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Thread: newbie question from one taking the first de shave

  1. #1
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    Default newbie question from one taking the first de shave

    *warning...i can be long-winded so apologies in advance*

    (for reasons beyond my knowledge i have a predisposition to think that ppl want to know everything surrounding a specific question or issue =) so to get to the q please skip next paragraph)

    So I've been fairly interested in straight razors for close to a year now on seeing how the common multi-blade razors did not give me the shave i wanted (burns, nicks, in-grown, etc). I wanted to use up all of my cartridges first but ran out of aftershave (been using zirh and tried nivea but wife didn't like the scent) so i went to a local shave specialty shop (West Coast Shaving) and the tons of different shaving items really peaked my interest again. The clerk there advised me to try going with a de razor first before jumping head-first into a straight razor. i've been researching non-stop for the past week from shaving techniques, to diff brands, and proper how-to's. This is where my question lies~

    do you need to properly lather soap onto face when shaving? and thinking of getting the merkur hd, good choice?

    the proper technique answer would be yes but the reason i ask this is bc from my years of cartridge shaving, the can shaving cream would actually give me a worse shave and i've been using cerave (super mild hand soap) as the lubricant and it's worked great.

    btw...hello from so cal, i come in peace

  2. #2
    The Hurdy Gurdy Man thebigspendur's Avatar
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    Get yourself a good quality shave soap or cream and a descent brush to apply it. There are tons of DE's out there both new and vintage. For someone starting out the mercur line like the barber pole and HD are good choices.
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  3. #3
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    i shaved with a de for two weeks and bought a straight. there are advantages to de before straight but I'm really surprised he told you to do that. either way its always good to have a de on hand for clean up

  4. #4
    Senior Member matloffm's Avatar
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    I started with a DE and would recommend it. Coming from carts you are used to applying lots of pressure when using the razor. A DE will teach you how to shave with NO pressure of any kind. It is easier to handle a DE in the beginning and all the prep and lathering is the same as with a straight. Also, DEs remove the question of is the blade being sharp enough. There are lots of blade choices and you will surely find one you like. When you are getting close comfortable shaves with a DE you can start trying straights. You can also try a shavette (I recommend the Feather system) and you will learn how to maneuver a straight, again without worrying about blade maintenance. Even if you decide to go with straights only, it is still good to have other methods you can use in a pinch. Also, there is no such thing as too much knowledge.

    As for the Merkur HD, I started there but I would now recommend the Merkur Progress or a vintage Gillette adjustable as these allow you to start very mild and dial up the efficiency as you get the hang of it. I guarantee you will get a great shave from a good DE and blade.
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  5. #5
    Member Sightless's Avatar
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    I went head first, I started with straights. That being said I have found myself somewhere between straights and DE/SE. I have learned that for me personally I shave with a different razor based on the amount of time I have. I also have found that I use a a DE/SE for "clean up" like some have called it. Sometimes a 3 inch blade just can't fit those hard to reach contours of your face.

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    To be honest before I got into this madness DE's scared me more than straights. Probably because I knew people who had tried DE's and failed miserably but didn't know anyone who used a SR and therefore couldn't hear any first hand accounts (or horror stories ).

    I shaved with straights for a solid year or two before trying a DE for the first time, so the transition was very easy for me but I fully realize it's not so easy for a lot of people. The most important things to consider are pressure (or a lack thereof), and maintaining a consistant angle by locking your wrist. With cartridge razors you get used to the pivoting head, so you can basically move your wrist any which way and not cut yourself. Not so with a DE. The shallowest angle that will cut whiskers is optimal.

    Now, to answer your questions. Yes, proper lather is best for traditional wetshaving. After loading the brush you can either lather in a bowl then apply to your face or lather directly on your face. Either way is personal preference, you'll have to decide what works better for you. And yes, the Merkur 34C (aka the HD) would be a fine choice for a beginner.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Mephisto's Avatar
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    To your first question, yes, a good lather is paramount for a good smooth shave. Learning how to make good lather has it's own rewards. However, there are lots of different roads to get to a good lather. Continue studying, there are lots of guides on here as well as on youtube. As to your second one I have no idea; never used the Merkur razors.

    Good Luck
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  8. #8
    Member dougr's Avatar
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    The lather is very important and the brush should be matched to soaps or creams. A suggestion may be to buy samples of shave cream to find your favorite; its best to buy samples that match up with what you want to pay for the full tub/tube. I started to shave with DE's again after many years, buying a 1940's SS; then bought a Futur which is in my rotation now. My Straights do not get much use anymore. Have fun....

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