Still getting razor burn

Discussion in 'Double Edged Razors' started by capncurt, May 12, 2016.

    Hi there, this will be my first post on the forum so I hope it is allowed here!

    I started DE shaving in Dec 2014, started out with a Merkur 34C and a Taylor of Old Bond Street brush and almond shaving cream. I experimented with blades for a few months until settling with Feathers as I found almost all other blades led to irritation and burn on my neck. Fast forward to now, I have recently changed to a 37C slantbar and have begun using Astra Platinums as I was finding feathers too harsh in the slantbar. I have also switched out my brush for one recommended on shaving shack but I can't remember the brand right now...

    My shave routine consists of a hot shower / hot towel followed by either Proraso menthol pre shave balm or L'Occitaine shave oil depending on my mood. I then face lather my cream and conduct 3 passes, WTG, WTG and XTG. To finish I wash my face with warm water and a towel, use an alum block with cold water if my irritation is bad and then finish with a L'Occitaine post shave balm. If I shave without showering first the irritation I get is unbearable!!

    My issue is that I have very coarse stubble and sensitive skin. I quit shaving ATG in January this year once I got my slantbar as the irritation was too much, unfortunately this leaves me with a permastubble and I cannot achieve a clean shaven look even though it feels BBS. More problematic is my neck which suffers from irritation most shaves and I also have an array of black marks which are attributed to my switch to DE shaving as I never had them when I used to shave with cartridges.

    Really I'm looking for some advice on how I can get my neck to heal up, and possibly reduce my irritation. I have toyed with getting some witch hazel to use post shave after my balm as I have heard this can help heal the skin. I am still testing other blades but the Astras seem sharp enough and are definitely more forgiving so I think I may stick with them and change the blade once a shave. I have also considered changing my cream to a soap as its nearly finished, I have a tub of Edwin Jagger sandalwood soap that I use when I go traveling which I can start using.

    Thanks for reading and I will appreciate any help :)
  1. Cold water shaving (warm shower, cold prep) has helped my neck irritation a significant amount, athough not as comfortable as hot water, it is worth the less irritation for me.

    What has also helped for me is not scrubbing my face and neck so much in the shower, as it strips away much of the natural oils.

    Although I don't have significant experience with different soaps, I have found using a slicker more nourishing soap (haslinger, mikes) gives me less neck irritation than a soap that tends to dry me out (for me that's Cade).

    My irritation also seems to get flared up from using alum, and I have read some others get the same reaction. Try the witchhazel as a substitute, it definitely won't hurt. I found I benefit from using witchhazel followed by an alcohol splash+ balm the most.

    I hope this helps. I'm still figuring out what works for me, but this has been what has worked in my experience and it's worth a shot nonetheless.
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  2. I've been DE shaving for about a year now, but these past couple of months have been a revelation to me in terms of technique. I must've read countless posts on various shve forums and watched all the available videos on wet DE shaving on youtube. Everyone mentions shave with a light touch, but it never really sunk in. I guess it was difficult to get rid of the bad shave habits from using multi-blade cartridges for decades.

    After nearly an year of keeping at it, I believe I finally got it right. I now shave with the lightest possible touch - just enough pressure to hold the blade against the skin, any more and it will press into the skin causing razor burn and any less the razor would skip and bounce over the stubble. The weight of the razor and the sharpness of the blade does most of the work. It is a struggle to keep the touch light and I often find myself drifting away in thought and putting more pressure than necessary. It needs complete attention and presence over movement of razor over your face.... I find it almost meditative.

    I've tried several razor-blade combo and finally settled on Merkur Progress long handle with Astra SP or PolSilver SI blades. These give me the best shave. I have some trouble spots on the neck and I know what you mean when you say the shave feels smooth to touch with no stubble, but doesn't "look" clean shaven in the mirror. I have the same problem, but with the light touch shaving for the past few weeks I feel it has gone away some and I believe the soft skin on my neck will clear up over a few months to get that clean shaven look. Razor burn has also reduced a lot. I went from the whole area lighting up as if on fire to having a few mildly stinging areas mostly along the jaw line and on the sides of my adams apple, need to refine my technique further.

    Keep at it, one day it will just click and you will get it right.
  3. Try and ride the cap, use least amount of angle as possible.
  4. +1 on cold water shaving. Also, try bowl lathering. I have sensitive skin and I find that my skin is irritated before the razor ever touches my face when I face lather.
  5. Could you explain a little further on that please? What do you mean by ride the cap? By least amount of angle, do you mean to keep the razor as vertical as possible?
  6. I think he means a shallow angle. Start with the cap against the face and the handle parallel to the floor, then lower the handle until you feel the blade engage your stubble.
  7. Simplify! Wash your face with warm water, lather up, let it sit for 3-4 minutes, do two WTG passes, THEN STOP.

    Sidebar: I can already hear you complaining that you NEED 15 passes and 12 products or you JUST DON'T FEEL RIGHT.
    But you're here because you have a problem, right? So what you're doing isn't working....

    The goal is a consistent, irritation free shave, don't feel you need to aim for perfection. No-one will notice a bit of stubble in the early afternoon, everyone will notice the terrible irritation when you push too far.

    Once you can get CONSISTENT, IRRITATION FREE shaves, then switch in an XTG pass, eventually maybe a second one. It'll take some time, but you need to work through the steps to get there...

    Also - check your blade alignment. It's easy to screw up on a slant... looking straight down at the top, the edges of the blade should be perfectly parallel with the cap. You might need to hold everything in place as you tighten.
  8. Hello and welcome. Great to have you here on B&B. Plenty of good advice above.
  9. I still get some razor burn as well, but much less than with a cartridge razor. I know it's my technique, too much pressure and going over the same area too many times. In some cases it can even be caused by a too mild razor and using something a bit more aggressive (actually more efficient) can lead to less irritation. Less pressure and less passes to get the job done. I also almost never do an ATG pass, that's just too much for me atm.
  10. Here are a few thoughts.

    First, I assume you have read through the wiki which has a ton of useful information. If you have not done this recently, I suggest another look.

    Second, my best guess is that this is related to either pressure (use ZERO) or the razor angle (discussed on the wiki). Maintaining an optimal angle can be difficult on the neck or beneath the chin IME. Worth rethinking your approach as this is likely to help.

    Third, I suggest you consider some products that I have found helpful in my case. These include MWF or Haslinger's schafmilch which have proven the best soaps for me. In addition, you could consider using Lucky Tiger or Speick AS which I find very soothing.

    Best of luck!
  11. I just wanted to say thanks! I read this thread yesterday with a bit of interest because I too am experiencing some neck irritation. Well, when I got home from work, a bright new box of Stirling products sat by my door! I couldn't resist the temptation to try my new products with a cold water prep today. It goes against everything I've been told! I'll admit that my technique is lacking and I have way too many variables but man did it work! I tried Stirling Island Man, with a personna med prep in my Above the Tie S2. New soap, new blade, relatively new razor and new cold prep. Best shave to date. I had a lot less neck irritation. As a matter of fact, I did three passes (WTG, XTG, and ATG) and some touch ups. Usually I only do two, skipping the ATG. So thanks again for turning me on this technique. I think I'll keep trying this while working on a lighter touch.
  12. My shaves were inconsistent and I too was experiencing neck irritation "most" shaves but I fixed it by using shaving oil EVERY shave. I think part of it is I run every morning and I sweat a bit. Shaving oils make the blades glide every time and it also helps my skin from drying out.

    I rinse my face with warm water then add a bit to my wet hand and rub all over my face and neck. I can pretty much use any blade and don't get irritation. It really has changed my shaving experience. BTW, I use shaving oils by Truefitt & Hill, Anthony Logistics and American Crew and get similar results.
  13. Hmm... also, put that slant away for a time being and get yourself a GOOD open comb razor. I suggest any vintage Gillette NEW will do. They're fine and clean shavers, and not so agressive on your skin.
  14. Beard grain mapping has helped me a lot - I try to only shave with the grain on my neck. For some it can be a bit tricky as the whiskers can grow in all directions on the neck.
  15. When I was having horrible razor burn I changed to Mitchell's Wool Fat soap and Nivea Post Shave Balm. That put a stop to my problem. Razor burn can be awful, like having a cactus on the face. There are many good soaps out there, you might try something mild. I no longer use the Nivea, haven't needed it. But there was a time when it was all my skin could stand.
  16. I agree they alum can make irritation worse. If I use it at all, I don't let it sit. It's a light pass of alum and cold rinse or two. Also, I used to suffer from irritation around my chin on both sides. Astra, feather, and wilkinson are all unusable for me. I use an Israeli blade (store brand personna) and it works well. Also, I stopped chasing fluffy, thick lather and went for wet, shiny, slick lather. It still has some thickness, but the wetness of it seems to do the trick for me.
    Past that, it could be that the slant technique needs to be different. How long have you used the slant?
    Maybe try a 2 pass shave with and across the grain.
    I personally shave north/south, then south/north. Leaves me with and against the grain on my face, and primarily across the grain both ways on my neck. Good luck, I know it can be frustrating. It took me over a year to finally get consistent and irritation free shaves.

    Sorry to ramble, but it also just occurred to me that at one point, a pure badger brush(very scratchy) was also contributing to my irritation.
  17. +1
  18. So I feel like I should reply to this as its almost been a year and it may be of use to someone else reading the thread - apologies in advance as its a long reply...

    Following all the replies in this thread I found cold water shaving made the most noticeable difference but the sheer act of shaving became such a horrible prospect because of the cold water it drove me to stop using a DE from about October 2016 switching back to my old BRAUN foil shaver until January this year. I set a few New Years resolutions to make general improvements to myself and well being - which included starting to DE shave again. I spent a long time doing some research over the Christmas break to improve my shaves as I was determined to correct my poor experiences. So far its been almost 4 months since picking my 37C back up and my shaves have never been this good - here is a breakdown of what I did:

    1 - I always thought my technique was OK but I decided to read a lot of novice tutorials again to see if I was going wrong somewhere. Reading the grip tutorial (Safety Razor Grips) I realised that maybe the grip I have always used on my razor (holding with a closed/limp fist) was impeding my ability to put little to no pressure down. Switching to the pinching method described above almost removed all of my post shave irritation over night! I rarely get nicks anymore and I haven't used my alum block once since January.

    2 - I learnt to lather... by using Gillette canned foam. Early on on January I had a dinner party to attend with my fiance and we stayed over at her parents house the night before. Unfortunately I forgot my shaving brush and had no alternative but to use a can of Gillette foam which almost induced a panic attack. I figured I would use an excessive amount to try and form a good barrier and prevent me hacking my face to bits. I ended up with a near perfect BBS shave. I have always been sparing with my soap after reading tutorials back when I first started saying a little goes a long way but I had taken it literally and never really achieved a good lather before due to using a lack of soap. I learnt to lather properly thanks to the tutorials here Category:Lathering and the differences have been phenomenal. Combined with the light grip I get little to no razor burn and I actually LOOK FORWARD to my morning shaves as they are so enjoyable now!

    3 - I ditched the L'Occitane shave oil and went back to Proraso as my pre-shave balm. I found that the Proraso gave me almost twice the slickness under my shaving soap when wetted between passes compared to the oil. Although the oil smelt great and was super slick on first application, the reapplication between passes made it hideously expensive to use at £20 per 30ml when Proraso did a good, if not better job to begin with. Also the added bonus of menthol to wake you up on a Monday is still unbeatable.

    4 - I have switched to Gillette 7 O'Clock Super Platinum blades in my Merkur 37C. I found these blades are sharp enough to cut my weekend growth on a Monday and will just about provide me with enough life to do 5x3-pass shaves (WTG, XTG, ATG) providing I turn the blade mid-week. I am yet to buy another set of Feathers as I want to see the results now I have improved my technique/lathering but if memory serves the Feathers are not very durable and only ever lasted for 2-3 days tops anyway.

    5 - I slightly altered my post shave which seems to have done a lot of good for the minor irritation I do get on the off day usually when I am in a rush, as well as an added bonus of a noticeable improvement to my general complexion. I now do a flannel wipe down, cold water rinse, pat dry, Thayers Rose/Witch Hazel Toner, air dry followed by my L'Occitane Post Shave Balm. The Thayers was a gift over Christmas and I love it - it instantly flushes the skin and makes everything feel tight and clean and my fiance is in love with the Rose smell so its a win all round. The cold water rinse probably does the most good as it cleanses the pores and tightens everything up which I am sure is attributed to the improvement in my complexion but it is also very refreshing and stops any tiny weepers when they occur.

    In conclusion I have mostly eliminated my irritation issues and am achieving BBS shaves for the first time since starting in 2014. I have not been able to reduce my permastubble look even though I can now incorporate a ATG pass but I think this is a byproduct of DE shaving. Reading about cartridge razors they tend to pull the hairs up and the second/third/twelfth... blade cuts each hair lower down resulting in them being cut below skin level. This looks great but knowing my skin I would end up with a lot of ingrown hairs so its not an advantage for me to look like that anyway. I have come to accept my face will always have some kind of shadow and as long as it feels smooth and doesn't hurt - I am OK with that. All in all, thanks for the advice everyone!
  19. Highspeedlane

    Highspeedlane Contributor Contributor

    Wow, great post and some excellent advice. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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