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Learning Method Shaving

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I am starting a new thread to seperate what was going on in the other one. I will address in general what needs to be done. I will make a number of suggestions that I hope you will head if you wish to learn the framework for method shaving.

First see Joel's review it is a very nice guide to start the thought process. Second, please read the articles on my web site. You will find no better collection of information regarding method shaving. Next peruse the message board on my site, it does have tons of info and you will see how we helped people in similar situations and how the problems will be solved. I am not trying to draw people away from this site, but it would be foolish of you to ignore the wealth of concentrated info on that site. Now on to the dirty work.

First a few rules I think every one should keep in mind.
1. work the cube just a bit longer than you think you need to
2. work your cream just a bit longer
3. add a bit more water than you think you can
4. keep working the first form. cut 2,3,4 times if you need
5. use more tonic, really get that face wet
6. use a little less aftershave balm that you think you need. This goes with more tonic
7. move you grip to the very bottom of the razor
8. if using an adjustable razor... dial down, you will want to use more than you need
9. do not be affraid to lay the cutting balm on thick, and then thin it down.
10. change your blade frequently.
11. don't waste your time trying to stretch you skin, it is not needed and will cuase more irritation than it is worth.

Now for the basics with some info:

When building a wet mix, or releasing it from a brush, we use an open breech. Simply put press down on you bristles untill the splay out in a circle from the center of your brush. This is how you release the water into the cream and properly hydrate it. Next always remeber to use a pumping action throughout the building of this mix. This allows water to be loaded and released into the cream making it fully hydrated. When buliding a mix, start with the cube and do not stop untill it is thick, dense and very concentrated on your brush. If it is thin or runny or you use it for a second or two you have gained nothing. Next add some english cream to the palm of your hand, and work that cream untill it is fully mixed with the soap from the cube. Beleive me you can tell the difference between the two and you will know when it is mixed. Always remember to do these things open breech. Now it is time to actually hydrate this stuff, thats right this stuff is a dry mix, though it is probably thicker and denser than anything you have seen. So take the brush to the face and with an open breach scrub a layer of the mix on your face, then slowly pull the brush off you face. This will open a hole in the center of your brush, add water to it. Then go back and work this water on your face and start scubbing the face with your brush. Do this several times, and you will find a copious amounts of cream all over you face and building around the base of your neck. Scoop up that stuff put in in the brush add some water and scrub again. A good minute and half or two will be about the right amount of time. This will soften the beard without the need for hot towels, and will lay down a very wet mix to cut.

Now for the cutting. Again please look at the forms on my site, these are the basic tenants we will use. Cut your forms, the 1st form is the most important and like I said earlier cut this one as often as you need until you face is nearly smooth. You should have little to no stubble and be near clean shaven when you are finished with form 1, meaning you should see little to no stubble and feel almost none if you run you hand in the direction of the cut. The proceed on to the 2nd and then 3rd form. Remeber this when cutting, angle is important. The rule I use is if you elbow is not at the top of your head of above you are coming in to steep. Here is a nice trick that has worked for a lot of people. Put the center of the head of your razor flat against you face, the handle should then be parrallel to the floor. Now slowly drop the handle and pull the blade down untill you feel it grab on your beard. This is the angle you want to cut at. So while you are learning, cut small strips about 1" at a time and concentrate on your angle. Soon you will cut long fluid lines with a good sense of angle, but this is a nice training exercise. Always remeber this, only cut where there is cream to cut. No cream/water = no cut. So one pass of the blade per form over one area.

Cutting balm is easy to use and should be used to cut those few remaining patches of tough hard to see stubble that you find with your finger tips. Lay the cutting balm a pump at a time on to you very wet face. Keep the blade moving and use any of the 3 forms needed in small sections to wipe away these little buggers. For very difficult patches use a lot of cutting balm and thin it with the cube by working the cube in you hand.

When done, soak you face with tonic and lay on a small amount of aftershave cream, then spray again with tonic. Allow it to air dry, it only takes a few 30 seconds. Splash on some of you favorite scent and head on out for the day.
As I said in the last thread, the experienced Method Shaving guys don’t always agree on everything. I would like to add my thoughts to the rules that Adam listed;

While Form 1 is certainly the most important, I don’t feel the need to cut it more than once unless I have not shaved for a couple of days. It is good advice for the stone beginner to focus on Form 1, but once the shaver has a little bit of experience I feel that Form 3 is the real key to the shave. Most guys have the hardest time getting a close shave along the jaw-line. Mastering the J-stroke that is the core of Form 3 is what puts a shaver over the top.

No matter what medium you use (soap, English cream, HydroLast) it is important to go from thin to thick. A thinner/wetter mix makes it easier to cut the longer hairs. Save the Cutting Balm and/or shaving oil for the finishing pass when the extra protection is needed.

Like the wetness of the mix, skin tension needs to change over the course of the shave. It should go from slack in the beginning to tighter at the end. While I do not stretch my skin, I will use my free hand to hold the skin in place. This is only necessary during the finishing pass and maybe Form 3. I have a heavy beard and can not get the needed bite without a bit of skin tension. Those gents with lighter beards probably don’t need to do this but others might. We all manipulate skin tension in some way. If only from moving our face and jaw around.

The bottom line is that the basic Method Shaving techniques can be used with any razor and any medium. The reason why we speak of these techniques in conjunction with CAR’s products is because they are of the highest quality, fit the system, and simply work the best.
Brett and Adam, thanks for getting this started.

I did have some questions about particulars, and possible clarifications.

You mention, Adam, that the brush is both filled/loaded from the Cube and scrubbed on the face in the open-breech position. You also mention pumping the brush up and down on the Cube while loading it. I have seen some method shavers mention "locking the breech" (and Joel did in his pictorial), which I interpret to mean closing it, or squeezing the bristles until the open region in the center is no longer there. Is this something worth doing? You don't mention it, and I've mentioned it below where I think it may go.

Steps I've inferred from Joel's article (which I understand was based on talks with Charles), your post, and MethodShaving articles I've read (please correct me if I'm not understanding):

1. (Probably) pre-soak Cube and brush: 30 seconds or 1 minute? You don't mention it above.
2. "Charge" or "load" the brush with "slag" by scrubbing and pumping extensively on the Cube
3. (Not mentioned below) Add hot water to open breech and scrub the face with slag

4. Add some English cream to the palm of your hand (or the open breech of the brush?) and/or some hydrolast paste, if you're an advanced method shaver
5. (Possibly) lock the breech
6. Mix in the hand, open-breech. This completes the "dry mix." Might be done directly on the face.

7. Lather the face (open breech), and slowly draw the brush away. Add some hot water into the breech.
8. Lather the face again, completing the wet mix.
9. (Possibly) If mix is too loose, scrub the Cube some more.

10. Cut Form 1 (only where lather is, never recutting until relathered) as many times as needed until no stubble persists when felt with the grain.
11. Ditto Form 2 and 3, possibly adjusting looseness of the wet mix and tension of the skin as the shave progresses.
12. Cutting Balm can be used to assist touch-ups.
13. After shaving, use tonic and aftershave cream, then after drying, any cologne you like.

In case it's not evident, there are a lot of possible steps to infer, and some overlap between them, and they tend to be inconsistently explained from article to article. I could well assume that the process goes "scrub cube, add water, scrub more, add cream/paste, scrub more, add water, lather face, and shave" but I don't want to shortchange the process, and I'm expecting a thing called Method Shaving to have a precise and reproducible method, at least to start. I get that each shaver will customize the process over time, but what is the starting point?

Please explain to me what I don't understand, or am misinterpreting. My products are on the way from Enchanté, and I don't want to use them incorrectly.


Lets tackle this. Locking the breech, yes this is something you do when the brush is at a rest. Like when you set it down to shave. It keep the cream wet and prevents a loss of water.

Yes thow the brush and cube in a sink of hot water. The brush will soak up the water and the cube will soften just a bit.

All good there

All good there

All good there

You actually have the basics down and well understood. Remeber for years this has been taught over the phone and in person. You would be surprised how much more effective this really is as the internet and written word sometime leaves a lot to be desired. The real fun stuff comes with the neat tricks you can learn to do with the blade, like J-Hooks, blade buffing, and angle adjustments. There are very fine adjustments and we will get into those more later.

Forms are very close approximation to how you will cut, granted some leway and personal change up is standard. As for the concept of grain I do not buy into it. My hair is probably like most, it grown in every direction and no matter how hard I tried I would never be able to cut in the exact grain direction under as layer of cream. Not to mention it would take a half million little cuts with a 1-2cm blade. The name of the game is consistency day after day and reducing the beard gradually. It does not have to be accomplished in 2-3 passes it may take 4,5,6,7.....
I've shaved a couple of times using what I have gleaned from Joel's pictorial,Adam's additional explanation, and Rich's excellent point summation - I must say that the shaves are very, very, very good!

I want to build on what i am doing but am not sure about the cutting forms. Like Hondonker- would appreciate some clarification.

Another question, why build the lather on ones hand rather than a bowl?

Also where are the forms (1, 2 & 3) available on the mehodshaving site? I can't seem to find them.
My Enchanté box arrived today, and tomorrow I will be giving the Method Shaving process a whirl. Wish me luck!

Oh, and a good sniff of the Cube doesn't bring dookie to my mind: it's very much the smell of the old Lava soap my dad used to use in his workshop. I think it's a very raw, earthy smell, but not unpleasant, and am very much relieved.

blueasajewel said:
Forgive my thickness - but how does one interperate what the diagram is saying?

Im just guessing but the arrows with spaces are the 1.n to s pass and the soled arrow is the 2s to n. Then each spot is labled 1, 2, 3, 4, and these are the sections you do.... :confused:
There are three forms and each has broken the face into quadrant, which line up along the center of your nose and divide the along the jawline.

Follow the direction of the arrows, on form 1 it is straight down. On form 2 it is from the earn down to the chin. Form 3 can be cut 2 ways either from the bottom corner of the jaw up towards the nose or straight across.

Follow the lines and concenrate on one form at a time.
Back to the grain issue,
The N/S stroke (aka Form 1) is a very powerful cut that will reduce the beard regardless of what direction it grows. Once it has been brought down below a certain level, the grain becomes less of a factor and the beard opens up to the other cuts (Form 2 & 3) that bring it down to near skin level. This is the reason why there is so much focus on Form 1, particularly for the beginner. Reduce the beard with Form 1 and grain really isn't an issue until the finishing stage. All of us have spots that are tough to nail; the shape of your face makes it tough to get at certain spots, a nasty cowlick, a folicular ridge that lays close the the skin. The point is, it is easier to deal with those vagueries at the end of the shave when the hair is very short then at the beginning when it is longer.
Notes from this morning's shave:

  • Building the mix from the Cube and cream was very easy.
  • The process is indeed very messy.
  • Rinsing the razor in a sinkful of water is quicker and easier than rinsing it under the tap, however...
  • ...How does one keep the water warm when the sink is sitting for the fifteen minutes of the shave, and you're no longer running the tap every 20 seconds or so? My water was all lukewarm to cold by the midpoint of the shave, and the tap needed a minute or two of running to get hot again.
  • Cutting Form 1 over and over irritated me hugely on the sides of my neck, where I usually shave a series of diagonals.
  • Cutting Form 2 did effectively nothing.
  • Cutting Form 3 (well, straight across) helped a lot, but by now my whole face was feeling raw.
  • Draining the sink and going back to rinsing the razor and the face with tap-fresh hot water helped immensely.
  • Cleanup took forever.
  • The RMWS moisturizing balm was great stuff, and a tiny amount went a long way, but left my face feeling rubbery instead of smooth. I still feel "swollen" rather than smooth, though my cheeks are completely stubble-free (written at 3 PM).
So, the most important question I have: in between Method Shaving passes, should one rinse the face, or use the super-hydrated mix in the brush to wet down before cutting again? Rinsing between passes hasn't been in any of the procedures I've read, so I relied on what was in the brush, rehydrating the brush whenever it needed more water--even to the point that mix was spraying from the brush as I lathered. I have a feeling this (and not simply rinsing) added to the irritation of the shave. Thoughts? Clarification?

Finally, seeing statements such as this:
As for the concept of grain I do not buy into it.
shakes my confidence a bit. Grain is discussed every day on boards like this one and ShaveMyFace.com as a major factor in the strokes to perform and their technique and direction. I will keep trying to get my use of the products right, but after a shave with them, I don't see the Enchanté products allowing me to cut any which way I like.


Once you soak the brush and razor in warm watter to soften it you can drain the sink and use running water if you so desire. For me it is as much water conservation as anything else, I am moving to a well/septic in a few weeks so it is good practice for me.

Back down to one pass of form 1 for now and go lightly with the rest. For now you are effectively learning something new. It is as much a change in motor coordination as anything if you typically do not cut like this. So go easy and give yourself some time to adjust. it is no different than switching from an electric to a DE, it takes a little adjustment period.

I usually lather right up for each pass with out a rinse down untill I finish form 3. You are suffering from two common brush problems and these are the comments that inflame people so please do not take this the wrong way. If you are seeing a water and cream spraying from the brush you are suffering from a term called ejection. It is because the brush does not have the capacity to hold the amount of water and mix you are using. In a pure RMWS world, which is what you are playing with right now, this is the reason a big brush in silver tip is reccomended. It has the bristles and capacity for what is needed. In a situation where a brush suffers from ejection you will probably need to use a mug or bowl to keep control of the wet mix. The second problem is the need/desire to rehydrate the brus, this is causiing your mix to thin in combination with ejection. So you do not have enough cream when you add water. Most RMWS people will learn how to make a mix once and use the brush as the storage an release system.

I can not remeber what brush you are using so please let us know. It is something we can compensate for by use of a bowl etc. I am guessing you are using a SMF brush? Please no one take this is a knock on any brush, it is just to point out why the brush style choosed for RMWS is what it is.
And if the new Rooney brush in Finest surpasses a Chubby in water retention we may be looking at another item which may work with the Method system.

I relied on what was in the brush, rehydrating the brush whenever it needed more water--even to the point that mix was spraying from the brush as I lathered.

Am I correct in interpreting what I have read so far - that you initially want a very wet mix (i.e a fair amount of water) to facilitate High V passes - then proceed to a gradually thicker mix through form 2 and introduce the use of cutting balm along with a progressively thicker mix to facilitate the recommended lower velocity when cutting form 3 - then end off with just cutting balm for the T&C (if required)?

The progressively thicker mix tends to occur naturally over the course of the shave but may be adjusted by using the Cube - right?
Water retention is part of it, the flattnes of the crown and desgin of the brush play a role as well. More so maybe than the actual bristle type, pst... don't tell anyone I said that. Problem is until now maybe with the Rooney and for sure with the brush CAR designed, only the simpsons in a few flavors were built with similar design properties.

Now you have to remeber the principle goals with RMWS and method shaving in genral is to create a mix once and keep it in the brush ready to go through out the shave, without having to work with a bowl, playing with water later, etc. All of these things can be compensated for if the brush is different in nature.

Short answer I am hopeful that Rooney will produce a brush that is as capable as Simpsons. I will see whent hey come out, I am seriously considering aquiring one.
Adam and Brett, I'm seeing lots of stuff here that makes lots of sense and would be learned only after many years of practice and experimentation. However, there are two points with which I must take issue. If you do research you'll find they're not good advice whether they are par to fthe system.

One is the issue of grain being of no consequence. If this were true, there would be no reason for your forms. You would just cut everything the same way (NS, whatever) on every pass. By adopting forms where the angle of attack varies, you're admitting the invalidity of your statement.

I will agree with one thing. If you're trying just to reduce the beard and not go over any spots, it shouldn't make a difference. However, even then it pays to go with the grain, because you can take more hair off without risking irritation.

If you get down to touchup and try cutting in every direction, you will find that going against the grain cuts you cleaner than any other direction. I can't get absolutely clean without doing it. How could grain be of no consequence?

The other point is that stretching is not important. There, you're on shaky ground and bucking generations, if not centuries of experience. I want to see you shave with a str8 without stretching. You'll gash every fold in your skin. The same goes for any really sharp razor (try a slant with a Feather blade). You may be able to get away with it if you dial an adjustable way down, sacraficing closeness. Even then, you'll need stretching by contorting your face.

By discouraging stretching, you're doing a disservice to those who have problems on the sides of the neck owing to extreme sensitivity. I can eliminate that in five minutes by teaching localized extreme stretching. With an extemely sharp blade you don't have to stretch as hard. I don't know what your solution to this problem would be, but I'd be interested in hearing about it. I have the problem and I've experimented for years trying to find a solution. This form of stretching is what I eventually came up with. Try it with someone who as this problem, you'll see immediate relief, just keep the touch extremely light and the blade angle flat.

All your detailed rules and procedures are great for getting a newbie on track, but I'm willing to bet you're much more flexible in your own practices. If I had to do that it would be a major factor in taking away the fun.

I've read about the J-cut and plow. I don't quite understand them. I wonder if you could explain them a little better. Could you also explain what they're accomplishing? :cool:
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