05-07-2013, 10:12 AM
#1
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Hi everyone-

I am new to this forum and new to shaving with a safety razor. My wife bought me all the gear for my birthday, and I just started using it last week. I have the Merkur 180, a badger hair brush, and the Van Der Hagen luxury shave soap.

My first shave was not a success. I had trouble with the lather, and nicked myself in several places. However, after just a week of using the stuff, I am now getting great lathers and I am no longer cutting myself. I love using this stuff and am thrilled to get rid of those ridiculously expensive cartridges.

I do, however, have a couple of questions for you all:

(1) I have read a bunch of information on this site and others, watched a ton of videos, etc., all to learn as much as possible about the art of using a safety razor. But, there appears to be some conflicting information regarding the closeness of the shave, so I wanted to ask about that. On the one hand, many people say that they get an extremely close shave with a safety razor, and claim that it is much closer of a shave than using the cartridge razors. Yet, at the same time, I have repeatedly heard the mantra "it's not about beard removal, it's about beard reduction." I don't get how those two are consistent. If it's not about beard removal and only about reduction, how are people getting a super close shave? For me, I think the shave is just a tiny bit closer than I used to get with a cartridge razor. I certainly would not describe my resulting shave as "baby skin soft" or anything like that.

(2) As for the blades, my wife got me a 100 pack of the Astra Superior Premium Platinum DE razor blades. They seem to work great, and I have no complaints. But, I have seen a lot of people talk about the advantages of getting a sampler pack of a bunch of different brands of blades. A 100 pack of blades would likely last me at least 18 months, so buying more blades seems unnecessary. I am wondering if you all think that there is still value to buying a sampler pack, or if the Astra should be good enough and I should just stick with those?

(3) As for the shave soap, my wife got me the Van Der Hagen luxury unscented shave soap. I really like it. But, the reason that she picked that particular brand was that it scored very well on the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database which rates products based upon the inclusion of harmful chemicals. The VDH soap scored very well, and many of the other brands aren't even listed. I was wondering if anyone knows of any other brands of shave soap that have really clean and natural ingredients and don't include any harmful chemicals or fragrances. I'd like to try out several brands in order to compare the lathers, but I'm just not sure how to find the really clean and safe ones.

Anyway, those are all my questions .... at least for now.

Thanks in advance for any help or advice.

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 05-07-2013, 10:23 AM
#2
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
User Info
Beard removal usually refers to one, maybe two heavy passes to remove the beard. Beard reduction usually refers to multiple light passed to slowly reduce the beard down to the smoothness level one wants. In the wet shaving world the key phrase is no pressure, let the razor do the work. With the multi-blade razors the razor cannot do its job without some pressure.

Don't know exactly what you are looking for in a soap/cream but two that come to mind that I use are Mitchell's Wool Fat and Speick Cream.

It never hurts to get a sample pack of blades. If you can find something better than you have, you can always sell blades on the B/S/T.

My DE blades of choice right now are the Polsilver Iridium and the Gillette 7 O'Clock Blues.

Welcome to The Shave Nook. When you have time please introduce yourself in the Introduction Section.

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 05-07-2013, 11:24 AM
#3
  • bjorney
  • Senior Member
  • Los Angeles
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When people talk about "beard reduction" as opposed to "beard removal" they mean "Don't try to take it all in a single pass".
The goal is ultimately removal, but several less violent passes do the job in stages.

When I used to shave with cartridges I got good shaves, but I usually took the weekends off to rest my face from the wear and tear. Now I can get closer shaves every day with no irritation.
Like many Nook members, I look forward to my shave every day!

The blades you have are well liked by lots of shavers. The idea of getting a sampler is to see if there are other blades you might like even better! That said, I think it's a good idea to stick with one blade while you are working on your technique. Minimize the number of variables so you see the effect of each part of the chain (razor, lather, blade, brush, prep, post-shave)

As for the soaps... As long as they don't irritate my skin and smell OK, I use them. The ingredient lists are your guide.
I'm a cheapskate, so I look for inexpensive products like VDH, Williams, Kiss My Face, Godrej etc. As you move up the price scale there are lots of products that people like. You could also check out some of the artisan brands like Mike's Natural, Prairie Creations etc.

Good Luck in your search and Welcome to the wonderful world of wet-shaving!

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 05-07-2013, 11:24 AM
#4
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(05-07-2013, 10:23 AM)Johnny Wrote: Beard removal usually refers to one, maybe two heavy passes to remove the beard. Beard reduction usually refers to multiple light passed to slowly reduce the beard down to the smoothness level one wants. In the wet shaving world the key phrase is no pressure, let the razor do the work. With the multi-blade razors the razor cannot do its job without some pressure.

Yes, this is the key. The goal is to remove the beard and have smooth skin, but not to force it in a single pass.

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 05-07-2013, 12:24 PM
#5
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1) What they said; traditional wetshaving can (and will) give you a smoother, closer shave than a cartridge. It will not, however, do so in one pass. As an added YMMV; just how close of a shave is 'close enough' for you? I do a two pass and touch-ups and is more than happy with the result.

2) Blades is another one of those pesky YMMV things... my recommendation would be to hone your skills with the blades you got, and then get a sampler pack or ten. Better not involve too many variables from the get-go. Once you can get a consistently good (not necessary great) shave with the Astras you can start experimenting.

3) Lather... yepp, you guessed it: YMMV. Me, I swear to Mike's Natural Soaps - great quality, great lather, and a great guy. He sometimes drop by here, or just google his website. To the best of my knowledge there is nothing bad in his products.

As for the unspoken 4) after shave... again, YMMV. But I feel some post-shave treatment is needed, if nothing else than to round out the experience. I do a cold rinse to get the lather off, then a quick rub with a block of alum to make sure I seal any minor nicks (also a great feedback - if it stings like crazy, you cut yourself) before I wrap it up with a good aftershave. Krampert's Finest, for preference - but YMMV.

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 05-07-2013, 02:39 PM
#6
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Welcome to The Shave Nook!

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 05-07-2013, 02:46 PM
#7
  • tgutc
  • Senior Member
  • Michigan
User Info
Welcome to the Nook! I would not concentrate on getting a super close shave until you get more experience. Just concentrate on irritation free shaves keeping conscious to keep light pressure. A blade sample pack isn't a bad idea but Astra Platinum's are great blades especially to start with.

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 05-07-2013, 04:31 PM
#8
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(05-07-2013, 10:12 AM)GadgetGuru72 Wrote: Hi everyone-

I am new to this forum and new to shaving with a safety razor. My wife bought me all the gear for my birthday, and I just started using it last week. I have the Merkur 180, a badger hair brush, and the Van Der Hagen luxury shave soap.

My first shave was not a success. I had trouble with the lather, and nicked myself in several places. However, after just a week of using the stuff, I am now getting great lathers and I am no longer cutting myself. I love using this stuff and am thrilled to get rid of those ridiculously expensive cartridges.

I do, however, have a couple of questions for you all:

(1) I have read a bunch of information on this site and others, watched a ton of videos, etc., all to learn as much as possible about the art of using a safety razor. But, there appears to be some conflicting information regarding the closeness of the shave, so I wanted to ask about that. On the one hand, many people say that they get an extremely close shave with a safety razor, and claim that it is much closer of a shave than using the cartridge razors. Yet, at the same time, I have repeatedly heard the mantra "it's not about beard removal, it's about beard reduction." I don't get how those two are consistent. If it's not about beard removal and only about reduction, how are people getting a super close shave? For me, I think the shave is just a tiny bit closer than I used to get with a cartridge razor. I certainly would not describe my resulting shave as "baby skin soft" or anything like that.

(2) As for the blades, my wife got me a 100 pack of the Astra Superior Premium Platinum DE razor blades. They seem to work great, and I have no complaints. But, I have seen a lot of people talk about the advantages of getting a sampler pack of a bunch of different brands of blades. A 100 pack of blades would likely last me at least 18 months, so buying more blades seems unnecessary. I am wondering if you all think that there is still value to buying a sampler pack, or if the Astra should be good enough and I should just stick with those?

(3) As for the shave soap, my wife got me the Van Der Hagen luxury unscented shave soap. I really like it. But, the reason that she picked that particular brand was that it scored very well on the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database which rates products based upon the inclusion of harmful chemicals. The VDH soap scored very well, and many of the other brands aren't even listed. I was wondering if anyone knows of any other brands of shave soap that have really clean and natural ingredients and don't include any harmful chemicals or fragrances. I'd like to try out several brands in order to compare the lathers, but I'm just not sure how to find the really clean and safe ones.

Anyway, those are all my questions .... at least for now.

Thanks in advance for any help or advice.

Hi GadgetGuru,

Welcome to The Shave Nook! Smile Sounds like you've gotten off to a good start.

I agree with the veteran Nookers replies above me. My thoughts:

1. Re: "Beard Reduction" vs. "Removal": Yah, the idea is "reducing" your beard in multiple passes. Many newbies get started in traditional wet shaving and think they need to remove their *entire beard* and get a Baby Butt Smooth shave in *1* pass! Biggrin But that just leads people to use too much pressure, and you end up with cuts, nicks, etc.

2. Re: Blades - As others have said, Sampler Packs just allow you an inexpensive way to find *your* ideal combination. Wink Someone once said, "One man's Excalibur is another man's Rusty Dagger." Tongue

What Razor, Blade Combination you have, and what works most effective for the angle and curvature of your individual face, and how tough your beard hair is, how sensitive your skin is... that all factors in to this equation.

The good news is, if you're happy with your 100 Pack of Blades right now, stick with it! At least you didn't get stuck with a style of blade that didn't agree with you and your face.

When you feel comfortable with your technique, and are really cognizant not to apply pressure and your blade angle is good, etc., and you're curious, *then* feel free to change things up slightly and order a Sampler Pack and experiment with some other blades.

3. Re: All-Natural Soaps. Funny you should ask, I'm a huge proponent and fan of products that stay away from carcinogens, that are toxic, etc. I've been doing research and thanks to the fine Shave Nook veterans, I've found quite a few Shave Soaps that are worth looking into (that rate well on the EWG, so it should make your wife happy as well Wink) -

* Martin de Candre - They have 3 scents, all using essential oils: Unscented, Original (Lavender), Fougere. Made in France. High initial cost, but most people report that it lathers like crazy with very little product, so i.e., it's going to last you a loooong time. So it's really not "expensive" given how long it'll last you.

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product.php?prod_id=501166


* Mystic Water Shaving Soap - They have many different scents, and FYI, I haven't tried them yet (they are on my wish list), but many people like them.

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product.php?prod_id=501311


* Mike's Natural Soaps - Another handcrafted, small, artisan company, made in America. Highly beloved by many.

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product.php?prod_id=501290


* Queen Charlotte Soaps - Lots of scents, another all-natural company; highly rated by many veteran shavers.

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product.php?prod_id=501318


For After Shaves, consider Krampert's Finest Bay Rum Acadian Spice:

http://shavenook.com/thread-satisfying-d...aftershave

Enjoy! Smile

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 05-07-2013, 04:57 PM
#9
  • Grumpy
  • Senior Member
  • DisneyLand
User Info
YMMV for just about any thing you may experience in shaving as well as in most things.

I think that the above posts have said just about it all.

1) Beard Removal - Cut it down. With a Mach3, I do not have to be concerned with technique. I just slid it all over my face and cut the stuff down.

Beard Reduction - Reduce the Beard/Whiskers/Stubble by passing the razor over your face. Everyone has a different number ... mine is FOUR PASSES. WTG, XTG, Reverse-XTG and ATG. Then, Touch Ups.

With a DE or an SE, I have to focus on technique, no pressure, right angle, WTG, etc.

So know the Grain of your Whiskers and Map Your Face.


2) I got a 100 pack of the Astra Superior Premium Platinum DE razor blades. And they work fine.

I also have over 100 sample blades that I have had for several months. At the moment, I am only using the Astras and one day I will check out the sample blades.

3) Soaps/Creams - If you want Safe & Clean Shaving Soaps then, I think the easiest way is to go to a Natural Food Store. Where I live there is a Mother's and they have several different Shaving Soaps. Kiss My Face is one of them and it is not a bad shaving cream. Now some of them may be brushless which for me is not a good thing. But, they do have some other products that you might want to give a try.

Otherwise, look in the forums for Soap Reviews.

As for me, I could Shave with Home Made Lye Soap or LAVA Soap and it would not bother my sensitive skin.

So Have Fun Shaving

See What Happens when I am typing ... somebody gets in front of me.

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 05-07-2013, 05:09 PM
#10
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(05-07-2013, 04:31 PM)shave_knight Wrote: 3. Re: All-Natural Soaps. Funny you should ask, I'm a huge proponent and fan of products that stay away from carcinogens, that are toxic, etc. I've been doing research and thanks to the fine Shave Nook veterans, I've found quite a few Shave Soaps that are worth looking into (that rate well on the EWG, so it should make your wife happy as well Wink) -

* Martin de Candre - They have 3 scents, all using essential oils: Unscented, Original (Lavender), Fougiere. Made in France. High initial cost, but most people report that it lathers like crazy with very little product, so i.e., it's going to last you a loooong time. So it's really not "expensive" given how long it'll last you.

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product.php?prod_id=501166


* Mystic Water Shaving Soap - They have many different scents, and FYI, I haven't tried them yet (they are on my wish list), but many people like them.

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product.php?prod_id=501311


* Mike's Natural Soaps - Another handcrafted, small, artisan company, made in America. Highly beloved by many.

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product.php?prod_id=501290


* Queen Charlotte Soaps - Lots of scents, another all-natural company; highly rated by many veteran shavers.

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product.php?prod_id=501318


For After Shaves, consider Krampert's Finest Bay Rum Acadian Spice:

http://shavenook.com/thread-satisfying-d...aftershave

Enjoy! Smile

Wow, thanks!! Awesome list.

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 05-07-2013, 05:16 PM
#11
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What they said...

+1 on Kiss My Face Key Lime Shaving Cream.

Also,Pacific Shaving Cream.

Closeness will come with practice by way of improvement in your shave technique.

Asking questions and reading will get you very very far.

Be sure to revisit blades, soaps, brushes, techniques, razors as you get more experience. There are many items that I thought didn't work for me... but it was my fault, not the product.

Now I can lather anything but Herban Cowboy... (and don't know anyone who can.) I can get an excellent to superb shave with any combo. An now its fun playing around.

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 05-07-2013, 06:43 PM
#12
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Welcome!

I'll rant on about things you didn't ask. It's that time of night. Biggrin

You've gotten really good advice, but I have to add my $.02 about a blade sampler.

I'm a huge proponent of a sampler. Not for you to use now. This isn't a slur on you, but you're new to blade shaving and you wouldn't recognize a great blade from a terrible blade. But buy a big blade sampler, not tiny one. You want a good cross section of blades that are made, a small sampler won't give you that. Once you get your technique honed (lather, pressure (none), angle) then is the time for the blade sampler. Until you get technique nailed you simply can't gauge anything. But in a month you will be able to. You won't be trying to use up the blades in the sampler. They will be your sampler for a very long time to come. Get a new razor? The blades in the sampler will help you hone in what sort of blade is best in it. After a time you'll know what blades you'll want to stock up on, and which blades you never want in your shave den. Check the blades forum to see what I mean by that. Blades are the biggest area, by far, where YMMV (your mileage may vary).

OK, want to become a player in the minors within a month? Here's how you do it. Stay with the same everything; changing nothing for a time. You'll know when you're ready to move on. Hone technique and try different techniques using the very same products day after day. After you have that one shave nailed down using those products change one item and one item only. Since you have your baseline shave nailed down, and can produce a great shave with that baseline shave, by changing one item you know if it made the shave better or worse. It's scientific method brought to shaving. The first item you'll probably change up? In all likelihood the blade.

If you can maintain this scientific method of shaving, within 2-3 months you'll be able to change whatever you want and as many variables in the shave as you want and know precisely what change produced what result. I can almost guarantee it. After that you take off like a rocket if you want to. All because you built a base to work from. The alternative is chaotically trying things and I absolutely guarantee that that will hold you back and be the slowest way to learn if you ever do.

My point is go slow to start and it's the fastest way to being a really great shaver with resulting fantastic shaves day after day. That's what you're after, consistently great shaves. BTW, it doesn't take a lot of gear to achieve that, but we're going to try our darndest to get you hooked on our various ADs (acquisition disorder) which just means buying a lot of "stuff". But when you realize just how enjoyable a great daily shave is, well, it takes gear to achieve shave nirvana for many of us. We try this and that and what doesn't work for me, can be found on the b/s/t forum. YMMV, so what doesn't work for one gent might work for another. Generally the price is right, the gear is good and condition is stated. I'm trying to say you can get lots of gear to try on the b/s/t. If you're squeemish about used shave gear, well sanitizing gear is a subject for a different thread.

When you get to the right point in your shave evolution, don't forget that there are single edge razors (SE). Lots of us think they give a superior shave. Then too there are straight razors, but I'm not the person to discuss them. BTW, that was an example of me trying to hook you on RAD (razor acquisition disorder). We're shameless. Biggrin But we do mean well.

If you have questions just ask. You're new, at this point there is no such thing as a stupid question. In a year, maybe, but now, definitely not.

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 05-08-2013, 07:04 AM
#13
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
User Info
(05-07-2013, 06:43 PM)ShadowsDad Wrote: You've gotten really good advice, but I have to add my $.02 about a blade sampler...

Hi Brian

I'm beginning to come round to your way of thinking regarding a Blade Sampler, the more I think about it, the more it makes more sense...

Take care, Mike

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 05-08-2013, 08:19 AM
#14
  • bjorney
  • Senior Member
  • Los Angeles
User Info
(05-07-2013, 06:43 PM)ShadowsDad Wrote: OK, want to become a player in the minors within a month? Here's how you do it. Stay with the same everything; changing nothing for a time. You'll know when you're ready to move on. Hone technique and try different techniques using the very same products day after day. After you have that one shave nailed down using those products change one item and one item only. Since you have your baseline shave nailed down, and can produce a great shave with that baseline shave, by changing one item you know if it made the shave better or worse. It's scientific method brought to shaving.
Amen Brian!
That's a great recommendation.

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 05-08-2013, 02:45 PM
#15
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Thanks again to everyone! These are all great tips. It's only been a week since I started using a DE razor, and I already feel like my technique has improved leaps and bounds. And, I'm actually quite enjoying the experience.

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 05-08-2013, 09:08 PM
#16
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(05-08-2013, 02:45 PM)GadgetGuru72 Wrote: Thanks again to everyone! These are all great tips. It's only been a week since I started using a DE razor, and I already feel like my technique has improved leaps and bounds. And, I'm actually quite enjoying the experience.

No problem GadgetGuru72!

I'm glad to hear you're really getting into it.

Please feel free to share your thoughts as you try out various shaving products (like if you try any of those Shaving Soaps or AS that were recommended here). Wink

Enjoy!

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 05-09-2013, 01:00 PM
#17
  • freddy
  • Senior Member
  • San Diego, California, U.S.A.
User Info
(05-08-2013, 02:45 PM)GadgetGuru72 Wrote: Thanks again to everyone! These are all great tips. It's only been a week since I started using a DE razor, and I already feel like my technique has improved leaps and bounds. And, I'm actually quite enjoying the experience.

Congratulations GadgetGuru72. Once you find what works for you you'll wonder how modern multi-blade Gillette/Schick "wonder razors" and canned goo ever made it into your shave routine. I know I'm still trying to figure that out. Wink

By the way, the advice you have been given here is excellent so enjoy the ride.

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 05-09-2013, 01:19 PM
#18
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(05-09-2013, 01:00 PM)freddy Wrote: Congratulations GadgetGuru72. Once you find what works for you you'll wonder how modern multi-blade Gillette/Schick "wonder razors" and canned goo ever made it into your shave routine. I know I'm still trying to figure that out. Wink

By the way, the advice you have been given here is excellent so enjoy the ride.

Thanks. Although I am guilty of using the Gillette/Schick "wonder razors" for far, far too long, in my defense it has been 15+ years since I've used "canned goo." Wink

I had been largely using the Art of Shaving, Jack Black, eShave style creams in a jar. I am now, however, loving the use of a brush and shave soap. It creates a much more enjoyable experience.

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 05-16-2013, 12:19 AM
#19
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1) I get a really close shave with the DE but sometimes I have to remember to not be as picky as I was with the Mach 3, I would call it a better shave as a rule however.

2) That's a great blade, you're all set, use them and don't look back! Is there a better blade for you? There very well may be but I would still use those up and go from there, no reason to be confusing yourself switching things around.

3) Sterling Soap, Sterling Soap, Sterling Soap!!! Great guy to do business with so that's my vote because you're getting a great shave soap from a business that deserves the support!

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