06-29-2014, 05:44 PM
#1
  • Steelman
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Hello...new to the forum. I am looking to enter the world of wet shaving. I have been researching for months...but it's a hard thing to learn wet shaving from the internet. Kinda like trying to learn how to hit a fastball from reading a book...

anyway...on an impulse buy I thought I'd jump into wet shaving with a Merkur Vison adjustable razor. Needless to say I was chopped up a bit and it scared me off wet shaving for awhile.

But I'm determined...so my question is should I start with a more appropriate beginner shaver (Like the Merkur 34c or an EJ) or should I consider the Cobra Classic? I've read many great reviews on the Cobra and I'm thinking to myself "should I bother with DE or should I just go Cobra?"

Any advice would help. Thanks in advance....

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 06-29-2014, 05:45 PM
#2
  • Agravic
  • Super Moderator
  • Pennsylvania, USA
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Welcome to The Shave Nook.

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 06-29-2014, 06:38 PM
#3
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Firstly, welcome to The Shave Nook! Smile

Secondly, if you set the Vision on its lowest setting and practice with very gentle pressure, that might eliminate the need for a new razor. If you are using a good soap, brush and your lather is fine, then patience and practice might be what you need. However, if you find the Vision too aggressive even at the lowest setting, then you may want to consider a less aggressive.
Best of luck.

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 06-29-2014, 08:09 PM
#4
  • freddy
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Welcome to The Shave Nook. I agree with Celestino's assessment. First, see if you can work with what you have. If not then take a look at an overall less aggressive razor. There are quite a few out there. Also, what blade are you using? That could make a difference, as well. When it comes to blades, your best bet is to get a sampler pack from one of our online vendors and just see what works best for you. Welcome to the adventure. Smile

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 06-29-2014, 10:53 PM
#5
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+1 to what Celestio and Freddy said.

You don't mention what blade you used when trying your Vision - if it was the Merkur blade they tend to ship with their razors I'm not surprised she was a bit nippy, seeing as how Merkur blades have a reputation for being less than stellar. I suggest either getting a sample pack and try a few different blades as Freddy suggests, or get a couple of sleeves of a "known brand" - Astra Green would be my suggestion, but peoples mileage varies - and perfect your technique before trying many different blades.

Either way, welcome aboard and enjoy the ride Biggrin

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 06-30-2014, 02:55 AM
#6
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I'm going to disagree and suggest you make your own sampler pack, many of the sampler packs I see offerred for sale are filled with less than stellar blades. Also, blades are probably not your major issue (although the merkurs are horrible imho), suggest you watch a bunch of youtube videos on wet shaving, and focus on your angle, less pressure.

I would pick a few popular blades and buy a 5 or 10 pack of each - Gillette Silver Blues, Personna Reds, Astras get mentioned quite a bit around here. Bullgoose Shaving sells quite a variety, and has cheap shipping.

Best of luck!

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 06-30-2014, 04:29 AM
#7
  • Steelman
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Thank you all for the advice. Yes...I first tried the Merkur blades that came with the razor. Then I tried Wilkinson razors because I read that they were a mild razor.

I will persist with the Vision and get a sample pack of blades from Phil. I have purchased from Phil in the past and I can say he provides superb customer service.

I tried using the vision on the lowest setting....it didn't bite me nearly as bad but I found that I was just removing lather...that I really didn't feel the blade much...so I know I have to work on my angle. Wish I had a barber nearby who can school me a bit. All we have here is salons!!

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 06-30-2014, 01:05 PM
#8
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First off, let me add my welcome. I generally agree with what the others have suggested and will add another thought about the soap or cream you're using. Take a look around the Nook and try some of the more highly recommended ones, if you aren't already. I've found a lot of variation there as well. With a little persistence, I'm sure you'll find the combination that makes for a terrific shave. Relax and enjoy!

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 06-30-2014, 01:28 PM
#9
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When you write Wilkinson razors, do you mean blades? Not trying to be picky, but they are 2 different items. Relax, we all make mistakes.

Blade shaving is 100% dependent on technique. This includes lather, use of the razor (angle and NO PRESSURE), the soap, all sorts of variables. Cartridge shaving replaces the individual knowing technique with the apparatus doing it all for you.

If you want to learn, reduce the number of variables. OK, you've been given good advice so far. Get decent blades, keep the setting of your Vision at 1 and leave it there. Select one soap, one of everything, including blades at this point, and just stay with them until you start to get the hang of what you're doing. DO NOT jump around trying different "formulas". When you begin to actually learn that no pressure means just that and your shaves improve then you can consider changing one item at a time. But right now you have no idea what is good, what works and what doesn't. OK blades... get a mess of different ones. BUT select just one type to use for the near future and stay with that blade type. In a bit you can try others.

The hardest thing for a cartridge shaver to understand, is that when we write no pressure on the razor that's EXACTLY what we mean. Cartridges require pressure to work and blades require NO PRESSURE. I think I've written that 4 times now. It's that important. If you see your skin deforming inward during the shave it's too much pressure. When you think you are using no pressure halve it. Then halve it again.

Too, practice lather making. It's a critical skill. You want lather with bubbles so fine they are iridescent. It should have "body" to it (like yogurt), and not be dry. While practicing making lather take the lather too far by adding too much water. Deliberately break the lather down so that you can see what it looks like with too much water added. It will get large bubbles, then just break down completely. But you need to experience that. Never use lather like that. If lather is to dry you'll know by painting it on your skin and it will disappear in minutes. You don't want that either.

To practice making lather use your cupped hand. You'll waste a small amount of soap, but in the overall picture you aren't wasting it at all. You're saving your face. Test the lather on your arm. If it lasts for 5-8 minutes it's good stuff. Normally I say it should last for a pass, but you have no idea how long that is and as a noob your pass will be longer anyway.

Look around and ask questions. We're here and we want you to succeed at this. You can't ask too many questions. We all did when we began.

Just don't go nuts buying stuff and changing things up just yet. Instead go slow and you'll actually wind up learning faster. It's scientific method I'm suggesting. It works.

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 06-30-2014, 07:05 PM
#10
  • Steelman
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(06-30-2014, 01:28 PM)ShadowsDad Wrote: When you write Wilkinson razors, do you mean blades? Not trying to be picky, but they are 2 different items. Relax, we all make mistakes.

Blade shaving is 100% dependent on technique. This includes lather, use of the razor (angle and NO PRESSURE), the soap, all sorts of variables. Cartridge shaving replaces the individual knowing technique with the apparatus doing it all for you.

If you want to learn, reduce the number of variables. OK, you've been given good advice so far. Get decent blades, keep the setting of your Vision at 1 and leave it there. Select one soap, one of everything, including blades at this point, and just stay with them until you start to get the hang of what you're doing. DO NOT jump around trying different "formulas". When you begin to actually learn that no pressure means just that and your shaves improve then you can consider changing one item at a time. But right now you have no idea what is good, what works and what doesn't. OK blades... get a mess of different ones. BUT select just one type to use for the near future and stay with that blade type. In a bit you can try others.

The hardest thing for a cartridge shaver to understand, is that when we write no pressure on the razor that's EXACTLY what we mean. Cartridges require pressure to work and blades require NO PRESSURE. I think I've written that 4 times now. It's that important. If you see your skin deforming inward during the shave it's too much pressure. When you think you are using no pressure halve it. Then halve it again.

Too, practice lather making. It's a critical skill. You want lather with bubbles so fine they are iridescent. It should have "body" to it (like yogurt), and not be dry. While practicing making lather take the lather too far by adding too much water. Deliberately break the lather down so that you can see what it looks like with too much water added. It will get large bubbles, then just break down completely. But you need to experience that. Never use lather like that. If lather is to dry you'll know by painting it on your skin and it will disappear in minutes. You don't want that either.

To practice making lather use your cupped hand. You'll waste a small amount of soap, but in the overall picture you aren't wasting it at all. You're saving your face. Test the lather on your arm. If it lasts for 5-8 minutes it's good stuff. Normally I say it should last for a pass, but you have no idea how long that is and as a noob your pass will be longer anyway.

Look around and ask questions. We're here and we want you to succeed at this. You can't ask too many questions. We all did when we began.

Just don't go nuts buying stuff and changing things up just yet. Instead go slow and you'll actually wind up learning faster. It's scientific method I'm suggesting. It works.

Thank you very much for this well thought out reply. It's obvious you put a lot of thought into it and I thank you.

I meant Wilkinson blades in my fusion razor. The fusion razor is the only DE razor I have tried.

I have been using Proraso after shave balm as my pre-shave cream/balm for my cartridge razors and that has been working well for years. When I first started my DE trials, I thought it alone would do. Needless to say, it was insufficient. So I watched a bunch of geofatboy videos and I think I have the lather part down...except...is it possible to have too much lather? I've tried a few shave creams but I have stayed with Cyril Salter mint shave cream. It lathers so well with my badger brush that I think I may be over-lathering. Just a very small amount on the tips of my brush...and I can face lather a thick lather with the consistency of chocolate mousse. It will stay on my face easily for 15 minutes without dissipating. I have tried thinning it out a bit because I think it might be too thick..actually clogging the razor. Is this possible? I see that geofatboy uses soaps and I am thinking of switching to a soap because I think the Salter cream is too thick...but it sure does feel decadent. Also..I don't use pre-shave oils or cream...just the shave cream and aftershave. So far, I haven't varied those either (Salter shave cream and Proraso aftershave balm).

I have successfully made the transition from ballpens to fountain pens...which also requires a much lighter touch/less pressure...so I will keep trying!

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 06-30-2014, 08:47 PM
#11
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It sounds like precisely the sort of lather most folks aspire to. Do a search for "ultralather" on this forum. It sounds like what you're making.

Lots of folks don't use PSO. I don't think it does much. I count on my time spent face lathering to be my preshave.

It sounds like you just need to spend more time at it in order to get it right.

I'm not familiar with the products you mention, other than from seeing them mentioned here. It they were terrible someone would have mentioned it by now.

If you really think it's the razor, there are very mild beginner razors available. I only know vintage razors, so I can't help you there. The Cobra is a gorgeous razor, and quite expensive. I've used one, but I don't know if it would be a good razor for a noob.

PM me your address and I'll send you some top quality blades to get you going, maybe a few other items as well.

The only other suggestions I can make is to make only north/south strokes for now. Once you can do that without seeing blood add some e/w and w/e passes. When successful at that throw in the s/n pass. Too, as your shaving feel the stubble so that you know what WTG (with the grain) and ATG (against the grain) is on your face. It will change over the face so the only way to know which is which is to feel the stubble.

OK, so if you're only doing n/s passes your shave will suffer for a few days, but you have to walk before you can run. You'll get there. Most of us had no one to teach us other than these pages.

We're all here to help.

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 07-03-2014, 04:45 AM
#12
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
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Allow me to suggest to the OP something very different from the suggestions that others have suggested.

Minimize variables. ShadowsDad suggested this too, but then moved directly into your choice of hardware. I suggest minimizing more variables.

It appears that you are trying to change your face preparation at the same time that you are changing the hardware. Certainly, after changing both, your results will be different, but you will not know why, and it may be difficult to track down what parts of the changes worked, and to pinpoint places where you could make further changes to improve your experience.

You are familiar, presumably, with how to shave with your cartridge razor. You want an improved shave, but maybe the razor is at fault or maybe it is not; maybe the problem is your preparation of your face for the shave. The razor that you purchased, a Merkur Vision, is adjustable; the adjustable part of that razor introduces another set of variables. And you will find that, for your face, some brands of blades work better with the vision than others, and -- compounding -- different blades may work better for you than others at different adjustment settings.

So here is what I suggest. Put the Vision in the cabinet for a few months while you return to your cartridge razor and work on your face prep technique.

This forum has more discussion of brushes, soaps, and creams than it does of razors. That makes sense, because it is ever so much easier (though often more expensive) to switch brushes than it is to switch razors, and switching soaps or creams is really easy. It is like the difference between changing the brand of windshield wiper fluid in your car versus swapping out all four tires for a different type.

Personal experience: I found a much greater difference in my own shaves over the years as I improved preparation (while using cartridges) than the (really very slight) difference according to whether I was shaving with a Schick Hydro cartridge razor or with a Standard Razors razor with a fresh Gillette Silver Blue blade.

So, with your Vision sitting in the shelf, select yourself a good brush (maybe get one of the last L'Occitaine Plisson synthetic brushes before they disappear from the shelves) and a selection of inexpensive but well-recommended creams and soaps (maybe Kiss My Face Lavender & Shea Moisturizing Shave Cream and Provence Santé Green Tea Shaving Soap) and experiment with those for a few months to see how to make them work best with the devil you know, your cartridge razor. Then, and only then, pull the devil you don't know, your Merkur Vision, out of the cabinet and you will be able to work with the new variable of blade adjustment. Then start to experiment with different brands of blades.

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 07-03-2014, 05:12 AM
#13
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Thanks, Mel...independently, that's the approach I came to. I haven't even invested in the DE hardware as yet (though I'm leaning toward the EJ DE89).

The prep has made a noticeable and enjoyable difference.

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 07-03-2014, 10:09 AM
#14
  • Steelman
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excellent advice. I have been doing this for several months…I mean really focusing on my routine…and I have been using the same prep for 3 months.

I now use a Merkur silver tip badger brush (the one that came with the Merkur Vision razor set); Cyril Salter mint shave cream and Proraso aftershave balm. No pre-shave oils, etc. With the brush & Salter cream, I can face lather a lather the consistency of chocolate mousse in about 60 seconds. The kind of lather that stays on my face for 15 minutes without dripping. I use a Gillette Sensor blade (original black 2 blade cartridge) with original Sensor razor and Proraso white aftershave balm and I get a great shave.

So I now keep my prep the same…just added the Merkur Vision razor with Wilkinson sword blade…but having problems. I am thinking of eliminating the Vision BECAUSE it has too many variables (being an adjustable) and adding a tried & true beginner DE razor, such as the Merkur 34HD or Muhle 89.

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