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Shave Journal

Hello Gentlemen,

I've decided to make a shave journal for my use in tracking success and failure as I learn, and thought I'd share it with you, should you have any comments as I go along. This entry is rather quick and cryptic. Note that the lathering techniques in use are those from joint B&B tutorials here. I will post these for a few weeks unless people would rather not see them here, undertstandable- no narcissistic bumping intended! Should anyone wish to journal with me, consider yourself invited! Here we go:

9-10-09, Morning

The shave:

VDH select, face lathering, new Derby blade, Old Spice aftershave/moisturizer combo. 3 pass shave with cleanup under jaw and at the jawline under the earlobes.

The Results:

A few nicks, and one prominent bleeder on the right anterior chin, requiring styptic for the first time. Some irritation on the neck, some later redness in the moustache area. Missed spots under the nose.

Overall impression:

Too dry of a shave, and definitely too rushed. This combination resulted in 3rd day performance from a first day blade.

For next time:

Prep the face with the brush and hot water, then proceed to lathering in a mug. Give more attention both to blade angle and to a lighter touch generally, perhaps returning to the starting position to get the blade angle correct.

2nd week of DE shaving. So far, best and closest shaves of a lifetime, including the head. However, in the second week I'm finding ingrown hairs and slight irritation. Time to give further consideration to the overall method and materials.

Current equipment rotation:
Merkur Classic 1904 razor
Derby blades
Van Der Hagen Select shave soap
Old Spice combination aftershave & moisturizer

Face lathering seems to be a good skin prep, however I'm not as satisfied with the resulting lather- I'd prefer a bit better protection during the shave. For the next run, I'll prep the face with the brush and hot water, then proceed to lathering in a mug.

Secondly, I think I should give more attention both to blade angle and to a lighter touch generally, perhaps returning to the starting position to get the blade angle correct.

Thirdly, I need to give further attention to the directions of beard growth in the various regions of the face, while also becoming more aware of its facets.

Finally, for the time being, I will leave off shaving the head until I'm able to get consistent good results on the face. The finer points of blades, soaps, & etc. may be different for shaving the head. I may also need to sacrifice BBS shaves while developing technique.

I will take a 24-48 hour rest for my skin before the next shave.
Hello!! I myself will look forward to following your adventures.

I have a similar thread going, where I am detailing my adventures with the various blade brands. :biggrin:

It will be fun to read back through it in a few months (or even weeks), and see how I have improved, and changed. Also, it's fun to see how our overall attitudes change over time. :smile:
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Hello!! I myself will look forward to following your adventures.

I have a similar thread going, where I am detailing my adventures with the various blade brands. :biggrin:

It will be fun to read back through it in a few months (or even weeks), and see how I have improved, and changed. Also, it fun to see how our overall attitudes change over time. :smile:
I'm going to have to study up on your blade thread- that's the next issue I'd like to tackle once everything else is in better order.

Keeping track helps mark real progress and gives a great perspective of the process- good luck in your journey as well!

Thanks for the support.
Tetractys, I also had the idea of a shave journal thread since I started wet shaving 2 weeks ago so I’ll gladly jump in with my own experiences since you accept guests :biggrin:

I am now up to my 13th shave. I usually shave 6 days out of 7 in a week. I have a sensitive neck that is prone to irritation, redness and some ingrown hairs. Shaving everyday actually helps me preventing ingrown hairs since most my ingrowns are hair that get out of the skin, then go back into the skin and cause red spots. Shaving everyday reduces ingrowns for me since they never get long enough in 24 hours to be able to grow back into the skin. Weird, since most people rather wait 2 or 3 days when getting irritation or red bumps but in my case shaving consistently everyday is actually better.

I shave after my morning shower. I lather with a pure badger brush in a mug that I warmed before the shave by letting the mug and the brush soak in the sink with hot water while I shower. I do 2 WTG passes, and a third semi-XTG pass on the face. No ATG yet on the face, and no XTG or ATG in the neck since this causes far too much redness and irritation for now. I am not getting a shave as close as I would like, but my primary objective before getting a close shave is to find a setup and refine my technique up to a point when I’ll be able to get regular shaves with no irritation and redness at all. Then I'll concern myself with getting a BBS shave, not before. I use Thayers Unscented Witch Hazel right after the last pass, I complete with the Neutrogena Razor Burn Defense ASB. It's a soothing balm for me, I like it very much.

This morning was the best shave of the 13 I have done so far. No irritation and almost non-existent redness in the neck. One small nick on the upper lip that I quickly resolved with the styptic pencil. I’m quite happy and having a great beginning of day !
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Welcome Tzar!

I like your approach, you've really got your priorities straight. I believe I'll copy you on the mug warming tomorrow morning.

For the time being, I'm considering shaving every other day until my technique has improved, just to eliminate daily shaving as a possible irritant. I'm intrigued by the daily shave ingrowns elimination though- another tool for the arsenal. Thanks for your contribution- keep'em coming!
This morning, since this is the weekend, I decided to change one variable of my shaving routine.

I try new stuff in my shaving routine only on weekends since during my first week I decided at one point to try a new soap instead of my usual shaving cream and it did not go well with lots of irritation and red spots before going to work. So I decided I'll reserve the weekend for new experiences. If it goes wrong, I've got some time to recover before going back to the office :001_smile

This morning I tried for the first time the TOBS Shaving Cream for Sensitive Skin. Easy enough to make lather with it, probably a bit easier than my usual Crabtree & Evelyn Nomad cream. This shave cream has really no scent, but feels smooth and nice on the skin. I had no irritation at all on my upper lip and chin. Still, I can't say that it's miles ahead of the Nomad cream.

The shave went well with no nicks at all on the face for the first time ever. My neck is pretty good too. The only problem area that I can't yet figure out is the lower neck on my left side and my Adam's apple.

My hair grow from left to right in my neck, except for a small band of about just less than an inch in the lower left neck: in that area, the hair suddenly switch directions and grow from right to left. I find this very difficult to deal with: if my razor is just across that area, it is going to shave WTG and ATG at the same time.

The Adam's apple is also problematic, I tend to bump on it and nick myself there. Need to find a way to stretch that area and get it flat.
Smart call on weekend experimentation there!

I'm still working on the neck and general grain issues. This morning I found myself using a hand in front of my face, pointing WTG, and making ghost passes with the razor, to ensure an effective stroke. Practice makes perfect!

My journal for today follows.
9-12-09, morning.

The shave:

VDH Select, Derby blade ( day 2 ), OS aftershave/moisturizer. Warmed brush and mug in hot water during shower, soaked the top of the soap as well. Used soaked brush to moisten and massage face before making lather. This also served as draining prep for the brush itself. Shaved with very careful attention to the direction of beard growth and lightness of touch. 3 pass shave with touchups, building lather again for the third pass.

The results:

DFS rather than BBS- no irritation though. I noticed some nicks in the neck area well after the shave (2 hours later), but only tiny spots and no discomfort. Dry, taught feeling around 20 minutes after the shave- I had applied the AS/moisturizer to a wet face, but followed up with Ponds cream.

Overall impression:

Much more comfortable shave than the previous. Slowing down was helpful, as was the extra effort at lathering and keeping the tools generally warm. Perhaps some music would be nice! I still need to refine the direction of the strokes compared to the grain. I think I will limit my shaves to two with a single blade: I am not too impressed with the Derbys, but I am also uncertain how much of that has to do with technique. Better safe than sorry.

For the next shave:

Keep protocol the same. Continue to refine technique and direction of the strokes. Switch back to the classic OS aftershave for comparison to the moisturizer combo. Use a fresh blade. Maybe add music...
I decided to try Kyle's Prep this morning. Kyle's Prep, based on good old barbershop best practices, goes along like this:

1) No shower or face wash before starting. The skin oils are good to help lubricate the shave, you don't want to rinse those off too much.

2) Come in front of the sink, splash some hot water on your face.

3) Take a towel large enough to cover your face and neck, soak it with hot water, and apply and hold on your face for one minute.

4) Remove towel, put aside and lather your face.

5) Massage with the tips of your wet fingers your face and neck to work the lather into your beard. Depending on your beard, this may take anywhere near 2 minutes or a bit less.

6) Re-soak your towel with hot water again. Apply to your face covered with lather and hold the towel against your face and neck for 3 minutes (some people apply it for less longer, you need to experiment but for the first time 3 minutes is the recommended duration).

7) Remove towel, and use the other side of the towel to wipe clean your face of the lather.

8) Then, start lathering for your first pass and shave as usual.

After my shave, I just rince off my face and went into the shower. I applied witch hazel and usual ASB after my shower.

I can report that Kyle's Prep does work !

I had the closest and most comfortable shave of all. It's quite luxurious and relaxing, I almost doze off at the sink while holding that towel for 3 minutes :biggrin:

Irritation on my neck was minimal and redness did disappear quite fast after the shave, leaving me with a clean neck. And that is going with a close to ATG pass in the face ! THIS IS GREAT :lol:

The only downside is that it took me a good 10 minutes more than usual, but this because I am just not used to it.

I still have to develop my technique to shave the Adam's apple area though. Tried the swallow technique, which does help, but still manage to nick myself.
Nice one! I'll have to try that prep soon- sounds good!

Here's a combo journal, I've been a bit remiss...

Two Successes and an Epic Failure

09/13/09, morning, post shower

The Shave:

The usual set-up with a fresh blade. Switched back to regular OS sensitive aftershave. 3-pass with touch ups.

The Results:

Good close shave, with only slight irritation in the neck area. This is quite significant, as it was the 2nd straight day of shaving, and I had no problems generally. However, ATG passes under the nose are still problematic, and I think it's best to avoid them for now.

Overall impression:

It seems the hot water prep and bowl lathering are working well. Touch is getting lighter, and irritation is lessening. I'm also finding that a gentle buffing action for problem areas is the way to go for touch ups. The classic Old Spice aftershave for sensitive skin seems MUCH better than the Old Spice aftershave/moisturizer combo. It has a much cooler sensation, which is nice after the shave. I'm applying it with wet hands to a wet face for a bit of dilution. Going straight to the Ponds cream for further moisturization after the clean up. The AS/moisturizer combo is officially out of rotation.


The Shave:

The same setup as before, with Derby blade on the second day.

The Results:

EXCELLENT shave, no problems or irritation whatsoever. I abandoned the ATG passes under the nose for an oblique upward stroke, and it worked quite well. I've also altered the ATG pass on the jawline for an oblique, near-ATG pass, and that seems to have reduced irritation significantly. However, I'm noticing some remaining stubble just under the earlobes and under the corners of the lower lip.

For the next shave:

Work a bit with facial contortions to solve the lip stubble issue. I may apply some very gentle stretching to the jawline and under the earlobes to assist with that as well. Leftover ingrown hairs are disappearing steadily, so the technique seems to be getting better. I am tempted to see what happens when I'm a bit less careful about grain direction and do an "all downward" 1st pass, which will end up being XTG in many places- perhaps not just yet though.

And now for the EPIC FAILURE:

To work on shaving technique, I'd decided not to bother shaving the head, and went back to the use of my electric clippers to keep it short. HUGE MISTAKE. All it took was one shave with that, and in less than 12 hours the hairline was positively RIDDLED with painful bumps. Fail. I think it is important enough to shave with the blade to take the extra time. The instances where I've used the DE to shave my head have been absolutely flawless every time- far better than even my face.


For the Next Shave:

Use King of Shaves Alpha shave gel and get that cranium clean and smooth again. Perhaps alternate days- Head, face, head, face... in the interest of time. Wish me luck!
9-15-09, evening.

The shave:

Returning to the head shave with the 1904 DE razor. Hot water and King of Shaves Alpha Shave Gel, applied liberally. Skipped aftershave and went straight to the Ponds cream. 2nd day/third shave on the Derby blade.

The results:

wasn't going for closeness as before- just trying to catch up after the clipper fiasco. Generally a smooth shave- leftover redness/splotchiness :huh:from the clipper breakout. Otherwise no issues.

For the next shave:

start the alternate rotations for head and face shaves, paying very careful attention to the pace of blade replacement. Old blades seem less a problem for the head than the face... It seems a three pass shave will be necessary for the head; however going WTG seems to have virtually no effect, and ATG has very little effect. The scalp seems FAR less prone to irritation, so for now I'll simply work on keeping up the rotation and learning just how far these blades will go, and keep the technique refinements for the face shaving for the moment.

I'd love to hear from any other DE head shavers out there...
My shaves keep getting better and better. There was positively no irritation and redness nowhere in the face or neck this morning after shaving :lol:

I managed to not nick or irritate Adam's apple by using the "stretch the skin" trick: you simply put 2 or 3 fingers on the side of Adam's apple and drag the skin that is over your Adam's apple so that it falls on the side of the apple, where the skin can lay flat. You then shave that part, release the skin, which goes back, well-shaved, over the apple. Brilliant ! It worked really well, much better for me than the half swallow trick that I had difficulty getting right.

I can also report that corking a blade seems to work well, at least in my case. My last first shaves with the Derby blades I've been irritating. So when it was the time to pop a new blade, I corked it. No irritation :001_smile
Mind you, this could also be the fact that my technique is constantly improving, especially the fact that I put much, much less pressure that I used to do at the beginning (I found out that kind of floating the razor on the skin works almost as well in cutting whiskers).
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I can't help you much Tetractys for head shaving since I'm not into this :001_smile

But I'm wondering: are you shaving your whole head ? That must be damn difficult, especially at the back of the head... How do you do this ? :w00t:
I can't help you much Tetractys for head shaving since I'm not into this :001_smile

But I'm wondering: are you shaving your whole head ? That must be damn difficult, especially at the back of the head... How do you do this ? :w00t:
LOL, yes, I do a 3 pass shave on my whole head. It's time consuming but well worth it. The back is done entirely by feel- but I've been shaving my head for over 12 years, so I've got a lot of practice in. The DE shaves are better by far than cartridge shaves on the head, which is why even after my recent mishap and extra hair growth, I still couldn't countenance going back to the Schick Quattro, even once.

Tell me about corking- what is the procedure?
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