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Advice: Stop!

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Kenny writes:


Mark! I did it! My first DE shave!


I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to get good lather from Trumpers with the VDH brush and the water in Los Angeles, so I scrapped it and used the TOBS. No problems. I wasn’t about to do my first DE shave with inferior later.

I ended up trying the Iridium blade. Very smooth. No dragging. Perhaps I was just being ginger, but it didn’t feel like much hair was being cut off.

My 3 passes were: WTG (2x) and XTG. Overall, a nice shave with no irritation so far. I used the sandalwood Skin Food and Ogalalla bay rum/sandalwood AS.

Do I need to let the razor lie heavier on my skin? Maybe my razor isn’t aggressive enough? First thing I’m going to try is a different blade, after a few practice runs.

EXCELLENT!! Now…stop.

By that I mean do not try to do anything else or change anything for the next two weeks (except changing blades when necessary and getting a better brush) . You’re learning a new skill, like golfing or driving a car with a manual transmission, so its important to develop your technique. “It didn’t feel like much hair was being cut off” is exactly where you want to be. That’s the beauty of traditional shaving, especially with a DE: its so damned smooth and comfortable compared to a cartridge razor that you may think you’re not cutting off as much hair as you really are.
So, like a golfer, shoot for par instead of hole-in-one for the whole course. If your three passes are not giving you nicks, cuts, or irritation, and leaving you looking presentable, stick with it. Don’t try to go for that “baby’s butt smooth” feeling just yet.


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

3 thoughts on “Advice: Stop!”

  1. @mister muleboy: That was my first DE shaving experience as well. It gets better. PREP, PREP, PREP your beard!

    @Jeff: Understood. Mantic is the man. That quote was from an email from me to Mantic a while back, after I first started. Sage advice.

    Since then I have refined my technique significantly and am getting near-BBS shaves now, although I don't think my beard will ever allow for an ATG pass. I still can't lather soap worth a damn, despite all the tutorials on the B&B site, so I've been sticking to creams.

  2. Kenny, listen to Mantic. He knows. It doesn't feel like I'm taking any hair off when I shave, but a single pass WTG gets me an excellent shave (far better than a cartridge). Enjoy the comfort and smoothness.

    Mr. Muleboy, it's a skill. You'll get better. Pay close attention to hair direction and face curvature. Note trouble spots and think about your technique in those places. My facial hair is thickest in my mustache area, but I've got a roman nose that is all bone, so it doesn't move out of the way. I've had to figure out my own technique to get those last few hairs right under my nose. There's a bunch of general advice out there, but once you've got good basic technique, you have to fine tune it to your face.

    That's the fun part.

  3. Nice post.

    And thanks for reminding me. . . .

    I'm a 50-yr.-old man who switched three weeks ago. I got obsessed a couple of months ago, but was reading a lot and getting some ideas.

    I couldn't wait for the lengthy delivery on my Merkur 34C, so I had an Edwin Jagger overnighted. The Derby blades sounded about right.

    I was underwhelmed.


    Th experience was all that I'd hoped it would be, but the shave was weak. I still used a Fusion at work after gym, and the multi-pass technique with it was amazing — BBS and all that.

    The DE safety was more fun, but a crummier shave.

    Well, I'm getting better, and I'm still having fun. And the "crummy" DE shave is still vastly superior to the one-pass shave I used to live with. Lived with for over thirty years, that is.

    So, as you suggest, patience will be my watchword. . . .

    Thanks again.

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