View Full Version : Advice/help/comments for a semi-newbie

08-30-2006, 08:08 PM
Got back to serious wet shaving in June. Here's my experience:
1. I get a great lather regardless of which soap or cream I use. I currently have Mama Bear, Proraso, Nancy Boy, Classic Shaving, Palmolive, Hydrolast, i.e., a full collection, and I work up a great lather, whether on my face, in a cup, or in my palm. Each day feels different--I wake up and feel that it's going to be a Proraso day, or whatever.
2. I've been using a Merkur Futur, set at 1.5, and shaving only NS. (tried SN, but the consequences weren't worth it. (i.e., too much razor burn.)
3. I make one pass, going NS, rinse, re-lather and repeat, getting a very smooth and generally comfortable shave.

Here's my problem: I developed a perpetual area of razor burn on the right side of my neck--but only in that location. Holding the razor as lightly as possible, just guiding it in short strokes.
Yesterday, I said "I need to get away from the pain for a bit. Back to the M3 Turbo." Got a very comfortable shave, no razor burn, shaving the same way as in #3 above. Today: same thing, and area of razor burn is gone.
So here's my question: (and I realize that it may be tough, because you can't watch me shave, but, ...) what, if anything, am I doing wrong? What needs to change? Or are there simply some people for whom the DE isn't the instrument of choice?
Background: I've been using a brush and cup since 1963, as I said, I get great lather. Moved away from a DE when all the new toys came out, but I'm wondering if these aren't the best idea for me.
Something else I've noticed: Even with the M3 Turbo, the shave, while close and smooth all around, appears to be minutely closer on the sensitive area. I'm right-handed, and this is the right side of my face. Could it be the way I'm holding the razor, whether it's the DE or the M3? I'll try anybody's idea, but I'm wondering if fate hasn't destined me for multi-bladed gizmos.
thanks for any help/advice/comments you can offer.
FYI: here's my page: http://www.badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php?t=4953

08-30-2006, 08:15 PM
Hi there, have you tried shaving this side of your face with your non-dominant hand (left hand)?

08-30-2006, 08:21 PM
thanks, Joe. I meant to mention that in my original posting. My non-dominant hand is my incompetent hand. I'd become a generous blood donor in no time at all.:eek:

08-30-2006, 08:29 PM
thanks, Joe. I meant to mention that in my original posting. My non-dominant hand is my incompetent hand. I'd become a generous blood donor in no time at all.:eek:

Ok, I'd like to think about this some more but some things that come to mind right away are:

1) Do a thorough job of stretching the skin down there. The neck skin isn't as taught as that on your face....be sure to stretch that well. If strethcing is painful/difficult for you for whatever reason, try reaching your head all the way so that your mouth is straight up toward the ceiling. You won't be able to see your stroke, but it will taught that skin good.

2) Apply a preshave or shaveoil to this area just before making pass, or re-lather this area just before hitting it. Meaning, if you're typically shaving cheeks first (which I think you are), after you get done with that apply second coating of lather to neck.

3) Hot towels!

4) Even at 1.5, the Futur is an aggressive razor! Dial it ALL the way down on your neck, or try using a fixed head (do you have one? if not, there's an excuse to start RAD :lol:)

08-30-2006, 08:59 PM
In my experience, razor burn typically boils down to two issues: applying too much pressure to the razor and lack of adequate lubrication. Since you're using quality soaps/creams and you're not having any difficulty with the lather, I would tend to think you're still applying too much pressure when using the DE razor.

You may believe you're not applying any pressure at all, but when you're used to a Mach 3, you're probably still applying pressure without even realising it. Try holding the razor towards the end of its handle, using only your thumb and two fingers. If you use that type of grip, it'll make it that much easier for you to allow the razor to glide around without any excess friction.

Also, don't get hung up on acheiving the perfect shave. Focus on getting a comfortable shave and the BBS shaves will come naturally.

08-30-2006, 09:21 PM

I alway say that its the man not the razor- In your case I think I will suspend that personal rule -I believe you might need to go in the other direction- the fact that your problem cleared up with a razor change brings me to that statement- I do not mean to imply that its not your technique that is the issue -I believe it is. The massive tool you are using might be contributing to the problem. Also something to consider is your beard growth pattern,map your beard growth. For me a N-S pass would be at different points on my face -with the grain,against and across the grain. in a few spots S-N is with the grain!
so what could you try?
Re/read all the tutorials- like Kyle's What works for me.

A Gillette TECH razor inexpensive and LIGHT
The Murkur (http://www.cottonblossomcrafts.com/shave_page_1.htm) is another option -on sale here, stick with the regular light version.
I would encourage you not to give up,We have all had rough spots to overcome. Take care,

08-31-2006, 02:16 PM
I had the same problem and through reading something here at B&B I managed to clear it up. Check you hair growth patterns. In the spot on my neck that troubled me and it turned out that I shaving completely against the grain in that one spot.

Let it grow and really pay attention to the direction of growth.

09-02-2006, 12:33 PM
First of all--thanks for all the good advice. While I had read Kyle's posting several times, I went over it again--very carefully.
by way of disclaimer, I should add that I never for a moment supposed that the problem was anything but my technique--I just couldn't figure out what it was about my technique that wasn't working. In my judgment, I wasn't applying any pressure, but I guess that's a relative thing.
Here's what I did:
After working up a fabulous later, I positioned the razor and then elevated it to find the proper angle. Then--instead of just bringing it down, I actually backed off on the razor a bit, thereby reducing the actual weight of the razor against my face. Perfect shave, no razor burn. Along the way, I've learned a couple of things. My problem has to do more with the one location where the burn appears--on the right side of my neck in Quadrant 3, and only there. Here's what I've noticed: the shave is closer on the right side of my neck than on my left. While I may think I'm shaving the same on both sides, clearly I'm not. If I could use my left hand on the right side of my neck, the problem might go away, but I have absolutely no control over my left. (My wife is fully ambidextrous, and does surgery with both hands. Most docs have to walk around to the other side of the table--she simply switches the scalpel to her other hand. The techs always marvel at that.) Bottom line, the problem is in the way I'm holding the razor in that particular location, and I'll have to experiment and learn how to refine the technique for that area.
more as I my education progresses.

09-08-2006, 01:53 PM
Paying careful attention to the advice given above, here's what I've learned so far:
1. Razor burn on neck, (right side only) is gone. Clearly the issue was one of bearing down too much on the razor. I'm taking great pains to hold it very lightly (per Kyle's method--almost) and that works. BTW--I did a careful check to see which way my beard grows, and as near as I can tell, it seems for the most part to grow downward. A luck break as far as I can tell. The angle of growth from the Adam's apple to the chin is very shallow, however, which means that a straight NS pass just doesn't have enough bite in it to catch the hair. Choices are to increase the setting on the Merkur Futur or go SN very, very carefully. Going SN on the rest of my neck is not in the cards for me, as this seems to cause razor burn. Ditto for EW or WE passes. Despite pulling the skin tautly, experimenting with different angles, tensions, etc., EW or WE feels as if it's going to slice my neck open. So--for the most part, it's going to be NS, and just making several passes, reducing the beard a bit each time. I keep the setting at 1.5, but I could try increasing the setting to see what happens.
2. Next item: (and this one is really strange.) When I shave with my Merkur Slant razor, I get a much closer shave with absolutely no irritation anywhere. Perhaps it's because the discussion about the dangers of this razor have frightened me so much that I hold it very lightly against my face. But, maybe it's also because the razor is so much lighter than the Futur --I'd appreciate hearing from wiser heads on this. If that's the case, then it would seem that my best bet is to stick with lighter razors, and the difficulty I was experiencing was more due to the weight of the Futur than anything else. It's a mighty heavy razor, and maybe I just need a very light touch. But the strange thing is that when I use the Merkur Slant, I really feel as if I'm in the zone, just floating along shaving, having a ball, taking my time, and getting a really great, smooth shave. And also, we've all got different skin, different growth patterns, yada yada yada, and maybe this is what works for me.
3. Next item: Regardless of which razor I use, the shave is always closer on the right side of my neck than on the left. I attribute this to the angle at which I hold the razor, the fact that I'm right handed (incompetent on the left,) and that this simply means that I have to improve my technique on the left side of my neck. Again--comments appreciated--as long as you don't tell me to use my left hand.
4. Next item: I have a close-cropped beard, so the areas in which I shave are my cheeks and neck.
5. Next item: I've been wet shaving since 1963, but just back to a DE since June. I'm trying to remember if I had so many issues with a DE back in the 60's, and if that's why I switched to the various incarnations of cartridge razors, despite never being happy with them. Seems to me that when I has 17, I could slash all over my face with a Gillette DE with little or no difficulty, but maybe the passage of years has dulled my memory.
6. Lastly--thanks again, ladies and gents, for all your good advice, patience and sympathy. You've been most helpful.

09-08-2006, 01:56 PM
I agree with you on the Merkur Slant: it's a terrific razor and when I shave with it I feel, as you do, that I'm in the zone. But, oddly, I get equally nice and comfortable and close shaves with the Merkur Vision---even though it's even heavier than the Futur. I do have better luck with the Vision than the Futur, so it's something in how the razor guides my technique.

09-08-2006, 07:02 PM
Thanks, Michael--appreciate your observation on the Merkur Slant vs. the Futur--while I still recognize the I'm the problem, it lets me know that the razor really does play a role in it. I suppose that each razor will respond differently to a different user, and your comments were particularly helpful. Oh well, now I suppose I'll have to shell out a hundred bucks for a Merkur Vision to test your hypothesis. :ohmy:

09-08-2006, 08:58 PM
Possibly not: keep your eye on the sell/buy topics. Fairly often someone who's tried the Vision finds it's not for them, and you can pick up one at a bit of a savings. But for me it's great.