View Full Version : I'm new, converting, and need help!
02-11-2007, 05:14 PM
Help in a lot of ways. Me and shaving have always been on rough terms. My parents never really taught me how to and had to basicly use what my dad used, which didn't take to my skin at all. So as a way to get around it...I just started using disposible razors without ANYTHING else...no shaving cream, no aftershave, usually not even after a shower, just plain misery. I'm turning 25 in a few months and none of this has changed.
Well I'm making a lot of self improvements in my life. I'm going to college for a degree now, I'm hitting the gym, I got a decent job, and as scared as I am, I'm ready to tackle shaving, but I have a question or two.
1. What should I expect? I havn't used shaving cream in about 10 years, I don't use aftershave, and am just used to a dry painfull shave. Given my circumstances, any advice you would give me out of the usual? (yea im a weirdo but whatcha gonna do)
2. I ordered a Merkur HD, and a pack of the normal merkur blades to start with. I know I'll want to upgrade and try different blades, but I think thats a bit to much for me right now. I know this razor is reccomended for most beginners, would this be any different for me, given my unique situation?
3. I went to target tonight and they had the big proraso display, however most of it was wiped out. I don't think I'm going to enjoy the shaving soap, so I also got the shaving foam. Which I know I can't use with my merkur, but will it be near the same experience lathering, just minus the brushing and such?
I know I'm probably just being really paranoid but it's sorta a big deal to me to get this straightened out.
02-11-2007, 05:44 PM
Well, I think you can expect an improved shave right off the bat. I can't even imagine what shaving with a blade and no lather would be like. And those disposables are just atrocious to boot! As for your razor, I can't comment because I don't have the HD. The 1904 Merkur that I have has the same head, and it was a great starter razor. As for the blades, it seems that everyone will say that you should experiment around to find the ones that's best for you. For now, the Merkur blades will work though (they're gonna have too!).
I can't really see how your past shaving experience will impact how the razor will work with you. But since you were basically dry shaving with the disposable, I'd assume that you were using quite a bit of pressure. With the Merkur, don't use pressure at all as it will dig the very sharp blade into your face and cause both razor burn as well as some nasty nicks. I would recommend running to your local Walmart or Target and picking up a styptic. I know that Walmart carries Pinaud styptic pencils and they work well. Those will seal any nicks that you are bound to get quickly.
You said that you got some soap and foam. To use the soap, you should probably pick up a brush of some sort. A boar bristle brush is much more cost-friendly than a badger brush and would do fine to start. The brush actually helps produce a great lather, much better than you'll get with your fingertips IMO. The lather is a crucial part because it will allow the blade to glide over your skin reducing nicks while also keeping the whiskers hydrated and very soft, another important part of wetshaving.
The next important thing you will want to look for is your blade angle. Since you're starting to use a DE (double edge) safety razor, you'll want to get the blade to an angle where it will slice the hairs instead of scraping the skin. With a disposable, the angle is pretty much unchangeable as the way the blade is set into the cartridge. However, with the HD, you'll have to control the angle to the face. The more perpendicular the blade is to your skin, the more it will scrape and cause irritation. Strive for an angle that the blade is almost parallel to the face. That will allow you to minimize contact with the skin and allow the blade to cleanly slice through the whisker. I think you should check out mantic's shaving videos on youtube as they will show you how the elements of a good wetshave with a DE come together more effectively than just reading alone.
Hope that helps, if you have any more questions just post 'em!
Welcome to the B&B!:biggrin:
It seems that just about anything you do would be an improvement!
Taking your time, good prep and good technique will serve you well.
Believe it or not your shave can be a pleasant experience!
Kyle's fine posts on prep (http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php?t=9745) and technique (http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php?t=4018) are a good place to start.
Relax you are in the right place!
02-11-2007, 06:02 PM
Hello ClockworkBob! I'm a very recent newcomer to this "hobby" and just want to say, you've come to the right place. There's more resource material available than you could read in a week!
Check out these 3 links, which really helped me get going and enjoy a shave, the likes of which are the best in my life.
You've got to watch all of Manic's videos
This is a DE / Wet shaving text book! Great source of info!
Your going to make mistakes at the beginning, expect them and don't be surprised. Ask any question you have because there's someone here who can answer it,,,,enjoy the ride!
02-11-2007, 06:03 PM
Bob, Welcome aboard!
There are so many things you need to know about wet-shaving, I don't know where to start --other than to say DO NOT dry shave with a double edged razor!
At the top of this forum, there are two postings by Kyle that stickied to the top. These are absolutely a must read for you at this point. Since you really don't know anything about wet shaving, you really must read Leisureguy's shave blog; it's really full of info and how-to on wet-shaving. Also, B&B member Mantic has produced a series of wet shaving videos and posted them on YouTube on the net. View them all.
Regarding purchases, do everything in the above paragraph before you go off making purchases. Here at B&B there are separate forums for shaving soap, shaving cream, shaving brushes. Read them and then make purchases to suit.
Going with the Merkur razor is fine --I'm sure you'll be happy with it. Regarding a Shave brush, I recommend you avoid the boar brush and for an initial purchase buy a Badgerhair brush. Probably the most popular intro badger is the Crabtree & Evelyn Best Badger brush for $35. Your local mall likely has a C&E store or you can order one from their website. Ask them for samples of their shave creams. They'll usually be happy to give you several, and that will get you started.
Read a lot, post your experiences, ask questions. The folks here are knowledgeable, friendly, and will take a sincere interest in your shaving adventure.
Friends don't let friends dry shave with a DE.
-- John Gehman
02-11-2007, 06:10 PM
Glad to have you aboard. :thumbsup:
Please keep us posted on your progress.
Welcome to B&B, Bob. As has already been stated, anything you do at this point should be an improvement over where you've been. Having said this, don't expect a magical, overnight transition. There are bound to be a few growing pains along the way, but by using this group of gents as your sounding board, you'll be getting great shaves in no time.
02-11-2007, 07:18 PM
Thanks everyone for the tips. I have been reading these forums and especially Leisureguy's blog for over a week now. So I'm getting the jist of all of it, but literally everything that's being discussed is completly foreign to me. I'll definatly keep everyone posted on my progress. Tommorow is my first shave with shaving cream, using a disposable Bic, wish me luck!
02-11-2007, 07:58 PM
There is no reason you can't use the Proraso Foam with your HD. Gents used foam with DE razors for years! It just won't be as enjoyable as using a soap/cream and a brush!
02-11-2007, 08:38 PM
Just take baby steps.
I practiced lathering with what I could get from the local drug stores in terms of creams and soaps and thinking about the grain of my beard using my cartridge for a month before I got my first DE.
In your case, think about lather and the benefits whatever foam cream you use are giving you. Also don't neglect determining whether the shower before shaving helps or hinders your shave, and if you have time, throw in a hot towel soak of your beard after the shower before the foam and see if that helps things further.
It's all a matter of only changing one variable at a time and seeing what improvements it makes. There are a lot of valuable sources of info out there now, including this site. It is possible to get a good shave every day from a DE, I am now, and it can only get better as your technique gets better!
02-11-2007, 09:03 PM
Welcome, Bob. You're going to be surprised at how quickly you learn. This little list might help:
Problems with the shave usually have their cause in one of the essential steps:
Prep: beard must be fully wetted to soften---shave after showering, wash beard again at the sink, and apply a good lather to your wet beard. (Lather is always applied to a wet beard.)
Blade selection: crucial. Novices focus on the razor, but the razor is just a device for holding the blade and presenting the edge at the correct angle to the stubble. Different people require different blades. Get a sampler packet from LetterK so you can find the right blade for you.
Blade angle: absolutely critical. The blade should be ALMOST parallel to the skin being shaved, so that the edge strikes the stubble almost at a right angle. Where the skin has a lot of curves (e.g., jawline, neck, chin), you have to maneuver the razor a fair amount to keep the blade angle correct. Making short strokes will help you stay focused on blade angle. No matter how light the pressure, if the angle's wrong, you'll get a nick or cut.
Razor pressure: use very light pressure. Shaving with a cartridge either requires or encourages pressure, so this is a habit that must be unlearned. Often the weight of the razor by itself is enough to cut the stubble. Hold the blade to minimize pressure---e.g., by the balance point on the handle. When you rinse after the first pass, you'll feel quite a bit of stubble. This does NOT mean you should use more pressure---in single blade shaving, you eliminate the stubble by progressively reducing it over 2, 3, or 4 passes.
Your beard's grain (direction of growth): It's vital that you know this, since the sequence of passes is first with the grain, then across the grain, and then (if stubble is sufficiently reduced) against the grain. (If too much stubble remains for a comfortable against-the-grain pass, first shave across the grain the other way.) Generally, the beard on your face will grow downward---but not always. I have a couple of patches where it grows more or less sideways. The grain on the neck can be anything. To find the grain, wait 8-12 hours after you've shaved, then rub your face and neck. The direction that's roughest is against the grain. You'll find the "roughest" direction is different on different pars of your face and neck.
If you pay attention to these basic points, you'll enjoy your shaves. There will be a learning curve, as you make the transition from cognitive understanding to practiced skill, but you will at least know what you're trying for.
02-11-2007, 09:25 PM
Congrats on making the improvements in your life. While these boards are good at understanding shaving, I've found through topics that people here are pretty darn supportive of one another, so make sure to post topics in the other forums here if you need advice about that other parts of your self-improvement!
I started with a Merkur Razor and blades as well, and Leisureguy is the man when it comes to the essential shaving tips. Let those tips be your guide to get you started. If I could add only one other comment, it is to limit the number of passes you use for the first few shaves to one, maybe two passes with the grain of your beard. After you have completed that first shave completely, run your hands over your face. You may feel some spots that are less smooth than others, which may be an indicator of a change in hair growth, which will be helpful knowledge for future shaves. After you start getting the hang of it (and more importantly, the face on your skin has adjusted to a new regimen), start adding the cross-grain, and against the grain (ATG) passes. And be GENTLE on that first ATG pass; little to no pressure necessary!
Those are my two cents, but from one newbie two another, I have to say, once you get the hang of wetshaving with a DE razor, you will almost certainly never want shave any other way. I've also noticed that the condition of my skin has improved dramatically, since DE shaving tends to exfoliate your face during the shave (bonus!).
02-11-2007, 10:03 PM
Best Tip: Take Your Time, I've been wet shaving for 2.5 months and have only nicked myself once. If you take your time you can prep your face and lather correctly. Glad to hear you're taking steps to better your life, welcome and feel free to ask for help. That's what everyone's here for.
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