra SP. Best results so far with Voskhod and Shark after 1 week (3 shaves) with each. I'm just starting through them each 1 more time before narrowing the field. Feather is up next, I had 1 fantastic shave and 2 terrible shaves with it last time around. I know it's sharp, I'll be paying special attention to not using pressure this time around.

Which creams? What is the consistency of your lather like? This is most likely where you have the most room for improvement. If the consistency of your lather is not awesome them I would suggest you dedicate some time and effort to improve that. Waste some soap of you have to. If your soap is a poor performer or the consistency of your lather sucks then that is definitely holding you back.
Well TBH, I started with a can of Gillette gel left over from my cartridge days, and quickly realized that was a Bad Idea™. Got some Van Der Hagen shave butter which is a step up, but still meh. That's almost gone and I have some Cremo next (also easily available and reviews are much more positive), but I'm already eyeing Clubman Pinaud barber cream or C.O. Bigelow cream to order, and coming around to the realization that I probably need to find me a good brush too. So this pretty much confirms my intuition that apart from continuing to improve technique, this is the thing that's most worth upgrading.
 
If you got to have those close to perfect shaves my secret is just use a good balm like CeraVe moisturizing lotion(balm) + scentless or Nivea balm with a few drops of Hyaluronic Acid (HA). The balm will moisturize & expand the skin surface and root of the whisker is deeper so it feel very smooth yet the hair is below the skin slightly with in a 1hr after shaving(Cheating by observation over the years :letterk1: :a22:).
I use Nivea balm after (one thing that I bought early in this process that I've actually been happy with and feel no need to upgrade), and noticed that as well - sometimes I just give up on an area, rinse, and apply the balm and when I feel it later, it's actually pretty smooth!
 
Sorry I totally missunderstood your question about BBS. If you're willing to do lots of skin stretching and double the length of time of your shaves, I don't see why you can't get BBS every shave if you really wanted to. Getting BBS with zero irritation takes practice.

Blade longevity is very subjective. I get 2 good shaves from a Feather blade. Other members here maybe get 100. Personally I wouldn't expect more than 3 shaves.

You should *SERIOUSLY* consider searching or asking about what's the slickest and most protective soaps. You'll get 100 different answers. However, if you pick one of those answers you at least know your are choosing a suggested product based on peer reviews and not your own whims. You can do a lot better than VDH or C.O.B. Some members here might suggest them, but IME, they are bottom of the barrel.
 
Great questions, thanks! I'm not sure whether I'll add anything other than just another voice in the conversation.
Thanks, another voice is much appreciated! I figure everyone's different - some mostly care about the process, others want the BBS shave, and even definitions of BBS vary. I realized recently that I still don't know what to expect for how long a great shave should take, how much practice it takes to reliably get what one considers a great shave, or how reliably one can get a great shave once they are experienced. I figure there's probably a pretty big range, so the more voices, the better!
 
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