Stupid Question Corner: How Do I Determine Skin/Whisker Type?

Discussion in 'General Shaving Talk' started by Michael_W, May 1, 2018.

  1. Michael_W

    Michael_W Well-Known Member

    This is probably a silly question to ask, but still being relatively new to wet-shaving I figured I might as well ask and risk looking ignorant than to be ignorant: How do I tell what skin and whisker type I have? That is, is my skin more or less sensitive? Are my whiskers coarser or finer, or somewhere in the middle?

    I can only guess that I have moderate- to coarse whiskers, based on the number of shaves I generally get from each blade (usually five or six before having to toss it in my blade bank). But since blades are so variable, with some being really forgiving while others leave my face a bloody mess, I can't really determine how sensitive my skin truly is. I prefer to err on the side of caution and assume it's sensitive, since when my whiskers grow out for a few days they make my face feel itchy and somewhat irritated. But is there a way to tell for sure?
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  2. kfbrady

    kfbrady Well-Known Member

    I would expect someone with a coarse beard to need to shave more often than one with a soft beard. Do you find you need to shave both in the morning and evening?

    Does your face sunburn easily? I would expect sensitive skin to be more affected by sun and wind.
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  3. mikewood

    mikewood Well-Known Member

    Slavic and Asians have thick dark coarse hair while Nordic blondes have softer finer hair. Western Europeans and some Africans are in the middle. When cut short Does your hair bristle or tend to lay? Mine sticks straight out like a brass brush until it gets an inch or so long.

    Skin type is the same. If your skin sun and wind burns easily, it is susceptible to razor burn. It can grow accustomed to razor burn and within say a year you should be able to progress from WTG yo XTG and even ATG. I do one pass XTGand one ATG.

    In the end it’s all academic. What matters is the totality of the shave. Your brush, soap and hot water can irritate your skin more than an unsuitable razor or the blade. That’s why we advocate the 30 day rule.

    For instance I am allergic to Bay rum and throw in a scritchy badger brush and it looks like I get a chemical burn after I shave. Switch out the brush and soap and I can shave with almost any razor burn free.
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  4. Ron R

    Ron R Well-Known Member

    If your razor blade only lasts a couple of shaves and beard is more of the darker side its more coarse IMO, all skin is sensitive but more for some, irritations around the neck & chin seems the place were folks complain the most of any skin type. I'm lucky because a blade usually lasts 5-7 shaves so I average and made a new rule it gets tossed after 6 shaves Max. Some people are prone to allergies and should test on a small part of their arm to see if soaps and Aftershaves react to them. Some shavers can not handle certain blades because of coatings.
  5. Michael_W

    Michael_W Well-Known Member

    Typically only once per day.
  6. Michael_W

    Michael_W Well-Known Member

    My whiskers are weird and multi-colored. I have black, brown, red, light brown, and even some blonde hairs in there. My moustache is practically invisible in the center and darker at the ends. Likewise with the whiskers at my chin. But generally speaking, I definitely get five o'clock shadow, although usually in about twelve to fourteen hours instead of eight. With some sharper blades, the shave lasts almost a full twenty-four hours. I also typically shave prior to turning in for the night, as my mornings don't allow enough time to devote to a proper shave.
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  7. Bama Samurai

    Bama Samurai with Laser-like Focus Staff Member

    I very strongly disagree, and also founded the 30 Day Thread. Almost all shave issues are technique related. Soap, water temp and brush are nowhere near as critical as angle and pressure. Many also find that blades don't matter much either in e technique is fully mastered. Actual skin issues with soap are actually rare, and based on my reading of forums as mod, not an issue people spend much time on.
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  8. Bama Samurai

    Bama Samurai with Laser-like Focus Staff Member

    Your skin type doesn't matter. You need to master your tools. Stick with something until it's automatic perfection. Until you do this, you have no benchmark for judging equipment of any sort.
  9. Engblom

    Engblom Well-Known Member

    Earlier in my DE journey I also pondered about these things. I have come to realize it does not matter if I have finer or coarser beard comparing to other. All that matters is that I get a good shave. For some reason people tend to exaggerate how coarse beard and how sensitive skin they have. This means you will have difficulties in comparing with other.

    If you really want to compare your beard coarseness, try to find out how many shaves other are getting on an average from some of the blades you have and then compare with your own results. I have no idea how to put a value on skin sensitiveness. I suspect most people saying they have sensitive skin actually use too much pressure. A truly sensitive skin will show signs of irritation in other circumstances than just from razor usage.
    Linuxguile likes this.
  10. Michael_W

    Michael_W Well-Known Member

    Sorry, but you're simply wrong. I've used blades that gave me great shaves with no nicks or irritation, and blades that left me nicked and irritated. Technique is definitely important, but it's not the only thing to consider in shaving.
  11. PickledNorthern

    PickledNorthern Fabulous, the unicorn

  12. PickledNorthern

    PickledNorthern Fabulous, the unicorn

    I think @Bama Samurai is closer to the truth than you think.

    Different blades (assuming decent blades) in the same razor tend to not be that much different. Not unless you’re talking obscure Indo-China (30 DC, stunt blades kinda stuff). The well known names? It’s muscle memory, not the blades. Really.
    Last edited: May 1, 2018
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  13. jmudrick

    jmudrick Well-Known Member

    As a fan of the Chinese Tian-Li blades I resemble that remark :) .

    Sent from my Nexus 5X using Tapatalk
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  14. Michael_W

    Michael_W Well-Known Member

    Oh he does have a legitimate point about the importance of technique in using safeties and straights. One must learn how to use them properly so as to minimize nicks, cuts, and irritation. But it is equally as legitimate to point out that different blades will have different properties depending on the materials and practices in their manufacture. For example, Refined Shave dot com did tests of a number of blade brands and of those, only three lost sharpness to a significant degree after only one shave: Feather, Shark, and Treet Carbon/Black. Merkur blades are too often dull and biting right out of the factory: put one under a jeweler's eye and you will see the jaggedness of its edge, which can't be very good for getting a close, smooth shave that is nick-and-irritation-free.

    I'm not questioning the importance of technique. I am challenging the notion that it is the sole or primary factor in how well a blade performs.
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  15. KenH

    KenH Well-Known Member

    Being new to this and having tried precisely three blades I’ll say is this. All three were well known. Two were good for me one was not. This may be my technique but with two good I’m not inspired to try and sort out the bad one as I don’t need to. :). Thus for me it’s a moot point. I’ve enough to improve at anyway without chucking more variables on there. I am getting very good shaves with two well mostly with just Astra so that’s what counts for me.
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  16. Shaver X

    Shaver X Well-Known Member

    I agree very much that technique is key when using a safety razor. The blade, or more precisely the razor + blade combination, has also been very important in my experience. In a given razor, some blades are much better than others.

    I don't think that is a silly question at all, because those things do matter. Regarding your skin sensitivity and whisker coarseness, only you can answer that. If you don't know already, you will find the answers as you continue with wetshaving. The important thing is to use good technique, and then find which blades and other products work particularly well for you. Once you find blades that work well, you have found a known good baseline. In case that makes any sense.
  17. wchnu

    wchnu Duck Season!

    Once again your the one that is wrong. Your lack of skill and your unwillingness to learn basic skills means you will never be any better then you are. You ask basically the same questions and get the same answers. There is a reason you get the same answers.

    Blades do not act that much different one to the other. You have not learned the differences are very minor and really do not factor in much once you develope the skills needed. Your trying to tell people who have the skills and know what they are doing that they are wrong.

    As long as the equipment is not damaged you should be able to get a comfortable shave. Does not matter what blade. Does not matter how your beard grows or if you have girly skin. What matters is how you use the equipment. Angle and pressure. Once you learn how to keep a good angle and proper pressure through out the shave you will not get cut by blades. The blades are not the problem....the razor is not the problem.. The user input is the problem.
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  18. Shaver X

    Shaver X Well-Known Member

    Are you certain that he lacks skill and is unwilling to learn? In his original post, he stated in part "blades are so variable, with some being really forgiving". That implies he is getting satisfactory shaves with some blades.

    That is not universally true, as shown by the responses in the Your Favorite Blade thread, and also numerous comments in the various wetshaving forums. They are full of accounts of blades that worked very well and blades that were much less well, and often from experienced wetshavers. I have tried 90 different blades, and there were a few that were truly awful, somewhat gave pretty good shaves (most blades), and some that gave outstanding shaves. Additionally, the shave quality of a given blade can vary according the razor with which it is used. Some blades that were horrible in a Merkur 34C were quite good in an Edwin Jagger DE89. Some blades that were great in the Merkur were so-so in the DE89.

    IMHO, you and the others are correct in that claim. Cuts might not occur when proper technique is used, but irritation, nicks, or a shave that is not close or comfortable might happen with certain blades. Proper technique is essential, but so are the right blades and a quality cream or soap.

    All IMHO and in my experience.
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  19. wchnu

    wchnu Duck Season!

    Every one has favorite blades. I know I do. Saying one blade works in a certain razor but not in others is silly. A sharp blade in a functional razor will shave without giving nicks and cuts with good technique. Does everyone have a favorite..of course. I know I do. But saying that the sharpness of a blade is causing cuts and nicks is pure horse feathers. That is like saying a bigger engine in a car causes more wrecks. It's how it is used.
    Blades are different. But not a lot. Some last longer then others..some might be smoother then others. But with good technique any of them can be used with out getting sliced. The OP is constantly complaining about certain blades that cut him up. That is in no way the blades fault. That is straight up technique problems. I would hate for a newer shaver to read this junk and start blade hopping trying to solve technique problems.

    If your getting cut up by a razor blade work on your technique. Once you have that down the blade and razor combo is not as big a deal.
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  20. Engblom

    Engblom Well-Known Member

    I have to partially agree with @Michael_W, indeed there are differences between blades.

    While there are more experienced members, this is what I have noticed after 5.5 years of continuous DE-shaving:
    If all blades would be arranged according to sharpness, there is a personal lower limit in sharpness when a blade begins to tug. All blades less sharp than this are not fit for that person. Each person is different and the width of each persons hairs surely varies. I remember in school we even measured these differences in width. This means that more dull brands, like Derby does not work for everybody, as they are not sharp enough to slice easily through some more wide hairs. But all blades sharper than this personal lower limit should work. Surely some blades will feel more "smooth", other will require more of your attention, but all the blades sharper than your lower limit will give a good shave with good technique. The "smoothness" factor comes from different coatings, different grindings, quality of the edge among other things, but a skilled shaver will get an irritation free shave even with a less "smooth" blade.

    Some years ago when I first begun testing Feather, my technique was a bit lacking. I did not nick myself but I got irritation. Now after a long time of continuous use of Feather blades I get great irritation free shaves. Feathers have thus become a smooth brand for me, even though it was not initially smooth at all.
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