My First DE Shave: Mostly Good News
Well, the day arrived. After reading the B&B site and other sites dedicated to wet shaving, I decided to take the leap. I have always been a multi-blade shaver, having progressed from a Trac II in the 1970s up to a Fusion today, so using a blade, brush, and shaving cream / soap was not a novelty (I did, however, discover how much more effective a good brush and the right cream / soap can be thanks to the B&B page). The idea of a DE shaver was a bit scary, but the personal stories I read here convinced me I had to try.
I ordered a Merkur HD as it appears to be widely recommended, especially for those new to wet shaving. The same day I noticed a Merkur Vision 2000 for sale by a member of B&B and I decided to buy that too: mostly because it looks so great! My plan was to use the HD and work my way up to the Vision, but the Vision arrived first and I couldn’t wait.
My typical routine is to shave before I shower. I don’t use any pre-shave material; simply wet my face with hot water for a minute or so before starting. I started off by making a bowl of lather (Taylor of Old Bond Street Pure Badger P2234 brush, Palmolive cream). I loaded the Vision with the Israeli blades from letterk’s 5-blade sample pack: this seemed to be a good compromise between the Merkur and Feather blades for starting. I dialed-in the Vision to “N” to play it safe to begin with.
The first few north-south strokes were an anticlimax as nothing happened. Well, almost nothing. Even as I tried various angles for the shaver, I found that this low setting was just not removing any hair. Of course, I was careful not to apply pressure as I read in so many places that this is a no-no: I wanted the (considerable) weight of the razor to do the work. I dialed the Vision up and tried again. Well, I repeated this process until I found myself all the way at “V”. Now things were happening.
I recall reading (or seeing a video) that claimed that shaving with a DE razor was all about beard reduction, not beard elimination. I understand that very well now. I have a pretty heavy beard and getting a close shave with a multi-blade razor has always required that my last pass is south-north (even east-west passes are not sufficient). After a north-south pass and east-west/west-east pass with the Vision I could still feel considerable stubble, so I decided to try south-north passes with this behemoth of a razor too. This did the trick and left me feeling far smoother. I am pleased to report I did not nick or cut myself once during the entire shave! (Maybe I was being too timid with my passes?)
By this time, my face was starting to burn a bit as I had taken many passes, including my “test” passes to adjust the blade. I decided to rinse off and grab a shower. After the shower I applied Sharps ASB which works very well for me. I did feel razor burn for the first couple of hours after the shave, but I blame all of my test strokes for that. It is now 2.5 hours since I shaved and the razor burn has passed. I do notice several spots where I did leave some stubble (e.g., chin, under nose), but this is something more noticeable by feel rather than appearance. I also think this is symptomatic of the DE learning curve.
So, here’s my recap of my first DE shave:
- Love the feel and heft of the Vision in my hand (it is as close to driving a Panzer tank as I will ever get)
- Love the audible feedback of using the Vision (I think my neighbors now know when I am shaving)
- Ultimately I achieved a very nice, close shave
- None, really.
- Am I doing something wrong with the Vision? Is it normal to dial it up to “V” on your first drive?
- Could I have a significantly different experience with a different blade (e.g., Feather)? I have read many people on B&B describe the differences between various blades, but can this alone explain the need to dial all the way up to “V”?
- The Palmolive lather is not the thickest of my shaving creams: should I be trying a thicker lather with this razor / blade combination?
- Should I be changing other elements of my routine to help make this transition to DE shaving more effective (e.g., a pre-shave, shave after the shower)?
I look forward to climbing up this learning curve and doing this all over again tomorrow! Thanks for reading this note and sharing any thoughts you might have.