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What am I Doing Wrong?

Been at this for 3+ months now, and I'm overall satisfied, but not blown away. I need to be blown away. It's just who I am. :laugh:

I keep a detailed log, and will continue to do so until I get this figured out. I've sampled many razors both vintage and modern, many blades (also vintage and modern), and many soaps and creams. I've learned a lot, determined that I greatly prefer a fine soap to a fine cream, can discern subtle differences between blades, and generally love the process.

My problem is that after 3 months I used a Mach3 because I was traveling and the shave was closer and smoother than anything I've yet experienced with a DE razor. I can get as smooth, but it involves too many passes and I end up beet-red. If I stop at two passes I get an acceptable looking shave, but it's not smooth enough for me at all.

I seem to have sensitive skin and I think I've grown to fear the irritation which keeps me from digging in, and digging in is the only way I seem to get close.

I've studied angle until my eyes hurt, and I've stopped shaving in the shower so I could hear the blade doing its thing. I've experimented with prep and good prep makes the difference between tugging and not for me. With a good prep and a good blade, it feels like the blade isn't there (awesome).

I've mapped my face which helped a great deal, but often when I go XTG or ATG on the second pass it sounds like the blade is cutting but it's not, or if it is, it's not doing much because there is little change.

My go-to setup is this:

Gillette Super Adjustable on 3
Gillette 7 O'Clock Black or Med Prep (best modern blades for me)
D.R. Harris soap (most hard soaps work well for me)
Pass1: WTG
Pass2: XTG/ATG depending on area
Pass3: Sometimes I'll do a 3rd pass of buffing to try and get smoother

I've tried dialing up the Adjustable, but didn't like the feel. Bad technique? If so, how do I fix it?.

Prep is Noxzema on my face before shower, which is washed off last thing in the shower. I don't dry my face, but go right to shaving. I've also tried Nivea moisturizing cream which seems to work well (I don't like menthol).

The emotional side of my brain loves the process and the ritual. The scientific side of my brain is starting to protest that I'm spending too much time and effort to get a result that doesn't match what I used to get with the Mach3.
 
Curious if you've tried a really steep angle yet (the scraping angle). I can do as well as a cart in one pass with a really steep angle. Worth a try if you haven't done it.
 
Wow, you are more meticulous than I and can't get it your way? Maybe your scientific side is taking over too much. Maybe you just need a different razor to try, or maybe, this is not for you.

Can't really offer you any other advice. In my experience, you either enjoy it or you don't.

I take from my shaves what I can get, they are not going to be perfect every single time, but I can live with that.

Good luck buddy!
 
I've never used a Mach 3, but I feel that a DE shave is about getting a comfortable and irritation free shave foremost.

My understanding is that many men get irritation exactly from the close shave that cartridge razors seem to provide.
 
I would try doing only XTG both ways, hence a 2 pass shave and forget about WTG. That should help with irritation by cutting the passes down. And it sounds like you need to work on angle if your current XTG and ATG isn't doing anything for you.

Also feel for the smoothness in the direction of your cutting, is it smooth? If it is then maybe you are getting a good shave and you just have a super thick beard that still looks unshaven. If it's not smooth then you need to work on your angle.
 
Your approach is excellent.

The obvious thing I can think of is to have a real effective roar with those Med preps (great blades!).

The Muhle Twist comes to mind.
It is basically our own B&B award winning R41 in a twist to open model:

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The open comb in these models was a big difference in result for me.

Another route would be a SE razor like the GEM Micromatic or a new Mongoose:

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Curious if you've tried a really steep angle yet (the scraping angle). I can do as well as a cart in one pass with a really steep angle. Worth a try if you haven't done it.

Whoa - really? It took me too long to figure out the shallow angle. Could it be that I'm TOO shallow?

When I first started I had no idea what I was doing, so I raked my face with a nice perpendicular "Hoe the field" technique that got a very smooth shave, but left my face feeling like I'd been splashed with acid. Could it be as simple as I've gone too far in the opposite direction?

Wow, you are more meticulous than I and can't get it your way? Maybe your scientific side is taking over too much. Maybe you just need a different razor to try, or maybe, this is not for you.

Can't really offer you any other advice. In my experience, you either enjoy it or you don't.

I take from my shaves what I can get, they are not going to be perfect every single time, but I can live with that.

Good luck buddy!

I do have a tendency to overthink things. :) Don't get me wrong - I enjoy everything about it but the results which are adequate at best. I strive for perfection in all things.

I've never used a Mach 3, but I feel that a DE shave is about getting a comfortable and irritation free shave foremost.

My understanding is that many men get irritation exactly from the close shave that cartridge razors seem to provide.

I get zero irritation from a Mach3, though I shave every other day because my skin doesn't like daily shaves. It's never been about irritation for me. I got into this because I was offended at the price I was paying for the cartridges. I have a strong inclination to learn the old ways, too, and the DE shaving thing just scratches that itch like crazy. I have no doubt that I'll end up with a straight eventually, but I feel the need to master this first.

I would try doing only XTG both ways, hence a 2 pass shave and forget about WTG. That should help with irritation by cutting the passes down. And it sounds like you need to work on angle if your current XTG and ATG isn't doing anything for you.

Also feel for the smoothness in the direction of your cutting, is it smooth? If it is then maybe you are getting a good shave and you just have a super thick beard that still looks unshaven. If it's not smooth then you need to work on your angle.

The first pass has always been about reduction for me. I shave every other day, and shaving ATG with two-day growth just means tugging no matter what I use. I don't understand the second paragraph. My issue is not one of look. There's still palpable whisker left when I'm done. When I shave with a Mach3, there is not.

Your approach is excellent.

The obvious thing I can think of is to have a real effective roar with those Med preps (great blades!).

The Muhle Twist comes to mind.
It is basically our own B&B award winning R41 in a twist to open model:


The open comb in these models was a big difference in result for me.

Another route would be a SE razor like the GEM Micromatic or a new Mongoose:

Thanks!

"have a real effective roar with those Med preps" - that's awesome. But what does it mean? :blink:

I do have a Schick Type-N and a bunch of NOS Plus Platinums which I tried once, but it was too much of a distraction since it's a completely different technique (at least it seemed so).

I have an Otto Roth OC razor that I've used a couple of times. Part of me wonders if I just haven't found the perfect razor yet. So far I seem to like mild razors, and I have far too many razors though I have multiples of the ones I like (Super Adjustable, Tech, etc.).
 
I agree with this, Perhaps try a little less analysis and more going with the flow.

If it doesn't work, no shame in going back t carts.

Wow, you are more meticulous than I and can't get it your way? Maybe your scientific side is taking over too much. Maybe you just need a different razor to try, or maybe, this is not for you.

Can't really offer you any other advice. In my experience, you either enjoy it or you don't.

I take from my shaves what I can get, they are not going to be perfect every single time, but I can live with that.

Good luck buddy!
 
Me thinks you are over thinking the whole thing, after all it is just shaving. Put the log away, turn up some music, step up to the sink and just shave. Let you subconscious handle things. Do it again tomorrow and the day after. Don't agonize over how today's shave went, it WILL get better on its own. We are a great bunch of over thinkers, over analyzers on here. Once it pops and works for you, then start over thinking it. :001_smile

You mention you have been at this three months and have multiples of everything. That does not help the noob. Pick you favorite setup and stick with it until it works.
 
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A few things to try. First, increase the setting to 5 and see how that works. Second, as said above you may have changed the angle too much. Make subtle changes. Don't go from a 25 degree angle to 60. Do it with minute adjustments. See how each adjustment works. You don't want to go from your current setting of 3 to 9. But you can go up one or two clicks and see how that works for a shave or two.

And most of all resist the urge to dig in. Putting pressure on the blade may sound like a solution but most likely it won't work.
 
A few things to try. First, increase the setting to 5 and see how that works. Second, as said above you may have changed the angle too much. Make subtle changes. Don't go from a 25 degree angle to 60. Do it with minute adjustments. See how each adjustment works. You don't want to go from your current setting of 3 to 9. But you can go up one or two clicks and see how that works for a shave or two.

And most of all resist the urge to dig in. Putting pressure on the blade may sound like a solution but most likely it won't work.

+1
 
I had your same sentiments until I bought a 37C slant. Now, I can't use anything else. It's wildly efficient without the burn. I'm not knocking on the vintage Gillettes but nothing else I have touches the 37C in terms of comfort, efficiency and speed. I can sling it around with dangerous speed and never draw a drop of blood or get close to razor burn. I hope you get it worked out.
 
I had your same sentiments until I bought a 37C slant. Now, I can't use anything else. It's wildly efficient without the burn. I'm not knocking on the vintage Gillettes but nothing else I have touches the 37C in terms of comfort, efficiency and speed. I can sling it around with dangerous speed and never draw a drop of blood or get close to razor burn. I hope you get it worked out.

I was actually considering a slant. In my mind (where all the overthinking happens) a slant makes perfect sense.
 
I think you're overthinking things. Just shave. :)

If you have to, maybe try every day to note one thing you could do better the next day. Over time, you'll be amazed at how far you get.
 
I was just thinking that myself. I shave every other day because every day was too much, but that was from the Mach3 days. Sadly, I'll be back to Mach3 for a few days as I'm traveling.
 
Maybe you have to many options?!

Work with one razor/blade combo till you get it right then change things up? Guessing here but for me it took a while to get the blade angle right with my razor. Plus I've found ATG is just really a no-go for me to sensitive. But XTG in some areas gets it close without the irritation where in the same area ATG chewed me up.

In the end, maybe the Mach3 is best. My son uses a brush and shave soap with his 5 bladed monster it's what he likes.

-Stephen
 
If you take out variables, results should be easier to analyze. Keep the hardware static: 1 razor, 1 blade type, and really dig into the subtleties of technique (angles, number and types of passes, pressure, etc). If you get too carried away, take it easy for a few days and heal up with light shaves and lots of moisturizer.


If the goal is to get as good of a shave or better than with M3, I think it's going to come down to lubrication, prep, skin care & technique. You definitely have the tools!
 
I am curious to know what direction you shave with the Mach 3?
I am also curious to know how many passes you make with the Mach 3?

And have you really shaved long enough with one razor and one blade to truly master technique?

Perhaps you have, I have no way to know, but if you have then the blade and or razor is the problem.

But I suspect that if you are shaving the same number of passes in the same direction as you do with the Mach 3 you should be able to get as good if not better results with a DE.
 
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