Looking for Advice Towards a Gentler, Closer Shave

Discussion in 'Shave School' started by Tanner Grogan, Sep 8, 2018.

  1. Tanner Grogan

    Tanner Grogan New Member

    Hey there,

    For the past month or two I've been experimenting with shavettes and a couple of DE blades trying to get as close a shave as possible without irritation. The problem is that the only blade that will cut my stubble without getting stuck on a cross-the-grain or against-the-grain pass is the feather hi-stainless, but this irritates my skin. I've experimented with changing the cutting angle, from as flat it will cut to about 20-30 degrees more inclined. The irritation gets worse the more inclined the blade is, but even at the flattest angle I still get bumps and raised skin. I've only tried two other DE blades: the Astra superior platinium and the voshkod (spelling?). The astra will get stuck on a cross or against-the-grain pass and I have to force it along, and the Voshkod blades require lots of forcing, plus the bevel is a millimeter longer on one side of the blade so it barely shaves at all on half of my face. I also tried changing shavettes from the Tellar Clifton 23 to the Black Widow model with 1.5mm blade exposure. Part of me is beginning to wonder if the head of the shavette is too thick and this sets the minimum cutting angle too extreme as compared to the minimum cutting angle on a safety razor with its rounded head, what these blades were designed for. One final thing that made a difference was using the pre-shave oil from Art of Shaving, which reduces irritation but makes it impossible for me to get a good grip on my skin when stretching it out. Any suggestions? Thanks!
  2. PLAla

    PLAla Bit Shy of a Full Puck

    Welcome! I can't speak to specific issues with a shavette since I haven't used one, but there are plenty of guys here who have. I encourage you to join us in the 30 Day Rule and Focus group. We discuss shaving techniques and work towards helping each other achieve their shaving goals. We have lots of fun on the way. Check out that group HERE.

    In the meantime, calling @Bama Samurai and @Norcalnewb and @Drygulch. They come to mind readily with knowledge of shavettes. There are others as well throughout the forum.

    Also, what type of soap or cream are you using? Are you getting slick and well-hydrated lathers? I know some fellows rub their fingertips on an alum block to increase grip efficiency.
    wristwatchb, RyX, Norcalnewb and 2 others like this.
  3. John Beeman

    John Beeman Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the Den
    Tanner Grogan and Edison Carter like this.
  4. Edison Carter

    Edison Carter Goo-bloomin' Stankster

    Skin stretching has done great for me.
    wristwatchb and PLAla like this.
  5. Edison Carter

    Edison Carter Goo-bloomin' Stankster

    A little alum on the fingers enhances grip against wetness and soap. Don't know about oils though.
  6. Preacher

    Preacher Well-Known Member

    I'm going to suggest that you look at your soap or cream and make sure that it is up to the job. I have sensitive skin and use a Feather all the time with no irritation. If my lather is not up to par, it is a different story altogether.
  7. Tanner Grogan

    Tanner Grogan New Member

    Hey all, thanks for the replies and good advice.

    I've been using Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood shaving cream. I wet my brush with hot water, and shake gently (once or twice) until it is fully wet but not dripping, then mix the cream with the wet brush instead of adding water separately. One thing I've noticed though is that with the dry Colorado air the lather is dry on the left side of my face by the time I finish shaving on the right side, and I do notice that the irritation is much worse on the left. This could be it, and would explain why the oil helped. I will try putting more water in the mix and/or re-brushing up mid-shave to see if that helps. Thanks for the pointers!
  8. PLAla

    PLAla Bit Shy of a Full Puck

    One idea is to work the cream into a lather in a bowl. You can add in water in little bits to create the most stable lather.

    When I use a cream I squeeze out some on my finger and then wipe directly on my face on both cheeks. Then I face lather. I'll dip the tips of the brush in the sink water as needed to properly hydrate.
  9. Preacher

    Preacher Well-Known Member

    You definitely need to add more water. This will create a slicker lather and keep it from drying out on your face.
  10. Screwtape

    Screwtape A Shaving Butterfly

    Yes, if your lather is drying up by the time you get to it, you definitely need to add more water. Generally straight razor or shavette users prefer a much runnier lather than DE users.

    You also may want to go to what @Norcalnewb dubbed the "baseball pattern" of lathering. Basically, you divide your face into sections and only lather and shave one little section at a time. This lets you take your time and concentrate on each little area without worrying about the lather drying. So instead of covering your whole face with lather, you just soap the right cheek first and work on that, then move on to the left cheek, and so forth.
  11. wchnu

    wchnu Duck Season!

    The blades are not the issue. A sharp blade cuts...period. Sounds like lather technique is off. Angle and pressure determine how well the razor works. Get the lather solid then work on razor technique.

    I face lather like GAWD intended. This is how I do it.

    And if you care to watch this is how I use a shavette.

  12. Bama Samurai

    Bama Samurai with Laser-like Focus Staff Member

    Welcome aboard!

    My recommendation is lose the oil. It does nothing but interfere with soap. Soap and oil neutralize each other chemically. No idea why preshave oil exists, actually. Guaranteed to improve lather performance. Irritation is the result of improper angle and pressure, practice will help. It's not the blades. Unless your hair is literally copper wire, there are dozens of viable blades. I also live in Colorado, near Denver, and am probably the most frequent user of shavette on TSD. Don't overthink this, less truly is more.
  13. John Beeman

    John Beeman Well-Known Member

    One other thing to consider as a possibility:

    TOBS creams are excellent; And yes, it sounds like your mix is a little dry.

    However, some folks find that sandalwood can cause irritation. TOBS makes an avocado cream that has great skin care properties if you suspect that you might be sensitive to sandalwood.
  14. Norcalnewb

    Norcalnewb Magnanimous Moos

    How firm of a grip are you using when holding the razor? I found that when I began using straights and shavettes, I would hold the razor loosely, and this would cause the razor to skip a bit. I am not saying using more pressure on your face, just make sure you are not too loose with your grip on the razor.

    Also, until you get a little more practice, you might consider only lathering and shaving one are of your face at a time, as @Screwtape mentioned.

    Come join us on the 30 Day thread. Lots of good advice there.
  15. wristwatchb

    wristwatchb wristwatch "danger" b

    Welcome to The Shave Den, Tanner!

    I'll throw out another vote to come join us on the 30 Day thread. As others have said, I'd also eliminate the pre-shave oil and use alum on your finger tips for the best grip. I can't overemphasize the importance of skin stretching with your off-hand, using no pressure on the blade against the skin, paying attention to the proper angle (it should not feel draggy), and keeping a firm grip on the razor. It takes practice, but you'll get there. For starters, I'd suggest picking one shavette and one brand of blade for 30 days or so to eliminate variables. Blades are cheap. Replace them after one or two shaves to eliminate the need to compensate for a dying blade edge. I usually replace the half blade in my Parker SRX shavette after every shave.

    TOBS is a nice shave cream. It's perfectly OK to lather your whole face with properly hydrated lather. I like to lather my whole face initially, as I think that helps the beard continue to soften. As you are learning, you will probably take some extra time to shave portions of your face. It's no problem to re-hydrate the drying lather on your face as needed. Lather building is another skill to master. You might consider making some practice lathers until you discover the consistency that's right for you.

    I'm glad you're here with us! Stick with it, and you'll have some great shaves in short order. :)

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