Let me just say I have really really obscenely rough facial hair. So bad and so rough that I've never had a clean shave, ever. At BEST, my cheek areas will be decently shaved but the chin and moustache area will be a completely dirty and grayed out permanent mess like so:
Keep in mind that this picture right here is best case scenario. I know some people naturally have some type of shadow where the facial hair area is relatively darker than the skin, but nothing like I have it. The main reason for it is the stubbornness of the coarse hair, but even in rare instances where somehow I get all the hair shaved off the surface of some of the skin, it still doesn't look clean shaven. I don't know what the deal is.
For years my normal shave routine has consisted of lots of warm water in the shower, lathering up with my badger hair brush, and using Mach 3 blades I replace every three shaves or so. Almost anyone else would have gotten at least an acceptable shave out of that combination but my outcomes have always been lackluster. That's when I came across the topic of double edge safety razors bringing about a way better shave than typical cartridge razors. So I went ahead and bought a Merkur HD razor along with some feather blades.
Now let me just say it's only been three weeks since I've begun. I've known that one needs the utmost patience in beginning this because there is a learning curve involved and I need to unlearn all of the bad habits created by modern razors. I had the confidence instilled in me from reading dozens and dozens of threads here, and so I went ahead and went very slowly. Good lather. Little to no pressure. Roughly a 30 degree angle depending on where you are. Start north to south, then try other passes depending on what direction the hair grows. Short and slow strokes. Etc.
Needless to say, the shaves have been terrible. I've been even less clean shaven, my face feels more irritated, and I've got a couple nicks (I had a pic from a few days ago I'll try to look for). Now I completely understand it is my own poor and amateur technique that is the reason for this, so the quality of these past several shaves isn't really a problem because eventually it will get better. But I've slowly started to feel like 1) my facial hair problem has always been relatively unique so what if I practice this for months and my shave doesn't improve enough for all of this to be worth it, and 2) this takes a HUGE amount of time to do. I didn't start this for the sake of a hobby, like some others, I just wanted a noticeably smoother and better shave (note: not perfect or BBS, just improved) from the mess that was my moustache/chin area. Based on what people say about DEs, I'm sure I can improve at least a little, but at what cost in time? My life's going to get busy really soon, and while I'm willing to give more time if it's worth it, I'm not sure I will be able to give the appropriately large amount of time and concentration for DE shaving in those early and rushed morning hours.
This was all going through my head before I shaved this morning. And then it happened. I accidentily, for the first time in my hundreds of shaves, cut my upper lip. And boy did the blood flow. And although that one moment's carelessness was strictly my fault, that's when my frustration with shaving in general peaked. And I'm kind of stuck in the middle of two challengers for the title of what deserves to cut my stubborn whiskers: quick yet crappy and expensive shaves (cartridge) versus inexpensive and potentially less crappy yet extremely long, difficult and unproven shaves (DE). Which ever path I choose, the common enemy is my rough and dark facial hair. And the hair always seems to win.
At this point I'm trying to find a list of barbershops that do shaves just to see if being completely clean shaven is even possible for my type of facial hair and skin combo. I just wanted to know if any of you have ever had the same level of frustration or have any advice for the thick Homer-Simpson-bearded folk like myself past general "keep on trucking with that hd!!!" one-liners. Those with facial hair as thin as paper and as soft as a feather need not apply (kidding). And thank you very kindly for anyone who takes the time to read this.