Sunday, November 29, 2009

Shave of the Day - Nov. 29

I'm shaving every second or third day now. I changed blades in the Gillette DE and that seemed to help get back to a closer shave, but it certainly promoted the red weepers.

Today's shave (second on the blade) was no different. Veerrrryy close, but lots of weepers. Still, the shower afterward takes care of them.

I'm learning that most of the knack for a close shave is knowing your beard grain very well. My WTG passes leave an awful lot of whisker, but the second pass, ATG, takes care of nearly all. I just have a little touch-up here and there and I'm done.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Shave of the Day - Nov. 24

Best shave yet with the Gillette Super Speed although my neck, especially the left side (I'm right handed) was bloodied. I wonder if the blade is getting dull. I went two passes - WTG then ATG, as I've been doing, with a rinse & re-lather in between. I'm learning more and more about what direction my beard grows - something I thought I always knew, but am now paying more attention to.

This was the second round with the brush, and I need to get some instruction on how the heck to get enough lather to last for a pass! It may be the Williams soap, as I've heard that it's not the most lathering soap out there, or it may simply be my technique - which is what I really suspect. This was the first time I didn't rub the cake directly on my face, and that may have had something to do with it too. Still, I'd like to get away from having to use that particular technique.

Guess I'll round up those YouTube videos on lathering with soap & brush.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tweezerman Brush - First Use

I delayed use of the Tweezerman for a day or two, and used it yesterday for the first time.

OK. A little background. I haven't used a shaving brush in nearly four decades - and never really learned how to use one to best advantage. And I know there are some great videos out there on YouTube and so forth. However, I just dove in and used the thing the best I could with no real background other than what I've read on a few forums and other sources.

I wet my face with hot water, and rubbed my now trusty cake of Williams directly on. I then wet the brush, worked the Williams in the bowl with it, and applied the result to my face. I did get a pretty good lather this way, but it didn't seem to last the way my previous (brushless) method did. I suspect that I need to work the soap longer for a better lather, and play around with just how wet the brush needs to be.

Stay tuned as I begin to get the hang of it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tweezerman Brush Is Here!

More tomorrow, after the first fumbling use!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Shave of the Day - Nov. 17

Again with the Gillette Super Speed, Wilkinson blade, and Williams soap, lathered by hand. Fifth shave with the blade.

I tried a suggestion I found on the forum and rubbed the moist but not wet cake of Williams right on my face. I then wet my hands in very hot water and rubbed my face. I got what I felt was a very nice lather (still waiting for the brush to come in the mail).

As always, I did a first pass with the grain. I'm feeling much more comfortable with the razor, getting more used to the heft and balance. I rinsed and relathered, then did a pass against the grain. This pass caused a little irritation. I'm not sure if the blade is getting old or if it was due to technique. I find myself getting a bit nervous and shaky around my adams apple and my chin line. I'd also had several cups of high caffine coffee by this point in the morning, and that may have had something to do with things.

At any rate, I got a reasonably close shave, although not as close as last time. This one was much more irritating as well, along with several red fluid weepers. I did a final hot water rinse to get rid of the lather, then a cold rinse to stop the weepers, and hopped in the shower. I can't yet bring myself to shower before the shave.

I'll continue to hone my technique, and will soon begin trying different soaps and creams. I can see the line of shaving mugs along my sink ledge already.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Blade Sharpness

I have to admit, these days I shave so seldom that a blade lasts me weeks, perhaps well over a month. I used to push the Mach 3 blades I used as far as I could, way into dullness, just because they were so stinkin' expensive - pushing $4 per cartridge.

However, a down side to this practice is my belief that a blade starts deteriorating after the first shave, due to water and residual whiskers and cream on the blade after that first shave, even with vigorous rinsing and shaking. I think this is time-based, not just due to the number of shaves on the blade. If you buy the theory, a six week old blade with six shaves on it would be in much worse shape than a two week old blade with six shaves behind it.

I think there's something to this, because once upon a time I shaved nearly every day. Only when I began to stretch the time between shaves did I notice that time seemed to be part of the equation when it came to a dulling blade. Of course, part of the problem could well be the fact that a blade used once a week is cutting a longer, heavier whisker than a blade used every day or two.

My DE Wilkinson blade now has four shaves on it over the course of about three weeks, and I think I can tell that it's not as sharp as it was. However, it's still doing pretty well, and that pack of five blades cost me a little over $2. So I'm going to get possibly 100 shaves (two packs, 10 blades, 10 shaves per blade) for roughly the cost of ONE Mach 3 cartridge, which might give me ten or twelve shaves if I push it, the last four or five being quite miserable.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Refurb an Antique For My First Straight Razor?

OK. I don't think anybody is reading this - at least not yet, so I'll also post this question on a razor forum somewhere too. However, if you stumble upon it here, please comment.

Is it reasonable for a Straight Razor Rookie to pick up an antique straight razor in an antique shop somewhere and refurbish it for his first razor, say via Bill Ellis' methods? I mean, for crying out loud, a lot of times you can pick 'em up for $5 or $10. I realize that, at a minimum, it'd mean a lot of elbow grease, and would only be cost effective if a guy had the right tools to begin with. Or does it make more sense to cough up the $100 - $250 for a good blade and start that way?

What about the cheaper blades? I saw an ad somewhere on some site that had a nice looking straight razor for $60 or $70, but it was titanium coated stainless steel. Quick digression: I'm a fly fisherman and sometimes teach fly casting. One of the first things we warn beginners about is the so-called "hardware store" rod that you used to be able to pick up for $30. They were so bad that a beginner couldn't hope to cast one decently, and would likely be put off fly casting forever because of the bad experience thes rods would induce. Does a $50 - $75 razor offer the same bad experience to a rookie straight razor user?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

goin' smooth....

Another shave with my vintage Gillette DE and the Wilkinson blades. I'm getting the hang of it more and more. I can get as close a shave with two passes as I've ever had with the multi-blade "Hydras" I've been shaving with for years (God forbid we ever get to 9 blades in one of those things). I had only one slight abrasion and the resulting red fluid leak, right at the jaw-line.

I'm beginning to really like the feel of the DE. Being all metal, it has a good heft, something I didn't even know I missed with the mostly plastic Mach 3 and its predecessor, the Trac II. I have to admit, the vintage DE still feels a little awkward as the handle is shorter than I'm used to. I will need to search out a long handled version.

I've been lathering with a cake of Williams Mug Shaving Soap by hand, the way I'd use a bar to wash my hands. Vastly inferior, and probably blasphemous, but that's how I'm traveling this journey, not necessarily how one should. At any rate, I've got a brush on order, the inexpensive but highly rated Tweezerman. More on that in a few days.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Is DE Shaving "The Path?"

I've been scanning a forum or two lately, and joined this morning. One thing I've noticed is that double-edge shaving seems to be a common path / stepping stone to shaving with the long blade.

I've also noticed - or think I have - that any kind of wet shaving is new to a lot of guys. Can this be true? I've shaved with cream and a blade of one sort or another since I was about 13 or 14, except for maybe six weeks back in 1979, when I tried out a Norelco electric. This past few weeks is my first experience with a classic DE razor though.

It's obviously made an impression on me. I dreamt about it the other night...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Double-Edge Shave Redux

I shaved again with my new old Gillette double-edge. Checking the post dates of these entries, you'll note that I don't shave every day. This may be a disadvantage from a consistency standpoint, but there it is.

This shave wasn't quite as close, and I nicked myself in two or three spots. I'm not as scared of the blade as last time, but I still felt a little trepidation. I lathered twice, going with the grain the first time, and (mostly) against it the second.

OK. These entries are seeming a little trivial, even to me, but I have to start this journey somewhere. I need to get out there and find a straight razor, get it in shape and try that. Gotta get to the forums and see if that's a practical approach. I found a couple of what appeared to be servicable razors last weekend in the antique shops for the ridiculously low prices of $7 - $15. If all they truly need is a hone and a strop, it seems like an inexpensive way to step into true straight razor shaving.

Stay tuned.