View Full Version : A New Experience
07-20-2006, 01:59 PM
After a long week of expectation, I finally got my first DE and shaving supplies by mail today. My first shave went well, although the next time I shave I'm going to focus on my jawline, and thereafter my chin. Everything else feels so smooth and clean. Slow and steady, and eventually I'll get the hang of this. I probably spent a good 45 minutes this morning making sure I did everything as slowly and deliberately as possible this first time, taking the advice that many have posted on the threads here in the forum. For the first time, my neck isn't red and burning following a shave. Hallelujah!
Still, I wanted to ask a few questions regarding product use and maintenance. The first is about the brush; mine is a Vulfix Pure Badger. When preparing the brush for lathering, is it better to soak the brush or simply run it under water? Secondly, when drying the brush afterwards, should I simply turn it on its end after shaking it out, or does it need special maintenance?
I also have a question regarding creams. Do most members swirl the brush into the tub itself, or should one remove a portion of the cream for each use? I noticed that when I used it with the tub directly, it added water that remained behind. If cream is to be removed, should I put it in a bowl or put it directly on the brush? Also, what should I use to remove it and what amount? My tub also came with a plastic liner on top; can this be discarded?
As an after-shave balm, I use Taylor's skin food. If others use this, how long does it typically last? How much should one use. Seeing as these are luxury products (to me at least), I want to make sure that I'm frugal with them and that much isn't going to waste.
And finally, as for my DE, will it hurt if I just rest it on its side, seeing as I've yet to buy a stand, or is there a better way to store it?
Thanks for the advice.
07-20-2006, 02:14 PM
Hello Sampson and welcome. Your conservative approach is very sage, not all of us made the conversion this way and I can tell you there is a price to be paid for getting too aggressive too soon. Your questions will be answered differently as personal preference plays a large role in wetshaving. FWIW here is my take:
Brush: I get better results if I soak my brush and then flick out all excess water. This usually results in a little too much water being removed but it is quite easy to add a few drops while making lather. Soaking is fine too, just make sure you allow enough time for the water to absorb into the bristles. After shaving I wring out the excess cream, rinse it out well and give it a few hard flicks to get most of the water out. I then return the brush to its stand to dry. Leaving the brush on its end to dry is fine too. Others take a little more care in drying their brushes as I'm sure you will see.
Cream: I suspect we are split pretty evenly regarding to swirl in the tub or place cream directly in the bowl (or on the brush, same results really). I prefer not to swirl for the reason you mentioned but many of the veterans prefer the swirl and can do it without leaving water in the tub. I suspect this method uses less cream also. When removing cream from the tub I just use my fingertip and grab an almond sized blob. The liner is meant to keep the container airtight so the cream will last longer. There is no reason to discard it unless it annoys you, in which case go ahead and get rid of it. Just don't plan on keeping the cream for years if you do (I don't know that most of us do unless we are hoarding something that has been discontinued or we scored a good sale).
As with the brush, stands are nice but not required. I have several razors that all rest on their sides. I leave my daily use razor in my mixing bowl on the counter. I have a stand for it that I would use if I had more counter space.
07-20-2006, 02:18 PM
I missed the bit about the A/S balm. This is the most subjective part of wetshaving IMO and the area you are likely to get the greatest differing of opinions. I use Thayer's alcohol free witch hazel, then aloe if I have any irritaiton and finally a thin coat of Cetaphil lotion as a moisturizer. You will not need a moisturizer if you live in a humid climate. The skin foods are very popular but alas, not the right product for me. You only need a couple drops so it should last a great while. Unfortunately there really isn't a way to know which A/S treatment will be ideal for you until you try several. It's a pretty enjoyable exercise investigating the alternatives though.
07-20-2006, 02:22 PM
Glad you found B&B. I like to soak my brush while I am showering. This ensures it gets nice and full of water. Then I give it a brief refresh in hot water, flick, and go.
I used to be a swirler back in the day, now I grab some from the tub. I think this is better for new folks since you get a sense of how much cream you need, and it is easier to be consistent. After use, squeeze the water out of the brush, flick it hard, and then put it down on its base. You don't need a stand for it (unless you like the looks). Same story for the razor, just put it down on its side and it will be fine.
That plastic thingie in the tub is just there for transport. I toss mine after I get the cream - it does nothing.
I assume you mean Trumpers skin food. It takes very little of this to be effective, and too much can leave you face feeling tacky. I apply a pea sized amount to a wet face and work it around.
Hope this helps. Feel free to ask questions.
There are lots of folks who dip their soaking wet brush into the tub and give it a swirl. They're hopeless barbarians. :c18:
As for the skin food (Trumpers), less is more. I usually use three drops. If my face is very damp, I can get by with two drops.
Being frugal is a good idea, since all of this crap is going to run you a fortune.:tongue_sm
Welcome aboard, and if you need anything, don't be afraid to ask.
07-20-2006, 06:30 PM
Not sure I bought the same product everyone is referring to in regards to the skin food. From the replies, it seems that the Trumper's brand is a liquid; is that correct? What I have is more like a cream in a 30 ml tub, and on the top it says Taylor of Old Bond Street, but it also says on the label that it's intended for use at night.
07-20-2006, 07:07 PM
I use the Taylor's brand of skin food as recommended, at night -- I use the Trumper's post-shave. Actually, post A/S splash, iaw the suggestions I got here.
The Taylor's, at the rate I'm using it, seems like it should last for 2-3 months... seems like a helpful product to me.
07-26-2006, 08:31 PM
Lately, things haven't been going as well as the first few shaves. Think another day off is in store to allow my face to heal. Seems like every time I shave, I develop a little more irritation. Trying to figure out what I'm doing differently in regards to form. It's probably like a basketball player overthinking his shot and coming off stiff rather than natural.
Anyway, after this last shave, I threw my blade out. It may or may not have been the culprit, but I'll know for sure the next time I shave. When using a M3, I never got more than three shaves out of a blade, and the third was usually painful. I know most here say that a blade lasts them for about a week. Is it even possible that a Merkur Super wouldn't last past 2-3 with a heavy beard?
The primary question I would like to ask is in regards to form. I think the more I try different angles, the worse the results. I have already looked at the cutting forms and tried to follow them, but one of the cuts always disagrees with my face and hair pattern. When the first pass suggests that one should go N-S, does that go for all areas? For example, the hair on my neck runs horizontal rather than vertical. Should I still cut this N-S, meaning chin downward, or should the first pass be horizontal as well, from the middle of the neck towards the ear?
Also, to each side of the adam's apple, the hair grows from S-N. If I cut this in the same direction, what direction do passes 2-3 go along?
Regarding the DE, how do you correctly set the angle of the blade. Should I put the rounded top against my cheek, or the bar below the blade? What is the purpose of the lower lip? Also, when shaving the left side of one's face, how many people change hands? I cannot manage to do anything with my left hand; however, I notice the right side of my face manages to continually get the closer shave.
My first few shaves were like this: :001_smile
The next to last was this: :blush:
Today's left me more like this: :blushing:
And I figured it was best to stop before this happened: :eek:
Thanks for the advice.
I really cannot add to what has been said other than congratulations!
07-26-2006, 09:01 PM
You have asked some very good questions. From them I can tell you are progressing through the initial learning phase. Take heart, you are encountering common problems that many of us have also encountered. I have heard others in the past complain that they don't get as many shaves out of a Merkur blade as they do others. Blades in general are cheap enough that you should change them as often as you see fit. I recently got a bad blade, it happens and can make a big difference. Start over with a new one.
The forms are very helpful but are not to be taken literally. Beard grain varies considerably from one man to the next. N-S, E-W, are not the best references IMO. With the grain, across the grain and against the grain are more accurate. My grain grows in slightly different directions on the left and right side of my face. My angles therefore vary. If I were to tell you all my approach angles they would not likely be the correct ones for you. You say that at least one pass disagrees with you. It is likely that this pass is against the grain. If you let your beard grow for a day or two a map the grain you may be surprised at just which directions your beard is growing in different areas. Your first pass should be with the grain. This will likely be several different directions. You can do a second with the grain pass after relathering or do a cross grain pass next, and so on. FWIW I do three passes, 1st with, 2nd across, 3rd is diagonal (more against the grain than the corss pass but not full on against the grain). That 3rd pass sometimes gets me in trouble.
Regarding blade angle. Start with the curved head of the razor against your skin below your sideburn. The handle should be parallel to the floor. Allow the weight of the razor to initiate the downward motion of the razor and rotate the handle downward until you hear, not feel, the first hairs cut. That is your angle, finish the pass with short strokes. Getting the correct angle is more difficult on some secitons like the neck and jawline but try mimic the approach as best you can. In time you will get it.
I don't switch hands but some do. I use the fingers of my left hand to stretch my skin to try and get the surface as flat as possible. In time you will get more comfortable on the left side as well.
Overall just try to use very little pressure and try and keep a light touch. You may very well be psyching yourself out, it isn't hard to do. Relax and enjoy. Do keep us posted on your progress.
07-26-2006, 11:06 PM
Thanks for the addressing of the last few questions. I think it is often the case that you just need someone else to say things are going well, or at least progressing. I'd give anything to find a barbershop in the area that offers shaves, or fellow wetshavers. Going to give it a rest for a day or so and take a good look at my hair. Once I've mapped the patterns, I've decided I'm going to apply my lather in the direction of the cuts I'll be making each pass. That should help. :smile:
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