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PASS Vs. STROKE debate - are they one and the same... or NOT?

BigJ

Ambassador
Alright gents this one has been bugging me for sometime now.

I see many folks using these terms interchangeably, as if they were synonyms.

To me, a PASS is the process of completely removing the lather from my face once. So, my shave would typically consist of 3 passes. That is starting WTG as my 1st pass, then XTG as 2nd pass and finally ATG as the 3rd pass.

However, during any given pass I might and more often than not will apply several repetitive STROKES on certain spots on my face.

For example, on my chin I would blade-buff and "chipmunk bite" at least half a dozen times during a single pass. This means that throughout the entire 3-pass shave I will have gone over my chin some 20 times, or more if need be.

Before you ask - no, I don't suffer any skin irritation and my shaves are enjoyable, resulting in BBS every time.

I just wanted to know how others felt about PASS Vs. STROKE.

Is it the same thing for you or is it more like I described above - a pass can/will consist of multiple strokes?
Great description!! I do three passes with multiple strokes per pass. :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
 

Saxonbowman

Ambassador
I'm not sure if I agree with you, @DaveHStone, but I think I do, or, maybe, I think I should.

Not that it matters but this is how I see it.

Ours is a Tower of Babel hobby or endeavor or whatever it is because we frequently don't use the same words to describe the same thing and often have little idea what others are talking about.

Regardless of terminology the essential elements are known, but there is no common terminology.

The goals are two fold.
  1. The most important goal is a Damn Comfortable Shave.
  2. Shave each area enough times to get it smooth to the touch, going close enough so your shave lasts long enough.
Towards those ends there are a few guidelines.
  1. You only have to suit yourself, but Job #1 should always be comfort.
  2. Smooth to the touch and long lasting are relative terms with no common meaning.
  3. Never sacrifice comfort to get a "better shave."
  4. Never worry about BBS.
  5. Chasing the baby is a very bad plan. Especially on your neck.
  6. Some shaves are always going to be closer, smoother, more long lasting, and more comfortable than others.
  7. Use a light touch.
  8. You can go over most areas several times from several directions, but not necessarily all areas. Some of your areas might be able to tolerate only one pass of the blade from one direction (like the area of my neck below my Adam's apple).
  9. Some areas require much more work than others.
  10. Do as little work as necessary in each area.
  11. Don't overthink it.
  12. If the shave isn't comfortable you're overdoing something.
  13. Lather is cheap. Use more when you need to.
  14. Residual glide (or ghost lather) counts as lather.
  15. As long as the area is slick and wet and the razor glides easily you're good.
  16. It doesn't matter how many times you lather an area, but it matters if the area is slick and wet.
  17. When in doubt, do less work.
  18. When in doubt, lather the area again.
  19. Everyone does everything their own way. Find out what works for you. Unless you have similar whiskers and skin, it doesn't matter what works for somebody else. It is possible your skin and whiskers might be exactly like mine, but not necessarily the case.
  20. Enjoy your shaves.
A Damn Comfortable Shave means three things.
  1. The shave is comfortable during the shave.
  2. The shave is comfortable immediately after the shave.
  3. The shave is comfortable until the next shave.
A Damn Comfortable Shave can be accomplished. Consistent perfection is impossible.

There is one essential rule for everything on B&B.
  1. Never assume you know what someone else is talking about or they know what you're talking about unless terms are defined within the conversation.
I applaud your effort here, @DaveHStone, but feel that in terms of "passes" and "strokes" and length of strokes and number of passes and all that stuff it ends up making very little difference. However, it is terribly important in the beginning, and terribly confusing. It would be wonderful to have common terminology, and a common understanding of what we're talking about, but a forum structure does not lend itself to that possibility.

Just my two cents of course.

Happy shaves,

Jim
Wow, that’s suitable for framing! A great philosophy well explained.
 

KQY61

Contributor
Hi,

A pass is determined by lathering. It's just that simple. Strokes are used to remove the lather and, we hope, the hair with it. I'm a one pass shaver. I lather the one time and when that's gone I am done. Now, most of the area is WTG and a couple spots ATG but it is all done on one pass.

Stan
 
I skin stretch & do short strokes in multiple directions during a shave. I use many strokes to complete a pass. I re-lather & repeat the process. I enjoy my two-pass shaves.
 
I'm a ATG shaver start to finish. I multi stroke throughout the first and only lathering adding soap with finger tips if needed, otherwise using wet fingers to use residual slick to get my usual BBS. And yes my shave is very comfortable.
 
I'm a ATG shaver start to finish. I multi stroke throughout the first and only lathering adding soap with finger tips if needed, otherwise using wet fingers to use residual slick to get my usual BBS. And yes my shave is very comfortable.
Hey @Tallships that's quite unique!

Can I ask you - have you always been an ATG-only shaver or is this a habit you've developed for a particular reason?

I'm really interested to learn more about it.
 
Hey @Tallships that's quite unique!

Can I ask you - have you always been an ATG-only shaver or is this a habit you've developed for a particular reason?

I'm really interested to learn more about it.
I've always been an ATG shaver. I used to watch my Dad shave the same way. He used to soak his face with a hot tapwater washcloth for about a minute, I remember him saying that a well hydrated beard is one key to a comfortable shave. When ever I just splash water on my face, then lather and shave, I get an irritated face, ergo the beard soak, even after a shower.
Also a full 3 pass lathering WTG, XTG, and then ATG takes more time and whe you only have 1 bathroom, kids and a wife waiting there turn at the sink, you tend to take your fathers advice. I have tried shaving WTG, XTG and ATG, lathering between each got the same BBS but it took pleasantly longer using 3 favorite razors but always went back to ATG.
 
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I agree with your logic but it's funny you bring this up today. To expand on the topic, I started working on fewer strokes for each pass to see if it made a difference in the closeness of the shave. Like the way Ken Surfs shaves. DaveHStone described my style of shaving so I am experimenting with longer, fewer strokes. Today went well and I liked the result. Any comments on stroke style?
I'm with the consensus on this one. A pass is time from the first stroke of the razor to relathering. That means pretty much anything goes during a pass. To @DaveHStone's point, I think this is why both passes and strokes matter when we're describing a shave. A three pass 100 stroke shave is a completely different animal than a three pass 500 stroke shave.

Personally, I try to take the longest strokes possible, with as few strokes as possible, with the razor moving at the highest speed possible. I think irritation is minimized when you don't shave the same spot more than once per pass because you never shave unlathered skin. The best residual slickness still pales in comparison to initial slickness. If I wanted to shave the same spot 5 times per pass, I'd buy a 5 blade razor. Additionally, the physics of cutting favors speed. It's hard to get the razor head moving very quickly at the correct angle when 30% of the stroke is acceleration, 30% of the stroke is deceleration, and 80% of the razors movement is in the air. It can be done, but it's hard AF (for me a least).

These days, I'm doing a lot of 8 pass shaves (Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right), but I never shave an area that isn't lathered, and I try to minimize overlap as much as possible. Each pass consists of about 25 strokes. Thus, my total stroke count for my shave is about 200. Many people do that many strokes in the first pass. Many people also wonder why they can't get a comfortable shave.

It sounds like a silly thing to care about but I think it's useful for trouble shooting. When a new DE shaver says they do a 3 pass shave, and get irritation, I think it's useful to know whether that was a 200 stroke shave, or a 2000 stroke shave.

That's my two cents anyway.
 
I'm with the consensus on this one. A pass is time from the first stroke of the razor to relathering. That means pretty much anything goes during a pass. To @DaveHStone's point, I think this is why both passes and strokes matter when we're describing a shave. A three pass 100 stroke shave is a completely different animal than a three pass 500 stroke shave.

Personally, I try to take the longest strokes possible, with as few strokes as possible, with the razor moving at the highest speed possible. I think irritation is minimized when you don't shave the same spot more than once per pass because you never shave unlathered skin. The best residual slickness still pales in comparison to initial slickness. If I wanted to shave the same spot 5 times per pass, I'd buy a 5 blade razor. Additionally, the physics of cutting favors speed. It's hard to get the razor head moving very quickly at the correct angle when 30% of the stroke is acceleration, 30% of the stroke is deceleration, and 80% of the razors movement is in the air. It can be done, but it's hard AF (for me a least).

These days, I'm doing a lot of 8 pass shaves (Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right), but I never shave an area that isn't lathered, and I try to minimize overlap as much as possible. Each pass consists of about 25 strokes. Thus, my total stroke count for my shave is about 200. Many people do that many strokes in the first pass. Many people also wonder why they can't get a comfortable shave.

It sounds like a silly thing to care about but I think it's useful for trouble shooting. When a new DE shaver says they do a 3 pass shave, and get irritation, I think it's useful to know whether that was a 200 stroke shave, or a 2000 stroke shave.

That's my two cents anyway.
I hear what you are saying.

This is a somewhat controversial issue, but I will say it largely depends on one's facial hair growth density, hair thickness and hair hardness, as well.

When I was in college, I shaved in the shower with canned go or just simply water and cartridge Gillette razor. It was Mach 3, later those 5-blade systems came along.

Today, I wouldn't be able to do that.

As we age, the facial hair hardens and those gray ones seem to be the toughest ones to shave off. Sadly, I am noticing an ever increasing number of those gray hairs.

So, while in theory I'd love to take all the stubble off in a simple 1-stroke glide WTG, in practice that's impossible. I can hydrate and prep the skin and whiskers and do all the nine yards, wet towels, you name it, but when the push comes to show only repetitive buffing will get me to that glass smooth BBS. Only by riding the cap, going ultra-shallow and doing that back 'n' forth motion (like Mantic describes) I can achieve total stubble elimination. If I go steep and just go over skin in a single-stroke fashion, even if I repeat that stroke a dozen times, there is always SOME stubble left. So, for me, again, only buffing gets the job done 100%.

Could I set for DFS, doing long strokes? Surely I could, but then I like BBS and so I buff 😁
 
So, while in theory I'd love to take all the stubble off in a simple 1-stroke glide WTG, in practice that's impossible. I can hydrate and prep the skin and whiskers and do all the nine yards, wet towels, you name it, but when the push comes to show only repetitive buffing will get me to that glass smooth BBS. Only by riding the cap, going ultra-shallow and doing that back 'n' forth motion (like Mantic describes) I can achieve total stubble elimination.
Fair enough. Whatever gets you a good shave is always the correct way to do it. We've all got different beards and different perspectives on what "good" shave is for sure. I'm usually targeting a DFS, and a 3 pass, 75 stroke shave usually gets me there.

It does make me curious though. I gave up on 5 blade razors because my skin just isn't up for it. I struggled with mightily with irritation and red bumps. Do you get less irritation shaving the same spot with a DE 3 times than you do with a 3 blade razor (mach 3) once? Or is it that the Mach 3 wasn't shaving as close as you wanted due to the blade geometry?
 

thombrogan

Lounging On The Isle Of Tugsley.
He used to soak his face with a hot tapwater washcloth for about a minute
When ever I just splash water on my face, then lather and shave, I get an irritated face, ergo the beard soak, even after a shower.
I was going to start waterboarding myself with a damp washcloth after showering, but scared myself off. Your post has dulled some of that fear. Thank you!

the physics of cutting favors speed.
Being a slow moving, slow thinking individual, it is difficult for me to safely incorporate what you’re saying. Will see if the soggy towel treatment and hand lathering helps me get up to speed.
 
Fair enough. Whatever gets you a good shave is always the correct way to do it. We've all got different beards and different perspectives on what "good" shave is for sure. I'm usually targeting a DFS, and a 3 pass, 75 stroke shave usually gets me there.

It does make me curious though. I gave up on 5 blade razors because my skin just isn't up for it. I struggled with mightily with irritation and red bumps. Do you get less irritation shaving the same spot with a DE 3 times than you do with a 3 blade razor (mach 3) once? Or is it that the Mach 3 wasn't shaving as close as you wanted due to the blade geometry?
It's been probably 20 years since I shaved with a 3-blade cartridge. The last one I used b4 switching to wet-shaving were 5-blade systems called Gillette Fusion. And for as long as I can remember my lower neck was always reddish, somewhat irritated.

Since I've switched to wet-shaving, my skin looks and feels years younger and with an exception of a few rare occasions, I've never experienced irritation. The few times I have can be attributed to learning how to shave with a new razor/blade.

Hope this helps.
 
Alright gents this one has been bugging me for sometime now.

I see many folks using these terms interchangeably, as if they were synonyms.

To me, a PASS is the process of completely removing the lather from my face once. So, my shave would typically consist of 3 passes. That is starting WTG as my 1st pass, then XTG as 2nd pass and finally ATG as the 3rd pass.

However, during any given pass I might and more often than not will apply several repetitive STROKES on certain spots on my face.

For example, on my chin I would blade-buff and "chipmunk bite" at least half a dozen times during a single pass. This means that throughout the entire 3-pass shave I will have gone over my chin some 20 times, or more if need be.

Before you ask - no, I don't suffer any skin irritation and my shaves are enjoyable, resulting in BBS every time.

I just wanted to know how others felt about PASS Vs. STROKE.

Is it the same thing for you or is it more like I described above - a pass can/will consist of multiple strokes?
A lot of disagreement most likely but my personal feelings are passes pertain to grain hair removal. WTG, XTG and ATG are 3 passes to me regardless if soap/cream remains. If I have a very slick soap to start off with, I might do all grain passes, one after each other, especially if I am in a hurry. I can’t justify that this is only one pass.
 
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