Best Safety Razor/Blade Combo For Beginners

Discussion in 'Safety Razors' started by NathanASams, May 28, 2019.

  1. NathanASams

    NathanASams New Member

    I'm pretty new to the world of wet shaving, transitioned over because I couldn't find a way around avoiding razor burn with a cartridge. I'm currently using a VikingsBlade "The Godfather" with Shark blades and the VikingsBlade brand blades as well. I really love the razor because it has dramatically improved my razor burn situation. That being said I'm just not getting as close a shave as I would like. I am worried about trying Feather, or other more aggressive blades because I know they will give me a closer shave, but if I start using them will I go back to having Razor Burn issues? The Godfather razor is already desigend to be extremely forgiving for beginners and I'm still learning the technique, but will I get the perfect balance if I'm using a forgiving safety razor with a more aggressive blade and proper technique? Also I shave with the grain. I would love to hear everyone's thoughts or any advice
    178-bplatoon, gorgo2, brit and 2 others like this.
  2. Moose

    Moose Well-Known Member

    @NathanASams, I find that a sharper blade (Feather) in a mild razor is actually more comfortable. In theory, a sharper blade will cut the hair better. Meaning you don't have to go over the same spot as many times. Make sure to reapply soap or cream for each pass or small touch up pass.
    Last edited: May 28, 2019
  3. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Before you starting throwing good money after bad buying razors chasing a better shave that never materializes understand and master the following with your existing razor.

    You'll see people throw around words and terms without any understanding what they are talking about so I'll try to define things in a way that is easily understood.

    Mild refers to razor that feel well mild on the face aka pain response. Little to no irritation or cuts

    Aggressive refers to a razor that is on the other end of the spectrum of mild.

    There are variable factors that can influence that and combos of these that will determine mild or aggressive besides the design of the razor itself.

    First one that most people have issues with when going from carts to DE or even DE to SE is pressure. Usually the biggest mistake is pressing the blade too much to the face. The optimal pressure which is learned over time through practice is enough to stretch the skin with the guard but not enough to jab the blade into the skin causing irritation and cuts. There are lots of guys who shave like a bunch of emos and only think razors are working if they can feel them aka pain response. That is not the case if the cream/soap has hair in it on the pass then the blade is working. How efficiently or close of a cut is another issue though.

    Next is angle what is termed riding the cap aka shallow angle is using the razor where the blade is almost parallel to the face. Razor will shave milder whereas if the blade is almost perpendicular to the face aka steep angle it will be more aggressive.

    Next one is blade exposure. If you draw a straight line from the edge of the cap to the edge of the guard that is the shave plane. Exposure is simply how far the blade extends beyond that line. The more exposure the more aggressive in the main.

    Then you have blade gap which is the space between the blade and safety bar. The less the gap the more mild the razor.

    Before changing blades or amount and type of shave passes the first thing to do is work on the angle and pressure with your existing razor/blade combo see if you can improve your shaves there first. If that doesn't improve your shaves then try a different blade.

    For blades razors in my experience will differ in how they perform all other variables consistent as the following. What are milder razors by design aka minimal blade exposure and gap will shave closer with sharper blades and less close with duller blades.

    Sharpness and dullness are as per how blade edge was done from the factory.

    More aggressive razors the difference between sharp and duller blades will be less than a milder razor.

    Some blades I would say are on the sharp side are Feathers, Kai, Bic Chrome Platinum, Gillette Nacets.

    Dull end would be the Dorco blades or ones you find at the Dollar store.

    Some mid level blades are things like the Gillette Silver Blue, Voskhods, Ladas Stainless, Astra Platinum.

    The last thing here is amount of passes. Depending the type of hair, how fast it grows back so on and so forth the amount passes will definitely get you a closer shave. Unless you a pressed for time or it is too painful to do adding an ATG and XTG pass will improve the shaves closeness. On a milder razor if you are cutting yourself or irritation is too much it is a problem with pressure and angle since a razor like that shouldn't case those problems on these passes.

    ATG is against the grain and that is when you shave in the direction from neck to nose.

    XTG is across the grain and that is when you shave in the direction from the jawbone to the chin.

    My suggestion do the ATG pass last regardless of how many passes since that one is the pass will most likely cut and irritate the skin. No need to be dragging the razor over the skin after that point which makes it worse.

    My personal suggestion on your after shave use apple cider vinegar. Few drops on the palm, press both hands together to wet and lightly press on the face then wipe once the burn subsides. It has to key effects. One it removes burn like nothing else, works on the same principle as using vinegar to sooth sunburn, secondly it helps restore the skins natural acidic barrier that gets destroyed from all the soap on the face. Apple cider vinegar is also good for other skin issues like oily skin and such.
    Last edited: May 28, 2019
    brit, gorgo2, AGHisBBS and 5 others like this.
  4. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    One thing I should add if you do want another razor to get an idea of mild vs aggressive since having a comparative razor is not a bad idea for first hand experience and personal knowledge, get an adjustable. I don't know much on the modern stuff but the best one to get on vintage for a beginner is a Gillette Slim adjustable. You will get mild on 1 no questions and aggressive on 9 in one razor and they are plentiful and can be found in good working order for $20 or less on ebay with the right auction or in antique shops.
    gorgo2, AGHisBBS, johnnyflake and 4 others like this.
  5. RyX

    RyX DoH! Staff Member

    Whew! I wish someone would have given me that kind of response early on. Thanks for the post @BBS! There's a lot to digest there @NathanASams. Very little I could add to make your shaves any better. But I'll try...

    Mild razors tend to have a small sweet spot. There's a very narrow range of angles where it will reduce your beard. Set the top cap of the razor flat against the face with the handle pointed straight out. Tip the handle while making your stroke until you hear the blade popping hairs. That's the optimum angle. The guard bar may not even be touching your skin. With aggressive/efficient razors there's a wider range of angles where the blade can make contact with both beard and skin. As a New Shaver, you needn't fear aggressive razors if you can develop a proper technique while using them.

    Another factor is pressure. Modern cartridge razors have multiple blades, lube strips, flippy floppy self leveling heads. All those "improvements" are to make up for the lack of skill (technique) that fast paced life forces on folks. You have to mash the cart against your skin to make it effective. Switching to DE razors takes a bit of unlearning. No Pressure. Let the blade do the work.

    Using a "sharp" blade is a good thing since all blades are by definition razor sharp. Here at TSD we don't have a Forum dedicated to the discussion of blades. There are a couple reasons but it comes down to personal preference. You'll get opinions and advice on which blades are The Best but that's each users feelings. The information that may assist you is in how they describe the blades effect. Smooth, comfortable, not harsh - those types of blade may not be as effective, or may take more passes to reduce your beard. The Feather and Kai blades are often describe as harsh on the first shave and that could be the users technique causing razor burn - scraping the skin instead of cutting hair. If you want to "sample" some blades I'd suggest viewing the Shave Of The Day thread. See what kind of blades many folks use. Order yourself a tuck of 5 and use the all. Pop in a fresh one after three shaves to avoid using a dulled blade. After a while you'll know what a dull one feels like and won't have to keep track of how many uses.

    There's a group in the Shave School forum that is populated by New Shavers learning these old Techniques, and Veteran Shavers learning to use new razors. Click the link in my signature below - The 30 Day Rule / Focus Group. We talk the nitty gritty details, admit when we nick ourselves, and strive to get our best shaves. Coaches & Cheerleaders that have experience and time to answer all your questions. We also talk BBQ, automobiles, odd home made razors, home repair, family and kids, and there's the occasional shenanigans.
    gorgo2, AGHisBBS, brit and 2 others like this.
  6. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    One thing to add on blades being harsh on the first shave is that has to do with if they sharpen the edge before or after when they coat them.

    Feathers I am pretty the sharpen the edge after it is coated. This is why they would be so sharp out of the box but they lose their edge real quickly after the first shave though. Probably due to the fact that the coating gets scrap off to the point it changes the blade angle of the edge.

    Bics on the other hand keep a consistently sharp edge until the blade is done in my experience.

    Then on the other end of the spectrum you have blades that get sharper after the first shave most likely due to the fact the blade was coated after being sharpened so that first shave with have a different blade angle until the excess coating is scraped off.

    One way to deal with harsh blades out of the box is to use a piece of packing foam and do a slice through the foam to strop the edge before using the first time. You don't need to do this on all blades or before each use since for modern blades you'll wear them out faster doing so.
  7. Terry

    Terry Tool Admirer

    I started out with these tools.

    Wheishi Nostalgic long handle butterfly safety razor.
    Merkur 23c long handle 3 piece razor
    Proraso Professional shaving brush
    Omega 63171 badger brush
    Shark or Dorko ST-301 blades
    Proraso shaving Soap in a bowl red.

    Read up on "riding the cap"
    Watch "manic59 watch these first" you-tube videos
    Speed will come with experience
    GOOD LUCK!!!
    gorgo2, AGHisBBS, johnnyflake and 3 others like this.
  8. Engblom

    Engblom Well-Known Member

    I agree with the comments above. A "mild" razor will shave close if you keep the right angle.

    The combination of shave gear is quite personal. Even among the older members you will not find much consensus. I went from liking very aggressive razors with tiny gap and huge blade exposure to liking ultra mild razors with big gap and close to zero blade exposure. My own favorite razor is iKon X3 loaded with extra sharp blades (for example Feather). It is not the perfect razor as I need to align the blade manually but it gives me the most comfortable shave with almost no effort and thus the rest of my razors are just collecting dust.
    brit, RyX and gorgo2 like this.
  9. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    This seems a little backwards, respectfully. Once you have technique down, you're 95% to where you want to be; at that point it really won't make much difference what you shave with.

    Sound technique = all your shaves will be, at the very least, efficient. But the big secret (which isn't a secret) is...sound technique can be developed with pretty much any combo AND patient practice. That's the key. Then it's just a matter of tweaking your hardware, soaps, etc, according to preferences. But technique must come first.

    It's like learning to drive. We can learn in literally any car, a rusty beater or a Jag. Once we practice enough to get basic driving skills down we know that different cars will require us to employ slightly different approaches, but our basic technique (skill) for operating any automobile remains the same.

    Sure, we may enjoy driving one type of auto over another, but that has nothing to do with developing technique. That's just a matter of taste and preference because we already learned that we can drive anything.

    Same thing with wet shaving, imo.
    Last edited: May 31, 2019
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  10. Primotenore

    Primotenore missed opera tunity

    Excellent analogy.
    Hembree likes this.
  11. 178-bplatoon

    178-bplatoon Well-Known Member

    While your razor and blade combo certainly can make a difference, I tend to agree with @gorgo2 technique is what counts the most. Once you develop a good technique that works for your face almost any razor will give you a decent irritation/nick free DFS shave IMO.
    So concentrate on developing your technique preferably with a mild razor head. If you can get something like a Jagger or Muhle or a Stahley shave head that is a very mild shaver and you can use it with most any 3 piece handle. Technique trumps tools for the most part. :happy088:
    RyX likes this.
  12. octoserge

    octoserge New Member

    What type of facial hair stubble do you have - e.g. very thick/dense stubble (like mine), thin/whispy hair that takes a while to grow), other...? That is one of the most important factors to consider. And it all too often gets ignored when experienced shavers give newbies advice. For too long I was shaving with the blades and razors that got all the rave reviews on the forums. But none of that matters - you’ll need to match your beard to a blade and razor head geometry that works for you. And yes, much of it is trial and error, but you’ll have fewer errors if you understand this relationship. My stubble is extremely thick, so I need the sharpest blade I can find that also has some thickness to it (not Feathers - too thin, think Timor or Gillette Spoiler), in a razor that clamps the blade down with the highest level of rigidity (think: Fatip or Timeless .95, RR SLOC and others). And please, for goodness sake, shave with almost no pressure applied against the skin beyond that require to make faint contact. Hope some of this helps...
    RyX likes this.
  13. RyX

    RyX DoH! Staff Member

    Have you tried Kai? I thought they were thicker, but seeing the numbers - about the same. After folding a couple to break for a 1/2 DE shavette I do believe they are stiffer than other brands so that gives the impression of being more rigid. Sharp like a Feather, too. That harshness felt by many with Feather blades drops of quickly after the first shave.
  14. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    Noxema disposables (Kai blades) are the sharpest I've ever used.
  15. DesertTime

    DesertTime Well-Known Member

    Equipment preference is subjective. The excellent advice you've received so far regarding technique is not.
    I would add that a shave begins with beard prep, so I consider producing a decent lather part of technique. Using the same brush, soap, razor and blade, I can feel when I've rushed producing a good lather; the shave just isn't as comfortable and I'm more prone to irritation.
    brit and 178-bplatoon like this.

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