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Thread: Wow, I suck at this...

  1. #1
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    Default Wow, I suck at this...

    Ok, I'm really, really trying. I am in the unenviable position of having used an electric all my life. I've never been shown how to shave with a cartridge, much less a DE. Having given up on getting a decent shave with an electric, I've gone straight to DE so I can do it "right".

    And boy, do I suck at it.

    The first shave was great, the second better. From there, it went downhill. I'm beginning to think that I was being more cautious at first, and wasn't getting a very good shave, but it was still better than the electric—so it seemed like I was doing well. As I began to try to consciously work on my technique, I started shredding my chin and neck. As we speak, after about a week and a half, I have a cut adam's apple, upper lip, and some burn on my neck. So the symptoms:

    It seems that the "right" angle doesn't actually cut enough hair on my chin, neck and lip. I have to hit the same hair several times (as expected), but going against the grain to make any headway at all. My chin and neck suffer greatly for it. I'm trying not to use any pressure, but maybe I am doing it unconsciously, as not using any pressure is giving me just a slippery pass over the hair. I can hear it cutting (or scraping, though I'm using as low an angle as I can and still get a cut) but it doesn't seem to cause any reduction.

    I'm using a Merkur HD, Merkur blades, Taylor's avocado, Proraso aftershave (newly). Even the Proraso burns like fire.

    Should I give up on closeness for a few months? Should I use sharper blades? Duller? Maybe my lather is all wrong? I think I'm being slow enough, but I seem to be getting worse at this as I go!

    Any advice for a poor, baby-faced newbie with a stubble problem? Thanks for the great forums! I've learned a lot. I'm just apparently not putting it into practice well. It is perhaps noteworthy that I even get razor burn from electrics sometimes, presumably from trying too hard to get closer. =)

    Signed,
    Frustrated from SF
    Last edited by kennethw; 08-19-2006 at 03:35 PM.

  2. #2
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    Frustrated,

    Hang in there. My first DE shave was, what I thought, outstanding. The second went well, too. Then I fell into the same issues you're having, mainly, too much stubble and too much burn/irritation/cuts/nicks/etc... Looking back, I think my first shave wasn't has good as I had thought. But in comparison to what I was doing previously, it was like night and day. The problem, at least for me, was now knowing that I COULD do better. And better, to me, meant perfect. I attacked those whiskers anyway I could. Light pressure, hard pressure, blade buffing, T&C, with the grain, against the grain, you name it. It wasn't until I decided I was only going to do two passes with the grain for a while. And to do so, and do it well, I really had to learn technique. Give youself a couple weeks doing one or two passes. Just get to "presentable" and don't worry about BBS. Go with the grain (and remember that your beard most likely changes directions depending on the location on your face/neck). Once your technique improves, and your face gets used to the new regime, only then start to change things up a little to find what works for you.

    Your setup looks good, and you should be fine learning with that.

  3. #3
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    Default

    The first thing many of the more experienced members will say is to have patience because the technique can take time to build. there are many variables that can effect your shaving experince. You have to do some experimenting to figure out what works best for you. Lack of pressure is as important as blade angle and you will need to figure out the number of passes needed as well as the direction of each of those passes.

    Suprisingly blades seem to be very subjective. Getting the DE blade sampler pack for LetterK would be a good move. I think it carries the five most popular
    brands.

    For lather read Joel's post here http://www.badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php?t=9

    Also don't forget that prepping your beard is very important too. If your not pr-wetting and soaking your beard the stubble will be very, very tough and make for a painful shave, for most people.

    Edit: Beaten once again. I need to type faster.
    Seth

  4. #4
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    Are you using a brush of any kind? If not, you certainly ought to consider buying one. Applying your shaving cream by hand just tends to mat hairs down or, at best, raises them unevenly.

    You'll also find that, due to the sheer amount of water a decent brush holds, it does a far better job of keeping your skin constantly lubricated. Which, in turn, should allow the razor to glide across your skin without causing irritation.
    Al

  5. #5
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    Default

    Hey Kenneth, don't put so much pressure on yourself to get great shaves after doing it only a handful of times. I'm new like you and have been doing it about a month now and I'm not getting perfect shaves. I leave whiskers around my nose, mouth, and chin pretty regularly but it doesn't bother me that much. I'm still learning. You don't have to get a perfect shave or be so aggressive shaving.

    Settle for comfortable shaves to start. That's what I've done to enjoy the experience. If I get a BBS hey great, but there is another shave for me the next day which might not be as nice. I'm learning from my experience and whatever suggestions the kind people here offer.

    I use the Merkur Long Classic, similar to your HD and it's pretty aggressive. I found this out by buying an old Gillette Tech razor and shaving with it. The Tech is very gentle by comparison. In fact some of the posters here call it a good beginner's razor. I use both now on different days and it's helped me to hone my technique. Not telling you to get another razor, just offering options and the knowledge that not all the razors are the same.

    Hang in there and you'll get some comfortable shaves with good results. If it's any consolation, when I first shaved my chin with the Merkur my hands were almost shaking with fear as it seemed impossible to do it. Now I can shave my chin with little hesitation and no nicks or cuts.

    Good luck to you sir.
    - Jim

  6. #6
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    I've found (as a DE newbie) that it's been taking me three passes with the HD to achieve smoothness, but going into the shave solely with the notion of stubble reduction and not trying to go for broke with each pass. By the 3rd pass, smoothness should come automatically with one of these razors. No pressure doesnt mean holding it in a light-handed way. I have found that you have to hold it firmly, by the base (as demonstrated) and then only shave the lathered areas, with no pressure when making the strokes. I think that as a previous user of an electric razor (which in my experience needs a considerable amount of pressure to get a smooth shave) it may well be the 'no pressure' thing that is where you are going wrong.
    Last edited by Nick75; 08-19-2006 at 04:59 PM.
    Nick

    [URL="http://wiki.badgerandblade.com/index.php/User:Nick75"]Nick's Shave Den[/URL]

  7. #7
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    My experiences were remarkably like yours and letterk/John's--my first couple of shaves were stellar, then a pretty big slide for a while.

    In retrospect, I think my expectations were too high. After a couple of great shaves--MUCH better than what I'd been used to before--I was surprised and frustrated when my next bunch of shaves weren't as good or better.

    When I settled down and just started enjoying the experience, my shaves started getting better again. Right now they are consistently good, but I still am always on the lookout for better products, equipment, what have you.

    Hang in there, slow down and smell the (Trumpers) Roses!
    Mitch

    Go Green!

  8. #8
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    Congratulations on making the switch-you have gotten some fantastic advice and I am not going to add to the pile- I will say hang in there and keep posting- you can do it!

  9. #9
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    Your experience is common, nearly every new wet shaver goes through this -- I call it the "sophomore slump". Basically your first few successful shaves made you overconfident and your technique has gotten sloppy. I went through it with the DE, and later went through it again when I switched to the straight razor.

    Lay off wet shaving for a few days to let your face recover (and hopefully to forget some of your bad technique before it becomes a habit), then come back to it and pay particular attention to lather, pressure, and beard grain.

    You were successful once, it's just a matter of getting back there, and being able to do it consistently.

  10. #10
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    Thread Starter

    Default Thanks!

    Thanks so much for the encouragement and the tips, guys. I feel better knowing that I'm in a common rut with this. I was pretty testy this morning though. =)

    Mr. Benn, I have been using a Conk "Pure" brush, which I now realize is pretty darn crappy. I thought it felt a little jabby when I first used it, but as I've worked on my lathering technique I'm feeling like it might be irritating my face a bit before the razor even gets there. It's quite rough and wiry.

    So now I'm in a position where I love the ritual, *love* the creams, and am still trying to gear up so it's more comfy and enjoyable. I think a better brush and a lather bowl will help (I rap my knuckles a lot in the coffee mug ;), and I appreciate all the advice about not expecting BBS for a while. I'm just anxious, and hopeful.

    It's a little hard to extoll the virtues of this process when you're walking around with a bad shave, but I'll suck it up.

  11. #11
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    Default

    Well, 2 days with only minor nicks, and ho-hum shaves. I'm hanging in there... I've also switched to Feathers, to see if being more careful and getting 2 passes with a sharper blade will satisfy my yearning for BBS a bit better. To keep up my enthusiasm, I picked up some Trumper's Lime, and T&H Almond so I can mix it up. It's a little like choosing what to have for breakfast, isn't it?

    I can definitely feel the difference. The Merkurs feel more like sandpaper while cutting, and, while the Feathers seems to want a slightly lower angle, they slide better at any angle.

    Forgive the ambiguous terminology.

    Thanks again, guys!

    (mparker762, thanks specifically for suggesting that I wait a few days to cool off...)

  12. #12
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    Just keep hanging in. It will get better. Don't worry about not having a good shave. The truth is even with a two-pass N-S only shave, you should be in a position of looking very presentable pretty quickly. No-one will know the difference without feeling your face.

    I did this for about three weeks, with one razor, one blade (isreali), two creams, and one brush doing only two N-S passes. It really helped a lot. I still have a long way to go with technique, but at least now I can consistently get a pretty nice shave, and basically never cut myself (I do get the occasional weeper, but only if I really push it going against the grain with a feather).

    So keep with it, and you will be getting good shave in no time, if you don't try to push too hard.

  13. #13
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    Kenneth,

    Take it slow and easy and you'll get there; all of us went through this at one point. To reiterate a few points:

    prep is 9/10ths of shaving. Shave after a shower or use hot towels to soften your beard (feels good too!).

    Don't switch products around too much; minimize the variables while you learn what works for your face

    Make sure you rinse and re-lather in between passes. Also make sure you are not going over areas that have already been shaved (in that pass) - no cutting without lather!

    Go slow and start with short strokes of the razor

    Ask questions!!

    Good luck - you'll get it!
    -Scotto


    Support B&B!

  14. #14
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    I would suggest that, before you buy any more soaps or creams, you invest in a better shaving brush. The traditional first brush is the Edwin Jagger best badger from Crabtree & Evelyn for $35. That will make a difference, I think.

  15. #15
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    Thanks again for the tips, guys. I was definitely just pushing myself too hard. Trying to take it easy now.

    I know that I should stick with the Taylor's Avocado while I'm learning, but I can't resist the smells!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leisureguy
    I would suggest that, before you buy any more soaps or creams, you invest in a better shaving brush. The traditional first brush is the Edwin Jagger best badger from Crabtree & Evelyn for $35. That will make a difference, I think.
    On that last, desperate "I'm going to get a good shave today or else" day I realized that the brush was irritating my face before I even got to the razor.

    The Shavemac SilverTip should be here tomorrow! Even if I were to give up on the DE, I'm hooked on the prep, so no harm done.

  17. #17
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    Kenneth,

    I had dismal shaves for the first month & half. I had to give up on the HD and go with an adjustable. I had to dial it way down my skin just couldn't handle that much blade exposure. I also had to use Proraso exclusively nothing else seemed to work. It will take time to figure out what works for you. But like Scotto suggested, Prep is the key. I find that the Proraso Pre/Post and the warm towel method are just pure magic.

    Good luck...
    Tito

    [I]When 900 years you reach, look as good, you will not.[/I]
    -- Yoda

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