What's new

Is the importance of shaving technique over-emphasized?

This might go under some existing thread - up to to the moderators!

I am bewildered by the emphasis on the importance of technique in DE shaving. Here are notes:

1. I've really only shaved with the following DE razors: Viking Blade the Chieftain, Merkur 34C, King C. Gillette, Baili 171, and Karve Brass SB (B and C plates). So this relative lack of experience might influence my opinion.

2. Among these, the VB Chieftain had by far the most blade exposure. Regardless of trying, I was never able to shave with it without a relative blood bath. Now, it is possible that some technique training would have helped ... I contend that the razor is just 'too much' for me.

3. Among the others, mostly mild to at most medium type razors, there was no issue whatsoever in terms of technique. I mean, the angle is intuitive and obvious based on the design of the head of the razor - you can figure it out immediately, more or less. Granted, there is going WTG and XTG and ATG .... that isn't much in terms of technique. Pressing harder or not as hard is just sort of intuitive too ... not much in terms of technique.

4. In terms of pre-shave and soap and all that: it doesn't matter much for me as long as I have some soap on my face when I shave. Hand soap works as well as anything else for me.

So I guess my point is this: the razor made all the difference for me, not the technique. The technique was 2%, the razor was 98%. The notion that you can shave with anything as long as you learn the technique seems ... iffy to me, at best ... it's mainly about the razor. I think this is what should be emphasized to newbies. It seems misleading to me to tell them to stick with on razor and work on the technique until they get it down. If you are experiencing a blood bath, you need to get a milder razor, not just keep using the offending razor until you learn how not to cut yourself (which could be never). With a milder razor, the newbie won't cut themselves ... regardless of technique considerations ... I think ... YMMV: I am just throwing this out there.
 
Interesting perspective. I’m not sure I agree, however it is very possible that a certain razor just doesn’t work for the person.

I’d propose a test to verify your conclusion/thoughts.

Put away your Chieftan razor for 90 days.

Keep shaving with your other razors.

Then on day 91 pull out your “blood bath” razor and shave the exact same way you’ve been shaving.

I’m guessing that it might not be your preferred razor but the bloodletting will be significantly reduced.
 
Having an angle that cuts the hair but not your skin, pressure or no pressure, shaving with a razor that is intuitive or one that is not - that's all technique.
Technique is not some orchestrated method of shaving, it's an easy way of saying getting a good result from the razor you have.
To an extreme- technique is not holding the head and trying to shave with the handle.
Because you had good results with one razor doesn't mean you can't get good results with another if you change some things. That's technique.
But if you're happy with the one, and not interested in learning how to use the other, that's ok too.
 
For me it's the opposite. Pre-shave is 90% (part technique I suppose), razor + blade 10%.

As long as I can feel the blade, they all shave the same. In fact, more aggressive = more forgiving. If too mild, wrong angle won't even shave...

Or maybe it's because I'm old and used to it...you'll get there.
 

AimlessWanderer

Remember to forget me!
Technique matters.

Does a poor driver become a better driver, simply by getting in a different car? No, but they might possibly find something which better matches their own personal limitations, or is more forgiving of their bad habits.

Even if you do swap razors, to pick one that better matches your current methods and skill set, improvements in technique will still lead to better shaves.
 

thombrogan

Lounging On The Isle Of Tugsley.
If you’ve got it, you’ve got it and that’s awesome. The technique discussions are both for people are crudely reflexed as me (no finesse here) and for people that want to get the best results they can with a particular style of razor after they see what more experienced folks are able to do. Some folks who already had it can have even more skill if they take the time to learn.

Depending on how one’s whiskers protrude from the skin, certain angles are either perfect or a recipe for razor or worse.

And I know a lot of us use safety razors, but there are a bunch of straight razor users and everything about everything with that requires technique.

Most importantly, this hobby allows people across the world to meet and bond over such a difficult-to-tribalise obsession and that’s simply awesome. Sports teams, religions, political ideologies, occupations, favorite beers, and other divisions fall away as we argue the minutia of “super iridium” versus “kind of okay iridium” coated razor blades. Why are some of us finding the Astra Stainless more or less nifty than the Astra Platinum? Whose urinal cakes are lucky enough to smell like ARKO?
 
Depends on why you're having issues. For example: some people I know didn't like the rex ambassador until I told them to use a much steeper angle (ride the gaurd). Then they loved it. Change in technique is the difference in that scenario. Shaving angle is different with different razors, so that is technique.
 
If you’ve got it, you’ve got it and that’s awesome. The technique discussions are both for people are crudely reflexed as me (no finesse here) and for people that want to get the best results they can with a particular style of razor after they see what more experienced folks are able to do. Some folks who already had it can have even more skill if they take the time to learn.

Depending on how one’s whiskers protrude from the skin, certain angles are either perfect or a recipe for razor or worse.

And I know a lot of us use safety razors, but there are a bunch of straight razor users and everything about everything with that requires technique.

Most importantly, this hobby allows people across the world to meet and bond over such a difficult-to-tribalise obsession and that’s simply awesome. Sports teams, religions, political ideologies, occupations, favorite beers, and other divisions fall away as we argue the minutia of “super iridium” versus “kind of okay iridium” coated razor blades. Why are some of us finding the Astra Stainless more or less nifty than the Astra Platinum? Whose urinal cakes are lucky enough to smell like ARKO?

a lot of good points here: I was only talking about DE safety razors, and indeed, bonding of this hobby is awesome
 
Technique matters.

Does a poor driver become a better driver, simply by getting in a different car? No, but they might possibly find something which better matches their own personal limitations, or is more forgiving of their bad habits.

Even if you do swap razors, to pick one that better matches your current methods and skill set, improvements in technique will still lead to better shaves.

Well, I am not sure I take your point. I'd say it is more in line with picking the right tool for the job being more important ... you might be skilled with a hammer but it won't help you saw a board. You'll need a saw for that.
 
Technique absolutely matters. The angle at which you hold the razor, the direction of your strokes in relation to the direction(s) your beard grows, the slickness and cushion created by your lather (it's technique because you turn the puck into lather and apply it, determining the right amount of water, etc.), the length of each stroke, whether your strokes are with the blade moving in a line perpendicular to its side to side orientation or correctly using it slightly off perpendicular (Gillette slide) will each and all translate to each stroke being ideal or less than ideal. I find the Gillette slide within a small range of angles to be quite natural and making every stroke perpendicular to border on the impossible when navigation the curvatures of head and neck. Close observation will show you this at work.

Shave in the same basic pattern, observe closely what you are doing on each stroke and the result it is yielding. Repeat those things that yield the best results until you use those things consistently. The angle at which you hold your blade for best results is close to unique with you and each specific razor (and, to a degree, the blade).

The easiest way to put the advice together in a beneficial way is to use short strokes with very light pressure and go WTG, XTG, and ATG. Don't get fancy with things like slides or J hooks because you want to figure out YOUR optimal angle. It may be the case, especially with very mild razors, that the optimal angle is in a pretty narrow window and not an angle at which you would naturally hold your razor. If you revert to a different but more natural angle, your work is quickly undone. Stay at doing it right until muscle memory takes over and ushers you through clean and consistent shaves. Once you are there, start playing with other things. The J hook is especially useful for me on the upper lip, for example.

Best of luck.
 
Depends on why you're having issues. For example: some people I know didn't like the rex ambassador until I told them to use a much steeper angle (ride the gaurd). Then they loved it. Change in technique is the difference in that scenario. Shaving angle is different with different razors, so that is technique.

good point ... my counter would be: should have been obvious to change the angle .. I am not saying that technique isn't important at all, just that it was for me rather easy, and the razor made a lot more difference than the technique. If you have to focus a lot on learning technique, you have the wrong razor. Oh well ... I'm going to have to give up because I am vastly out-numbered here!
 

AimlessWanderer

Remember to forget me!
Well, I am not sure I take your point. I'd say it is more in line with picking the right tool for the job being more important ... you might be skilled with a hammer but it won't help you saw a board. You'll need a saw for that.

Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but I'll always be choosing a razor for my shaves. I wouldn't expect a fountain pen or pressure cooker to yield the same results. ;)
 
Technique absolutely matters. The angle at which you hold the razor, the direction of your strokes in relation to the direction(s) your beard grows, the slickness and cushion created by your lather (it's technique because you turn the puck into lather and apply it, determining the right amount of water, etc.), the length of each stroke, whether your strokes are with the blade moving in a line perpendicular to its side to side orientation or correctly using it slightly off perpendicular (Gillette slide) will each and all translate to each stroke being ideal or less than ideal. I find the Gillette slide within a small range of angles to be quite natural and making every stroke perpendicular to border on the impossible when navigation the curvatures of head and neck. Close observation will show you this at work.

Shave in the same basic pattern, observe closely what you are doing on each stroke and the result it is yielding. Repeat those things that yield the best results until you use those things consistently. The angle at which you hold your blade for best results is close to unique with you and each specific razor (and, to a degree, the blade).

The easiest way to put the advice together in a beneficial way is to use short strokes with very light pressure and go WTG, XTG, and ATG. Don't get fancy with things like slides or J hooks because you want to figure out YOUR optimal angle. It may be the case, especially with very mild razors, that the optimal angle is in a pretty narrow window and not an angle at which you would naturally hold your razor. If you revert to a different but more natural angle, your work is quickly undone. Stay at doing it right until muscle memory takes over and ushers you through clean and consistent shaves. Once you are there, start playing with other things. The J hook is especially useful for me on the upper lip, for example.

Best of luck.
Thanks but I don't need luck, I have it down. And it was not so very hard as you describe. But I guess I could be doing it wrong!
 
The razor and technique can have a very clear intersection. My Feather AS-D2 was so persnickety about angle that although I could master it, it turned my six minute shaves into ten minute shaves with hit and miss BBS. Now my son-in-law law has it. With my Above the Tie Windsor the workable angles form a wider window with the CR plate than with the CM. So in a sense the razor makes the difference, but the technique must account for how that difference is navigated. Every razor presents a range of workable angles, and if like the OP you can jump there intuitively it may seem like it was the "right razor," but I would still argue it was the right technique for that particular razor. The converse is true that youcan use the wrong technique for any razor and end up shredded.
 
Last edited:
Well, I am not sure I take your point. I'd say it is more in line with picking the right tool for the job being more important ... you might be skilled with a hammer but it won't help you saw a board. You'll need a saw for that.
As I guessed from reading your first post, you lack critical thinking.
One's technique includes choosing the tools and using them accordingly. If your purpose when shaving is not to get cut, your observations are correct. With wrong technique, when using an aggressive razor, the end result is blood bath. With minimal attention to detail/technique, when using a mild razor the end result could be a good shave.:001_rolle

Back to picking the right tool, AimlessWanderer used a driver as an example when driving different cars. Your reply was comparing two completely different tasks, very much like comparing driving to flying. AimlessWanderer didn't use an example comparing a driver and a pilot's technique.

Anyway, my advice to you is to never try shaving with straight razor. :biggrin1:
After all, technique is everything.
 
Top Bottom