Somewhat of a shaving journal...

Discussion in 'Journals and Diaries' started by jrm, Jun 21, 2012.

  1. jrm

    jrm

    Hi all,

    I'm writing this account in hopes of getting better at straight shaving. So perhaps you will read and see something that I'm doing wrong and can point me in the right direction!

    I received my sight unseen whipped dog razor (thanks Larry!) last Saturday. it was a great and much anticipated package full of new toys for me to play with. First impressions: Larry gives a great value to us newbies, and the straight razor is a lot smaller than I thought it would be. I set the razor aside to be used Sunday night. I work at a church and didn't want to show up on Sunday covered with knicks and cuts. I figured for my first set of shaves I would experiment with my soaps/creams to see which gave me better cushion and glide for straight shaving.

    Shave 1:

    Products used:
    Omega #48 brush
    Proraso Pre (green)
    Proraso Cream (red - new formula)

    I started with a long, hot steam shower with some conditioner on my beard to help soften everything up. I applied the Pre and let that sit in while I lathered up the Proraso. After applying the lather I decided to go to work with the straight. Holding the straight razor initially felt strange, but began to feel more comfortable throughout the "shave". I'm right handed so it felt okay to shave the right side of my face with that hand. Switching to my left hand was terribly uncomfortable. I felt like I was trying to shave with my foot. I shaved where I felt comfortable, attempted some places on my neck, had a battle with my chin, and finished up with the DE. No cuts, or weepers and I was pleasantly surprised. I applied some Witch Hazel and then some Nivea aftershave lotion. I didn't really feel any razor burn, but my face didn't feel that comfortable.

    I had about two days of growth on my face and the razor really seemed to skip/tug/pull at the hair instead of just slicing it off. I felt my angle was okay, but perhaps it was too great. I thought my lather was slick enough (it usually is for my DE), but I think that a straight razor may require a bit more attention to the lather. This tugging sensation was a little surprising, but I'm sure it is rooted in my technique

    Shave 2
    Products used:
    VDH brush
    Proraso Pre
    CO Bigelow (green)

    One of my initial thoughts for the previous day's shave was that perhaps I had allowed too much growth and it was interfering with the razors ability to smoothly cut with my lack of technique, so I went for a next-day shave. I followed my same prep routine, and while the Pre cream was setting in I pulled out the strop and tried my hand at stropping. It seemed to work well, I hadn't ruined my strop and my razor edge looked to be nice and sharp (as far as I know).

    I tried to make my lather a little slicker, I thought I did. But the razor still seemed to stick, tug, pull, skip, etc... I narrowly escaped a few cuts, but got a nice little weeper near the corner of my mouth. Nothing bad, but is a new experience since I havent cut myself shaving in a long time. A styptic pencil took care of the cut. I tried an all "right-handed" shave and it felt more natural... like I had more control. The shave wasn't any better, but I felt like I was working the blade better. I finished up with the DE, and my DE loved the lather I had made. So, I'm perplexed as to why the straight isn't getting the gliding action. I'm sure its my technique. Just gotta figure it out.

    Shave 3
    Products used:
    Semogue Brush
    Proraso Pre
    Mama Bear Aged Spice

    My prep was the same as the days before and the stropping went as well as I would have hoped. Everything looked good to go. I made what I assumed to be a slick lather with the MamaBear and proceeded with the shave. The shave started well, the right side of my face felt pretty good. The razor was still sticking and tugging, but it went slightly better than the day before. When I went to go shave the other side of my face, it felt like I was dry shaving. At one point the razor stuck and the point of it dug into the side of my face leaving a nice gash. Blood, styptic pencil, etc... At that point I was kind of angry at myself and frustrated. Not wanting to welcome any further cuts I put the razor away and finished with the DE... even with this combo I could achieve a very good shave. I think my skin was just too beat up.


    I've yet to attempt shave 4. That will be later this evening. But I've given my face a few days to rest and think it's time to get back on the horse. Any ideas on my technique, or why my blade feels like it is tugging/pulling/skipping so much? Thanks guys!

    -jon
     
  2. jrm

    jrm

    Shave 4
    Products used:
    Semogue 1305
    Proraso Pre
    Proraso Red (new formula)
    a few drops of glycerin

    Last night I went for shave number four. This was on about two days of growth. I stropped up the razor on my poor man's strop, set the razor aside and went to work on the lather. This time I added a few drops of glycerine to the lather in hopes of "slickening it up" a bit. It helped a little bit, but the razor still felt sluggish on my face. I paid more attention to the angle, but the razor still felt like it was dragging. Perhaps my angle is too great. I gave myself a bit of a nick on my jaw line, and reopened the gash from the other day (bummer). On the positive side, the shave of my neck went better! I'm having a hard time figuring out how to get underneath the corner of my jaw without cutting my earlobe.

    Finished up with the DE, nice and smooth!

    -jon
     
  3. Having been at this for almost a year here is what I think.

    1.) For certian is technique. Don't worry we all had a learning curve to beat. I am still working on it lol. It gets easier with time, and my left hand was like yours at first. Now it is second nature.
    2.) Blade angle. try as shallow of an angle as you can. Just barely come off your face with the spine.
    3.) Lather. If the blade is skipping or sluggish then your lather is too dry. The straight likes a wet slick lather. This is something that you are going to have to keep experimenting with. Too much and it breaks down, to little and it dries and causes tug and skipping.
    4.) PRESSURE. I personally still struggle with this. If the razor is sluggish or skipping because of your lather, the first reaction is to add pressure to get through the stroke. Chin and 'stache are the toughest parts to get used to. Try to maintain a feather light touch. Bareley let the blade touch your skin. Not only will this save you some irritation, but it will also shave you closer.

    If after getting all of this down, you still have tug, then the only culprit I can think of is the razor is not sharp enough. If the case do some stropping on the blasa Larry included with the kit. do about 20 laps on the green (chromium oxide), then do the same on the red (Iron Oxide). strop about 50 laps on the leather after this and see if it improves. If it does not the the razor will need a touch up or re hone.

    This all comes with practice. Fear not and keep at it. You will be closer to that sublime shave with every one you do.

    Hope this helps you out some! Best of luck and enjoy the shaves.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2012
  4. Keep up practice.. sometimes progress is slow, sometimes its nice and fast. Raithskars advice is good.
     
  5. Sound advice indeed. Having your Str8 straight is so important. If all else fails get her touched up or rehoned. I find that I get the most irritation if I let a blade go to far but if its "stupid" sharp like tap your face with it and your cut sharp, it shaves the absolute best. Good luck.
     
  6. jrm

    jrm

    Thanks for the advice all! Here's how it's going:

    Shave 5
    Products Used
    Proraso Pre
    Co Bigelow
    Semogue 1305
    A few drops of glycerin

    Before shaving this time, I broke out the balsa strop. 25 laps on each side and then 50 on the leather. I tried to administer the hanging hair test, but it didn't cut. Maybe I did it wrong.

    Anyways, I lathered up with the intention of using more water and making the lather slicker. It seemed to work better. Keeping the balde angle as shallow as possible, I went super slow and it went somewhat well. No cuts, no weepers. Shaving my neck was a bit precarious, and getting the area between the corner of my jaw and my ear on my neck is befuddling. Fitting the razor between my upper lip and nose is odd too... it's tough for me to shave the area nearest my nose. I finished up with a few passes with my DE and called it a good night.

    Shave 6
    Products used:
    Proraso Pre
    Proraso Red (new)
    Omega #48

    This was not a good shave experience... The first pass went much like the other day. A little more tugging, so I kept watering down my lather trying to hit the sweet spot. I got through one pass (N/S) and thought I'd try another. I immediately gouged a nice little chunk of skin out of my face. Not great. In frustration I put the razor down and finished with the DE.

    It seems to be one step forward, two back, but I'll get there! I think finding the correct balde angle and water to lather ratio is where I need the most work.
     
  7. Krodor

    Krodor Contributor

    HHT is normally done with the root out...is that what you did? Sometimes it helps to moisten the hair? Whatever you do to get it to work becomes your standard. Regardless, if you have to work at it, something likely isn't right. HHT has a lot of variables so I'll let you do a separate search for it...try googling "HHT site:badgerandblade.com" to get started.

    When you strop, on balsa or leather, spine first, and the spine never leaves the strop.

    As for your earlobe, just grab it and yank it out of the way, using that as the skin-stretch for that stroke.

    No one says you gotta use your left hand. I've watched some (what I would consider) seriously wacky hand positions on YouTube, but if that works for them, power to them! No biggee. Some people have blue eyes, some brown, both get the job done.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012
  8. jrm

    jrm

    This is all good advice! Thanks! I'll research more of the HH test.

    Shave 7
    Products Used:
    Proraso Pree
    A combo of soaps (VDH Luxury & Tobbs Rose)
    Omega #48
    a few drops of glycerin

    most successful shave thus far... in terms of number of passes (3) and number of cuts (0). However, not very successful with amount of whiskers shaved. Smooth through the cheeks, smooth-ish down the neck, pretty shoddy at the jawline. I worked alot on the angle and the pressure. Tried different grips and took my time. This was with two day growth, so perhaps letting my skin rest a day helped. Tried a XTG pass, which felt awkward, grip-wise. However, at least i didnt put any gouges in my face. Finished up with the DE (Tech and Astra SP), and everything was smooth and in one piece.
     
  9. jrm

    jrm

    Shave 8
    Products Used
    Proraso Pre
    Semogue 1305
    Mama Bear Aged Spice
    a few drops of glycerine

    I feel like I'm getting a little more comfortable with this style of shaving. The first pass was somewhat successful in beard reduction. Smoother in some places (cheeks) than others (jawline). I went for a second pass and figured that instead of a N/S stroke, I would try one that went from my nose to my ear. Immediately nicked myself with the heel of the blade. Finished up with the DE. oh well! Guess there's always tomorrow.

    -jon
     
  10. jrm

    jrm

    Shave 9:
    Products Used
    Proraso Pre
    Omega #48
    Proraso Red (new formula)
    Glycerine

    So this was a three pass shave with only one small nick. It didnt go too bad. I'm learning to get to that troublesome spot on my jawline by my ear without going all "Van Gogh" on myself. I'm still having trouble getting a smooth shave on my jawline. Getting the right side of my neck with my left hand is awkward too. I'm really concentrating on blade angle and trying to find the sweet spot. I think I started with too extreme a angle, and now I'm down to too shallow. So trying to get that. I think my lathering is getting slicker though. So that's good.

    The journey continues!
     
  11. jrm

    jrm

    Shave 10
    Products Used
    Prorasp Pre
    Semogue 1305
    CO Bigelow
    Glycerine

    Today's shave was pretty good. One careless nick under my ear, but otherwise not too shabby. A little styptic, a little neosporine. I think my lather consistency is getting slicker. S o that's good.

    Shave 11
    Products Used
    Proraso Pre
    Semogue 1305
    AOS Lemon shaving cream

    This was not a great shave. On the first stroke, the toe of the blad caught my lower cheek area and filleted the skin back a little bit. I've found that when I cut myself I get frustrated, and that the resulting frustration leads to more cuts and nicks. So... I put the straight down and did a DE shave all the way. Bummer. Getting a little discouraged, but getting there... I hope.

    -jon
     
  12. jrm

    jrm

    Shave 12
    Products Used:
    Proraso Pre
    Omega #48
    Proraso Red
    Glycerine

    I have been traveling for the past few days and brought my DE with me, so this was my first straight shave in about 5 days. I think the break was good.. it allowed the cuts and nicks to heal up on my face. This shave was okay.. not great, but far from my first attempt. I did two N/S passes and did better about getting the area under my jaw. Only one small cut using my left hand. I got a little backwards with my angle and poked a little hole in my cheek. A little bit of razor burn onder my chin too.

    Oh well, I'm getting there! I'm thinking that trying to shave without a mirror might be an interesting experience. I think I pay too much attention to what i'm doing in the mirror. Perhaps trying once by feel will teach me things that I'm not noticing.
     
  13. jrm

    jrm

    Shave 13
    Proraso Pre
    Semogue 1305
    VDH Luxury / CO Bigelow / Glycerine

    Today I decided that I would have an all-straight-shave, and try to stay away from leaning on the DE to finish up. I did it, it took a while, but I did it. The shave is not great, but I'm prou to not have reached for the DE, nor to have any major need for it. I focused mostly on the angle of my blade. I'd start with the spine touching my face and slowly increase the angle trying to find the sweet spot. Some places I went to large, others to shallow of an angle. The shave was far from BBS, and not even quite DFS. But, I'll get there. My jawline still has some roughness. Gotta figure that area out.

    -jon
     
  14. I'm fairly new to this as well, so take my advice with a [large] grain of salt.

    I haven't seen you use the word, "stretch" once in your journal. Are you stretching your skin when you're shaving? I've found the best way to get my jawline is to pull the skin up onto my cheek and shave it there. Other than that, it sounds like you're making great progress :thumbup1:
     
  15. jrm

    jrm

    Yep, i should have been including that! Yep. I've been stretching, and trying to figure out the best way to stretch different parts of my face. As with all things so far, it's easier to stretch the skin on the right side of my face than the left.
     
  16. jrm

    jrm

    Shave 14:
    Products Used
    Proraso Pre
    VDH Luxury Brush
    Mama Bear Aged Spice / Glycerine

    This is the best straight shave I've had yet. One major nick in my neck, but that was just carelessness. Once I slowed down, things started to go well. I did two N/S passes, and then ried to work a pass that was a combination of XTG and ATG. I took it really slow and worked on my skin stretching. Everything felt really smooth, and I really didn't have any razor burn. That was great.

    One thing I noticed is that I may be moving too slow with my passes though. Perhaps I need to find that balance between speed-of-pass and being careful. I think that if I'm going too slow, the blade seems to tug more, or not really slide over the lather. So, that needs some work. The jawline is still a troublesome spot, but on this shave, everything seemed to come together! No DE needed for touchup.

    Shave 15
    Products Used
    Proraso Pre
    Omega 48
    Art of Shaving: Lemon shaving cream

    Today's shave was not as great as yesterdays, but it was still passable. I paid more attention to my skin stretching and my blade speed. I think I'm starting to get the hang of everything with my right hand, but my left isn't progressing as well. It's getting better, but it's still very awkward. The trouble spot today was under my jawline/near my ear on the left side of my face. I worked on that area for a while, but my skin was starting to get raw and beat-up. So I resigned to the DE to finish up. My lower lip was causing me trouble today too, but it just might have been one of those days. I'll try again tomorrow.

    On the plus side, the AOS: lemon is a nice cream. It lathers yo well and smells really refreshing. It's certainly nice for a summer day.
     
  17. jrm

    jrm

    Shave 16
    Products Used:
    Proraso Pre
    VDH Luxury Brush
    Proraso Red (new formula)

    The shave today went pretty well! No cuts, and a very small amount of irritation. I changed my prep a bit today. After I put on the Pre, I went ahead and whipped up my lather and applied it to my face. Instead of shaving right away I let it sit on my face for a few minutes while I got everything else ready (stropping on the balsa, then stropping on the leather). When that was done, I rinsed it off, applied a new layer of lather and went to town. It seemed to help everything cut smoother! I'll have to try this again and see if this added step continued to be helpful!

    I'm still having problems with the area under my jaw next to my ear. Skin stretching is helping some, but not fully. Also, my chin was a little difficult last night. Otherwise, it was a great shave!
     
  18. jrm

    jrm

    Shave 17
    Products Used
    Proraso Pre
    Omega 48
    AOS Lemon

    I tried the same prep as the other day and left a layer of shaving cream on my face for a couple of minute while I prepped my blade. That seems to help, so I might keep that up for a bit!

    The shave wasn't great... In all truthfulness, It was late and I was pretty darn tired. I dont think this is an activity one should engage in if they are groggy ;) No major cuts, no weepers, just kind of a crappy shave. I'm working on my skin stretching, but still having trouble with the left side of my face. So I've got to figure out some different grips and holds for that side. It still feels really unnatural.

    -jon
     
  19. Sounds like a win to me. "No major cuts, no weepers," and you said you were even unfocused/groggy - that's progress. As for feeling unnatural, hell, it hasn't even been a month. I was awkwardly shaving with one hand for the longest time (though it seemed to work just fine), and then one morning it just suddenly seemed normal to use my left. I still don't have quite the same level of dexterity as I do with my right, but I can bring the blade down to my face without feeling like it's going to miss and end up embedded in my chest somehow.
     
  20. jrm

    jrm

    Thanks for the response zirrow! Yes, that shave was a "win". Just wanting more "wins" and better ones ;)

    Shave 18
    Products Used
    Proraso Pre
    Proraso Red
    Omega 48
    Glycerine

    I've been continuing the previous prep.... leaving my lather on for a few minutes while preparing the blade (I've been stropping on the balsa and on leather before each shave). It is seeming to help.. but perhaps it is all in my mind. My usual prep is a steam shower where I was my face with a Nivea face wash, and then slather on some conditioner. I let that sit for a few minutes, then wash it off with hot water and let it soak into my face for a few minutes. All the while have the steam going. Then I put on the Proraso Pre, and apply a lot more water to my face before the first lathering. So maybe my beard is already super-hydrated before I slap on the first lather. But it makes me feel better and uses more product ;)

    Today's shave was okay. I'm working the balde angle and skin stretching. I've taken to puffing out my cheeks a bit to shave better there. I think that's why I was cutting my face so much early on (trying to get the concave of my cheeks I was cutting with the heel and toe into other areas). I'm hoping those areas heal up well and dont scar. My neck is getting easier, but I put a nice slice in my chin trying to work the balde around the chin area. Still learning, but otherwise, it is going good.
     

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