First SR shave

Discussion in 'Straight Razor Shave Clinic' started by GearNoir, Jan 9, 2018.

    BB66C331-E3C8-46D4-8561-24F4FF765CAC.jpeg It finally happened.

    I had a decent block of time, no rush, and the tools to do it.

    So I took a nice shower and had my first straight razor shave.

    The tools:
    - Koken “Army and Navy” from Whipped Dog
    - Omega Pro 10049
    The software:
    - Razorock Santal Royale soap
    - Razorock The Stallion AS
    - Generic alum block

    Why these items?

    The Koken is to be my main SR during my learning stages. It was a Sight Unseen from Larry at Whipped Dog. He also graciously made sure it had a muted tip.

    The other items are part of my regular rotation of trustworthy, good performing products, removing any extraneous variables during my shave.

    The first shave:

    I prepped as I would have for any DE shave - Hot shower, soaked the Omega, super clean skin, kept face as hydrated as possible. I do not normally apply a preshave, so I did not today either. I loaded my brush from the Santal and built lather directly on my face, trying to keep it as slick and cushiony as possible. I unfolded the Koken and ran the blade under hot tap water to warm it up as I do with my DEs. Then, attempting to recall the techniques from the numerous SR videos I perused, I began my first strokes. I started on my cheeks, lower lip, and back of the jaw, as these are my easiest areas, providing most flat surfaces. I remembered as often as possible to find ways to stretch my skin. Finding the proper angle each stroke was very difficult throughout the shave, but there was some very minor improvement over the shave. Then I moved on to my upper lip, jaw line, and chin, my care areas. These were super difficult given the length of the cutting plane and the many angles to account for on the skin surface. There were many repositionings, hesitations, stretchings, careful scrapings, and aborted strokes. I was not able to “finish” in terms of being on par with my DE shaves and had to clean up with my Piccolo. However, all said and done, I made it through with only a couple nicks in on my upper lip. I washed up with cold water, then light my face on fire with the alum block. Holy guacamole, my face hasn’t burned like that in a while. Between my Stallion AS and some lotion though, I calmed the burn some. Still feeling it though some time later, with mild irritation in areas.


    Definitely going to keep at it. Honestly though, the SR felt a lot like the time I was first learning DE shaving and was using a bad Derby blade to scrape hair away. I’m going to chalk it down to technique for now though. I think my skin was just getting tired with all the mini passes I was doing and the length of the shave. I had a really hard time making full strokes and I wouldn’t even say I did any passes fully, I was just trying to figure things out without slicing something open.

    Hope to stick to an every other day schedule like I was on with my DE shaves. This one was fairly rough though, so we’ll see if my skin is ready for the next try in two days.
  1. Nice work, and keep at it! Working it in as part of my routine really helped me in the beginning. I shave daily, so I committed to doing at least part of each shave with a straight. Before long, it was a straight for all three passes (haven’t touched a DE in months).

    It’s amazing how fast your technique will improve—soon you’ll be shaving in all directions with confidence and using your off-hand like a champ!
  2. Thanks for the reply. Yea I’m trying to be ambidextrous when it comes to shaving. I’ve become very proficient this way with DE shaves, I hope to do the same with SRs.

    A question, to anyone - is it normal for the SR to feel “grabby” on my hairs? I assume not. Is it an indication of too shallow or not shallow enough on the angle? As I mention, I got the razor from Larry, so I’m pretty sure it’s as sharp as it should be. Possibly because of my wirey facial hair? Or should it be every bit as smooth as a DE stroke?
  3. sfeile

    sfeile Moderator Emeritus

    You are off to a good start.

    As for being "grabby" it could be a couple things. Dull razor, bad angle, bad lather.
    As you said, it came from Larry, so chances are it is sharp enough unless the edge got damaged somehow.
    For your angle, you want it almost flat on your face for the most efficient cutting. If you lift the spine too far you will start scraping and not cutting well letting you feel that grabbing.
    Straights tend to like a slicker, wetter lather than most people use with a DE. I like my RR soaps, but they aren't always the best for straights. Depends on who made that batch for them.

    Try again with a bit wetter and thinner lather and watch how close your spine is to your face. Generally you only want 1 or 2 spine widths of a gap.
  4. Thanks for the tips! I was having a drying issue due to how long the shave was taking, though I was rewetting as often as I thought I needed. The edge looks pretty on point as far as I can tell, so I’ll just keep working at my angle for now.
  5. It took me at least a couple of months to get anywhere near a set method. I would think OK now I got it. Then cut myself up some. Just keep at it. Good luck
  6. Great start. Each shave will be a bit better.

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  7. Congrats and Great Start, You may also want to consider starting a Journal of your shave, it keeps you on track also you can review and see what mistakes not to make again. Then after hundred of shaves you cal look back, smile and enjoy the read, Good Luck and remember SR Shaving is a lifestyle and a marathon, not a sprint. Will there be injury and a slice or two absolutely, don't fret that just accept it as part of the learning curve
  8. Second shave today. Much faster as an overall process and much smoother...only 1 nick. I of course stropped again before the shave and then after. That is an art in itself, trying to be conscious of not biting the strop and not rolling the stroke or having slack on the strop.

    For the shave, I boldly tried taking slightly longer strokes and tried to keep it to only 2 SR passes, a WTG and an mixture of XTG/ATG. It may have been the stropping or simply the learning process, but I feel the blade didn’t grab as much today. Still had quite a bit of heavy stinging with the alum though.

    I did switch up my soap to Proraso Red and was mindful, to suggestions here, to make the lather much more wet/slick than normal. Thanks for that!

    My third pass was done with my Piccolo to clean up and in a couple of areas there was surprisingly little to clean up.

    Today was slightly more enjoyable! :001_302:
  9. Sounds like your off to a great start. Even at 10-15 shaves into this, you'll be amazed at how much better things go, let alone when you get to 50-100. My first few shaves were similar to yours, and I knew my razor was sharp. It just came down to technique. For me, having wet enough lather seemed to be the key, followed equally by skin stretching. It becomes very satisfying when it all comes together.
  10. Keep it up, doing well!
  11. This is how my journey has gone too and it wasn't until i hit about 30 shaves that i settled on a routine that worked for me and stopped cutting myself. God knows i thought about just growing a goatee and taping my ears flat!

    You learn a little more every shave to start and when you get a good shave, you look forward to the next - willing the beard to grow faster. :001_smile

  12. sfeile

    sfeile Moderator Emeritus

    You are making progress! Now it's just getting your angles refined and building muscle memory and it will become second nature.
  13. Mtn Man

    Mtn Man Contributor

    Sounds like things are coming around. Good luck!
  14. Shaves #3&4:

    Shave 3 was a dramatic improvement time-wise, nearly on par with my normal DE shower/shave timing. Soap of choice this time was D.R. Harris Sandalwood. Lather was nice and slick on my 2 day growth. Was able to go ATG a little bit, though it was difficult. Probably just my angles, but it was definitely catching a lot on my wirey stubble. Only one nick. Completed a pass and a half with SR, then finished with DE.

    Shave 4 went OK. Used AOS Sandalwood products...perhaps worked a little too well! I went a little too quickly on my sideburns and didn’t raise the blade off my skin enough setting up another first slice. Didn’t even notice it until my DE clean up pass, in fact it was so clean a cut it didn’t bleed for a bit. Thankfully it was very shallow and only about a quarter inch. I knew when I did it, but since I didn’t see any immediate effect, I figured I lucked out, wrong! That was a memorable alum burn. Overall one pass mostly XTG with SR and a clean up pass DE.

    I also learned something with shave 4 - AOS preshave is too sticky to use with my SR shaves. I felt slightly extra resistance on my first pass. May have to forgo preshave oil when using SR, not that I really need it, or find something less sticky.
  15. Soon you won’t need your double edge for clean and that’s a cool day!
  16. Keep at it. Before long, the straight will be second nature and there will be no going back to the DE.

  17. I learned early on that preshave oil was a no go for me also, as it tended to really make the blade want to stick, and went against the nature of a good gliding soap.
  18. @GearNoir Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I'm new to straight razor shaving and this forum. I couldn't get past 1 cheek on my first try last week! I also got my first razor from WP and I'm sure it came down to my technique and lather. I can't wait to try again tonight!
  19. Another thing that helped my greatly was making sure I had enough water in my lather. At first I tended to have what appeared to be a nice looking lather on my face, but in reality was too dry, and wasn't providing enough glide. When I experimented with more water, the lather wasn't as pretty, but sure worked better. Experimentation is the key!

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