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Thread: New to wet shaving, how to reduce razor burn with new straight

  1. #1
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    Default New to wet shaving, how to reduce razor burn with new straight

    Happy Friday Folks,

    I'm brand new to wet shaving. For 28 years I've been using disposable cartridge razors and got into this universe by thinking about how wasteful canned shaving cream is.

    Fast forward a couple of weeks and I've got a new 5/8" straight from SRD, and a VDH shave kit with soap and brush.

    My first use of the VDH shave kit with my old cartridge razor produced the best, closest shave of my life. Great success... I'm done with canned shave cream for good.

    Three days ago, I tried my first straight razor shave. Things went pretty well on my cheeks and sideburns with the grain, but I had lots of razor burn on my neck. I assume this is due to a combination of my shave technique and pre-shave prep.

    So last night I took more time on the pre-shave. I rinsed my face with water and lathered up, then let the soap sit on my face for 5 or 10 minutes, then rinsed it off, wet my face, and lathered up again before shaving.

    I find that the soap tends to dry out during my shave. I'm pretty slow. So I reapply on occasion, but still I'm getting some aggresive razor burn on my neck, particularly where it's hard to go with the grain because of the direction my hair grows there.

    I'm trying to figure out if I can improve my pre-shave to prevent this, or if it's a matter of my angles and stroke, or maybe both?

    Any advice would be welcome.

    This board has been really helpful in getting me started down this path.


  2. #2
    Senior Member monkeypuzzlebeefeater's Avatar
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    The soap drying out could be an impact, getting the lather right takes practice.

    In my experience though the most common cause when starting out are either a dull razor, not likely given where you got it from unless you've dulled it when stropping. Therefore my guess would be you might not be stretching your skin properly. Skin stretching is really important.

    Others might have some more suggestions. Good luck solving this
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  3. #3
    Senior Member dinnermint's Avatar
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    My lather dries up pretty quick with a new soap. Trying to nail down the combination of water and soap to get it to last longer, more water usually helps. However, I'm a pretty slow shaver and only do sections at once. Think of your face as split up into quarter sections. Plus, adding moist lather on top of dry lather hasn't really worked for me in the past. You're probably better off wiping off the lather, wet the area and reapply.

    You haven't mentioned a strop, which helps keep the edge in good shape. If you do, check the videos produced by Lynn Abrams and gssixgun on stropping to help. Pay attention to how they hold the razor, it will aid you in the motion as well as the pressure. Also, the amount of slack in lynn's strop in his newer video will guide you to the proper tension.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Bonbon's Avatar
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    I don't think your irritating can be healed by better pre-shave preparation. You can have next issues:
    1. Stropping, you haven't mentioned that you have strop and use that you using it.
    2. Dry soap, to prevent it from drying try to lather one part shave it, than lather second and shave it. It's best option for the start.
    3. Most common issue. Maybe you apply to much pressure, try to give razor short, light strokes, don't apply pressure at all, razor might find it way under razor weight. Try different angles.

    Irritations on the neck usually the biggest, it's the most difficult part to shave.

    You need good honed razor, no pressure, wet lather, try different angles and clear irritationless shave will come with time.
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    KN4HJP sqzbxr's Avatar
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    Keep the angle of the blade low and watch your pressure. It's very common when transitioning from cartridge razors to use too much pressure. Use just enough to remove the lather, the razor will take the whiskers with it.
    JeffR and handjam like this.
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    Lather half your face at a time. As you gain experience and speed go to a full face lather. As for your razor burn on the neck pay closer attention to blade angle and make sure you are no more than two spine widths away. Meanwhile let your face get healed up and in a couple days go for the gusto.
    handjam likes this.

  7. #7
    'with that said' cudarunner's Avatar
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    First and Foremost, Welcome from SE Washington State USA! Walla Walla to be precise.

    As has been posted, pressure is your enemy, there should only be enough to keep the razor in contact with the skin.

    Also when there is too high of an angle all you are doing is 'Scraping' the beard off. This is as close to a Guarantee that you will get razor burn from a straight as there is.

    Also there is a reason that it's Highly Recommended that you shave only the Cheek Area when you are starting out!

    Give your face a break for several days then Go Back To Just The Cheeks.

    As far as lather goes, I'd recommend that you 'Initially' lather the entire face then wash it off with Hot Tap Water then reapply to the entire face. If the lather starts to dry out, just reapply.

    As a parting comment and advise, please consider including your whereabouts as you might have experienced help not far from you. You'll never know if you don't include where you are at.!
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    Senior Member blabbermouth Haroldg48's Avatar
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    Neck is often a trouble spot for the new SR shaver and is especially sensitive to burn because of two tendencies, IMO: 1) Not stretching enough in the right direction: and 2) use of too much pressure when you still see whiskers after making a pass with the razor. I know that's what I did until a let my beard grow a day and then felt the stubble with my hand to "map" my face, in other words, to learn, and remember which direction thugs whiskers are going and then deciding what is the correct direction to stretch to make you first pass WTG. That gave me much more success. I hope it helps you.

    Remember, a SR and pressure never makes things better!
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  9. #9
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    Atlas is Shrugging Uzi's Avatar
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    Yup, what all those guys said. The neck is the hardest and most sensitive part of the shave, with the oddest hair grain and is the scariest part. All of those things contribute to the difficulty of shaving the neck. To summarize:

    1. The lather needs to be wet and slick -- learning to create proper lather, like everything else, takes some practice. If it dries out, put a few drops of water on your brush and go over the old lather to get it wet again. Don't shave if it starts to feel like plaster.
    2. Map your hair growth to shave with the grain (WTG) as much as possible. If it's not possible to shave WTG because of a difficult stroke angle, get as close as you can get to WTG.
    3. No pressure other than the weight of the blade.
    4. Make sure you stretch the skin with your free hand and by tilting your head back. Use alum on your fingers if things are slippery.
    5. The angle of the blade to your skin should be about one spine width away or a touch more, but don't allow it to get past two or you'll reach a point where you will be scraping your skin. The absolute ideal angle for each razor can only be discovered by feel.
    6. Short strokes.
    7. The razor needs to be well stropped before each use.
    Last edited by Uzi; 02-13-2016 at 03:15 AM.
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  10. #10
    NZ's okayest dad 1997 Grazor's Avatar
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    The use of a balm rather than an after shave helped to reduce burn for me while I was learning.
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