#1

Member
San Francisco
(This post was last modified: 02-27-2016, 07:51 PM by onethinline.)
This was originally a response posted on another forum to a new DE shaver who was struggling a bit and wondering what equipment to change. Writing it I realized I was saying what I wish had been said to me when I was first starting, and getting this advice then would have saved me unnecessary trouble. So I thought I'd put this down here, as what I'd say just after going over the basics of loading a blade, lathering, finding your angle, shaving with the growth, etc. Let's call it ...

Cutting It Down: The New Wet Shaver's Pithy Little Guide to Success

ON EQUIPMENT

Assuming you have a good razor and sharp blade, a brush and actual shave soap/cream, don't chase more equipment for a while. By far the most important tools in your shaving roster are practice and technique. You want equipment that won't work against you, of course, but beyond that, in the beginning it's much more important to start with one workable set-up and stick with it for a good while so you can focus on technique. It's best not to change other variables. Look at others' SOTD pictures with the undesirous magnanimity of a Zen monk. You're going to buy that second soap. Maybe one more brush. Just know you didn't have to. It's tough. Maybe the toughest thing any person will ever face. Speaking of your face:

WHERE TO PUT YOUR BRAIN

Your technique is the number one thing to have right. That's the big secret. Correct angle (even around curves), very light pressure (shave the whiskers, not the skin). Use short, light strokes that have some quickness and momentum to them. Even more than a year into traditional shaving I'm still refining these basic elements.

Start with the grain. Add an across-the-grain pass if with-the-grain went well. Feel free, feel outright liberated even, to skip against-the-grain for a while. A very close shave is good. Unharmed skin is better.

The second priority for your attention is lather. Stick with (ahem) one cream/soap and get to know it. Load plenty of product. Add water bit-by-bit while lathering until your lather is slick. You're going for slickness, not foaminess or puffiness. Try a test lather where you add too much water and see what that looks like (it will get thin and runny). The lather is there to provide glide, protect your skin, and soften your whiskers. It's much harder to get a good shave if you have bad lather. Bowls are fun and — hot tip! — can even be used to hold soup, but face lathering makes it easy to know when the lather good and slick.

WHERE'S DADDY?

It's too bad most of us have to learn these things from watching YouTube videos and reading things online, not because those resources aren't great (they are; especially this one!) but just because it's so much easier to demonstrate directly in person, the way a father would have done for his son. Truth is, shaving technique and building lather are not complicated. This isn't a rarified skill like kickboxing or finding The Big Bang Theory funny. It's just tough to describe in words. Nevertheless, by focusing on the basics and asking questions when you need to, you'll get there, assuredly, and smiling.

Null, BBSshaveCo, TheHandleBar and 11 others like this post
David : DE shaving since Nov 2014. Nowadays giving in to the single-edge siren call.
#2
Awesome info that will be very helpful to newbies!

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#3
It is tempting to try out a bunch of different things starting out. That was one thing I did do correctly. I stuck with the same razor/brush/soap/blade for two months.

Aurelian28, onethinline and hrfdez like this post
#4

Chazz Reinhold HOF
The most useful thing for me throughout the years has been consistency, specially with the technique part of it. As many nice razors I own, I can honestly say that I can achieve just as as good of a shave with a plastic disposable.

Hobbyist likes this post
#5
(02-27-2016, 11:12 PM)hrfdez Wrote: The most useful thing for me throughout the years has been consistency, specially with the technique part of it.  As many nice razors I own, I can honestly say that I can achieve just as as good of a shave with a plastic disposable.


All good advice above.

Hector, I'm with you. Consistency is how I am finally enjoying the greatest shaves of my life every single day. A Feather AS-D2 with a Feather blade and tallow based soaps every shave and I haven't had a cut or nick since the last time I switched my razor or soap. That's pretty good too considering how sensitive my skin is.

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#6

Chazz Reinhold HOF
(This post was last modified: 02-27-2016, 11:49 PM by hrfdez.)
(02-27-2016, 11:43 PM)Hobbyist Wrote:
(02-27-2016, 11:12 PM)hrfdez Wrote: The most useful thing for me throughout the years has been consistency, specially with the technique part of it.  As many nice razors I own, I can honestly say that I can achieve just as as good of a shave with a plastic disposable.


All good advice above.

Hector, I'm with you. Consistency is how I am finally enjoying the greatest shaves of my life every single day. A Feather AS-D2 with a Feather blade and tallow based soaps every shave and I haven't had a cut or nick since the last time I switched my razor or soap. That's pretty good too considering how sensitive my skin is.

That's one of my favorite razors ever. You are absolutely correct, with a Feather blade is perfect.

Once you find the right combination of products, is kind of hard to justify buying things just for the heck of it.

I'm glad you found the "One"Happy2

Hobbyist and kwsher like this post
#7

Vintage Razor Fan
Southwestern NY
(This post was last modified: 02-28-2016, 04:33 AM by Blade4vor.)
This is a great thread! Outstanding advice!

I, too, wish I had stuck with 1 razor, 1 blade brand, 1 brush, & 1 soap/cream. When I first started with safety razor, brush, & soap, I struggled with my shaves for the first six months. During that time, I kept getting advice to: try a blade sampler, different razor, different cream, no you need soap, & on and on.

After six months, I went about a month with a SS Red-Tip, Wizamet Polsiver SS blades, DR Harris Sandalwood shaving soap, and WD synthetic brush. I fell back into trying everything under the sun after that month, but it still helped build a solid foundation in techique that is with me today.

It really is important in the beginning to find a basic set-up that just works and stick with it for a month or two. And, that should be suggested to new shavers. IMHO, it would save folks from a lot of discomfort and frustration.

Sent from my LGL22C using Tapatalk

onethinline likes this post
-Rob
#8

Member
Sydney, Australia
(02-27-2016, 06:40 PM)onethinline Wrote: You're going for slickness, not foaminess or puffiness.

This! In my personal opinion some of those lather porn shots with bowls and brushes overflowing with lather (or the picture on boxes of Cella) are more unhelpful than not, since the easiest way to make it like that is to foam it up to the point where it's too thin and not very protective. A description I prefer to use for lathering is to make it like yogurt.

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#9

Chazz Reinhold HOF
A good soap doesn't need a lot of work to generate a good serviceable lather, my opinion of course based on my experience.

kwsher likes this post
#10

Member
San Francisco
(This post was last modified: 02-28-2016, 05:20 AM by onethinline.)
Yep indeed. It was a minor revelation to me that the key to good lather is slickness, which is mostly a combination of soap solids and water, not so much air. Sure, air gets involved, but my best lathers are not especially whipped up or fluffy, but closer to wet yogurt or cold cream. When you're starting out it's natural to a) use too little product and b) think you're going after something like canned foam. Nope! The method of starting a bit dry (damp brush, good load, get a paste going) then adding water bit by bit until it's slick, is pretty foolproof in my experience. Every soap will still need getting used to as they all have their sweet spot, but it's still a reliable approach.

The other big revelation for me has been the quick-but-light stroke. Someone somewhere said something like "shave your whiskers, not your skin," and a little bell rang in my brain. Get the angle right, yes (that's pretty easy until you get to the jawline and neck), but that feeling of light, quick, nimble strokes isn't described well often enough. And yet it's so helpful.

More personally, as a fellow of (mostly) Northern European ancestry with pretty coarse hair, I also sort of wish someone had trumpeted the virtues of blade rigidity (and, by extension, SEs) earlier in my wet shaving experience, but ah well, at least I'm discovering that now. Smile

(Quick edit to add a shout-out to SharpSpine for his now-classic exploration of "Ultra Lather" and the notion of soap solids and water working at maximum efficiency. Still great stuff!)

Mickey Oberman likes this post
David : DE shaving since Nov 2014. Nowadays giving in to the single-edge siren call.


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