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Thread: Frustrated Newbie Seeking Advice

  1. #1
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    Default Frustrated Newbie Seeking Advice

    Hello everyone! New member; first post. Hoping to get some feedback on what I'm doing wrong. The Subject line kinda' says it all.

    I've watched a lot of YouTube videos and have been quite jazzed by how easy all these instructional videos make it seem. I converted to a DE safety razor about six years ago and love it! I love the badger brush, the fantastic shaving creams, the balms, etc. I've been curious about straight razors for quite some time, but have to admit, they're a bit frightening. For Christmas, my wife sprung about $150 on a Feather Artist Series DX razor for me with a set of Feather Pro blades. After watching all these videos and spending time practicing the motions with NO blade, I was ready to go.

    My first pass was the right cheek, since I'm right handed. I stretched the skin by grabbing my sideburn with my left hand and applied my first stroke applying a very light touch. Not bad... Did a few more, leading to my jaw, and was doing well. Then I went up to the top of the cheek and exerienced my first cut, and it was a bad one. It's been 14 days, and it's almost healed. Okay... I remember my first shave with the DE razor, and I was pretty much a bloody mess at the end. Now I get a great shave. So I ignored the blood streaming down my face and continued. Bad idea.

    I took a shower before the shave and applied a hot washcloth first, so my beard was soft. I know how important this is with DE shaving. My cream was Taylor of Old Bond Street. After two shaves so far that have left my face a bloody, raw mess, I'll explain the problems I'm facing.

    Chin: When I apply the blade to my chin, it catches on the hair and bounces off, leaving a cut when it bounces back on my face. I barely can do downward strokes, and upward strokes are downright dangerous! Angled strokes are also a problem. How does anyone do this?

    Mandible (jaw bone below the cheek): I have chiseled features, so it's a sharp angle here. I'm having trouble figuring out how the flow the blade down from the cheek, over this sharp angle, to below the mandible. Again, upward strokes and angled strokes create nasty bleeding.

    Below the nose: Far too dangerous for me to try and get a close shave right below the nostril doing a downward stroke, since the blade would have to be applied straight on. So I have to do it with upward strokes. Upward strokes on the upper lip give me bleeding and razor rash. Again, the blade catches and bounces off.

    Neck: This is a friendly area, since it's pretty flat, so downward strokes are pretty good, but I'm not able to get a baby-butt smooth finish without lots of passes from an upward angle, giving me horrible razor rash. Also, the Adam's apple is a challenge I need to figure out. Mine protrudes prominently.

    Blindness: I'm blind in my left eye, so using my left hand, I can't see the blade when shaving part of my cheek. So I have to use my right hand for almost everything.

    Maybe my mistakes are 1) trying to get a baby-butt shave on my first tries and 2) perhaps the Feather Professional is just too aggressive for me? To test this, I ordered the Feather Soft Guard blades as training wheels.

    These two shaves have left my face with a whole ton of cuts and red rashes. So much so, my wife shockingly asked, "What the hell happened?!" I've also cancelled all social engagements and avoided going out in public until this heals. It's been five days since the second try, and I'm almost ready to try again. The Feather Soft Touch blades arrived today, but before giving it another go, I thought I'd find a forum to consult and see what advice other users have.

    One thing I keep in mind. I've been to many barbers who have given me a truly amazing shave using a straight razor, so I know it can be done on my face. I'm just super frustrated because I honestly have no idea how to do it. All the YouTube videos I've watched haven't been helpful at ensuring I get that fantastic shave.

    All constructive advice is very much appreciated!
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  2. #2
    The Hurdy Gurdy Man thebigspendur's Avatar
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    Shavettes are not easy to learn. You have to be very careful and go really slowly taking a section of your face at a time and one stroke at a time. You can really do a number on your face with those things. They are less forgiving than a straight. Start with simple north south strokes on your face. Forget about your neck or anything else until you master the basics. Watch your pressure meaning use the least to keep the thing in your hand and no more.
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  3. #3
    " Atta Boy!!" sharptonn's Avatar
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    Cannot read that much, but prep and LOW blade angle.

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    Welcome aboard.. This is easy for me to say but it will get better with time.. We have all been where you are and think its impossible to shave with a SR.. It does not take too many strokes just on your cheeks downward to feel the satisfaction of a nice clean SR stroke... Ive been doing this for a few years now to where its just shaving, just like you using your DE... Im going to leave any advice and suggestions to orhers here.. There are a number of guys on here that can and will guide you through any and alk questions.. Keep at it, dont give up, listen and ask questions..
    Welcome, Scott
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  5. #5
    Gatling-Gun Jerry Gasman's Avatar
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    Welcome to SRP.
    I have one of those razors/Shavettes and I find it to be a very nice shaver. Now I have to also say that I've been at this for a few years. Starting with a shavette is a hard way to go but it can be done. And you picked IMO one of the best shavette to buy. BUT, You would be so much better off with a real straight. As said, the shavette is not very forgiving. It will slice you up. Just be very careful. Don't worry about BBS or anything but straight down strokes. Easy does it and go slow. Keep the lather wet and slick and good luck. And think about a real straight.

    One more thing... Keep the angle as low as possible. Meaning spine of razor close to your face. I find the thinkness at the blade is a little much so as low as possible is what works for me.
    Last edited by Gasman; 01-08-2020 at 11:44 PM.
    It's just Sharpening, right?

  6. #6
    Senior Member blabbermouth RezDog's Avatar
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    Red skin means too much pressure for me. It’s a very delicate touch. As though you are trying to wipe the lather off with out touching your skin. Blade angle is also super important. Too steep and you are scraping and looking to get cut. Your prep and stretching sounds ok.
    It's not what you know, it's who you take fishing!

  7. #7
    Senior Member dinnermint's Avatar
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    In regards to being blind in one eye, a wall mounted mirror may be of help.

    I would recommend sticking with just a cheek the first few shaves. Use the DE you are comfortable with for the rest. You look much more presentable with just 1 cut rather than 15. Avoid moustache and chin for now.

    As mentioned before, shavettes can be unforgiving. Maybe try a different blade too? Have gotten some a couple bad single edge blades, not common but it can happen.
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  9. #8
    Senior Member jfk742's Avatar
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    For the jaw line just pull your cheek up to bring the sling at the jaw above it, shave to the jaw, then pull at the neck and continue the stroke from the jaw line towards your hand as you pull the skin.

    Having not shaved myself with a shavette before I’m not sure what would be the problem exactly but sounds like pressure and angle to me too. Lighten up and go with as low as an angle you can and still have the edge contact your face.

    The chin hair for me does the same thing as yours on a with the grain pass, if I use an across the grain pass it works much better.

    I have a mongoose that I use feathers in and they are by far the most likely of the blades I’ve tried in it to draw blood. The kai’s are much milder and I think they fit in the feather. If those are an option that would be the blade for my skin to learn a shavette with.
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  10. #9
    High Priest of Low Budget Shaving CrescentCityRazors's Avatar
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    Shave angle is the usual culprit. The spine should be practically dragging on the skin. Keep the pressure light. Short strokes. Begin the motion with the razor above the face and swoop in as if you were making a touch and go landing. Scoop up some lather and fly off again. Make another stab at it. Scoop up some more lather. Shave the lather, not the whiskers, and the whiskers will come. Don't try to get a close shave. Try only to survive unscathed. Closeness will come, in time.

    You are trying to shave with an extremely sharp edge. It is not often that you will encounter an actual straight razor as sharp as your shavette. Maybe never. It is a cruel teacher and your failed lessons are punished by making your face look like that of a professional wildcat sorter. Nevertheless, you can learn to shave with it. The worst part is probably over. And when you have mastered the Feather, a proper straight razor will be as tame as a puppy. So stick with it. Lower your shave angle. Touch and go strokes. Watch out for the ends of the blade. Those corners can be vicious if you are not used to them being there.

    When I lived on my boat, I had no mirror at all for a couple of years. I shaved mostly with straights but also sometimes with a shavette or a DE or a wedge blade hoe handle or Schick injector or whatever. Being able to see your face is not an absolute necessity. You know where your face is, after all. And the razor is in your hand, so you know where that is. Bring them together and bobs yer uncle.

    You can turn down the sharpness a bit by corking the blade. Simply slice into a wine cork with it, one slice, the full length of the blade. Well, that horse has bolted. After several shaves already, the blade should have lost much of its sharpness. Next time...

    Figure out what part of the blade is cutting you. If it is the corners, that is easily remedied by dulling jsut the corners on a coarse hone or even a brick or fine sandpaper. Never use a slicing stroke with a shavette until you are quite competent in its use.

    There are other brands and styles of blade that fit your shavette, that are not as sharp, if you wish to continue with a milder blade. You could also switch to a half DE type shavette, and load it with Derby or similar blades. I prefer the Feather DE blades, myself.

    With a regular straight razor I generally suggest not using any sort of training wheels such as finishing up with a DE razor, but in this case, maybe you should just do the easy parts of your face for a week or two and then finish with your DE or cart or whatever. Gradually work more of your face into your shavette shave.

    You could of course ditch the shavette and upgrade to a straight razor, but you are already part of the way to shavette success. May as well see it through, and become competent with it, before the almost inevitable upgrade.

    The Feather DX is a very good system and has a lot of fans. Nothing wrong with the design. Be sure you are mounting the blade correctly, though I think it is pretty hard to do it wrong. Hang in there. You have paid your entry fee in blood. Stick around and get your moneys worth.
    eddy79, JOB15, Raol and 4 others like this.

  11. #10
    Senior Member Raol's Avatar
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    Great advise from the pros, I think the process has been well covered.
    The feather is bad ass and as you have found out can be non forgiving. I'll take on any straight razor before using the DX.
    As was suggested earlier, never try to get a close shave first pass, just take the soap off the face slowly using minimal pressure and angle. Often suggested for the first shave start with the cheeks (usually the easiest) and finish with your usual razor. Each shave add a little more territory.
    Take it slow.
    RezDog, JOB15 and Siguy like this.
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