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My Shave Log

Preface

I knew when I started that this would not be a short post. It's longer than I expected. I also apologise in advance for the quality of the photographs. I have never taken pictures regularly before, and I used a fairly old camera for this. Maybe these will improve over time if I continue.


Introduction


Up until now I've been posting snippets of my shaves in various forums and threads here at B&B, but I have decided to keep a more general record of my shaving experiences in one place, which will form the basis of this post. My intention is to describe my voyage into the world of DE shaving in as much detail as possible. I know that I will not be the first person to attemp such a thing here at B&B but I will proceed nonetheless. I don't yet know how many more posts will follow, or with what regularity, but the initial plan is to document my shaves on an intermittent basis. I will report any other interesting or unusual developments as and when they occur. I shall try to avoid repetition but fear that some may be inevitable.

I should probably begin by telling you a little a bit about how I ended up here (something I may attempt to answer more fully as this journal unfolds) so, although I have touched on this in my first few shave clinic posts, for the sake of completion I will re-introduce myself.

My name is Wesley and I am a shaver. And, as it turns out, not a very good one. I have been DE shaving for a little over three weeks now, but shaving in a more general sense for around 27 years. Almost entirely wet shaving, barring three separate attempts with electric razors. Each one of those mis-guided efforts lasted no more than 2 weeks and I can't say that I enjoyed them. My wet shaves were with either Wilkinson Sword 3D Protectors or Bic dispoables, and a can of shaving gel or foam. Right from the start I only shaved with the grain (the singular piece of shaving advice given to me by my elder brother. My Dad has had a beard since I've known him) and only one pass. Of course I never thought of it as a pass back then and if, after not shaving for a whole week, it took two goes at it, I just considered it to have taken two shaves to get rid of the beard. Shaving to me was always either a relatively painless chore or a mildly refreshing inconvenience. Apart from that, I never really gave it much thought, only occasionally wondering why some men seemed to have completely smooth faces after a shave, whereas mine was always a bit....sandpapery.

So what changed? After my second extended period of being bearded (no shaving whatsoever), coming back to shaving again for the first time was a really painful experience. With every shave came nicks and cuts and the foams seemed to keep drying up on my face and dissipating before I was even halfway through. I had been aware of DE shaving and the various other associated methods for a year or two, along with a very distant memory of my Grandad shaving with a different sort of implement, so I had some idea that there was an alternative. I started out by ordering a tub of Proraso white and using disposable Bics. These were cheap and had a single blade, so I fully expected them to eliminate the tugging and ingrown hairs (something else I'd never had before). I had an old brush in the bathroom that was part of a christmas gift from around 20 years ago. It smelled a bit funny, and in recent years I've generally used it for cleaning the sink but I figured it would do to get started if I shampooed it first.

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The odour remained. I used it anyway.

Over the next few months, I don't recall how many, something strange began to occur. I started looking at and reading about all sorts of shaving equipment, always exclusively DE razors, blades, brushes, soaps and the rest. I started to think about them more and more and it suddenly occured to me that shaving was turning into a hobby. I couldn't have been more surprised. Always happy to embrace my oddity, I decided to order a new Omega brush. Once I became proficient in building lather (or so I thought!) a DE razor, sample pack of blades and another soap followed. After my first DE shave (more on this in the future) turned out to be far worse than I'd expected, I naturally turned to the internet, and the advice so generously dished out on Badger and Blade in particular. At this stage there was simply no way that I was going to give up. The advice helped. I signed up to B&B to give thanks. By the next day it had become evident that the hobby was starting to mutate into something far more....unusual.

This just about brings me up to date. I don't have any particular goals in mind, apart from achieving shaves with no irritation at all, where possible. This has happened on three occasions so far and I hope more will follow. Of course, closeness is desirable but not at the expense of the aforementioned. I have never experienced a BBS but I would be lying if I said that it doesn't appeal to me. Above all, I want my shaves to be interesting. What does that mean? It could be a shave that is better than the last, more comfortable, closer or memorable for many other reasons. I don't yet know what those reasons might be. One last thing to note. I am still in the very early stages of DE shaving and have little doubt that some aspects of my reporting will be familiar to many of you. Unfotunately, they may be tedious to some. I can not help that. I am at the beginning, so this is where I must begin.


What is a shaver?

A shaver is someone who shaves. Lots of people shave. How many? Millions? Billions? How could we possibly know? Men shave and women shave. Some people shave their heads, some their armpits, others their legs. I do not. And the particular shaver in question, the shaver of whom this is an anatomy of, is myself. I have not made this choice through ego, but simply because I have no other subject to choose. However, even if I had the option, I would still choose myself, much in the manner that Sigmund Freud chose himself for the bulk of the analysis in his book on dreams. That although this work will be personal and peculier to me, I believe that it will be transferable to others. Of course, I am perfectly happy to accept that this may not be the case. Further more I can state quite clearly that as well as being an examination of the practice of shaving, this will also be, in greater or lesser part, an analysis of the way in which this activity affects my mental state. :letterk1:
To mis-quote the esteemed Dr. Freud. 'a man like me cannot live without a hobby-horse, without a consuming passion, without...a tyrant. I have found one...It is shaving, which has always been my distant, beckoning goal, and which now, since I have come upon the problem of neuroses, has drawn so much nearer.' (Guess which word I changed)


What will I be shaving?

My face, and only my face. But not all of it. My nose and forehead are not particularly hairy and I will be keeping my eyebrows for the time being. I shall be shaving my beard. All of it, from sideburn to sideburn, moustache to the bottom of my neck, there will be no beard left. This is a personal choice. Many people prefer to keep some form of facial hair, but not me. Now, just what kind of beard do I have to shave? It could best be described as medium coverage, but very course. It starts just at the hollow of my neck, rising to meet the tide falling from the jawline. I have attached some pictures of my face to better illustrate this important aspect of shaving, which I have learned is referred to as 'beard mapping'.


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As you can see from the photographs above, my beard grows north to south above the jawline, and south to north on the neck, meeting higher up in the direction of the ears, lower below the chin. There is a small amount of east/west growth along the jawline, mostly where north meets south, but not enough to worry about. Note if you will, the very prominent adams apple. This has always caused an issue in shaving, and is one of the obstacles I am looking forward to tackling.


What is my shaving routine?


At the moment I am shaving four times a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. I had originally planned to shave three times a week, expecting to change the blade fort-nightly. However, since researching blade life, I have discovered that the application of an arbitrary number is entirely wrong. The first time I read that someone claimed to get 60 shaves from a blade, I thought they were having a laugh. I have since come to realise that it is not uncommon to get 50 plus shaves from a blade, so I have added the extra day to my routine and will change the blades as required. My first blade lasted 8 shaves, none if which was very pleasant, but the last two shaves were similar in their short comings. I doubt whether the blade was at fault, but I changed it in any case.

It has long been my custom to shave in the evening as I am decidedly not a morning person, but there is a new benefit now that my way of shaving has changed. I very much enjoy the anticipation of the coming shave throughout the day and I feel that if I was to shave in the morning, I would not have this to look forward to. However, it must be noted that I now find myself planning the next shave within around ten to twenty minutes of finishing, so this may not be the case if I were to switch to morning shaving. I doubt whether I will find out. I do not expect to shave less than four times a week in the future but it is possible that I will shave more.


I do not shower before shaving, my only preperation being the use of warm water from the sink to rinse my facial hair while the brush soaks. I have a small sample of Proraso green pre-shave cream. I have only used it once or twice shaving with disposable bics in the past, and I can say that I liked the smell of it. I have not yet used it DE shaving.

And now, dear readers, if you are still with me, I shall proceed.


(*Since my first DE shave took place on August 26th, 2019 I am now on to day 23 of my DE voyage.)

Wesley's shave log: Day 23*

I am now entering the fouth week of DE shaving. My normal sleeping pattern continues to elude me and my nocturnal life is populated by shaving dreams. So far they have all been pleasant dreams, devoid of anxiety. Upon waking, my mind is full of shaving imagery and ideas, which continues throughout the day. I am still struggling to concentrate on television for more than a minute or two before the mind wanders to shave related thoughts. There has, however, been a very curious side effect. My chess has improved. I am playing in a more assertive, confident manner. Calmer, yet with a hint of wrecklessness as my logical faculties seem ever so slightly heightened. I am winning more games and my rating is improving, but I am unable to play anything longer than a quick 5 minute match. I suspect that joining Badger & Blade is responsible for much of this new mental phenomena. I don't yet regret it.


Date of last shave: September 16th, 2019; shave number 13


What did I use?

A merkur 34 HD, my only DE razor so the only one I can choose. I purchased this particular razor as it came with a solid reputation, has been in production for a very long time and has a slightly more functional, workman like aspect compared to the similarly priced alternatives. It appeared to me to be a humble razor. I think some people refer to the razor as the Merkur 34 Bulldog, due to the short heavy handle. I like that. It is loaded with a Gillette 7 O'clock green that has four shaves on it, and has provided me with three very nice shaves so far. The brush is an orange handled Omega 10051 boar hair, measuring 93mm in height. I have been using it for a few months now and it seems to be breaking in quite well. The soap I am currently using is Proraso white, very little of which is left. I can't say that I'm unhappy about that. It is not particularly interesting but has been good to practice with.

How did the shave proceed?


I entered the bathroom at 8.59pm. After turning on the light and closing and locking the door, I moved the soap dispenser from the side of the sink to the toilet cistern. The wash basin area was now entirely clear. I turned on the cold tap and splashed my face with water, then patted my face dry with a towel. There is a small soft, blue cloth hanging over the shower cubicle. I folded it into three and placed it on the right side of the sink, from the tap to the edge of the basin. Next I retrieved the large, chipped white mug from the cupboard under the sink and placed it on the cloth. I turned the tap on again, the hot one this time and when it was very warm, I filled the mug by about a third. Opening the cupboard above the sink, I grabbed my boar brush and popped it into the mug. I picked the mug up and, holding it by the base with my left hand, gently squeezed the submerged bristles with the fingers of my right. It's a slightly awkward action, but necessary to expel the excess air from the brush. I wonder if this is the same with all brushes. Placing the mug on the right hand side of the sink again I turned the tap on for the third time, running the water until it was very warm, almost hot, and filled the basin. Next I removed my T-shirt and layed it on top of the closed toilet seat. I have always shaved bare chested, I'm way too messy a shaver to be able to wear anything above the waist.

Once this was done, I went back to the cupboard above the sink, took the razor (loaded with the blade) and the tub of Proraso, placing the soap to the left of the taps, the razor to the right. Leaning over the sink, I splashed my beard with the almost hot water, occasionally pressing my hands against my face in the manner of a hot towel.

Satisfied that my face was hydrated I picked up the tub of soap and took off the lid. I'd forgotten that the soap had almost gone, a penny sized piece of plastic visible directly in the centre. Using my fingers I pushed the remaining soap towards the hole, squishing it into shape. The layer can't have been more than a milimetre or two thick, but it was roughly even. With the puck in my left hand, I picked up the brush with my right, allowing the water to gravity drip. I have been following Marcos Method with great success but on the last shave there was either too much water, not enough product or a bit of both.


This time I decided to gently waft the brush, not flicking or shaking, just enough movement to make sure that the brush had stopped dripping. As I moved it over the tub I felt a slight twinge of apprehension, knowing that failure is a possibility at any moment. I needn't have worried. After the first three or four swirls, I slowed down and gradually started counting the number of rotations. By the time I had I had reached 60 I was very calm again, and confidently finished loading the brush for a total of what must have been very close to exactly 120 swirls. With brush in hand I stooped, wetting my face with my left hand a la Michael Friedberg. Jutting my chin out like a chicken pecking at corn, I peered at my reflection in the mirror as I carefully applied the brush to my face. Almost laying it against my right cheek, I painted a broad stripe, dragging the brush down and across, going over the chin until I reached my destination on the other side. Although wet and foamy, the mixture was nowhere near as thin and drippy as last time and, as I slowly started to agitate the mixture on my face I knew that it was going to be a better lather. It actually felt different and so, with renewed confidence I started to lather my face in earnest.

After what felt like five minutes (I don't wear a watch), I had what appeared to be my best lather yet, slick and shiny, with maybe just one or two small bubbles on the upper lip and the left side of my face. With the towel in hand I cleaned off my lips with my right thumb (the skin felt very slick, surely a good sign!) and hooked out the small blob of lather that had crept into the bottom of my left nostril. Satisfied that all was in order I picked up the razor with my right hand (this is my dominant hand). My fingers automatically fell into the grip. I believe it is the balance point method, with my forefinger maybe half an inch from the razor head, my second and third fingers supporting it. The very bottom of the handle rests against my little finger, my thumb folding over naturally.

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Finally, with razor in hand, I moved it towards the right side of my face. The feeling of anxiety returned, stronger this time, knowing that any mistakes possess the power to bring greater consequence. Holding the razor with locked wrist, my arm jutted out at a right angle. This felt very strange for the first couple of shaves, but now I barely notice it. Using the safety bar as a guide I made a short, half inch stroke below the right hand sideburn. Mmmm. Not too bad. I immediately moved over to the left and repeated the action, noticing that a little more lateral pressure was used this time. Careful Wesley, don't get over excited now! Returning to the right hand side, I applied the head of the razor to its last point of departure and made a confident, two and a quarter inch stroke, almost to the edge of the jaw, quickly followed by 3 short, rapid, overlapping, half inch strokes at the bottom.

The next stroke, towards the centre of the cheek, even with a puff of air to fill the slightly concave surafce, left a significant amount of soap behind. It was also less smooth. After a few short strokes to take care of the rest of the hair at the jawline before it meets the growth coming from the other direction, I approached what is always the most difficult part of my shave. Keeping my mouth closed, but dropping my jaw half an inch and protruding it just a fraction I tackled the area just to the right of, and below the corner of my mouth. I tried to focus on keeping the angle shallow but the stroke was too tentative. It didn't quite pull, but it wasn't smooth. The rest of the area below my lower lip, all the way to the edge of my jaw went similarly. Dissapointing, but by no means a disaster.

The edge of the jaw was a different story. I was able to ride the cap and conquer this normally difficult section with comparative ease. Leaving the moustache, I went back to the left hand side, just below the sideburn and worked my way inwards, mirroring the right. This was much easier. The upper lip proved to be no problem either, as fairly swiftly moved from right to left, making a small adjustment to the grip of the razor as I turned it on its side to get at the tiny areas just below the nostrils. That took care of all of the north to south growth. Flipping the razor upside down I moved onto the neck. I have never taken the time to examine the grip here, but it's sort of a two finger and thumb pincer, with the third and forth fingers supporting. It is entirely intuitive. For some unknown reason, what used to be the most difficult part of a shave has now become the easiest. After swiftly taking care of the left hand side of my neck, with long, easy strokes, I paused to check the consistency of the remaining lather. Dabbing a finger into it, it was a little dry, but by now I was in such a lovely rhythm that I carried on regardless, moving easily from left to right. I placed my fingers in the hollow of my neck and shifted them this way and that, sliding the skin across my adams apple. I knew that this would not be shaved perfectly but I didn't care. I was in the midst of the most enjoyable shave I've had so far.


With the first WTG pass finished I rinsed off my face, smeared the remaining bits of lather from my cheekbones and earlobes onto my face and lathered up for a second. This time the lather was much thinner than before, but more slippery too, and I used more of a painting, slapping motion, flicking the tips of the brush over my face, careful not irritate. The pink of my skin was visible through the lather but it was plenty slick enough. At no point during the lathering process did I add any water. This time I shaved with a feather light touch, WTG once more. Dispensing with the initial sideburn measuring, I used fractionally longer strokes than before. The lather came off cleanly and a more pronounced, frog like, air bulge helped deal wiht the centre of the right cheek. I made a few rapid, short strokes along the jawline, the head of the razor never really leaving the skin, all completely on instinct. I wonder if this is blade buffing? The area below the lower lip was still problematic, but easier than before and I had to remind self not to get cocky as I shaved the left hand side of my face swiftly, and without thinking.

The neck was a direct repeat, apart from the spot directly below my chin where the hair meets from two opposing directions. I had not intended to do any touching up at all, comfort being my main goal, but everything was feeling so good that I scooped a little lather from the brush with a finger and daubed it on. With care and a very light touch, I tried to remove most of the longer hairs. Avoiding the temptation to over shave I rinsed off. That was it, I was done. I knew that it wouldn't be a perfect shave (infact, I wonder if such a thing exists) but I was happy with it.

I briefly patted my face with a towel and emptied the sink and the shaving mug, but the signs were already good. My face felt pleasantly cool, and I wondered whether I'd been a bit rude about the Proraso. After a cold water splash and another, slightly more thorough pat with a towel I could confirm that the shave had been completely irritation free. As I dried the mug, put away the dwindling soap and rinsed the razor, I had a confirmatory glance in the mirror. No redness, no irritation - I hadn't jumped the gun. I squeezed the trapped lather from the brush, rinsed it under the tap using the squeeze method (another hat tip to Mr. Freedberg) and dried it off by lightly stropping it on the towel. I stood the brush back on the sink as I gave the razor a quick dry, also stropping the blade on the towel 4 or 5 times each side, and put it back in the cupboard. I quickly but thoroughly cleaned the sink with cold water before drying the entire basin with the soft blue cloth. I hung up the towel to dry, put my T-shirt back on and took one more quick look in the mirror. Still no redness and my face felt fine. I left the bathroom at 9.31pm.

The shave took 32 minutes.


Conclusion


This was my quickest shave by quite some margin. It is not a boast and I know there are many who shave faster. It was also not my goal. But it is a fact. I tells me that my technique is improving and becoming more efficient. Clearly, after only two WTG passes it wasn't the closest shave of all time. Overall, I would say that it is a socially acceptable shave, but it is uneven. There are some areas that are DFS but also some, just below the nostrils, at the top of the neck (if not all of it), half an inch below my earlobes and of course the pesky adams apple (If I didn't know differently, it would've been fair to assume that I had not shaved it at all), that many people would not accept. And there is one stray, full length bristle at the very top of my beard, two inches to the right of my nostril. But I am very pleased with the results, nonetheless. It was very, very comfortable. There is absolutely no irritation at all, not even the slighty, overly tight dry feeling I normally get. This may be due to the quality of the lather, the length of time spent shaving (it's just occured to me that the longer the shave takes, the longer there's soap on the face, the more chance of it causing dryness etc) or simply because my face is becoming more accustomed to being shaved. It may also be due to improved razor technique, or a whole host of other factors. I suspect that time will tell.






 

Rhody

I'm a Lumberjack.
Thanks for posting very thoughtful maybe only a shaver would read it😁
Interesting quote from Freud about a hobby-horse.
 
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