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Can't seem to work out the kinks

I've been straight shaving again for about the last 3-4 weeks after a long hiatus. After several rounds of shaves I still have issues I can't seem to correct on my own. I feel my WTG pass is pretty good and I have little to no problems with pressure, angle, and irritation. Once I get into XTG and ATG is when things get dodgy.

Good reduction on the sides of my chin or on my lip with the exception of of the area under my nose is very difficult. My razor almost always skips or does nothing in these areas. I cant tell if the reason is blade sharpness, blade angle, or both. My razors chops through arm hair like a chainsaw, but that hair is much finer than my coarse beard.

I also seem to have pressure issues when doing XTG and ATG passes. After my second pass, I can start to feel my skin humming with warmth and it just gets worse with the next pass. It's nothing unbearable but the comfort level of my face is no where near the level when I use a DE.

Thanks in advance for any help.
I have lots of trouble with my upper lip. I end up scrubbing it and my lower lip quite a bit (with that burning sensation occasionally). However, there is rarely a lasting issue - it is ready to go the next day. Sharpness of the razor is a big deal for me in these cases. The sharper the better. Prep is important, too. The softer the whiskers the easier the going and the smoother the finish. If you look at a barber in the old movies, the prep is more extensive than most of us do. There was a reason for that.

Something I don't hesitate to do - that is, finishing with the DE around my lips and corners of my mouth. I have shaved with a straight for quite a while and if I run into trouble, I just let it alone and touch it up with the DE. Nothing says you have to be pure of technique just for the sake of form. Use the DE until you figure it all out. Fortunately, I seem to have gotten past it and most shaves are just fine. I think my beard gave up. ;0}

My prep is now warm water held against my face and then lathering and letting it sit on my face for a while - usually I set up the rest of the gear while I'm soaking. I then re-lather and enjoy the shave.
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Wiped out at 25
I know it's a cop out answer, but practice, practice practice. Do you hone your own? I have found that after technique a good atg pass is entirely dependent on a reeallly sharp edge. On blades that are lacking in keeness ATG passes grab and bring a welling of tears to my eyes. Then I unconsciously press harder and get razor burn.
Venom- Get into the habit of using very low blade angles, like where the spine touches your skin, especially for those ATG runs, and I'd suggest you do a better prep. That said, you didn't mention your prep, but whatever you're doing (prep), maybe it's not working to the full potential?

Kent is right about using a sharp edge, but even with a so so edge, if you do good prep, use low angles and employ a scything stroke, you're gonna cut some beard hairs w/o pain, WTG

scyth stroke video of the day- http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6502106680110094707&ei=qZFMSc2YFoS4-QGs7ZW-Cg&q#

about 5-6 minutes in (scything stroke is explained)

A technique that might help you under your nose, or what works for me. I set the blade perpendicular against the skin right under the nose (horizontal blade), then move the blade like a scoop...make a scooping motion. Do it lightly of course. That should be WTG, going straight down to the lip in the center or you can do it off to the side, but Kent's right, your blade needs to be sharp if you want to go ATG around the ends of the moustache working inward, and keep the blade angles low

You can also catch a lot of the moustache hairs coming in from the side, but downward diagonally, & it helps to use your free hand to move your nose outta the way. So there's 3 angles of attack

I think if you stick with straight razor shaving and do not use any other type of razor you will figure it out. You'll have to or you'll look like a bum<LOL> When i first started with the straight I tried to keep using my safety razors then eventually figured it out that if I wanted to learn how to shave with a straight, that had to be my only tool. You're not going to get good at something like this going into it half fast. it's all or nothing.

Now if you need your blade sharpened, speak up, plenty of peeps here will tune it up for you pro bono. This is a member oriented group, where one helps another, w/o compensation but you pick up shipping both ways. Post in the honing forum that you are looking for someone to touch up your razor, @ N/C


Reddick Fla.
An extra WTG pass might help. Angle and sharpness are extremely important. Try a dozen laps on pasted balsa after each shave, to keep it going like freshly honed.
I do not hone my own blades and each straight I own has been used about 5-6 times (I own 4 useable). Before each shave, I strop on a cotton cloth 20-30 times and then leather 20-30 times (red latigo). I also recently used chromium oxide on all my razors. After testing, I have a Dovo Astrale that needs to be sharpened. I tried to do so myself, but can't seem to get a good edge.

My current shave routine is as follows:

1) Hot shower with air vent off to keep steam in shower
2) Apply Proraso (green tube) after shampooing/conditioning hair
3) Rinse off Proraso after washing body
4) Lightly exfoliate with St. Ives
5) Wash face And neck with Cetaphil facial cleanser
6) Crank water to really hot and run over face and neck
7) Lather up soap or cream
8) Splash face and neck with more hot water
9) Shave WTG, XTG, ATG, and cleanup (usually with DE)
- After each pass I rinse face and neck with hot water
10) Splash face and neck with cold water for 1-2 minutes
11) Rub alum block on face and neck
12) Rinse face and neck with more cold water and pat dry
13) Apply witch hazel, let dry, and then apply GFT skin food

After reflecting on how my different passes go, I'm thinking my angle is off on my XTG AND ATG passes. As suggested, I will try to add another WTG pass and pay particular attention to angle.

Thanks for all the advice. I will probably shave today or tomorrow and will report back in.
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Shaved again tonight and while still not perfect some things did get better. The extra WTG pass and scything stroke really did a number on my beard and made the XTG and ATG passes much easier. Attacking the sides of my lips from different angles also helped, but was still not perfect and I am still having severe issues with my chin.

The problem seems to be a combo of skin tautness and blade angle. Instead of he razor gliding over my beard it kind of digs into my skin, which stops the razor from moving. I can't seem to get my skin tight enough to alleviate this problem.

After applying the alum I found that I still need to work on pressure. Parts of my neck, chin, and sides of my lip really burned. Going over the same areas several times in one pass didn't help either.

At the end of the day the shave was ok in terms of closeness. My cheeks, sideburns, and center of my lip are nearly BBS. My neck and chin range from DFS to SAS.

I've also learned that I need some practice with my left hand. After my second WTG pass I noticed that areas I shaved with my left hand were not as closely shaven as those done with my right.

Thanks again for the advice. I'll need to take a few days off from shaving to fully recover from tonight.

EDIT: Awesome! 600th post!


Wiped out at 25
My shaves got much better after I started honing my own blades. Often times a beginners blades dulls quite quickly and is not optimally sharp. Being able to touch up or even reset a blade every week to two weeks helps a bunch.

Either way sounds like you are doing really well.
Had another straight shave and unfortunately not much improvement if any. I still did a pretty good job on my cheeks, sideburns, and center of my lips and did ok with my neck. The chin area is still a nuisance and I seem to be having trouble adjusting the angle of my razor as I move around that area.

My skin was burning pretty badle after the shave and lasted between 10-20 minutes. Thank God witch hazel and GFT skin food work wonders on my skin. For some reason, I have pressure issues when not going WTG which is a problem I had for a while when learning to use a DE as well. I also noticed today that my stropping technique is off and that I occasionally lifts the blade off the strop. I suspect that is is damaging the smooth edge that is supposed to result from proper stropping. Next time I will slow down and make sure the blade stays flat.

I've also noticed that my blade has issues cutting through hairs on my chin. While going ATG on the right part of my chin I could see that once the blade got under a group of whiskers I had to work to get the blade to cut through them (which doesn't help my pressure problems). I have a Belgian blue and coticule that need to be flattened and I plan on trying to give my blade a fresh edge. I've e also considered ordering a Whipped Dog razor so that I can try out a well honed razor and just add another straight to my collection.

EDIT: I think I should also mention that I have been using a TI "Flying Tudor" full hollow blade. I have a TI LeGrelot that is a 1/4 hollow that I will try next shave. I am hoping that the extra bulk will have an easier time mowing through my beard.
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Shaved with a Dovo Astrale that I sharpened myself. My chin was not as much of a challenge this time around as the sharper blade (could be sharper and smoother) cut through the problem areas with little effort. Just need to work on adjusting the angle as I move along the contours of my chin. Getting the corners of my lip to a DFS or better is still a challenge, but I did expect that as I had issues with closeness at the beginning of my DE experience.

Pressure is still my biggest problem, especially on the neck. I'm getting better as my face did not burn as much after this last shave, but I wish I would have made more improvements by now. Using a scything stroke seems to help maintain a feather touch. The only problem is that I am not as proficient with scything on the neck area.
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