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Thread: My foray into shaving with a safety razor

  1. #1
    Senior Member TristanLudlow's Avatar
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    Default My foray into shaving with a safety razor

    After having a wonderful shave with a safety razor, I felt a sudden urge to share my experiences. Sounds weird if I'd were to tell this to people who don't shave with a straight or DE razor, but among like-minded folks who share the same sentiment about shaving, it's seems normal and common. I thoroughly enjoy the shaving experience as all of you do.

    I ventured into straight razor shaving and DE shaving a while ago, around 7 years.
    Eventually made the switch to DE shaving only. But I wasn't getting the shaves I wanted or expected. I had a Merkur HD and a Merkur Slant. My shaves weren't terrible, but they weren't great either. I was using the Merkur blades that came with, and continued to use those. My shaves were a bit harsh and my skin got irritated often.

    The Slant and I at that time weren't a good match, harsh, irritated shaves. I put my Slant away for good and almost decided to sell it. Looking back, I'm glad I didn't.

    After a while I ordered new blades, Red IPs and Feathers, but my shaves still weren't that good, nor did I see much improvement.
    Looking back now technique and experience and skill have everything to do with it. So of course, I started buying new razors, not a smart decision money-wise, but I figured other razors might do a better job. So I ordered a Mühle r89 and was actually getting better shaves. [My technique was getting better, that's the only reason, I figure]. I also bought a Gillette Old Type ball end, dating back to around 1919. But I still wasn't satisfied with my shaves, my skills just weren't up to par, yet. My lathering wasn't good, my technique wasn't great.

    I abandoned DE shaving altogether, and started using the Mach 3 again. My shaves were good with the Mach 3, just not as close and 'long-lasting' as I would like.

    So after a while of cartridge shaving, I re-opened the box I stored my DE shaving gear in and grabbed my DE shaving tools.
    ADs started kicking in and I ordered a Mühle "classic" silvertip badger 25 mm brush, which I really like btw. Another Mühle r89, GFT cream, GFT coconut oil cream, DR Harris almond cream, DR Harris lavender cream, Klarr Kabinett shaving soap and 200 red IP blades.

    But the greatest was that I received another razor that looks exactly like a Gillette Old Type ball end but says "WYATT, made in England" (IIRC) that belonged to my great grandfather
    and a Schick Krona that belonged to my grandfahter!

    Now that I got better at shaving and lathering, my shaves have improved immensely. I'm able to shave daily without much irritation and very very close shaves!
    I'm a face latherer, works the best for me.
    Before, daily shaving was out of the question, not even with the mach 3 my skin couldn't stand daily shaving.

    I remember really disliking the Merkur Slant razor when I first started out, or more so I was displeased with my technique and skill, but couldn't admit it; I now pair the Slant with a Red IP blade, and what a smooth, close, comfortable, effortless and irritation-free shave I receive from it.
    The difference is night and day, I can hardly believe it myself.

    I only use the Personna Red IP blades for now, since I find them so smooth and am able to get BBS shaves with it. But since I'm familiar and really like the Personna blades I recently ordered 100 Personna blue med prep blades (for hospital use) and am curious to try out these blades which get overall good reviews.

    I also recently ordered and have yet to receive a Mühle R41. I will honestly say that I haven't quite mastered open comb shaving, yet, my Old Type shaves are very, very close; but not yet as smooth. But that's what I like about this hobby we all have, mastering different razors and techniques to go with it. All the razors have their own way of handling and characteristics.

    Variety is the spice of life.

    If I'd had to put my razors into order of liking, with smoothness, closeness and the least amount of irritation that I get out of them I'd put my Merkur Slant at number one. The Schick Krona is number 2. All paired with a Red IP that is. Maybe it will be different with the Personna med prep blades, I have yet to find out.

    Out of the creams I mentioned, the D R Harris Lavender is, by far, my favorite cream.
    I tried L'Occitane soap in the past, but found soaps to be a little harsh on my skin, so I use mostly creams. The Klar Kabinett soap is amazing though, slick thick lather, I really like it, unfortunately I found out it was discontinued. Mostly I'll think I'll use creams, though I am curious about the Martin de Candre shaving soap, I might try that out in the near future.

    In the end, I ended up with way too much gear for the task that is shaving. But it's like a hobby, you look and keep looking into different soaps, creams, razors, blades, brushes, etc.
    I do my best not to get carried away too much anymore, from now on. Hmmmz.

    The morale of my story is: I had all the right gear from the beginning, but wasn't getting good results. I used the exact same gear some time later and got outstanding results.

    My advice to people would be, get good gear you can depend on, but what you can't buy is your technique & skill and that really makes or brakes your shave, ime.


    The gear I currently have, only counting my DE gear:

    TI Silvertip brush
    Mühle Silvertip brush

    Alum stones (which I mostly use to get a better grip on my wet face, works great for me)

    GFT cream, GFT coconut oil cream
    DR Harris Lavender cream, Almond cream
    Klar Kabinett soap

    ~ 200 Personna Red IPs
    [100 Personna blue med prep blades, yet to come]

    2 Old Type Gillette razors (one from a different brand)
    Schick Krona
    Mühle r89 (x2) [and a Mühle r41 to come]
    Merkur HD and Merkur Slant

    Thanks for reading my story
    if anyone has any feedback, wants to share a personal story, has input on creams, soaps, blades, razors, technique etc.
    feel free to start a friendly discussion!

    Also, what I wanted to quickly add is that, ever since I saw pictures of my male ancestors, seeing how cleanly shaven they were on all the pictures I've seen, I really developed an obsession with being cleanly shaven.

    Kind regards,

    TL

  2. #2
    Senior Member MajorEthanolic's Avatar
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    Next stop, straight razor!
    Last edited by MajorEthanolic; 11-17-2014 at 12:54 PM.

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    TristanLudlow (11-17-2014)

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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Glad it all worked out in the end for you. I could not agree more with the premise that if you have good basic gear you really can't buy a better shave. You have to learn to make that gear work buy using the proper technique. It takes time to build a good enough skill level to do so.

    I shaved for a lot of years using DEs and twin blade carts and thought I was pretty good at it. I started trying to use a straight razor several years ago and that took me quite awhile to get decent at. When I thought I was decent with using a straight I revisited using DEs. Using my adjustable Gillette Fat Boy previously I could use a setting no higher than 6 but after getting decent with a straight I can manage it set at 9. The difference was that using a straight had taught me to up my game by demanding that my lather be better, my pressure be lighter and my angle be better. In short, to pay close attention to what I was doing or suffer the consequences.

    I see that you have ordered a Muhle R41. That DE will give my straights a run for their money regarding longevity and closeness of a shave. It will shave closer that my Merkur slant. It also needs a very light touch and operates in a very narrow window as to what angle works best. It is not a monster just demands that the user take it slow and pay close attention to a few basic details. It is now my travel razor.

    I have been on a soap kick so have a good variety to choose from. All I have learned is that cost is not really all that relative to how a soap or cream will perform as far as being perfectly adequate to the job and not hinder you from getting a good shave. I am perfectly happy to use anything from Arko to Martin de Candre. The biggest thing is to learn how to make a good lather from whatever you are using and they are all a bit different in how to go about that. As I improved my skill/technique in making a lather some of the soaps/creams that did not work too well for me before miraculously got better in the meantime when I revisited them later. I do have my favorites and seem to gravitate toward tallow based soaps.

    Hope you continue to enjoy the hobby.

    Bob
    Life is a terminal illness in the end

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    TristanLudlow (11-17-2014)

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    Thanks for sharing your experiences with shaving here. After reading it, I realized that in many ways it paralleled my own.

    Even after reading all the instructions to keep the den limited at the start, I didn't listen, and bought a bunch of razors when I first started DE shaving. Big mistake. I firmly believe that retarded my development of the art of shaving.

    Now that I have my collection under control, the shaves have improved, but the hobby is still fun. There's always new stuff to try, if I need variation.

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    I couldn't help myself, but was reading up on Italian soft soaps and was reading outstanding reviews,
    so I ordered the Cella 1KG block and also ordered some Astra blades, as I read they are very smooth and are able to give excellent shaves.
    The AD continues, I'll be damned!
    I'm also very interested in the Valobra soap and Boellis Panama 1924. I might get those somewhere in the future, just awaiting how Cella works out for me.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    I have a puck of Valobra Patchouli scent soap that I can say is excellent. Not to be overlooked either are RazorRock soaps. I especially like the tallow based ones. Tallow in the formula seems to do it for me more often than not. Have fun exploring the different soaps and creams.

    Bob
    Life is a terminal illness in the end

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    TristanLudlow (11-21-2014)

  11. #7
    Senior Member TristanLudlow's Avatar
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    Crap. Does it ever stop,

    Ordered 150g Valobra shaving soap almond; a Semogue 830, another Semogue 610; Souplex blades and Gillette Silver blue blades.

    I was always interested in trying boar brushes, they're pretty damn cheap, compared to the silvertip badgers, and I heard damn good things about them.

    Almost purchased some Tabula Rasa shaving cream, but I couldn't justify the price.

    As you said Bob, I'm really looking forward trying out a Tallow based product, I've read good things.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    No, it never seems to stop at least for me. Boar brushes are a different experience and keep in mind they need a couple of weeks of continuous everyday use to break in to really know how they feel. Hope you enjoy that Valobra soap.

    Bob
    Life is a terminal illness in the end

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    Senior Member TristanLudlow's Avatar
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    Thanks Bob!

    Today I shaved with the Mühle R41 for the first time, wow. Amazing shave, I loaded in a fresh red personna blade, lathered up real well with my dr harris lavender cream and commenced the shave.
    With the first stroke, I already knew this was going to be different, yet awesome.

    From what I had gathered reading about the r41, I approached the shave like I would a straight. It certainly felt closest to a straight razor shave than any other DE razor I have used.
    You can use pretty much any angle you want with this razor, just like with a straight and that's how the shave felt. Very close, very smooth.
    Even after one pass, I felt the difference in the shave from the other DE razors, it was closer, it felt better for me. I had flashbacks to my good days of SR shaving.

    I am a little surprised, but not really. I have had a year of SR shaving experience in my past, and that has made this shave so good for me. If I didn't know how to shave with a SR, I don't think my shave would've been this good!

    In all honesty, I really loved the shave I got from straight razors, but didn't want to put the time in the maintenance and carefulness of handling a straight razor's edge. I messed up a couple edges on my razors, accidentally banging against the sink, hitting the top of my strop and chipping the blade a little, stupid things like that.

    This razor is what I've been looking for unconsciously. Feels like a SR and it acts like one, and my skin also feels like I just had a shave with a SR.
    My technique is exactly how I would've done it with a SR. I was thinking about my angles, kinda still figuring them out for this razor as I went along. I could do an ATG angle I used to do with SRs and couldn't really do with other DEs where it actually felt good.

    With this razor I could go shallow or steep, the blade cuts at pretty much all angles you could need or want in a shave. The fact that you can choose at what degree you angle your blade and actually shave at that angle, makes this razor so good IMO. Maybe it's because I'm used to closed comb shaves and the slant; and because I'm not familiar, nor experienced with OC razors, where I'm guessing you can also choose a wide variety of angles and shave with. I have a couple shaves down with a Gillette old type ball end, but they weren't this smooth, albeit very close shaves.

    This razor doesn't leave much to be desired, so far I really like mine.
    Mühle razors show a high degree of craftsmanship, their razors all well made and have outstanding finish, fine fine razors.
    Last edited by TristanLudlow; 11-25-2014 at 01:10 PM.

  14. #10
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Glad you enjoyed your shave with the Muhle R41. I think you did have a leg up on using the R41 by your experience using a straight razor. They are a different beast from other commonly available DEs and really not suitable for novice DE shavers, just my opinion. Hope you continue to enjoy the Muhle R41 as much as I do.

    Bob
    Life is a terminal illness in the end

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