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NewBlader's new shaver's shaving journal

Shave #22 this morning:

Back on the steel DOVO. I did about 25 laps on 0.25 micron diamond last night. This was a balsa "strop" with a light spray of the diamond. Then (as usual) I did 50 laps on plain linen, 50 laps on leather. I don't know if I can "feel" the effect of the diamond stropping, but whatever it was, I did get a good shave today!

It seems like I get more "moves" and ability with the blade every day. Result today was fairly good. Quite a smooth shave, some larger areas very smooth, no nicks, and moderate alcohol burn after. In particular, today I got some good improvement in the 'stache area. The chin is still rough but I am figuring more out.

Also I think my shave was faster today.

Definitely this is something that keeps on improving. The key to doing it, from what I know at this point, is to learn as much as you can by reading, and then plan to stick with it for a few months. Accept that you'll have bad shaves for the first few weeks probably.

I know one thing from the gun community, which is that some people acquire a lot of gear. The reason: gear is fun and it's a lot easier to acquire things than it is to acquire skill. There's also a saying, beware of the man with one gun because he probably knows how to use it. I have a feeling that similar ideas may be relevant to straight shaving.

tomorrow will mark my one year anniversary with the straight and i can tell you that it only gets better.
Cool, that's what it seems like. And it's fun.
 

Luc

Moderator Emeritus
I missed this thread before! Nice work so far! What I do to keep time of my shave (not that it's a race) is that I have this app on the ipod to listen to the radio. When I press play, I got a timer starting showing how long I've been listening to that station for. Today, I average 15 minutes from building the lather to shave 3 passes to clean up the mess and walking out of the bathroom.
 
Had another good shave today, best so far. I'm getting steady improvement in feeling the angle, pressure and movement to cut hair. It's very easy to cut skin, and it's easy to cut nothing, but it's hard to cut hair. All the variables need to be just right. I'm feeling that "just right" point more and more, and in fact my WTG passes are starting to really cut and get smooth. I'm also getting more adept at maneuvering the blade, resulting in improvements in the chin and 'stache area. 'Stache is now good.

I did get one nick today.

I'm now a firm believer in the power of alcohol AS. I think it is necessary to disinfect and prevent bumps and irritation. I know the trend now is towards alcohol-free aloe-based AS, but I think that's wrong because they do nothing to fight bacteria, and in fact help spread bacteria around. Use of alcohol AS may be why my nicks heal so quickly.

Anyway, I'm liking this whole straight shaving thing. I'm getting a lot of very smooth areas and as I get more capable with the blade, I'm sure I'll get more all-over smooth with more experience. I was faster today (probably 20 min). I will not be surprised if I'm getting excellent shaves, in less time, after a few more months.

And it's fun!!!

In non-shaving related news, I weighed in at 199 today, the lightest I have been in probably 8 years.

Sounds like you already have the most important piece to this puzzle in that you have the correct attitude about what it will take!
Thanks Ian, I try! Definitely taking professional firearms training gives me some insight into how learning a skill works. It definitely goes through stages of competence, and a similar transition from gear-acquisition to skill-acquisition.
 
It's going well. I timed it today, 20 minutes. No nicks. I'm learning more and refining my technique every time. I got a pretty smooth shave but I was careful not the shave the spot where I got a nick yesterday, so it will completely heal.

The problem is, too much alcohol burn, meaning I'm over-shaving. I need to do more skin-stretching so I won't over-shave as much on the ATG passes.

Overall I'm noticing improvement every time and I can imagine things are going to be good within a few months. I can definitely see that I'm getting some very smooth areas with this system.

I would like to point out something which I discovered today while cleaning the blade: these things are razor sharp!! I almost nicked my finger.
 
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Razor sharp is right. That's why I always wrap a VERY thick towel around my waist before I shave - lol. I have heard too many horror stories on the forums about people getting gashed while straight-shaving.

I don't know if you can get away with it, but I shave the night before I go to work. And, as I am still learning, I like to take my time while I'm trying to figure out the best way to shave. I am not sure I will ever get to a 10-minute shave and I'm not going to worry about it.
 
Sunday morning, plenty of time. I took nearly an hour to shave today. I can't spend that much time on a regular basis (as dev said, it is still a task, not a hobby), but I did learn a lot and make progress.

Prep: I did 25 laps on 0.25 micron diamond balsa strop last night, then 50 and 50 linen and leather. I'm very new to the whole thing but it does seem like that results in a sharp blade. This is all on my steel DOVO.

Lather: I am getting better at my lather-on-face method. More water, less TOBS cream, and more frequent re-application. It results in a thin, slippery, hydrated lather, and that's what is needed.

The shave: as I said, I took nearly an hour. I explored all kinds of possible strokes, and tried to go slow and use less pressure.

The result: very smooth shave, basically almost BBS on most of my beard. Very minor nick. Again the most difficult spot is the chin-tip region. I did manage to get it quite smooth for the first time. Not perfect, but better. I'm figuring out what's going on there and will, eventually, crack it.

The aftermath: really no nicks after my shower. The problem is the AS burn was "high". A lot of my face was over-shaved. You can't really see anything (no bumps or red areas) but I can feel that there's too much over-shaving. Some areas are very smooth as a consequence, but it's too much.

What to do: I realize that, due to not doing good skin stretching, I end up having "ripples" in my skin ahead of the edge, and also using too much pressure, and that combination results in the over-shaved feeling and too much "exfoliation". That's going to stress my skin over time and is uncomfortable, even if it doesn't produce visible redness.

I need to get a small terry cloth and use it as an aid in skin stretching. And I need to really focus on feather-light touch for my ATG passes. Also I may need to start rotating in my DE, so as to not over-stress my skin and give it a chance to recover more between shaves. DE shaves for me have been very comfortable and close shaves (and also very fast).

So that's where I'm at.

Overall, I think back to my first straight shave, and the feeling that the blade was dull and "how could I ever get a shave with this". Now I'm to the point where it very definitely shaves, and I need to focus on a more sensitive touch so as to not over-shave.

Straight shaving is cool! I can imagine I'll have a lot more progress when I get to #100. I will probably get rid of the steel DOVO at that time, and get one of the new Revisors I've been looking at, or maybe a TI.

I don't know if you can get away with it, but I shave the night before I go to work.
I probably could, but I'm so tired at night, I just go to sleep as early as I can.

And, as I am still learning, I like to take my time while I'm trying to figure out the best way to shave. I am not sure I will ever get to a 10-minute shave and I'm not going to worry about it.
My experience from gun training is, you get faster by getting better, and you get better by going slow and doing it right. I hope that applies here, and I can get to having regular ten-minute shaves with consistent results.
 
Added a new tool today: a small bit of old denim, to give me some grip so I can do some skin stretching more effectively. It really helped. Probably a bit of towel or other material would work just as well but I happened to have some rough but thin old hemp denim so I cut out a bit of it.

I was over-shaving or using too much pressure before to try to get to some areas which are easier to get to just by stretching them slightly. I did it and it's a big improvement. Some areas that I wasn't able to get smooth before became smooth very easily today. I did get one minor nick, and there was still too much alcohol burn after. It took me about 30 min, which is still too long also. But, it's quite an improvement, and I do have a smooth shave today. I would say this is the first time I'm getting happy with my shave. It's consistent enough and the irritation isn't excessive. It's better than my old Fusion shaves. I now regret all those years of multi-blade razor (ab)use. They have left me with some spots of ingrown hairs and bumps that may take years to fully recover.
 
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Kentos

Wiped out at 25
Moderator Emeritus
Did you notice more razor burn AFTER you went with the diamond? I find it very easy to overcook the blade on diamond for my skin type. To the point where i limit it to 5 passes on .5 and 5 passes on .25. Anymore and the thing takes off hair like a laser, but leaves a path of destruction in it's wake.
 
i think still having burn at no.25 or so is not right... it could be angle, pressure, or edge, skin stretching will help get closer but the burn will probably be the same. what AS are you using? will it burn on application even if you haven't shaved?

what blade are you using and how was it finished?
 
i think still having burn at no.25 or so is not right... it could be angle, pressure, or edge, skin stretching will help get closer but the burn will probably be the same. what AS are you using? will it burn on application even if you haven't shaved?
I'm sure it's plain old over-shaving: too much pressure, too many passes. I use Bay Rum. It's 55% alcohol. Tingling means a good shave. Burning means over-shaving.

what blade are you using and how was it finished?
It's a DOVO steel blade, honed by Lynn Abrams, and then I strop it as best I can, and every few days use a 0.25 micron diamond pasted strop. But it's not a blade issue - it's an issue of pressure and lack of technique. Definitely felt less burn today.
 

Kentos

Wiped out at 25
Moderator Emeritus
I am envious that you can tolerate the diamond sprays so well. My coticule edges get that much more keener after diamond on felt, but I can't go to town on it like you can. One of these days I'll try again. Maybe by then my technique will that much better.
 
I am envious that you can tolerate the diamond sprays so well. My coticule edges get that much more keener after diamond on felt, but I can't go to town on it like you can. One of these days I'll try again. Maybe by then my technique will that much better.
I'm sure it's not any great technique I have! I think I only used a very light spray of the diamond. I really doubt it's any sharper than any other kind of honing, it's probably less sharp due to my lack of blade maintenance skills.

I'm thinking of getting something to use as a "barber's hone". It seems like a lot of people recommend a Naniwa finishing stone for that type of use. I may try it out, see if I can feel any difference between it an the diamond spray.

When I was using DE, I noticed a significant difference between Feather blades and others. Feathers were just brutal. I couldn't use them lightly enough to not get a lot of irritation. So maybe there is a similar difference in straight razor edges, but my technique is probably so inconsistent that there's no way I could determine it as this point.
 
More progress today! I'm getting better at stretching, and also focusing on a lighter touch. Result: shave is fairly smooth (some areas extremely smooth), and no nicks and medium-low level of alcohol burn. Definitely better than yesterday. It's still taking too long. I timed at 30 minutes which is too long. The chin-tip area is still being very hard to shave, but getting better, and no nicks!

I'm quite confident that, six months from now, I'll be getting regular smooth shaves with straights, quickly and without irritation. Right now, every time I have a patch that's stubbly, I have to spend some time and try a several different approaches to it to find out what works. Once I get these figured out, it will cut the time in half, I will need less pressure, and I won't have to do as many passes (prevents over-shaving).
 
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Seems like you are making progress in leaps and bounds, well done.

Do not worry too much about the time aspect, that will sort itself out when you acquire more confidence and experience.

For my part, I am quite happy when I can do the whole process: prepping, stropping, shaving and cleaning up in 30 minutes. I could probably cut a few corners here and there but I shave in the evening and I like taking my time lathering my face and experimenting on new grips and what-not.
 
My first month of daily straight shaving is done, and I had quite a good shave today. No nicks and quite smooth. There are still spots that don't get shaved properly, so it's not a perfect shave, but it's a good shave. It still took too long: 45 minutes! Alcohol burn was a bit high also. I feel a lot of improvement every day.

My advice to anyone thinking about getting into straight shaving, it will take a month to get to a level where you can get a basic shave. It takes some persistence to learn it.

I'm pretty happy with it and I think it will be a practical daily thing in another month or so. I'm also enjoying it more.
 
This is awesome journaling. I'm on shave number 6 or so, and I like the term Socially Acceptable Shave. I've had 2 straight shaves now that I've worn to work in which I had no DE touchups. Definitely rough, but "good enough from the road" as a priest Once told me.

I also second your "if it ain't working don't push it" idea. Shave #3 just wasn't feeling right to me, so I put down the straight and out came the disposable(!) of all things.

Thanks for the journaling again...if gives me confidence!
 
Hi newblade, sound like you are moving ahead, FYI one tip that helped me out a lot was from chimensch, get yourself some alum block and rub it on your finger tips when streching the skin,it is like velcro. otherwise i think those long sessions you spend on the weekends will help immensely. It just takes time to experiment with different things to find out what works and once you have the strokes down that work for you it just a matter of putting them together in a linear process and the time will come down fast. You cant go wrong with the nani stone either as IMHO it is really an easy stone to start with and very forgiving. at least it has been for this honing tyro.

Ian
 
This is awesome journaling.
Thank you! I'm writing mainly for myself but if someone else finds it interesting or motivating, I'm pleased!

I'm on shave number 6 or so, and I like the term Socially Acceptable Shave.
Once you start getting those, you're on your way. I didn't invent the term but it's a good one.

I've had 2 straight shaves now that I've worn to work in which I had no DE touchups.
Cool! My baseline is Fusion-level shaves, which, for me, were never really smooth. At this point my straight shaving is better than my best Fusion shave, and (in some places) perhaps as good as or better than DE, but still below the overall consistency of a DE shave.

I also second your "if it ain't working don't push it" idea. Shave #3 just wasn't feeling right to me, so I put down the straight and out came the disposable(!) of all things.
Good! You learn skills by doing them correctly. You get burned out, and impede learning, by pushing it, getting frustrated, and doing it worse.

Thanks for the journaling again...if gives me confidence!
I'm glad!

FYI one tip that helped me out a lot was from chimensch, get yourself some alum block and rub it on your finger tips when streching the skin,it is like velcro.
I might try it. I don't have an alum block right now but I'll get one. I'm the "minimalist shaver", with a minimum of gear.

otherwise i think those long sessions you spend on the weekends will help immensely. It just takes time to experiment with different things to find out what works and once you have the strokes down that work for you it just a matter of putting them together in a linear process and the time will come down fast.
Exactly. That's what I expect to happen. Right now most of my time is trying stuff out to get something that works.

You cant go wrong with the nani stone either as IMHO it is really an easy stone to start with and very forgiving. at least it has been for this honing tyro.
Ok, that's probably what I'll get. It seems like some of the natural stones may be considered "better" but I'm such a beginner, I won't know how to feel what's going on with them.
 
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