I feel obliged to offer my gratitude to Badger and Blade. Six months ago I started a quest for the perfect shave and, thanks to the invaluable information contained on this blog, I feel I have found it.
Throughout my life I had used every type of cartridge imaginable. I even used a four-blade vibrating razor for a while! Everything I tried left my face barely socially acceptable and full of blood and burn. I even had perpetual bumps on my neck. I thought that, due to the coarseness of my beard and the sensitiveness of my skin, I was doomed to shaving misery for my whole life.
One day while at the mall I saw an AOS shop and went in to take a look around. Before leaving I had decided to get a DE razor, not because I was expecting to get a good shave, but simply because I figured that if I was going to be miserable shaving every morning, at least I would have a beautiful and traditional razor. They did not have much of a selection in the store, so I did some internet shopping and ended up choosing a Parker with a beautiful Water Buffalo Horn handle.
At my father's insistence (he used to use a cobra and is considering giving straights a try), I went with Feather Blades and my first experience was harrowing at best. The bathroom looked like a scene from a mid-eighty's horror film and my face was worse. However, I was amazed by the smoothness of the parts of my face that I could still touch without agonizing pain. (Obviously I am exaggerating a little bit, but not much.) I had no idea that I shave that close was possible to someone with my facial conditions.
Being intrigued I started to read up on things and stumbled upon Badger and Blade. After about two months of ravenous reading - mostly when I should have been working - I opened up an account. By this time, I was getting DFS shaves pretty much every morning with my DE set up, but still dealt with nicks and some slight razor burn most mornings - albeit much less than what I had experienced using cartridges.
At this point, I had made up my mind that I was going to start using a straight razor. I ordered one of Larry's sight unseen deals and was immediately hooked. My first experience was that it was much easier than I had imagined and much more comfortable than I had ever experienced with DEs.
Over the last four months of using a straight razor exclusively, I have slowly learned how to shave, strop and even hone. (I am certainly no honemeister, but I can put what I consider to be a very sharp and smooth edge on my razor). I have researched and tried various razors, brushes, aftershaves, soaps and creams. After all that, my quest is over and I have what I consider the perfect set up.
I can get BBS shaves, pretty much whenever I want with no irritation and no blood - although if I perform them for more than three days in a row, I start to get some irritation. I have put myself on a schedule of BBS for two days in a row, then a DFS for a day or two. For me this works great. Maybe someday I will be able to get a BBS everyday, but not yet!
Most amazingly, my morning shave is now one of the highlights of my day - I never thought that would have been possible and I owe it all to Badger and Blade. I want to thank you all for sharing your knowledge and giving me a great new hobby!
Two special mentions are due:
1) to Chimensch for his 30th anniversary video which I have watched countless times. It has been invaluable to overcome countless problems with technique and to give me the inspiration to stick with straight razors.
2) to Kentos who introduced me to CBN sprays (actually he sent me some samples) which were the key to honing up my razor sharp enough to give me a close shave, yet still comfortable enough to prevent irritation.
Unlike most members, I use only one brush, one aftershave, one razor, one strop, one honing set up and two shave soaps. I am perfectly satisfied with these - I don't even have the temptation to try anything else!
My current set up is:
Soaps - Razorock Caprican Lemon for daily use
Tabula Rasa for special events and Sundays - it is really my favorite, but at almost $40 a tub, it will be remaining a special-occasion soap until I win the lottery!
Brush - Thater Chubby Large in Silvertip
Aftershave - Captain's Choice Bay Rum
Scuttle - a custom one made by my nephew who at 18 can produce some amazing things in the pottery shop. For my scuttle, he tried to copy the one in Chimensch's video and did a splendid job - it even keeps the lather warm for my leisurely half-hour Sunday morning shaves!
Strops - Star Shaving Big Daddy with felt
Balsa wood with Diamond spray and CBN for weekly touch ups
Hones - Lapping film on top of marble
Razor - My pride and joy! A TI 6/8 Fox and Rooster 1/2 hollow ground, made with Carbonsong C135 carbon steel and gorgeous blond horn scales
I am sorry for the long post, but I hope it will help others to keep at it until they find success. I certainly did...