Tag: Shaving

Does Your Face Hurt?

My skin gets irritated when I shave. It gets irritated when I don't shave. I've tried electric razors and I've tried cartridge razors; the past few years, I've been using a Merkur 25C safety razor with Bic double-edged blades (which I settled on after a comparison of double-edged razor blades).

A couple of weeks ago, I developed a shaving rash, on the left side of my face, around and under my chin. I've been trying to get it to clear up, but haven't had much luck yet. (I'll try not to use the word "rash" again for the remainder of this post.)

I found some articles with titles like How to Get Rid of Razor Burn Fast, Simple Ways to Prevent Skin Irritation After Shaving, and How to Prevent Shaving Rash (hey, that one's not my fault; it's the title of the page). I also found my way to /r/wicked_edge, Reddit's Home for Traditional Wetshaving. It's...quite the rabbit-hole.

The users of Wicked Edge have some opinions on things. First of all, they don't much care for William's Mug, the cheap shaving soap I've been using, though several of them say that, if you add enough water to it, it foams up more and isn't so bad.

I tried that. I grew out my beard for a few days and then, when I couldn't take the itching anymore and it looked like the redness was clearing up, I shaved again. True to the Wicked Edge users' recommendation, more water meant better foam. But after a couple days, my chin started to flare up again. So I'm going to have to try something else.

And oh! there are so very many things to try. Blades! Soaps! Oils! Moisturize more! Moisturize less! Use alum! Use witch hazel! Stop using astringents! Lotion-based aftershave, alcohol-based aftershave, stop using aftershave! Ultimately, the challenge is that everybody's different, and what works for one guy won't work for every guy.

For now, I'm growing the beard back out, hitting the irritated skin with tea tree oil (a couple of drops on a wet cotton pad) and aloe vera (straight from the plant) a couple of times a day and hoping it'll go away soon. Once that happens, I've got some new stuff to try.

I saw several recommendations for Voskhod razors as providing a smooth shave without being too sharp; I'm going to try those. I know my technique needs work; I'm in a habit of pressing, which I need to unlearn because I know that's contributing to the irritation.

I also saw a number of soap recommendations. Consensus seems to be that the best soaps are tallow-based, but I'm not big on animal products; fortunately, there are lots of recommendations for vegan soaps, too. I ordered a few samples from Maggard Razors; I'll try them out, see if any of them work, and plan on reporting back later.

Wilkinson Sword Razors

So I was in the Wal-Mart the other day (a place I hope to spend less time now that I have a job again) and noticed they had double-edged razors priced ten for $1.76. It was a brand I hadn't tried yet, Wilkinson Sword, but that's about the lowest price I've ever seen on razors so I picked up a pack.

They're pretty good! I've been using them for two weeks now and I'd say they're not quite as good as Bic (still my favorite) but are as good as most other brands I've tried. Perfectly decent shave, only the occasional nick, and you can't beat that price. Recommended.

Razors Reviewed, Revised

I previously posted of my experience with a variety pack of double-edged razors I bought from Amazon. I divided them into two simple categories, good and bad.

Now that I've used them all (except the Merkur) a little bit more, I have some revisions to offer.


Previous Verdict: Nice Clean Shave

Revised: No revision; I only had one Merkur blade. Standing by the original review; it was a nice clean shave.

Blue bird

Previous Verdict: Nice Clean Shave

Revised: My second experience with the Blue bird wasn't as good. Some skin irritation. Not bad, but not as good as the first time around.


Previous Verdict: Nice Clean Shave

Revised: My opinion is unchanged. Bic is the best of the lot. The way things stand now, when I run out of all these razors I want to buy a bulk pack of Bic.


Previous Verdict: Nice Clean Shave

Revised: Round two with the Astra wasn't bad, but I'm going to have to revise the "nice clean shave" claim. In fact I'd say it's the least close shave out of all seven razors; I spent twice as much time going over my face several extra times to get rid of my stubble. On the plus side, it didn't irritate my skin; it's not a bad razor but it's not great, either.


Previous Verdict: Cut the Hell Out My Face

Revised: Oh my, no. Shark remains, far and away, the worst of the seven; as its name implies, it is a savage, bloodthirsty monster that will rip your flesh to shreds. When it wasn't making me bleed, it was raising bumps all over my face from irritation and ingrown hairs.


Previous Verdict: Cut the Hell Out My Face

Revised: Not so bad the second time around. Not as smooth an experience as Bic, but pretty good; definitely a better razor than I gave it credit for the first time.


Previous Verdict: Cut the Hell Out My Face

Revised: I have nicked my skin more with the Feather than most of the others, but on the other hand it feels smoother and shaves closer. On the whole I guess it's the opposite problem from the Astra.


Interestingly enough, on further review my Best and Worst razor remained the same, while all the others sort of converged toward the middle. A median with a couple of outliers -- the statistician in me is pleased.

Razors: The Final Tally

  • Nice Clean Shave: Merkur, Blue bird, Bic, Astra
  • Cut the Hell Out My Face: Shark, Gillette, Feather

Not looking forward to having to finish off those packs of Shark, Gillette and Feather, but so it goes.

Nope, Not Just Me

So the current tally stands at:

  • Nice Clean Shave: Merkur, Blue bird, Bic
  • Cut the Hell Out My Face: Shark, Gillette, Feather
  • Untested: Astra

I'll get back to you on Astra in about a week.

The irritating thing (currently mentally irritating, and soon to be skin irritating) is knowing that I still have all those mostly-full containers of Shark, Gillette, and Feather razors, and I'm not the sort of guy to let them go to waste over a few nicks. But when I run out of this sampler pack, I'm going to have to find a nice cheap box of razors I like. I think Bic is my current favorite and it sure shouldn't be hard to find.

Shaving Needs

Longtime readers will remember these chilling before-and-after images from some 11 years ago:

Bearded Thad A Clean-Shaven Thad

I can't do that anymore. The beard. My skin's gotten more sensitive, and if I go even a day without shaving now I start to break out.

The rub is, shaving irritates my skin too. Particularly under my chin.

Recently I ran out of cartridges for whatever-the-hell Gillette-or-maybe-it-was-Schick razor with too many blades I was using. And, at the suggestion of Brontoforumgoer Shinra, I tried this new combination:

A safety razor with roughly 9 months' worth of blades and a soap/bowl/brush set. As Shinra notes, it's a bit much to pay upfront (upwards of $65) but it'll pay for itself over time in the rock-bottom prices of safety razors. It's basically the opposite of the standard razor/blade sales model; in this case it's the razor that costs all the money and the blades that they're practically giving away.

It took a bit of getting used to (there are tutorials on the Internet, mostly video but some text -- the gist is, wet the brush thoroughly, run it around the soap in circles until it works up a lather, lather your face, swipe with one side of the razor, swipe the next spot with the other side, rinse, repeat; Geothermal has a more thorough rundown in the thread I just linked) but now I'd say I'm getting at least as good a shave I did with the Five-Blade Monstrosity I was previously using, and less irritation under my chin.

Of the different blades I've tried so far, the ones that have worked best for me have been the Merkur that came with the razor and the Blue bird (sic). The Gillette and Shark, on the other hand, nicked the hell out of my face the first couple of days I used them -- I'm not sure if that's actually the fault of the blades themselves or just that I wasn't used to the safety razor thing yet (and was shaving without my contact lenses in), but at any rate I had much better luck with the pack-in razor and the Blue bird. I mean, I guess if I were to compare things that are likely to rip my face up, I would expect a shark to be much more dangerous than a bluebird in that regard.