Skip to content

Know When To Hold 'em, Know When To Fold 'em

Listen to this article

My neck after shaving. Not pretty.

After a year and a half, I’ve been having second thoughts about my commitment to wet shaving.
Yes, I enjoy it.
Yes, I think the hundreds of dollars I’ve dropped on new and vintage razors, creams, soaps, brushes, aftershaves and pre-shave oils are cool.
But no, this didn’t turn into a money-saving proposition from the days of the multi-blade cart razor and can of goo.
And no, at least right now, the shaves aren’t closer … and my neck irritation is as bad as ever.
It was getting better for a while, but then a few months ago, the persistent razor burn and ingrown hairs returned. On Mantic’s advice, I tweaked and tweaked.
Products. Blades. Razors. Techniques. Frequency. You name it, I tried it.
(Here’s a thread I started on Badger and Blade if you want more detail.)
Anyway, I seem to be on the road to improvement, but it’s been frustrating and embarrassing that I can’t get a BBS or DFS without bump city.
So, I’m kicking around the idea of going back to my Gillette Mach 20 Pro Glide Power Fusion (or whatever it’s called) until I can sort some of these problems out.
Please, Sharpologist community, talk me out of it.

Andy Tarnoff

Andy Tarnoff

20 thoughts on “Know When To Hold 'em, Know When To Fold 'em”

  1. For me, the sharper the blade the less irritation. When I first started wet shaving I read all this nonsense about how this person or that one lived in fear of the Feather blade. Once I tried using one it changed the whole game for me. I get much less irritation using a sharp blade. I use a pre-shave oil and re-apply between passes in the problem areas. Using a post-shave product that contains witch hazel has helped too. As for the cost thing….well, just like anything else the more “into” it you get the more money you’re likely to dump into it. The only way to save money with DE shaving is to remain as indifferent as you probably were prior to making the switch. If I simply bought blades and cream and shaved every other day, changing my blade every dozen shaves, yeah I’d save a few bucks.

  2. It might sound weird, but it could even be the pillow you rest your head on at night. I experienced a problem with synthetics a couple of years ago.

  3. It’s amazing isn’t it?
    I’m new to DE traditional wet shaving. Before shaving this way I would only shave once per week with a disposable BIC razor and I had accepted that I would never get a good shave ever in my life. At 40 years old I’d never had a BBS shave or even a good shave. When I first started I was having problems in my chin area and neck. It got so bad I had to grow it out for almost a week. I was really unhappy being unshaven for so long and yet I had been happy to shave once a week at best, once per two weeks at worse for all those years.
    I like to shave everyday, sometimes the shave is good, sometimes it isn’t so good, but it’s getting better and I’m still figuring out the best use of passes. At the moment WTG, XTG and a cross between XTG and ATG seems to be working.
    I never get BBS, I could, but my face would burn so much it really isn’t worth it.
    I’m getting the best shaves of my shaving life at the moment and although not perfect shaves, they’re so much better than my hobo look days.

  4. It seems that many guys are reporting similar problems. The cause may be in aiming for a really close shave rather than a comfortable shave. Maybe it would be best to focus on a comfortable shave, even if it is not close, instead? When you are getting irritation-free shaves, then incrementally tweak the technique and equipment used to get closer shaves. Just a thought…

  5. I’m using the “Gillette slide” on my neck with my least aggressive razor and my least aggressive blades. I keep the blade horizontal and move the razor diagonally to the “southwest” as I view myself in the mirror. I’ve given up on getting BBS on my neck, but I’m making good progress toward a good compromise. Don’t forget that you can use different razors and different techniques on different parts of your face.

  6. I also have a sensitive next area, so I know exactly where you are coming from.
    My suggestions…
    1) Forget BBS on your neck! You are not rubbing your neck on anybody; most of the time, even if you are with a women it’s the cheeks that you want to be smooth, not the neck!
    2) I do either 1 or 2 passes on my neck, both with the grain, never ever against the grain. The closer the shave, the great chance of bump, ingrowns and irritation. On the neck area, it’s just not worth.
    3) Wash your neck (and face) thoroughly with a pre-shave soap; my favorite is the Sul Filo bar by Proraso. **Use a high quality pre-shave product on your next area; either an pre-post cream (and don’t skimp on the product) or a high quality pre-shave oil.
    4) Make sure you rinse the area very thoroughly after the shave with hot water (I repeat… hot water) and finish off with a very high quality aftershave lotion with great healing ingredients. Apply this aftershave directly after the hot water rinsing.
    5) Change your blade often. The duller the blade, the more chance at irritation. I generally change my blade every 2 shave (3 max).
    Kind regards,

  7. Maybe you should define your goal first. What do you want to get out of this? What do you want to achieve. My goal is to get the 100% smooth and perfect shave. In my opinion this can only be achieved with a de-razor or blade. The modern razors aren’t precise enough to achieve this. A lot of hair won’t be cut of and you will have stubble. Even if it takes you years to learn it it’s worth it. Just have patience. Move the razor very slowly and don’t press down. I had the same problem. Be really really careful. One day it will work. Keep trying.

  8. I say go back to your cartridge razor and start over. Change one thing at a time and find where things start to break down.
    For me, shaving has been more about “the journey not the destination.” Someday, I will get the perfect shave, and then I will probably fall over dead.

  9. I think you should try the “Bump Fighter” razor as mentioned once over in your thread at B&B. It’s made specifically to handle the type of problem you are experiencing. Unless you’ve already given it a try, I think it would definitely be worth picking one up as they are really not that expensive.

  10. I had a problem like that. If you’re shaving and theres already irritation, then the skin isnt going to smooth and cooperative, no matter how much TLC you give it. On top of not being aggresive, maybe try transitioning down to shaving just once or twice a week if possible and give yourself some time to heal.

  11. Why on earth would we ever want to talk you out of it? Listen, use the method that works best for you. If it’s wet shaving fine. If’s it’s cartridges and cans of lather, that’s fine too. Nothing works best for everyone. Skin characteristics, etc. are different differ by individual as well. How your skin reacts to different blades, razors and creams differs by person as well. You gave it a good shot and that’s that. If I had your issues I’d be back to my old Fusion and Edge (assuming you don’t have these issues with them) in a second with no extra thought about it. No need to keep torturing yourself – and your skin. Do whatever makes you most comfortable. It’s ONLY shaving….

  12. I’m a fan of what Dr K. said: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” I’m no expert, and it might just be technique, but it’s VERY difficult for me to get BBS on certain parts of my neck without getting little nicks. But I am able to get BBS from the jawline up, I’ve just accepted that my neck will usually still have the slightest bit of stubble.
    You may have already tried them, but I’ve found that Wilkinson DE razors allow me to make multiple passes along the neck with significantly smaller risk of nicks or irritation then other DE razors.
    If your determined to toss the DE razor, that doesn’t mean you have to toss the soaps, creams, and brush. You could at least keep all that and still enjoy some of the benefits of traditional shaving.

  13. It’s very hard for anyone to give you specific advice in this instance because while I believe you when you say “You name it, I’ve tried it,” I doubt anyone here can verily state that they’ve tried everything. Except maybe Leisureguy — seems like he actually has tried everything! Even if you showed us a video of your technique, it would be difficult for us to assess your prep, lather, blade angle, pressure, etc. There are so many variables, which is why Mantic’s advise to keep tweaking makes sense.
    In general terms, what I would say is that you should forget about BBS for now. Trying to shave too closely got me into trouble when I first started DE shaving. As a dermatologist, I can confidently state the obvious: those bumps are from irritation, and it’s because for any number of reasons your blade is cutting into your skin and not just your hair. So the first thing you should do is back off on closeness and just try to get a shave that’s free of irritation and bumps. Think of what got you there in the past and do that. Reduce your number of passes in your problem areas. If you can feel a little stubble there, so what? It’s better than red bumps. Once you are consistently getting irritation-free shaves, then if you’re still determined, try changing one variable at a time in an effort to get a closer shave. Certainly, around the neck, shorter passes with much less pressure will be helpful, and greater attention to the direction of your pass (the hairs there often grow in a variety of directions). You can get away with relatively sloppy technique on the cheeks, but it’s much less forgiving on the neck. Also, once you’re broken out, give your skin a rest. No matter how careful you are and how great your technique is, if you’re skin is swollen and inflamed, continued shaving there is going to exacerbate it. Even world class athletes with the best surgeons and the best rehabilitation facilities sometimes just need to give 100% rest to whatever is ailing them for the healing to occur. Let things grow out a few days for your follicles to calm down. Usually you get a better shave with a few days growth anyway.
    Keep in mind that some people have such sensitive skin that they may never get a BBS shave on their neck without causing these kinds of problems to some degree. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. But if you were able to get there with a cartridge and goo, there’s no reason why you can’t do as well or better with a DE razor, a brush and a good cream or soap. Good luck!

  14. I cant see how downgrading will solve your problem. You have the best tools right now, so I think Mantic is right, keep tweaking.
    If you you were getting a better shave for a while, but now your not, something must have changed.
    I would give it a week, keep shaving exactly how you should. Maybe check a couple youtube videos on how to avoid your problems.
    I would suggest getting out of a hot shower, massage some pre shave oil over your whole head and next very well. Really massage it to make sure you loosen up your skin. Then use your badger brush (lots of hot water in it) and really work the cream.
    If you have to take a couple passes, try not going against the grain. first try putting a bit more hot water on your neck, a bit more pre shave oil, lather up some more cream and then do another pass but perpendicular to the grain.
    These are the steps I used to do under my chin because I always get razor burn and/or ingrown hair. The only way that helped was using the oil again and going perpendicular instead of against the grain.
    Good luck, stay sharp!

  15. Do what suits you. I occasionally use a Wilkinson Hydro or Mach 3 with great results. But always now with a brush for lather. But for a pleasing relaxed shave I do prefer my DE razors. But each to his own.

  16. Personally, I could never go back to cartridge shaving. I started a new day job in January and am required to be clean shaven, which meant I had to start shaving daily or every other day–more frequently than I was used to. The neck is a sensitive, tricky area. I’ve accepted that I can get a smooth to baby smooth shave on my face, but can only perform 1 or 2 with the grain passes on my neck. I also find that collared shirts irritate fresh shaven skin. I primarily use a Lord L6 razor, American Personna blades, and Proraso Sensitive Pre/Post and Razorock XXX.

Comments are closed.