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NewBlader's new shaver's shaving journal

I'm not sure exactly which number I'm on but I think it's #12 so I'll go with that.

#12: definitely getting closer! Went with a more aggressive angle, light / "no" pressure and slight lateral (slicing) movements, and got better WTG result. That let me try some more XTG and get some results in that. I'm definitely starting to get a shave out of this. My goal is to get to the "acceptable shave" level, not going for BBS. I guess my shave today was equivalent to a hasty shave with my Fusion. I still have a long way to go to get them as good as my DE shaves. For me, the DE is really excellent so if I can get to that point, it's great.

I did use the DE for finishing, but it's getting less and less.

I think I will need to send my razors for a re-honing at some point, because I'm sure that my early clumsy razor use is putting excessive wear on it.

The good news: no nicks, almost no irritation.
 
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Hi new, sounds like you are off to a great start. there is no substitute for experience so keep at it. You will definitely be able to match that DE quality in time and cleaning up with a DE is a fine idea until you get there.

Ian
 
Had #13 today. I'm finally shaving! I did my entire face with the straight, and got quite good shaving results in some areas. It's a question of fine-tuning pressure, angle, blade motion and direction. I'm starting to feel the cutting now. My left cheek, in particular, got smooth!

It's funny, the first couple of times my blade seemed dull. Now it's the same blade but it's starting to cut!

I also did more stropping last night. 50 laps on linen, 50 on leather. Maybe that's helping too.

I have a good feeling that within a dozen more shaves I'll be getting acceptable shaves.

Oh, and I'm still not getting any nicks or irritation. The only problem area is some part on my right cheek that is still recovering from years of Fusion abuse (ingrown hairs and bumps). Probably it will fully recover eventually. I haven't picked up a Fusion since I first started using the DE.
 
ain't that the truth, a new straight shaver often time thinks it's a dull blade, but it usually isn't... it's technique...
Yeah, there really is a precise "envelope" of angle, pressure and motion that results in cutting. On either side of that envelope, you either get no cutting of hair, or you get cutting of a skin.

I had #14 today. I did just a tiny amount of DE touch-up on the chin. I had two very minor nicks, and no irritation. And... I'm getting almost to a "socially acceptable shave" (SAS) at this point. I feel that within a few more shaves I'll be able to get a SAS.

One problem right now is how long this whole thing takes. I can't afford to spend 25 minutes in the morning. I do know from experience in other areas that physical things like this speed up greatly with experience, and I hope to get my shave to under 10 minutes. One thing I'm not doing, which saves time, is lathering. I use some TOBS and lather on face, which takes less than a minute and works fine.
 
One problem right now is how long this whole thing takes. I can't afford to spend 25 minutes in the morning. I do know from experience in other areas that physical things like this speed up greatly with experience, and I hope to get my shave to under 10 minutes. One thing I'm not doing, which saves time, is lathering. I use some TOBS and lather on face, which takes less than a minute and works fine.
i think the actual shaving time will decrease, i've got down my good shave to a great 2 pass and minimal touch-up. the passes seem go way faster for 2 and 3 and i've noticed that prep and clean-up seem to take as much time as the actual shave..

but i am right there with you of wanting to enjoy it but not overdue how much time is needed to accomplish the task. it's still a task in the end..

you'll see it starting to click, but you did need to consider how to shear off some add'l time and that doesn't exactly come from experience shaving, more like your conscious action of using brushless lather...
 
i think the actual shaving time will decrease, i've got down my good shave to a great 2 pass and minimal touch-up.
Right, if I could get it down to three passes that would be great. I believe that, once I get "fluent" at it, it will be faster than shaving with a Fusion, because the blade cutting edge is longer, and with the right angling, should be able to cut efficiently.

i've noticed that prep and clean-up seem to take as much time as the actual shave..
Ah, for me, prep = 45 seconds of wet face, rub TOBS into face. Clean-up = slap on some AS and take a shower. So those are really fast.

but i am right there with you of wanting to enjoy it but not overdue how much time is needed to accomplish the task. it's still a task in the end..
Yes.
 
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Had shave #15 today. Basically it's my first (borderline) socially-acceptable shave, with no DE touchups needed. It went quite well. I really got a smooth WTG shave over most areas, and was able to end with some good, true ATG passes. I was also able to get a shave on my chin, which has been the hardest area.

I understand now the idea that good WTG shaving is the foundation for the rest of the shave. If the WTG goes well and gets close enough, it makes good ATG passes possible later on, and that combination is the magic of really close straight shaves.

Results: one very minor nick. As usual, no irritation at this point. The alcohol splash afterwards had a medium-low level of burn. The shave was a bit uneven, but some spots did achieve true BBS (while others were left with bits of stubble).

Again the shave took too long (25 minutes?), a good chunk of which was spent trying to figure out how to approach the chin. I think that once I get a pattern worked out for that it will be much faster, and my goal is to get the shave to ten minutes or less, start to finish. I think this will be possible as I get more fluent.

This is all with my new DOVO carbon steel razor, the most basic model. I'm using TOBS, and lathering on face, no brush.

The areas where I am getting BBS are some areas that haven't been this smooth since I was 14. Straight razors can really work, once I get the technique down.
 
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Had shave #16 today. Actually not quite as smooth as yesterday but I didn't push it too hard. Two minor nicks. I do need to be more careful on those. I do feel like I'm getting more confident and perhaps getting faster in some areas. I'm still figuring out which strokes to use. Also I'm more confident in my ATG pass in some areas; this really does work when it works.

No DE touch-ups today, although maybe I should do it. But at this point I want to stick with the straight 100% so I force myself to get all the areas.

One interesting idea from today: I found that it would be much easier to stretch the under-chin / neck area by tilting my head far back. But that meant I couldn't see myself in the mirror. Solution: shave without looking, at least for that area. That definitely worked, and was the smoothest part of my shave, in an area that (with Fusions) I was never able to shave well. It is not strictly necessary to see what you're doing to use a straight!
 
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I got my first reasonably good straight shave today! Some areas were really really smooth, smoother than I've ever shave before. But I can't call it an "excellent shave" because it was uneven; some areas (esp. chin) were not shaved so well. I'm not doing any DE touchups.

What was different this time? I presume my technique is improving. Also, last night, I did about 20 laps on a 0.25 micron sprayed balsa "strop". Maybe that helped. I'm probably going to get a finishing hone soon and try to use that once a week; I understand that stropping alone doesn't keep the edge "fresh". I also am being more aware of the importance of skin stretching. Currently I'm doing things like opening my mouth really wide, tilting head back, etc.

Part of why my chin didn't get shaved is I'm leaving it alone. I had a minor nick a couple days ago and I'm being extra-light in that area. I don't want to keep on re-nicking a spot so I would rather leave some area a bit stubbly than to keep irritating some spot. Keep irritating means it can scar or become a bump.

All in all, very smooth (but somewhat inconsistent) shave, and one very very minor nick. Actually not much stringing with the post-shave Bay Rum alcohol splash, which is the best indicator of how much I'm removing skin vs. hair.

Still a "problem" is that I'm taking too long. I can't afford to spend 25 minutes in the morning on this. But, I know from other things I've learned to do, doing it slowly and correctly is the best way to get faster.

I'm sure it's boring to the readers here, but writing it mainly for my notes.
 
Got a fairly good shave today. I did some fairly aggressive angles and some solid ATG passes. Result: very very smooth shave in some areas. This would count as an "excellent" shave, except:

  • I'm still not getting my chin smooth. I realize that "everyone" has difficulty in that area. It's certainly the mostly bristly hair, and the hardest area to get good flat passes on. I'm going easy on it because I don't want to start getting nicks.
  • I had one very minor nick, on the Adams Apple area. Again, I realize this is an area with thin skin that is not flat, and everyone has trouble there. When I was using Fusions I just never shaved the adams apple, but instead mostly used tweezers.
  • I felt a pretty strong burn with the alcohol splash after. This tells me that I'm getting pretty aggressive and removing some of the top layer of dead skin cells. That's why those areas are extremely smooth but I probably need to go a bit less aggressive there. There should be a mild tingling but not a burning feeling.

It's still taking too long. But it's Saturday so I did have time.

I'm gauging my shaving by how much alcohol burn I get after. If it's burning, I'm pushing it too far and should rinse off and stop for the day. Likewise if I get a cut or nick, the shave is over.

Last night I did six laps on the diamond-sprayed balsa strop, and then about 60 laps each on canvas and leather. I'm thinking that the diamond stropping helps. My technique must be improving too. I still plan to get a finishing hone to replace the balsa strop at some point. Either one of those coticule things or a Naniwa synthetic stone. Probably doesn't make much difference.

I hope that by shave #100, it's smooth, fast, and nicks are rare. I also want to start rotating in my DOVO stainless:

 
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Sounds like you are really making some great progress. I don't know if you are ready to start anything new but one thing that i did that sped things up for me was when i was doing my wtg pass i would do the top part of my face to the jaw line and then do the below part next. I finally started to make a pass from the top and just extend it all the way down over the jaw bone and keep going down the neck in one motion. took a little practice but really started to bring the time down for me. seems like my shaves are no longer than a DE any more. wish i could tell you something that would help more but i now realize that experience is the only thing that works.

Ian
 
Sounds like you are really making some great progress.
Yeah, it is pretty cool to go from "gee this thing is dull" to getting reasonably good shaves, within about three weeks. My advice, based on my very limited experience thus far, to anyone else who is thinking of getting into straight shaving is:

  • Put down the blade if you're getting frustrated, losing concentration, or getting nicks, and try again the next day. Don't force it.
  • Plan to take at least a month or more to start getting acceptable shaves

I don't know if you are ready to start anything new but one thing that i did that sped things up for me was when i was doing my wtg pass i would do the top part of my face to the jaw line and then do the below part next. I finally started to make a pass from the top and just extend it all the way down over the jaw bone and keep going down the neck in one motion.
I'll definitely try that. It doesn't add much difficulty, and in fact I find that as I'm cutting along, it's a smooth feeling, so all I need to do is let it flow! One of the cool things about straights is they don't clog so it's possible to do very long single passes like that.

took a little practice but really started to bring the time down for me. seems like my shaves are no longer than a DE any more.
It seems like that should be the case once I get used to it. Probably most of the people here who take longer shaves do it because they enjoy the lathering process etc. Sure it's ok but I don't have time for it on weekdays.

wish i could tell you something that would help more but i now realize that experience is the only thing that works.
Yup! That's what it comes down to. It is a pretty cool skill to have and it doesn't take that long to acquire it. Probably after a month or two most people would be able to do it. I can see I'm on shave #18 and it's already going pretty well.

I remember when I first learned to drive a stick shift, everything was slow and took a lot of thought. Now, I'm still consciously aware of shifting but the interplay of speed, clutch and gas pedal are all automatic for me. It seems like learning how to straight shave may be a similar progression.
 
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keep up the effort! it won't be too long when you see the change in shave..

my actual two pass today was about 5-10 minutes and a DFS++. I was kind of timing it.. face lathering and not too much after shave routine though...

i don't like to do the one whole side then the other, just doesn't feel right for some reason.. i like this variation - cheeks, moustache, chin, neck

nice job, you'll get there..
 
Just had #19. I had a date and party event tonight so I wanted to be ultra smooth. That means I did a couple passes with the straight and finished with the DE.

As usual the DE gives fantastic shaves. So I got a great shave, 99% of the way to BBS, but that's really due to the DE use, not the straight.

DE was an amazing change for me from Fusions. Fusions were just terrible, resulting in rough shaves and irritation, and all that for $2 a ctg.

I'm hoping to get my straight shaving up to the same level as DE.

The good thing is, no nicks, and alcohol burn (my indicator of when I'm over-shaving) was minimal.

I'll be back on straight-only this week.

keep up the effort! it won't be too long when you see the change in shave..
That's what I expect. I know with a lot of skills you go through phases. For me with straight, first phase was just holding it and using it and cutting some hair. Second was getting a lot of cutting and quite smooth shaves, but some areas are still out of reach, esp. the tip of the chin. I expect that I'll soon get past that phase, and move on all-over smooth shaves, and then I'll start working on consistency and speed.

my actual two pass today was about 5-10 minutes and a DFS++. I was kind of timing it..
Cool! That's about the same as a regular shave probably.

face lathering and not too much after shave routine though...
Sounds like what I do. Face lathering, no brush, and after, alcohol splash and shower.

nice job, you'll get there..
Thanks! It's progressing. 19 shaves is not much. You're about 82 ahead of me probably. I'll get there soon.
 
Great stuff and nice thread. What really helped me in leaps and bounds was a tip I got from Luc and sanfranciscan to keep the angle consistent on the type of long strokes you might do on your cheeks: keep a firm grip on your razor, lock your wrist and do the stroke with your arm. Before that I was doing a lot of wrist shaving which caused a lot of burn and inconsistent results. Anyway you will figure it out practice makes perfect.
 
Great stuff and nice thread.
Thanks Gustav.

Made big progress this morning. I got a good all-over shave, including some reasonable shaving on the chin for the first time. I definitely did some more ATG shaving on the cheeks, and they are getting quite smooth and consistent lately. I'm definitely getting some "moves" going.

For the chin, I had two "innovations", or "chinnovations":

  • I did a better job of skin stretching in the chin area. It really makes a difference there, to get it just right
  • I used some scrubbing motions. I haven't used scrubbing before (anywhere) and found it to be a very effective countermeasure against the chin's tough straight-out bristles, while causing minimal irritation.

Got a medium-level alcohol burn, which is too high. Still not at the level of a good DE shave, still got a couple of nicks, and still took way too long to be practical (30 minutes!), but it's definitely on track. I used my stainless DOVO today for a change. Didn't notice any difference between it and the carbon DOVO I've been using mainly.
 
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Today was my first generally good shave. Everything worked well and the results were smooth and fairly even / consistent. No nicks. Quite a bit of ATG shaving, resulting in a lot of very smooth areas. No irritation, but there was a bit of burn with the alcohol splash after, telling me that I shaved a bit too close. It also is still taking too long (30 min).

I did leave some stubble in the mustache area. I'll try to add some XTG shaving there tomorrow. I also didn't shave on my adam's apple at all. I'll do that (carefully) tomorrow.

I'm noticing that I'm getting a lot more "moves" and am able to reach more areas more easily. Things are still not fluent and I spend a lot of time figuring out what to do and trying things. I guess the time savings are going to come once that is all done and I know the exact sequence of what to do.

Shaving cream: Proraso. I do lather on face and have figured out how to do that better. Wet face, put on a small amount of the cream, lather, and apply some more water and a small increment of cream. It's quick, efficient, and it works. I don't find much difference among various creams other than smell and feel; they all seem to work ok so long as they are hydrated enough. I don't really get much of a lather but it's wet and slippery and works.

I used my stainless DOVO again to today. I like it but still can't feel much difference between it and my plain steel.

I remain the minimalist shaver: two razors (one very basic), one strop, and that's all I use. I still have a synthetic brush which I tried a few times but no longer use it; it doesn't excite me. I do use an alcohol splash (GFT Skye) after. Once I get to 100 shaves and I'm good at it, I'll probably replace my basic steel DOVO (the cheapest kind, with the white plastic scales) with something fancier, like a new Revisor, but keep it to two razors.
 
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Good job new blade, you seem to be well ahead of the curve, at least in contrast to my start. tomorrow will mark my one year anniversary with the straight and i can tell you that it only gets better. surprisingly just within the last couple of months i have made even more substantial progress. I guess the moral of the story is don't let the plateaus get you down, you will eventually bust out.

Ian
 
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