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What can I do ro improve my shave?

I have been wet shaving now for close to four months. I went through the initial blood-letting that everyone experiences and slowly relearned to shave. I have been getting good shaves but rarely achieve the "Alpha" shave. My method is as follows:

1. Moisten beard with hot towel.
2. Apply cream. (I have tried several Classic brand soaps, Col Conk soap, Palmolive cream, and Taylor's cream).
3. Shave N-to-S on face and S-to-N on neck. (I have been using a Merkur classic with Merkur or Feather blades. I sometimes will use a gillette fatboy adjustable instead of the classic.)
4. Rinse, relather, shave diagonal, downs from ear to chin. (I have experimented with more of a horizontal pass but haven't noticed any increase in efficiency).
5. Rinse, relather, shave diagonal, up from jaw to nose.
6. Rinse, relather, shave S-to-N and then finish with a little touch & cut.

I always pay very close attention to blade angle and pressure. I rarely have any irritation (if any it is on the jawline or neck). I also rarely have that glass smooth finish that I strive for.

I know that a better shave is out there. I am just a little unsure as to what I need to do so that I am getting it. Any and all suggestions/criticism are welcome.

Thanks,

Kyle
 
Kyle,

When I first started, things were nice, but it really took about 5 months or so for everything to 'click'.

With that said, do you lack smoothness all over, or just in certain places. For example, do you get that baby's but smoothness on your cheeks (pun intended), but not your neck?

One thing you haven't mentioned is skin pulling, I'd make sure that I'm getting my skin nice and taught.

Hopefully others can chime in with some tips and tricks as well.

-Nick
 
Kyle:

I read your post yesterday but your routine looks so darned good, I couldn't think of much to tell you to do differently. It sounds like you've got it down. Nick brings up a good point of stretching the skin however. Stretch it the opposite way the hair grows, so if it grows N/S, stretch the skin up, or North.

If you answer to Nick's question is that you just have stubble in spots such as your chin or jawbone, I get good results by just rubbing a QED shave stick on the chin and jawline. I don't take a brush to it, I just shave over the problem areas against the grain and it does a nice job of getting even closer.

Keep us informed.

Jerry
 
Greetings Kyle,
I could suggest this routine for starters.:ihih: To be completely candid though, it sounds as though you are at a cusp. I note when I use my Longhandle Classic I really have to pay exceptional attention to routine to meet the BBS standard and occassionally fail to achieve it. I do not have those problems when using the Futur. I am able to put more steel on the whiskers setting the blade exposure adjustment at 5.5 or 6. than with the (far) more mild Classic. Just my experience. YMMV
 
Ron, you won't believe me, if I try to stretch my skin too much, it hurts like hell. Even when I shave with my str8 I can't stretch it a lot. If I ever nick or cut myself, I get nauseous. Isn't that weird?

Jeff
 
Nick, Jerry, & Ron,

Most of the time the lack of smoothness is patchy with the only consistently troublesome areas being the chin and neck (like so man on this board seem to find as common trouble areas). I have done a small amount of skin pulling for the adam's apple area but am going to give it a try for the rest of my mug.

Though not with a DE, I also shave my head, Jerry, and have rubbed a shaving puck directly on my head with fantastic results. I suppose it would only make sense to try that on the chin and jawline.

Ron (and anyone else who would care to comment) would you suggest that I work more with my gillette adjustable or should I consider the purchase of one of the Merkur adjustables? Also, while on the topic of razors, I've been eyeing the slant bar pretty hard lately. While I'm sure that I will eventually own both the slant and a Merkur adjustable, which of the two would be a good "next step" razor to purchase?

Thanks so much for all of the help, gentlemen.

Kyle
 
Hi Kyle,

Sounds like your routine is a good one. Once comment, though. I love my Progress (kinda similar to your classic in blade exposure), which I always return to if my face is feeling a bit raw, but it can't hold a candle to some of the other razors I have in terms of getting close. There just isn't enough blade exposure, unless you do something weird with it. When I use my Futur, I can get much closer. The past week or two I have been using a slant, and it is Nirvana. Nothing can even come close (pun intended). Unfortunately, potential irritation is an inverse function of closeness, so that is the tradeoff you need to beware of.

The other thing you might play with is getting a shave stick, like one of the fine ones from QED, and using that with your T&C pass. Work it aggressively against the grain in those tough spots, and then hit it with the razor without lathering up. This lets you be real aggressive without getting irritated or nicked in those spots.

Let us know how it goes.
 
Hi Kyle,
As far as the Gillette, I own a '58 heavy duty short handled adjustable. It just doesn't have the level of available steel, even on 9, that the Futur has. It's pleasant, easy to use, and I can stroke a fast shave with it, but it is just a bit too mild.
Slant bar? Ah, with a Feather Blade I can work up a good case of irritation. It is perfect for testing the efficacy of some of my aftershave balms.:rolleyes5 I also get a very close shave with it. I shaved at 5:00AM and here it is almost 8:30PM and I am just developing a slight 5 o'clock shadow. I must admit, it took a bit of éShave Soother Aftershave Cream to calm the visage.
Despite its warts, I think the Futur is about as good as it gets. And, yes I have a Vision too (and a Progress)! The Futur gives me all the steel I want, a great long handle, and a simple mechanism that maintains the adjustment from shave to shave, blade after blade.:001_tt1: I sound like a Futur commercial? It has earned its place as my favorite. If you want the razor where you don't have to lose face to get the BBS shave, I do believe it is the Futur in your future...
 
Scotto & Ron,

I really appreciate the help. I've been planning on buying some of the QED shave sticks, and now I have an excuse to go for it. I am very intrigued by the the slant bar but will have to spend the next couple of days researching it and the future to determine which of these fine instruments will be my next weapon of choice.

Thanks again to everyone.

Kyle
 
Kyle,

If $$ don't enter into it, I think the Futur might be a better choice for you. It has the advantage of adjustability, more heft, and provides an unbelievable shave. I consider the slant more of a "novelty razor"; nothing is closer, but it operates too close to the hairy edge of danger to use for long periods of time. The Futur is my all-around winner.
 
I must say that due to skin stretching and rubbing a bar of shaving soap directly on trouble areas for the t/c, my shaves have started to turn the corner. Also, I recently realized that I had accidently modified my razor holding technique and was actually gripping it up near the head. When I corrected this and applied the above mentioned techniques, I noticed a fairly dramatic improvement in shave quality. My last two shaves have been nearly perfect. Thanks again, gentlemen, for all of the help.

Kyle
 
Kyle,

I'm new to wet shaving with a DE but have found my Futur to be the perfect tool (short of the complaints many have mentioned, e.g. slippery grip.) I still haven't gotten to the fully open exposure, but figure I will grow into it. Nor have I tried it with Feathers. It just makes shaving all that more fun.

Bob
 
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