What's new
  • Guest
    As per our long standing policy of not permitting medical advice on the forum - all threads concerning the Coronavirus will be locked.
    For more info on the coronavirus please see the link below:
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

J's Straight Razor Shave Journal

After six months of DE shaving, RADs, and more recently, regular BBS shaves, the siren song of the straights became too much to bear. I can't put my finger on what exactly led me to this interesting state of affairs; i can only guess that like most new straight shavers, it was a combination of things. The drop- dead sexiness of the straights, their long and interesting history, and the longing for a new challenge were all contributing factors for sure... Whatever the case, I've decided to put down my DE's for 30 days. What you are about to read is a true story.

I looked into straight razors for a couple weeks, and decided it was time to add a shave ready straight to my growing DE razor collection. I watched the B/S/T forum for a few days and came close to buying a razor or two before I found Larry's whippeddog.com website. I was drawn in by the idea that I could try out new and different straights for the price of a honing. Also Larry has a great reputation as a businessman and a honemeister. whippeddog.com definately lived up to their stellar reputation, and my new straight was honed and shipped out the day after my order was placed. I received the blade and my strop kit on Saturday 6/26.

Monday night. Having absolutely no experience with a straight razor, I was filled with anticipation, and excitement. I had been reading the FAQ's on straight shaving, and watched a few videos as well. Trying to be mindful of blade angle and pressure, I began my shave...

---------------------
Shave #1 -- 6/27
Prep consisted of a hot towel for a few minutes, I decided on one of my tried and true favorite soaps: SliceOfLife's Cedar Tallow test batch. I made a great lather, which eased the tension a bit. On my first WTG pass, whiskers were poppin' as expected. I was quite suprised at how much racket the hollow ground razor was producing. High off of my successful WTG effort, my apprehension slowly began to melt away as I relathered, and began my XTG pass.

XTG was less of an east- west pass, but more of a northeast to southwest pass, as that seemed a bit more natural. So far, the cheeks were the easiest bit, as they are relatively flat, with no obstacles to speak of. The moustache area was more difficult, as there's a pesky nose and lips in the way. The chin and neck seemed to be the most difficult, as I have a pretty meaty neck, and there are lots of pockets and depressions where my muscles, tendons and such are a bit like a relief map of some sort. XTG provided further beard reduction, and went well with the exception of a single, small weeper on my left cheek.

Third pass was another XTG, as I did not yet feel ready for a true S-N pass. The final pass went very well, and I completed my shave after a few touch ups. The shave was very passable, I'd say at the lower end of a DFS, with some minor skin irritation. I would not be embarassed to show up for work wearing that shave at all. An extended make-out session with the wife would - and did result in a gentle ribbing for not being BBS as usual.

--------------------------------------------------
Shave #2 -- 6/28
Monday night. Very excited to have another go at my new method of shaving. Prep consisted of a hot shower, and AOS Sandalwood soap. The lather gods were smiling again as I whipped up a nice batch in my DB 1.5 scuttle. I began my shave with the usual WTG pass. Something new happenned this time! No hair reduction. I tried my right cheek. I tried my left cheek, and moustache area. The hairs may as well have been titanium laced. Nothing I tried could pop more than a small amount of hairs. I went through the motions, and did 3 passes once again. In a few sparse areas, I had a smooth face, but the rest of my face either seemingly hadn't been reduced at all, or very little. Shockingly frustrated, I lathered my right cheek as if I were about to do some minor touch ups, and vigorously scraped at my face in a motion reminiscent of a cook trying to scrape day old eggs off a
frying pan with a neglected spatula. No injuries as a result of my fry- cook impression, with the exception of minor irritation, but I became convinced that I must have done something to completely dull the blade overnight.
----------------------------------------------------
 
After my little shaving outburst, my face had had enough, and I decided it was time to throw in the towel, so to speak. As I readied for bed, my wife asked how my shave was. "I don't want to talk about it right now" was my reply. I was reluctant to kiss her, as she would certainly discover the horrendous state my face was in. I was suprised that I actually felt a bit panicky. What would I do for the next 30 days? Grow a beard? Live life
looking like I shave with a Pepsi can that I tore in half? For the first time in 6 months I was saddled with a terrible shave and no clear way to remedy the situation. It would appear that shaving had indeed become a Zen-like steadying force in my life. I was suprised to find that I was really pretty depressed at the turn of events. I can handle a bad shave here and there, but it had been a long while since I've looked worse after a shave than before I began.

How could everything go so wrong? Was it a dull blade, operator error perhaps, could it be The Flying Spaghetti Monster dulling my blade with his noodly appendage so I wouldn't cause harm to myself? One thing was clear- try as I might my lovely straight stubbornly refused to do anything close to what it did a day earlier. I decided to sleep on all of these questions. At the time the problem appeared so complicated; the questions to be so numerable that the problem certainly dwarfed most any of the issues that mankind faces in todays troubled times.

I wish I could say that when I awoke I felt tip- top. I was still feeling pretty low. I muddled through Wednesday in a bit of a haze. Even popping by the B&B, which is usually a part of the day I look forward to felt like a bummer. Thankfully I resisted the urge to jump on the straight razor board and pour my heart out... something that I'm sure would have resembled "HEYYLLLPPPP! OMFG, HEYYLP!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!1!!!!!" By the end of the day I had two days of stubble that had appeared to been viciously attacked by a band of moths. I also resolved to discover what in the heck happenned to my razor or my technique to cause such a fiasco. But that would wait until tomorrow. Wednesday had bad vibes all over it, and I wasn't going to tempt fate by putting steel to tender bits on that day.

After mulling the situation, I decided that blade angle was the culprit. The steel must be sharp- Larry is a very reputable honemeister. It ain't my beard- those whiskers aren't spun from chain link fences, as I could shave perfectly fine before. The lather was great, and the prep was not unreasonable. The man between the sink and the blade was the only thing left. In my mind's eye, I was picturing Tuesday's shave- the spine of the blade seemed to be too far away from my face. It was blade angle, not moths that ate at my beard. It was blade angle that would make the world right again. This brings us to:

------------------------------------------------------
Shave #3 -- 6/30
Prep was a hot shower, AOS Lemon shaving cream, and a quick prayer (while momentarily wearing an eyepatch) to the FSM. I asked Him to "...guide my blade with your noodly appendage, being mindful to keep your remaining appendages a safe distance away, as I'm reasonably certain that this blade is quite sharp. Ramen."

Well, the eyepatch/ incantations worked. After a good lathering, I began WTG shaving my right cheek. I streched the skin on my face, and let the blade go to work, being mindful to keep the blade angle tighter than I did during my last shave. Whiskers were poppin' like rats leaving a sinking ship. Not only were they poppin', but a quick survey of what I had accomplished in my first few short, confident strokes showed that I was shaving good and close too! My heart filled with blood- er- glee as I began again. Filled with confidence and hope that I am back on the track to glory, I continued using short quick strokes. Now at mid cheek, and focused like a laser on my blade angle I felt... Something. The Something didn't hurt, it just felt a little different. I watched with curiosity in the mirror, as a steady red trickle poured from my cheek.

I don't think that I mentioned that my new razor is a spike tip, and there are probably more than a few heads nodding at this point. As I'm sure you have figured out that while I was busy watching the spine of the blade, I completely forgot about the razor sharp spike tip. I was left with three vertical cuts on my face, two minor, and one- er, not so minor. Ahh well. It's just flesh, and the show must go on! I finished my shave with a WTG, XTG, XTG, and some minor touch ups. Other than the cuts, I had a DFSish shave, with the exception of one patch under my jawline that I somehow missed. Also a bit more irritation than I am used to with a DE. The blood stopped flowing pretty quickly. A cold water splash almost completely stopped it.
----------------------------------------------

That's my first three shaves! I will endeavour to post a bit more frequently to avoid writing a book, and boring you all to tears- assuming anyone even made it this far! I do have a few questions, mostly concerning my neck, but I'll post those another time. Thanks for looking and happy shaves! :thumbup:
 
Last edited:

Luc

Moderator Emeritus
Glad to read that you didn't give up!! :thumbup1:

It takes time and could be discouraging at first but it pays off! I'm still learning myself!
 
Dont' quit. It takes much longer to master a straight razor, FSM notwithstanding. I am still perfecting my technique 1 year later and I still get mild irritation and some occasional razor burn (from learning a new razor). There are just a ton more variables/angles etc with straights. After about a month things will really start to come together for you I'm sure. Then the shaves get much more consistent.
 
Had shave #4 today. I'm still at it! Today's prep was a few splashes of hot water to my face, and AOS Sandalwood soap. I worked the lather into my beard for a minute or more and got down to brass tacks.

The shave took a little longer than expected. 3 passes in 30- 40 minutes, I'd guess. I found that the larger, flatter surfaces logically went much quicker than the curvy bits. I also had an extra obstacle on my right cheek- the 3 vertical scratches that I picked up shaving a few days ago.

I was gunning for WTG, XTG, XTG today but some areas require different contortions, depending on the lay of the land. I was still feeling largely confident in the strokes. I'll give today's shave a C+. I'd have given it a solid B, but I wasn't able to get my desired hair reduction in a few spots- growth just around my lips, and directly under my nose. I suspect that an ATG maneuver would better take care of those areas- I do it with the DE's all the time. One of these shaves soon, I'll try and work that into the mix.

I'm also learning the importance of stretching my skin more and more. Of course I look pretty silly in the mirror, trying to contort/ pull my face in order to get the most effective tension. I'm sure once I learn all of the best contortions, I'll look much cooler shaving.

In summary- not a bad shave. I'm feeling good for the amount of experience I have. No new nicks today! :thumbup:
 
My advise as a relative newcomer to straight shaving would be to do WTG and XTG passes only to start with and once you've started getting comfortable with using the straight, add in the ATG. When I started out doing 3 passes, it took far to long to be able to straight shave on a work day. I can now do WTG and XTG in around 10 mins and get a DFS. In another week or so, I'll add in an ATG pass on the weekend and see how it goes.
 
Very entertaining to read XD. I sympathize I have been straight shaving for a month and a half now. Like the others have said, it gets a lot easier with practice. your shave time will soon be cut in half as you practice more.
Question? Do you use your left hand for the left side and right hand for your right side of your face?

Best of luck and keep posting these journals :D
 
Thanks for posting, I am also new to this and looking forward to shave 10 this evening. i agree with the Flying Frenchman, do not force yourself to do ATG in the beginning, I have been down that track and it was not pretty, my neck looked like I had fitted it with venitian blinds. Since then I added an extra XTG pass with which I can achieve a pretty near overall DFS.

I find it is much more efficient to concentrate on stretching your skin properly than to do possibly perilous passes. It will be much easier to stretch your skin if you get yourself an alum block which you grab briefly with wet fingers to improve adherance to the skin(see chimensch's vid on youtube).

Last but not least welcome, there are some fine gentlemen around here, such as Luc amongst others, who will assist you on your adventure. 30 days eh? I do not think you realise how addictive this stuff is. Just before I started straight razor shaving, I was planing to shave intermittantly with my DE, thinking of buying a blade sampler, some different DEs and perhaps the odd injector. I might still do those things but that all seems very distant at the moment.
 
My advise as a relative newcomer to straight shaving would be to do WTG and XTG passes only to start with and once you've started getting comfortable with using the straight, add in the ATG.
After a handful of straight shaves, I can definately see the wisdom in waiting a bit for the ATG passes. Thank you for the input!

Very entertaining to read XD. I sympathize I have been straight shaving for a month and a half now. Like the others have said, it gets a lot easier with practice. your shave time will soon be cut in half as you practice more.
Question? Do you use your left hand for the left side and right hand for your right side of your face?

Best of luck and keep posting these journals :D
I look forward to the shaves going a little quicker. I generally shave in the PM so I am not pressed for time, but it's a little unsettling when my shave soap starts drying on my face!

Thank you for the encouragement. I decided that although I can get a little flowery with my prose, I would be much more apt to keep up with my journal if I wrote it in a style I enjoy.

Yep! I absolutely use both hands while shaving. Although I could probably get away with just using one hand, 2 seems much more natural to me.
Thanks for posting, I am also new to this and looking forward to shave 10 this evening. i agree with the Flying Frenchman, do not force yourself to do ATG in the beginning, I have been down that track and it was not pretty, my neck looked like I had fitted it with venitian blinds. Since then I added an extra XTG pass with which I can achieve a pretty near overall DFS.

I find it is much more efficient to concentrate on stretching your skin properly than to do possibly perilous passes. It will be much easier to stretch your skin if you get yourself an alum block which you grab briefly with wet fingers to improve adherance to the skin(see chimensch's vid on youtube).

Last but not least welcome, there are some fine gentlemen around here, such as Luc amongst others, who will assist you on your adventure. 30 days eh? I do not think you realise how addictive this stuff is. Just before I started straight razor shaving, I was planing to shave intermittantly with my DE, thinking of buying a blade sampler, some different DEs and perhaps the odd injector. I might still do those things but that all seems very distant at the moment.
Haha! Ya, I'd imagine I will be at this game for longer than 30 days. I may have misspoke, my intent was to go 30 days using only straights. I thought it may help hasten my learning curve to jump in with both feet, and not use another method of shaving for that time. A bit like living in Germany for a month to learn the German language. : D
 
Shave#5 -- 7/2

Prep: Shower, AOS Lemon Shave cream.
After applying lather, I cleaned the oil off of the blade, and did about 40 strops on a piece of leather. The shave was once again reasonable, I'd give it a C for this one. It is difficult to adjust to the lesser (for now) quality of shaves while working the learning curve of the straight razors.

Still not getting adequate beard reduction on a couple of parts of my neck, and just under the jawline near both ears. Sorry about the weak review of this shave, at it happened a couple of days ago, and I'm going from memory here! I'm about to have another in a few minutes here, and I'll (hopefully) be able to document this next one better.

One last musing- I seem to get much more irritation than I recall getting on my DE learning curve. I think I need to really focus on how much pressure I am applying for this next one. :thumbup1:
 

Luc

Moderator Emeritus
You might need a different direction for your neck than your cheeks. I realised that after, mmm, a lot of shaves. I also got a different direction on the right side of the neck vs. the left side.
 
You might need a different direction for your neck than your cheeks. I realised that after, mmm, a lot of shaves. I also got a different direction on the right side of the neck vs. the left side.
You're absolutely right, Luc. One wrinkle I have is trying to manage the spike, and keep track of where it's at/ what it's doing while working the neck area!

Just got done shaving, and I figured out a trick for getting at those pesky spots on my neck, I think! I have a pretty defined neck, with muscles going every which way- I lift stuff for a living, so some natural low spots have been causing me problems just to the right and left of my windpipe.

When working on my neck, I raise my chin as far as I comfortably can, like I'm looking at the ceiling. Generally I would wind up with an unshaved patch on each aforementioned area. Today, I got brave, and went with a N-S guillotine stroke over the area, depression included, and was suprised to see no shaving cream left, and some good hair reduction once the stroke was done!

The other area I was having trouble with, under the jawline very close to the earlobe was handled by putting my fingers on my cheek, just in front of the ear and lifting to stretch. The spot below the jawline was now above the jawline, and easily dispatched with the razor!

Yay! I love seeing progress. :thumbup: Later today I will post up more details on todays shave!
 

Luc

Moderator Emeritus
I need to do the guillotine stroke on the right side of my neck only. The other side needs S-N to be BBS.
 
Shave #6 -- 7/04

Shave prep- Hot shower, and AOS Sandalwood Soap

Todays shave was a WTG pass, and 2 XTG passes with a couple of touch ups. It seems that I am getting more out of each stroke with regards to hair reduction. One thing that I have struggled with the past couple of shaves is the cuts I got from my spike point last week. It's probably actually good practice to work around these areas, so not a completely bad thing. On one of my XTG strokes today, I dropped the razor right into the biggest cut from earlier in the week. No pain, but it was certainly a peculiar feeling. Opened that one up again, but other than that it seems to be healing fine.

As I said, I got great beard reduction with each pass today. I assume that part of the reason for that is I have an extra day of growth on my face, as I didn't shave yesterday. Once the shave was complete, I had the best result (hair reduction) that I have had with a straight razor so far! I'd say that it was on par with my DE razors, if I did a WTG/XTG, but skipped the ATG pass. I was on the fence about the grade of this shave, but after my wife inspected my face, she had no doubts that this one was a solid B! (I was thinking B-, the hair reduction was a solid B, but I'm still getting more irritation than I'd like!)

I'm pleased that I solved a couple of issues that I had accessing a couple of areas on my neck by utilizing some new contortions. See my posts in response to Luc above!

A few things worthy of note: I had some amazing lather today. The AOS Sandalwood seems to love my DB 1.5 scuttle. I am good at making consistent lather, but todays was great! Also noteworthy is that I seem to be getting a bit more confident with the blade, and am beginning to have a better grasp on what will happen on a given stroke before I actually do it. Lastly, this shave was my first time ever using my new alum block! During my shave, I would wet my fingertips and rub the alum a few times when I needed to stretch my skin. I found, as many have said before that it is a very effective technique for getting a good grip on the skin. Not slippery at all with the alum...

Thanks, and happy shaves!
 
You are doing great, keep going like this and perhaps you will also experience the same wonderful feeling I had on shave 7, 8 and 9 where something just said click and I started to get really nice results.
 
Grats buddy.

As i was reading through I was gonna mention the, pulling skin up or over onto a flat surface so you can get it, but you figured that one out.
Onya

+B
 
This morning I plunged into shaving with a straight. It wasn't too bad but not as good as a DE, which I know was to be expected. I have another straight on way so for now will be shaving with a straight every third day.
 
This morning I plunged into shaving with a straight. It wasn't too bad but not as good as a DE, which I know was to be expected. I have another straight on way so for now will be shaving with a straight every third day.
It takes time, I have completed my 11th shave and it still is not DE-quality and most probably it will not be for a long time yet. However, I think the overall shave experience beats the DE by leaps and bounds. Just take it easy and within the first 10 shaves you should see a huge improvement.
 
Top Bottom