Hello Board Members,
This is my first post on this forum. I am just starting my conversion from the world of disposable razor cartridges (a la Gillette Mach3) to the more traditional double-edge world. I am a total newbie here, and so far I've had to make do with those sorely expensive 3-blade Mach3 contraptions and canned shaving gels, like Gillette's Mach3 or Nivea Sensitive Skin, put on by hand. Of course compared to my electrical shavers from before, Mach3 gave me a shave close enough that I could actually feel the skin on my neck and chin rather than prickly stubble. However, not only is this multiple-blade shaving contraption insanely expensive, it also provides me with plenty of pain and irritation, which is probably due to razor burn and my sensitive skin.
By some weird twist of fate, I stumbled upon an article on wetshaving from msnbc.com, and it completely opened my eyes to how wetshaving is really supposed to be done, using a single blade or a double-edged safety razor. From that article, I learned about Merkur's fine razors, badger hair brushes, luxurious English shaving creams, and some of the technique. I caught myself grinning when I was reading that article because I started to imagine shaving as being a luxurious, pleasurable experience rather than a chore, which so far it has been.
I found this forum just a couple days ago and had the pleasure of reading some of the reviews and pointers. Then time came to make some decisions.
I placed an order with classicshaving.com last night, and I think I got myself pretty much all the supplies I need. For the razor, I picked Merkur Vision. I know it may be a little much for a DE beginner, but it sure is a fine-looking and, as I hear, fine-feeling, well-balanced razor. I figure if I start out very slowly without any pressure and using conservative angles, I should be ok. I debated about the brush. I looked as Rooneys, Vulfixes, SR, and several others posted on this forum. However, for newbie's convenience sake, I simply decided to purchase the Merkur Vision Set, which has the Vision razor, the silvertip badger brush, a stand, and a bowl. It's a good-looking set in satin finish, which I figure should get me started alright. I read some opposition to Merkur brushes, but I also read some praises - so it comes down to choice and me trying things out, I suppose. I can always add that 35-dollar C&E brush to my collection later! For the cream, I decided to start with a tub of Taylor of Old Bond Street shaving cream in "Rose" blend. To top things off, I also ordered Taylor's luxury herbal aftershave cream.
I wondered about the different shaving creams available and read a few reviews. What I decided to do is to write to several cream manufacturers and ask for a sample. I wrote to Taylor of Old Bond Street, Truefitt and Hill, The Art of Shaving, and Geo F. Trumper. A person from Taylor's said that they are not offering samples at this time due to high demand for samples and the time-consuming procedure of putting them together by hand (they do not have sample-sized stocks). Truefitt and Hill so far hasn't replied. However, The Art of Shaving and Geo F. Trumper agreed to send cream samples of their full line. I will keep you posted on the progress with that once I get everything going.
So far, what's unclear to me is the difference between shaving soaps and shaving creams and the usage of each. Is it again simply the matter of personal preference, or does the soap work more efficiently than the cream? What difference is there in how the shaving process feels with the soap and the cream, if any? From what I could tell, you put an almond-sized dab of cream on your soaked brush and then work up the lather in the separate bowl. For soaps, do you work up the lather right over the soap?
Anyhow, this looks like a terrific place, I am looking forward to participating, and I can't wait to receive my order from classic shaving