09-19-2015, 10:20 AM
#1
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Hello Nook,
52 years old and today I attempted my 1st ever DE wet shave. Here are some observations I can now reflect upon.
Tools used:
  • Merkur 34C Chrome Plated Safety Razor
  • Country Uncle Shaving Brush - Deluxe Pure Badger - Black
  • Omega Eucalyptus Shaving Soap in Bowl - 5.2 oz
  • Merkur Super Platnium  Stainless Razor Blades 
  • Thayers Alcohol-Free Cucumber Witch Hazel Toner


Once I got past the fear of shredding my face I found many many years of cartridge shaving has left habits that are hard to break. After loading a damp brush with soap I found it pretty easy to get a nice lather built on my face. Merkur 34c made nice audible sounds when I found it's sweet spot. Made passes WTG first but seemed to forget that the razor was double sided. lol. I also fought the habit of making multiple passes over unlathered skin. (biggest hurdle). Also kept forgetting the razors head doesn't pivot and kept losing my contact angle. After 1st pass WTG I had MANY missed areas. (Jawline was the worst). Relathered and tried ATG. Was a bit nervous but the 34c was forgiving. Relathered and did a ATG pass. Feeling face after this pass I still had a couple of areas I wasn't happy with so I squeezed remaining soap out of brush and hand applied to help detect any missed spots and went over them again. At this point I am amazed there is no blood but I am starting to feel slight "burn on my left lower neck and decide to call it off with the DE razor.  Warm water rinse then cold water rinse followed by a splash of Thayers Cucumber Witch hazel toner and done. I grabbed my old Gillette Atra tracII and did the area around my goatee. Pretty sure I will be able to use the merkur for this in the future but todat I didnt push my luck. Merkur blade seemed ok but don't have anything to compare to. My blade assortment   from Maggards consists of:

VOSKHOD
ASTRAP
SILVERBLUE-GILLETTE
PERSONNA-BLUE
POLSILVER
DERBY-EXTRA
Crystal-SS
Feather
Any advice on an order to try these would be appreciated. I do know the Feather's will be very sharp and will hold off on them for now.


Other observations:
The Omega soap dish is slippery and did end up in the sink water once....doh!
Although I have small hands the 34c's handle felt oddly short to me. My Cartridge shaver was much longer and is probably the reason.
I would prefer more aggresive knurling on the handle as I do aggresively shake the razor under water and it began to feel a bit slippery.
This shave took forever but it was fun. 

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 09-19-2015, 11:03 AM
#2
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Sounds like you did quite well!

Most do not like the Merkurs, bit dull. I would recommend the Silver Blues, Polsilvers, or the  Personnas. Pick one and stay with it for awhile. 

Most important is use less pressure than you would with the Trac IIs.

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 09-19-2015, 11:24 AM
#3
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Remembering to not use the pressure that I used with my cartridge razor was tough as well.
Does anyone here have insight into replacing the handle of a Merkur 34c with something maybe a touch longer, beefier, and with more aggressive knurling? 
Should I just keep it as is and maybe consider something different later on?

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 09-19-2015, 12:09 PM
#4
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Maybe describe the pre-shave?

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 09-19-2015, 01:02 PM
#5
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You'd have to buy a different razor if you'd like a longer handle as your razor is a two piece design.Look at the Merkur 38c, same razor just a longer handle.
I'd move onto a different blade. Polisilver or Gillette Silver Blue will likely give you a much nicer shave.
Looks like you are off to a good start!


Al

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 09-19-2015, 01:45 PM
#6
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I'd go with the Astra next, I use gillettes polsilvers and feathers as my blades though. Just saying while your learning Astra is the blade to use IMO sharp enough to get a good shave but forgiving enough to not make you bleed. The feathers polsilvers can and will draw blood if you aren't careful.

Crystals are another good choice as well. Me personally I'd throw the voskhod derby and merkur in the garbage. That's my face though YMMV.

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 09-19-2015, 02:50 PM
#7
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now that you've tried merkur blade, most any good blades will feel like they are godsend.
I'd try not so sharp blades first, then work your way up.

When I had DE89, derby wasn't horrible, but was pretty tuggy with heavy growth.
Astra was okay, not the best.  When I tried feather after having been exposed to duller blades, it felt like it shaved so efficiently.
But this came with a caveat.  My face / neck would feel warm/hot after shaving with this.  My wife had to tell me I need to stop shaving everyday with it.  

After that realization, I found other blades that are almost as sharp as feather, but not as harsh.
those are Gillette silver blue, personna lab blue, nacet, and rubie.

As with anything, blades are huge YMMV, but there are popular brands that most people tend to like.

I think you should try to perfect your skill with this razor and when you are ready to move on, upgrade to a nicer razor isntead of trying to change the handle now.
Nice upgrade/sidegrade would be standard razor.  It's a tad more aggressive, but very efficient.  Can be had for about $35-50 on BST.



Initially I started buying lots of different blades thinking they will make the biggest difference in shaves, but I think razors make bigger difference than blades do.
With my first razor, ej89, there were only a couple of blades I could use to get a decent shave, but with razors of higher quality, most any blades work great or at least satisfactorily. 
For example, my favorite razor to use these days are babysmooth and DLC weber.  I can load pretty much any blade, and I can get great shaves.  Sometimes, I just completely forget what blade I put in because the shaves I get from these are great no matter what blade I use, minus some exceptions like derby, merkur, dorco.



Take everyone's advice with a grain of salt.
Form your own opinion after trying new things.

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 09-19-2015, 03:01 PM
#8
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Congratulations! Sounds like you're on the right track.

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 09-19-2015, 03:31 PM
#9
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Fantastic that you lived to walk away from the first shave! What I'm about to write is not to pick on you, I only want you to do consistently better. Shaving should never result in tender or irritated skin. Your first shave was pretty darn good from reading about it. But I want you to learn to get truly great shaves. Pay attention and you'll be there with consistently great shaves in 2 months. One shave is great, but you'll backslide if history is any lesson. Persevere is all I can suggest. It's worth it.

Grasshopper, at this point you need to be asking questions and not say "I need this." . You have no idea what you need right now. If you did you wouldn't be the noob telling us about your first shave, but giving advice to others.  No doubt one day you'll be teaching others. (That sounds harsher than I mean it)

I have long been on record as stating that a bigger, longer, whatever, handle is counter productive to what you want with blade shaving. The entire idea is less leverage and such on the razor and blade. You want to use fingertips and nothing more. The razor should be held so loosely that the hold allows for skin contour, so what you're looking for will only hold back your desired results. But it shouldn't be held loosely enough to allow it to slip from your grip or to allow it to "chatter" over the skin. A large handle that you can really muckle onto is not what you really want. It's precisely the wrong thing to try to do. All that is required is a thumb and at most 2 fingers on the razor, anything more is only  for the brain's satisfaction. A Travel Tech handle is plenty of handle and that's a pretty small handle. But it's enough with proper technique.

Since you come to blade shaving from cartridges, and many do, heck I did, the problem will be far too much pressure placed on the razor head. Even when you think you're using no pressure it will still be too much. Been there, done that, so I know.

Observe your facial skin as the razor passes over it. If it deforms inward at all you're using too much pressure. It's OK if it deforms in the direction of travel as the whiskers resist being cut, but inward is a no-no. The razor and blade needs to caress the skin like a lover, at the very most. Trust me, when you can master that you can use any razor on the planet and you'll get the best shaves of your life. It's absolutely a critical skill. So is lather making.

The lather you make today is going to be a far cry from what you'll soon make. I write that not to pick on you, but everyone goes through the same progression. If all you have to gauge good lather by is canned goop you simply don't know good lather. It should be somewhat like yogurt and just as filled with moisture. Wipe lather on your arm, it should last for at least 5 minutes without evaporating away into nothingness. If it doesn't last 5 minutes you need more hydration. If you have problems with that there are few lather problems that can't be solved with more product and more water. In fact, you need to make lather and take it to the point of too much water so that you can recognize that condition as well. You want to stop hydrating your lather just before it starts to get frothy. You need to go to far with water addition to know what I mean.

Why do I write all of the above? You had tender skin after your shave, but frankly you had a great first shave; kudus to you! Typically razor burn is caused by too much pressure applied to the razor, or terrible lather. Looking even further into the cause it's from too many layers of skin being removed. That's done by either the blade (pressure) or not a protective enough lather; hence my post.

You'll get there. Just give it time and stay with everything as it was for the above shave. Change nothing at this time; NOTHING. At this point you can't evaluate anything as blade shaving is almost all technique. In time, and it won't be too long, you'll need a fresh blade. Use the exact same type. Change nothing. When you can produce a shave without irritation then change one item of the shave and only one. If you change too many things you'll never figure out what worked and what didn't. After achieving a great shave with that one change then change one other item and only one.

But for now work on lather. Yes, I know your lather was good. But I'm betting that it was merely good and not great. You want to produce great lather every time. It's OK to practice it without shaving. In fact if you want to progress faster than normal, practice lather making and be critical of the lather that you make. If you call good lather great lather it only hurts yourself. I can tell you that I had razor burn exactly once and I definitely know that it was because of terrible lather. I knew better and shaved with it anyway... big mistake!

OK, storytime.... I have a buddy who I bought a 34D for online (? it might have been a 34c) . I told him precisely what I told you above and stressed the no pressure many times over a few months. I'd check with him from time to time and he'd lie to me and tell me that it was going great; it wasn't. Then one Sunday morning he called me to tell me, "When you tell me no pressure you mean exactly that, don't you!?? In exasperation I decided to follow what you've been telling me and I got the best shave of my life!". Yes, no pressure means just that. He came to blade shaving from cartridges as well, as did I, and I know that it's the single most difficult thing to get through the cranium and transmitted to the fingertips. My buddy took months of lousy shaves to understand and in fact almost gave up. I don't want you to repeat that. It's not easy to reprogram what has been hard wired for many years, but to get the best out of a bladed razor it must be done. Be very critical, and I told you what to closely  look for. You can lie to yourself about it, but in the end it's your shaves and not ours.

Good luck with it and if you need help we're here. Please ask questions.

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 09-19-2015, 04:41 PM
#10
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I've not tried the Merkur blade that came with my razor, but I've not heard good things.  So as others have said, you might want to try a different blade.  There were some good blade suggestions above.  I think Astras and Personna blues are a good choice for a beginner.  I wouldn't go off and get a sampler yet, until you master your technique - less variables at this point are a good thing.

You get used to having a shorter handle.  When I got my first vintage Gillette (a flare tip Super Speed), I initially thought it was a travel razor.

Keep at it!

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 09-19-2015, 05:17 PM
#11
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(09-19-2015, 12:09 PM)jackgoldman123 Wrote: Maybe describe the pre-shave?

Pre shave was a hot shower followed by splashing warm to hot water on my face  then I began the lather process.

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 09-19-2015, 05:25 PM
#12
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Bayside, NY
User Info
+1 to pretty much everything Brian said. Definitely try a variety of new blades. Some you'll like, some you won't. Same thing with creams and soaps. Increase the time you spend working the lather into your beard. Prep is an important part of technique. Before long you'll get to know your beard and face and what works best for you. Enjoy the ride, and welcome to the forum  Smile

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 09-19-2015, 05:34 PM
#13
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(09-19-2015, 03:31 PM)ShadowsDad Wrote: Fantastic that you lived to walk away from the first shave! What I'm about to write is not to pick on you, I only want you to do consistently better. Shaving should never result in tender or irritated skin. Your first shave was pretty darn good from reading about it. But I want you to learn to get truly great shaves. Pay attention and you'll be there with consistently great shaves in 2 months. One shave is great, but you'll backslide if history is any lesson. Persevere is all I can suggest. It's worth it.

Grasshopper, at this point you need to be asking questions and not say "I need this." . You have no idea what you need right now. If you did you wouldn't be the noob telling us about your first shave, but giving advice to others.  No doubt one day you'll be teaching others. (That sounds harsher than I mean it)

I have long been on record as stating that a bigger, longer, whatever, handle is counter productive to what you want with blade shaving. The entire idea is less leverage and such on the razor and blade. You want to use fingertips and nothing more. The razor should be held so loosely that the hold allows for skin contour, so what you're looking for will only hold back your desired results. But it shouldn't be held loosely enough to allow it to slip from your grip or to allow it to "chatter" over the skin. A large handle that you can really muckle onto is not what you really want. It's precisely the wrong thing to try to do. All that is required is a thumb and at most 2 fingers on the razor, anything more is only  for the brain's satisfaction. A Travel Tech handle is plenty of handle and that's a pretty small handle. But it's enough with proper technique.

Since you come to blade shaving from cartridges, and many do, heck I did, the problem will be far too much pressure placed on the razor head. Even when you think you're using no pressure it will still be too much. Been there, done that, so I know.

Observe your facial skin as the razor passes over it. If it deforms inward at all you're using too much pressure. It's OK if it deforms in the direction of travel as the whiskers resist being cut, but inward is a no-no. The razor and blade needs to caress the skin like a lover, at the very most. Trust me, when you can master that you can use any razor on the planet and you'll get the best shaves of your life. It's absolutely a critical skill. So is lather making.

The lather you make today is going to be a far cry from what you'll soon make. I write that not to pick on you, but everyone goes through the same progression. If all you have to gauge good lather by is canned goop you simply don't know good lather. It should be somewhat like yogurt and just as filled with moisture. Wipe lather on your arm, it should last for at least 5 minutes without evaporating away into nothingness. If it doesn't last 5 minutes you need more hydration. If you have problems with that there are few lather problems that can't be solved with more product and more water. In fact, you need to make lather and take it to the point of too much water so that you can recognize that condition as well. You want to stop hydrating your lather just before it starts to get frothy. You need to go to far with water addition to know what I mean.

Why do I write all of the above? You had tender skin after your shave, but frankly you had a great first shave; kudus to you! Typically razor burn is caused by too much pressure applied to the razor, or terrible lather. Looking even further into the cause it's from too many layers of skin being removed. That's done by either the blade (pressure) or not a protective enough lather; hence my post.

You'll get there. Just give it time and stay with everything as it was for the above shave. Change nothing at this time; NOTHING. At this point you can't evaluate anything as blade shaving is almost all technique. In time, and it won't be too long, you'll need a fresh blade. Use the exact same type. Change nothing. When you can produce a shave without irritation then change one item of the shave and only one. If you change too many things you'll never figure out what worked and what didn't. After achieving a great shave with that one change then change one other item and only one.

But for now work on lather. Yes, I know your lather was good. But I'm betting that it was merely good and not great. You want to produce great lather every time. It's OK to practice it without shaving. In fact if you want to progress faster than normal, practice lather making and be critical of the lather that you make. If you call good lather great lather it only hurts yourself. I can tell you that I had razor burn exactly once and I definitely know that it was because of terrible lather. I knew better and shaved with it anyway... big mistake!

OK, storytime.... I have a buddy who I bought a 34D for online (? it might have been a 34c) . I told him precisely what I told you above and stressed the no pressure many times over a few months. I'd check with him from time to time and he'd lie to me and tell me that it was going great; it wasn't. Then one Sunday morning he called me to tell me, "When you tell me no pressure you mean exactly that, don't you!?? In exasperation I decided to follow what you've been telling me and I got the best shave of my life!". Yes, no pressure means just that. He came to blade shaving from cartridges as well, as did I, and I know that it's the single most difficult thing to get through the cranium and transmitted to the fingertips. My buddy took months of lousy shaves to understand and in fact almost gave up. I don't want you to repeat that. It's not easy to reprogram what has been hard wired for many years, but to get the best out of a bladed razor it must be done. Be very critical, and I told you what to closely  look for. You can lie to yourself about it, but in the end it's your shaves and not ours.

Good luck with it and if you need help we're here. Please ask questions.
Thankyou Sir for the insights and honest critisism's. Your help is appreciated and taken in good sportsmanship.

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 09-19-2015, 07:21 PM
#14
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Sometimes I can come across as being harsh, I'm glad that I didn't that time, or if I did that you at least understood that wasn't my intent.

The really neat thing is that you'll see your progress and know you're getting it right. Trust me, it does get better even when you think it can't anymore. Then one day you'll realize that every shave is a "best of" kind of shave. Too, by changing out just one item when you're comfortable with what you last changed out, you'll progress so much faster than someone who changes things out randomly and many things at one time. Yeah, I've seen that many times too. Someone running helter skelter thinking that they're progressing by making fast moves, and at the end they're hopelessly lost. So by moving slower you'll actually get where you want to be quickest. At that point you can change out everything for a shave if you want to and you'll know exactly what made it right and what didn't work. You'll know when the time for that happens too.

If you weren't getting good results I would have suggested a different blade or whatever based on your words, but you are getting a decent shave. It just needs to get better, so work on basic technique until it's 100%. Then and only then change one thing. Probably a different blade to see what that does for you. Just pick one, any one.  Get comfortable with that, assuming it didn't totally ruin your shave, some blades are NOT shave worthy IMO, then change out another item and see what happens. But keep everything else the same. When you find a blade that you really love use that exclusively for a time and change things individually around that. Each time giving it time for you to get good with it or totally trash it and go back to what worked. But always remember what worked last as a base to return to for stability and to change just one thing out of. Basically you're going to be using scientific method rather than chaos.

I hope I'm making sense. It's what I suggest to everyone when I have the time to write it. Blade shaving is almost 100% technique and the hardware and software just give tweaks to what our hands do.

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 09-19-2015, 07:53 PM
#15
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I to started DE shaving in my 50's after decades of electric and cart shaving . Just hang in there very soon you will be getting good shaves and then one day it will all come together and you'll go aha that was a great shave!


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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 09-20-2015, 12:37 AM
#16
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Sage Yankee advice from Brian!!Smile
As I speak I'm moving from carts to straight shaving.....Learning curve??? You BET!! BUT.....if you have the basics down (ie., prep, lather, technique) you're MILES ahead of the game!!
It IS hard to get "NO PRESSURE" tightly instilled in the mind....the brain cries out: "There's GOTTA be MORE!!"
RESIST THIS CRY!! No pressure means JUST THAT!!Wink
My DE days were as a teenager and college student....and there were days when I felt I was going to need a transfusion before I was finished in front of the mirror!!! Rolleyes 
Never learned proper DE handling, and went to carts.....and stayed there until a few weeks ago (I'm 63!!).....
Enjoy the journey that is COMFORTABLE shaving!! Let the DESTINATION fend for itself!!Wink

Close shaves should SOOTHE ya....NOT SCARE ya!!

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