Just had a really bad shave :(

Discussion in 'Shave School' started by Edward89, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. Nick Freeh

    Nick Freeh Well-Known Member


    Just so that you will know you're not alone, here's my story:

    A few years ago, on a whim, I decided to go back to wet shaving. I bought a Merkur 23C, aka Long Handled Classic, a brush, some Derby blades (all online), and some VDH soap from Walgreen's. I figured I would soon have this nailed--after all, I had started my shaving career with a DE razor and some canned goo back in the 1950's. While I didn't suffer major lacerations of the face, I wasn't happy with my results, even after several weeks. I blamed the razor, I blamed the blades, and I blamed the soap. I then bought a couple of vintage Gillettes. Finally, I started to get decent, but not stellar, results. I used this as evidence that the Merkur razor was not for me. Now, the vintage Gillettes are well designed razors and are probably a little easier to learn on, but the truth is that my technique was improving without my realizing it. I eventually tried the Merkur again, and guess what? Yes, very nice results. Even the Derby blades were performing better for me, although I have since found others that I prefer. This process had taken two or three months, not 7 to 10 shaves. OK, I'm a slow learner, but I now get consistently excellent shaves from a wide selection of razors and blades. I found that I had picked up some unfortunate habits using cartridge razors, and it took some time to eradicate those habits. Here's what I would do if I were in your shoes. Get a decent cream, such as Taylor's--it's easy to lather and a little goes a long way--you can always try soaps later. Get a sampler pack of blades, stick with your Merkur or try a vintage Gillette (which may be a little more forgiving). Just give it time, and follow the guidelines outlined by the other guys on this forum responding to your plight. It won't happen overnight, but one of these days you'll be surprising yourself with fine shaves day after day. It's worth the effort and just keeps getting better. Good luck! By the way, my Merkur 23C is in my regular razor rotation now and I love it.
  2. Shaver X

    Shaver X Well-Known Member

    Bad shaves sometimes happen when starting out. Not to worry, though. There are countless millions of guys who get great shaves with traditional wetshaving gear. If they can do it, so can you. It is just a matter of practice.

    The Shave Den store sells a 33 blade sampler here. For $9.30, that is a great deal. Shoebox Shaveshop also sells blade samplers here. The good thing about these samplers is that there are only two or three blades of each type instead of a full pack. If a given blade works well, then you can buy full packs later on. If a blade does not work out, then there is minimal waste. Most importantly, write down your observations after shaving with each blade type. Once you find a blade and soap combination that gives consistently good results, my advice would be to stick with it and focus on improving your technique. Once you have that down, then try a bunch of different blades.

    The recommendations for the Van Der Hagen soap are spot on in my opinion. It is a great soap for very little money. In addition to Walgreens and some CVS drugstores, many other outlets carry this soap. Here you can find both online and brick and mortar retailers. The Shave Den Store also sells TSD soap, which has earned itself a fine reputation.

    Thank you for stopping by The Shave Den. It is always good to have another wetshaver join us.
    Edward89 and GDCarrington like this.
  3. AnB_Daddy

    AnB_Daddy Active Member

    I find C&E soaps to work great, BUT I find them to be very sensitive to the amount of water being used. They lather seems to break down very fast if it is over hydrated and very sticky if it is under hydrated. I find face lathering with them to be near impossible because it is hard to really examine the lather.

    Also, when I use my C&E, I have to dry my face after each rinse beacause it adds too much water back to the lather when I re-apply and it breaks down rapidly on my face.

    Just my experiences with the C&E soaps. (Sienna, Nomad and Sandalwood)
  4. Edward89

    Edward89 New Member

    Again guys, the responses are greatly appreciated. Unfortunately, I don't live in the US, rather the UK so some of these products might not be readily available here- at least the soaps- but I'll certainly have a look around and see what I can find. Infact SharpSpine, I might be able to get hold of De Vergulde Hand easier than Van Der Hagen. TSD blade selection looks like a fantastic idea, unfortunately they're out of stock, but if shipping ins't too much to the UK I may invest. Otherwise, there is a great little traditional barbers in my nearest city that has a good selection that I'll try. The selection that is on offer within the traditional wet shaving world is both brilliant but irritating: you don't know what product to buy first (so you end up buying them all!)!
  5. Edward89

    Edward89 New Member

    So I took 4 days off and I did a fair bit of research and I changed a lot of my routine. First, I didn't use my badger brush to apply my lather. During my days off I had a few goes at building some lathers and I noticed that my skin felt irritated when I applied the lather. I realised the brush (a mixture of badger and bristle) was irritating my skin as it was too rough,so instead I built the lather with my brush but applied it with my hand. Secondly, I really watched my technique and I used the 'rolling' tip to help ensure I got the right angle. Finally, I switched from warm water to cold water (but I still did my prep using warm water, just after prepping I gave myself a few splashes of cold water). Results: a much improved shave and most importantly, no razor burn! I was very happy and it more than made up for my previous failed attempt. While the switch to cold water shaving is certainly very different and it's a shame not to have nice warm lather, the results far out weigh the cons . My shaves are still a long way off from being great, but I can definitely see improvements which are spurring me on.

    Thanks again everyone for your input! You've been marvellous!
  6. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    Excellent to hear. Here's to your shaves just getting better all the time. :eatdrink047:
  7. SharpSpine

    SharpSpine Well-Known Member

    Edward, if you can get the De Vergulde Hand then definitely do it. It is an inexpensive soap that lathers abundantly and easily. I get great shaves with mine and I'm very happy to have a good bit of it in my den.
  8. Neolithium

    Neolithium I am Canadian, eh

    Give it some time. From what I've read the bristle/badger brushes soften up quite a bit, they just need time. You may very well in a little while be able to use it comfortably on your face.
  9. Lyndon

    Lyndon Well-Known Member

    Far be it for me to give advice because I am quite new to traditional shaving as well. I do have a few different razors and the difference can be quite striking. The Merkur 34C HD is nice but the weight seems to make it more aggressive. I also have the longer handled Merkur 23C. From everything I have read on the Internet, the two razors use the same head. I would never have believed there could be such a difference!! The 23C seems quite gentle. I think it is lighter than the HD and the longer handle is a good match for my large hands. So you might consider this razor. It is available on-line for around $35. I really like the 3-piece design. Even though it is a bit long, it breaks down nicely for traveling and can easily fit into the side pocket of a shaving (DOPP) kit.

    Yes! I think the blades can make a huge difference. I tried a "blue" Personna a few days ago and I had a the worst shave ever! I couldn't believe that my very heavy Mergress XL was jumping across my stubble! Anyway I persevered with the blade and did three passes. I should not have done that! If you have had a bad first pass, it is unlikely to improve on the second or third pass. The next time I will change the blade after the first pass. This would be especially good if you got a dud. Something you could try: If things are going badly on one side of your face, try switching to a better, or at least different blade for the other side of your face. (Maybe shave one complete side of your face before changing blades.) This should give you a very good and direct comparison.

    Don't be afraid of sharp blades. I was going to wait to try my Feathers, but because my stubble is so stiff, I gave them an earlier go. Like you, I shave slowly and carefully and had no trouble with the Feathers. Merkurs were very troublesome for me and resulted in very heavy drag and higher than normal noise. So far, the best for me have been Crystals and Feathers. The absolute best and most comfortable shave so far was, not surprisingly, also the easiest! I was using my 23C and a Feather blade. Very smooth. Amazing!!

    If you cant find VDH at a drug store, you can buy it on-line from Shave Nation. I have to put a plug in for Taylor of Old Bond Street. I have a 150 gram tub of the "Shaving Shop" flavor. Great smell! Taylor's is very, very easy to lather and is quite a bit cheaper than other premium brands. Don't be stingy on the product or the water. I have practiced just lathering a few times and I have kept adding water until the lather broke down just so I could see how much water the lather would hold. (A good cream can hold a lot!) As a new wet shaver, I think if my lather is wrong, it is usually because it is too dry. I loved the above tip about a good lather having a reflective sheen--thanks Williams Warrior. I will be paying more attention to this myself in the future.

    Sorry the post got a little long... I really hope that some of the things I mentioned will help you. You are definitely not alone in your frustration. I still have days when things go less than perfect.

    Wishing you a great shave!

    Edward89 likes this.
  10. Edward89

    Edward89 New Member

    I can safely say my shaves recently have been the best I have ever had! I just shaved this morning using some Proraso cream and wow, best shave yet! The menthol in it gives a fantastic sensation and coupled with a cold water shave you really feel invigorated! Also, I think I've found some blades that agree with me; Supermax's. I've used them twice and I've got a really close shave and no razor burn. I'm very much looking forward to my next shave!
    madmedic and Mark1966 like this.
  11. Neolithium

    Neolithium I am Canadian, eh

    It's good to hear! Trying varieties are always the best route, blades that some will curse six ways from Sunday could work absolutely flawlessly for you. Don't underestimate your technique improving either though ;)
  12. Mark1966

    Mark1966 Well-Known Member

    That sounds great mate - keep going!
  13. Lyndon

    Lyndon Well-Known Member

    Good on ya matey!!
  14. madmedic

    madmedic Resistance Is Futile

    Good news. I had similar results. Just dont push them too far.Personally I dont use them for more than 2 shaves....but they are one of the cheapest blades available in the uk so sometimes I toss them after one shave. Current cost here is about 7 blades = the cost of one Feather!
  15. Edward89

    Edward89 New Member

    Thank you for introducing them to me. I just used the same blade for the third time (simply as a test to see how many shave I could get out of a blade) and I agree with you, I wouldn't use them more than twice. However, as you say, they are rather cheap; you can get around 200 for £6 on amazon, which is pretty good going. I might move onto a couple of other brands, maybe the personna next...
  16. Shaver X

    Shaver X Well-Known Member

    Are those the Super-Max Super Stainless or the Super-Max Platinum blades? In my experience, the Super-Max Stainless was better than average, giving pretty smooth shaves with no irritation. The Super-Max Platinum was slightly more expensive, noticeably better, and gave great shaves.
  17. madmedic

    madmedic Resistance Is Futile

    The SuperStainless version. I have used the Platinum blades........but find the stainless blades more than adequate and much better value for money.

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