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NewBlader's new shaver's shaving journal

I had very little time today, so I shaved quickly. Results: no nicks, and, because I spent less time shaving, none of the over-shaving. That's good. The bad is, it's less smooth and less even then when I take more time.

However, there was one good discovery for me today: I used Trader Joe's shave foam, which comes in some kind of dispenser that puts out foam, ready to apply to the beard. There's an obvious time savings (it takes a few seconds to lather up). There's also one other less obvious advantage of this foam: it leaves a very thin, but slippery, layer on the skin. It's slippery enough to shave easily, and it's thin enough to easily see through. That is a major help, because with typical lathers, I can't see where I need to shave or what the shave result is. I think while I'm learning, a "see-through" lather might be a real help.

When I say I had a shave today that's not smooth, it's still as good as a typical Fusion shave I used to get.

I think tomorrow I'll try something different: set a count-down clock, and give myself exactly ten minutes to complete my shave. This way I won't over-shave, I will get done in time, and I'll get focused on maximum result in a specified time frame.
 
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sound good, now that you mention it the lather was a big move for me. I found that with the straight i needed to thin it out a little bit, not runny but make it a bit slicker. that made the razor move a lot better.

Ian
 
sound good, now that you mention it the lather was a big move for me. I found that with the straight i needed to thin it out a little bit, not runny but make it a bit slicker. that made the razor move a lot better.
I was definitely noticing that (thinner lather is easier, at least at this stage for me) and that's why I thought to try that foam. I had used Alba's "natural" foam and the package at Trader Joe's looked uncannily similar (despite claims that it's a TJ's exclusive). I got it, and I think it is basically the same as the Alba natural foam, and it has the same extra-slippery / thin quality.

I certainly prefer the feeling and smell of high-quality lathers like GFT and TOBS, but for learning, I need something which is thinner and slippery and easy to learn with.
 
I left my watch on the counter as I was shaving today, to get me to spend less time. It worked. I did spend less time. I ended up getting quite a good shave. And, because I forced myself to spend less time, I had none of the over-shaved feeling I was getting before. The alcohol splash was a mild tingle, which is perfect. I did 20 laps on diamond strop last night. I can't feel what difference (if any) that makes.

I also made more progress in "attacking the chin". I figured out one thing I was doing wrong, which (I would guess) is common among new straight shavers. In an effort to be safe and not leave deep cuts in my skin, I used a very conservative blade angle, nearly flat on the skin. That is safe but it also doesn't cut hair. In fact, because it doesn't cut hair, it means I end up doing multiple passes which results in little cutting, but more over-shaving!

I realized that last night and so tried to use a lot more aggressive blade angle in the chin area, together with more stretching to get things flat. Results were still not comparable to what I get with a DE, but it was better.

Angle really matters. Maybe the secret of the greatness of the DE is that it flattens the skin and facilitates a perfect angle and pressure. Getting a great straight shave would require achieving the same thing but without the DE's frame.
 
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Had a good shave today! A lot of improvement on the chin in particular.

I went at the chin using some skin stretching, plus a much more aggressive angle. Result: it really cuts hairs on my chin, for the first time. It went from being "why can't this blade cut these hairs" to having them pop off, as they are supposed to.

This also meant that I didn't do multiple futile passes over that area, so a lot less irritation.

No nicks. Smooth or very smooth all over except a few spots that I missed, but with my improvements, I'm not missing so many spots at this point.

I did time it, it took 30 min. I noticed more alcohol burn after. No surprise, but the longer I take to shave, the more alcohol burn. This means I need to learn to use the smallest possible number of passes and make them as efficient as possible. Save time, save skin cells!

I used my stainless Dovo today. The blade felt less sharp, perhaps less bite. Maybe that's in my head, but I know that I have never used diamond strop on it, whereas I do a fair amount of 0.25 micro diamond strop on the carbon steel Dovo. Maybe it makes a difference in a the blade sharpness / bite. I won't use the diamond strop on the stainless Dovo until I'm more confident in my blade maintenance, so I won't damage it. My carbon Dovo is my learning blade, I won't feel bad if I damage it somehow.

I'm probably going to get a new razor for my rotation, and switch to my stainless more. It's so beautiful!

I'm just over a month into this and it's fun, I'm getting improvements every day, and I'm getting good shaves now. I would say my shaves are better than I have ever gotten with a Fusion, and are getting to the level of a DE shave.

Btw, I also wondered how this thing would work on leg hairs so I tried on a small patch, with no lather (dry). It just pops them off, effortlessly. Ladies, these things might be the fastest way possible to shave.
 
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Luc

Moderator Emeritus
Had a good shave today! A lot of improvement on the chin in particular.

I went at the chin using some skin stretching, plus a much more aggressive angle. Result: it really cuts hairs on my chin, for the first time. It went from being "why can't this blade cut these hairs" to having them pop off, as they are supposed to.

This also meant that I didn't do multiple futile passes over that area, so a lot less irritation.

No nicks. Smooth or very smooth all over except a few spots that I missed, but with my improvements, I'm not missing so many spots at this point.

I did time it, it took 30 min. I noticed more alcohol burn after. No surprise, but the longer I take to shave, the more alcohol burn. This means I need to learn to use the smallest possible number of passes and make them as efficient as possible. Save time, save skin cells!

I used my stainless Dovo today. The blade felt less sharp, perhaps less bite. Maybe that's in my head, but I know that I have never used diamond strop on it, whereas I do a fair amount of 0.25 micro diamond strop on the carbon steel Dovo. Maybe it makes a difference in a the blade sharpness / bite. I won't use the diamond strop on the stainless Dovo until I'm more confident in my blade maintenance, so I won't damage it. My carbon Dovo is my learning blade, I won't feel bad if I damage it somehow.

I'm probably going to get a new razor for my rotation, and switch to my stainless more. It's so beautiful!

I'm just over a month into this and it's fun, I'm getting improvements every day, and I'm getting good shaves now. I would say my shaves are better than I have ever gotten with a Fusion, and are getting to the level of a DE shave.

Btw, I also wondered how this thing would work on leg hairs so I tried on a small patch, with no lather (dry). It just pops them off, effortlessly. Ladies, these things might be the fastest way possible to shave.
I had a few bald patches on my legs last year when I was playing with the stones a bit more. It ain't pretty. It sure show if the straight is sharp or not. I wouldn't recommend shaving the entire leg (or anything) without lather (or what you use normally). I get a burning sensation for 5-10 minutes if I shave a small patch of hair on my leg without anything.
 
I wouldn't recommend shaving the entire leg (or anything) without lather (or what you use normally). I get a burning sensation for 5-10 minutes if I shave a small patch of hair on my leg without anything.
Obviously there are a lot of differences in skin / hair but when I tried it, there was absolutely no irritation and the hair just fell off with one light pass, with no lather or water used.
 
coincidentally, i just tried this today and the hair was clean swept away on my inner thigh.

as for chin, i could recommend a sweeping pass that goes across the chin rather than up/down...
 
coincidentally, i just tried this today and the hair was clean swept away on my inner thigh.
Yeah, "clean swept away" is how I would describe what it does to my leg hairs. They just fall off. Ladies, if you're getting leg irritation, maybe you should focus on a feather-light touch and a more aggressive blade angle? That's what works on my leg hair.

as for chin, i could recommend a sweeping pass that goes across the chin rather than up/down...
Good suggestion, that is exactly what I did and found it works well. I feel like today was a big chin breakthrough day for me, finally finding a motion that works well and doesn't cause irritation.
 
Spent an hour today. Too too long. An hour is past the point of diminishing returns and will result in nothing but burn out and over-shaving. I will in future put a clock in the bathroom and never go more than 30 minutes, even on weekends, and try to keep it to 20 minutes or less on weekdays.

Somehow the blade just didn't have that cutting feeling today.

I did get a pretty smooth shave. No nicks. Chin didn't seem to get as smooth as it did yesterday, not sure why, but at least I am able to shave it now, which I couldn't a week ago. I did 25 laps on the diamond-pasted strop last night, and used my carbon DOVO. I did get that over-shaved feeling and also too much burn with the alcohol splash.

I'm wondering if I might need to have my blade honed again. I understand from reading here that beginners tend to put more wear on their blades.
 
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I took half an hour this morning. I can feel a lot more confident in my technique but the shave wasn't as good. I'm thinking that I've dulled the blade. I've seen other discussions here that indicate that new straight shavers tend to put excessive wear on the blades. I've been using this for a month so it seems possible. I think I will send it for honing, just to eliminate the variable, and also switch back to DE to let my skin recover some also.
 
do you have a finishing or barber hone or some treated strop? might be a better than sending it out for a honing. put some of that money towards a barbers hone instead... maybe
 
do you have a finishing or barber hone or some treated strop? might be a better than sending it out for a honing. put some of that money towards a barbers hone instead... maybe
Yeah, I'm currently looking for a barber's hone. I'll get a Naniwa probably. But I would rather get it professionally honed at this stage to remove a variable from the equation, so I can learn what a good hone feels like.
 
I had #34 today. I limited myself to 15 minutes. I switched to my stainless DOVO, and sent my carbon steel DOVO in for re-honing.

The fresher blade made a big difference. My carbon steel DOVO was dull from a month of (mis)use. I got a reasonably good shave within 15 minutes, with no nicks, and a light alcohol tingle after.

I need to learn how to properly maintain a blade, such as using a barber hone, because it obviously makes a big difference. I'll see how it goes when I get my other DOVO back from honing in a few weeks.
 
I was in a rush this morning so I set myself exactly 15 minutes. Whatever result I have in 15 minute is the shave I have for the day.

Result: actually quite good! I did only a WTG pass but with more aggressive angles and more slicing. I also am getting a lot better on the chin. The result was a fairly good shave, and best of all, I did not over-shave, so the alcohol was only a light tingle. If I had spent another 5 minutes to do an ATG pass on my cheeks I would have had a very good shave probably.

The other improvement of today is I'm on my stainless DOVO which I didn't use as much. I think the hone on it is fresher and it makes a big difference. My carbon steel DOVO is on its way for another honing.

I can see how why everyone who is into straight shaving eventually learns some blade maintenance, like touch-up honing. I obviously need to learn it, once I get used to straight shaving enough to tell the difference between a good hone and a not-good hone.
 
It feels like I'm improving every time. Certainly going to a "fresher" blade has made a big difference. I got a good shave, moderate alcohol tingle, and it took about 20 minutes. Lots of areas very smooth now but I still miss some spots.

I'm enjoying it and making progress every time! It's cool to now have a shave that's quite good (better than any Fusion shave I ever had), no irritation, no nicks, and takes about 20 minutes. It still needs to get more consistent, and needs to get faster. I'm looking forward to reaching the 100 mark, and also learning how to do my own touch-up honing, because obviously I need to be able to do that.

On my target list: I think I'm going to try a fool's pass at some point to get my 'stache area smooth.

Straight is fun and cool and the manliest way to start your day!
 
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G'day Newblader - keep up the journal - it's an honest, informative read and I'm enjoying it a lot. I think there's quite a few of us following this who are in the same position as you so it's great way for us to check our progress against yours.

I'm about a dozen shaves behind you so watching you adjust your technique over time has been a great help. I have a milder form of razor burn and it's probably for the same reason as you - too many passes and too long trying to "get it right". My lady puts it down to "too long in front of the mirror" but I haven't seen any evidence of razor burn on her face so I think we can rule that out... ;)
 
G'day Newblader - keep up the journal - it's an honest, informative read and I'm enjoying it a lot. I think there's quite a few of us following this who are in the same position as you so it's great way for us to check our progress against yours.
I'm happy if my writing is of some use!

I'm about a dozen shaves behind you so watching you adjust your technique over time has been a great help.
I'm glad! For me, at first it felt like the blade was really dull, and then it started cutting, and then it really was dull and I had to send it for honing. Now my mission is to learn how to hone the thing.

I have a milder form of razor burn and it's probably for the same reason as you - too many passes and too long trying to "get it right".
Exactly. I'm sure that's what it is and it happened to me too. What worked for me was to truly limit my shaving time. After that time limit, I'm done and the shave I have is the shave I have for the day. That has greatly cut down on razor burn, and will probably improve my technique.

My shave of the day was actually after work (I was in a big rush this morning). I had about ten minutes to shave before I had to leave for a dinner event. I shaved in ten minutes! I did basically only WTG. It actually worked pretty well. I covered everything, didn't miss much, and ended up with a fairly smooth shave, in ten minutes. If I had taken another 5 minutes to do an ATG pass it would have been really smooth.

So I persist in my quest! I'm really liking the sharpness of my stainless DOVO.
 
Saturday, I took my time on shave #38. Wow! It seems like all the things I learn during the week get a chance to come out when I have more time.

I got an excellent shave. Far better than any Fusion shave I've ever had. Probably as good as or maybe better than my best DE shave. It really worked.

I did my normal WTG passes, then went for the ATG. Somehow my blade handling is just better, because it worked. I didn't get that over-shaved feeling. I did it, and felt like I was done, and that was it. It was really smooth almost everywhere.

I even did (for the first time) the "fool's pass", in other words, ATG on the 'stach area. I don't recommend the fool's pass. It's truly dangerous. You can amputate your nose (almost). However I did it and it worked. What I did was hold the blade and also use a couple fingers from the blade hand to anchor onto the face so I wouldn't slip it up towards the nose. I felt quite safe the way I did it, but I think that this is generally a dangerous maneuver and don't advise it.

I still have a few spots that I missed on my ATG pass. I expect to have fewer missed spots as I get more experience. No nicks and moderate alcohol burn.

For all you guys new to straight shaving who might be giving this post a passing glance, here's my conclusions at this point:

  • Straight shaving works. When I started just over a month ago, I felt, "I'll never be able to get a shave with this". Now I know that I can get excellent shaves.
  • Keep your blade sharp. I definitely dulled my first blade (the steel dovo) and had to switch to a fresh blade (stainless dovo). I'm sure I dulled it by stropping or clumsy use. Keep your blade professionally honed if you have any doubts about its sharpness, because you need to reduce the variables in the equation. Shaving with a dull blade is just frustrating and painful.
  • From my experience, and from reading everything else here, plan for at least a month of bad shaves before you start seeing some good results. And even then, the good results will be hit-or-miss for a while. I will be happy if I'm getting good results regularly by the time I get to shave #100.
  • It's fun! Keep at it! Don't push it, don't be afraid to put the blade down for the day if you're getting nicks or getting frustrated. See my point above, that you should expect bad shaves for a month or more.

Anyway, this is cool and I'll probably get another stainless DOVO. I think I will donate my carbon steel dovo to some other new shaver. I don't want to have more than three razors at a time.

As you know if you've read this, I'm aware of time spent shaving. However, there is such a thing as too fast, and also, don't drink and shave even if you are a Limey.
 
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It's nice to read other new (relatively speaking) straight razor users perspectives. From one newb to a...more elevated newb?...thank you for sharing! :)
 
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