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Shave angle - many questions

I'm pretty new here. I hope this is the right place to ask this sort of question. Please let me know if this would be better to ask in a different forum area.

So I've read lots of articles and threads and watched lots of YouTube videos and I still have some questions confusion where what I see people doing doesn't seem to fit the words that they say they are doing (or I don't understand those words).

When someone says "steep" angle I think that means this ("riding the safety bars"?):

And when someone says "shallow" angle I think that means this ("riding the cap"?):

Or have I got those two terms backwards?

And so many "how to" threads say the correct angle is in between those two where the cap and the safety bar and the edge of the blade are all in line against your skin. And that is what would make sense to me. HOWEVER, just about every YouTube video I watch they seem to be scraping the safety bar down the side of their face and I don't see how the edge of the blade is cutting the whiskers, seems like it would be scraping them off like a wood plane or a paint scraper - or is that the intent? Seems like that would be irritating the face with the scraping instead of having the edge of the blade skimming over the slick skin and slicing thru the whiskers. From looking at these pictures I'd guess the edge of the blade is at about a 60 degree angle to the skin which isn't even close to the angle these same YouTubers say to use.
Here are a couple of different YouTube videos and both of these guys are using an R41. And I will see them ride the cap to do buffing and cleanup but for the first 3 passes they are barely tipping the handle away from vertical.

Now I could understand the angle they are using if they were shaving with a Henson type razor that is shaped sort of like this and bends the blade a lot.

But it seems to me that with a razor geometry like the Muhle or Tech or Game Changer etc. that angle should be more like this
or this

Interested to hear what you long time wet shavers can teach me ... but I kind of suspect that it's going to be one of those things where I just keep practicing and my face will tell me where I need to be with the angle.
I suspect there are some people who have shallow and steep backwards because I keep reading confusing posts here in the forums that would only make sense if they are saying Steep when they ride the cap and Shallow when they ride the safety bars.

This is about the angle I shave with ... but I'm still learning! I think of the angle the blade itself is making to my skin.
You're correct about the meaning of steep and shallow. 🎖️

There's a range of effective shaving angles for every DE razor. Riding the cap and riding the bar are at the limits of effective range. Too steep or too shallow and you get a poor shave or don't cut anything.

A big advantage of keeping the guard in contact with the skin is that this stretches the skin in advance of the blade. This can be especially useful if the razor has a tendency to bite.

The R41 is one of those razors that shaves well at a steep angle. It does not scrape if you have a good lather and a pretty sharp blade. It doesn't have to be used at that angle, though. There's a fairly wide effective range.
You are correct in your definitions of shallow and steep.

It depends on the razor and personal preference. Some people just want to shave steep, regardless of razor. I normally tend towards shallow or neutral. That said, some razors that bend the blade a lot need a neutral or even steep angle, like the Razorock BBS.
Generally, if I need to ride the cap or the bar for a razor to achieve the closeness and comfort I want, I have the wrong razor in my hand.

That being said, if I was staring over and not 23 years into shaving this way, I would do one thing…

I would get a razor with a neutral and one with a positive blade exposure. I would shave a month with each without changing.

This I believe that neutral will get you a DFS with little to no irritation. Then a positive blade exposure would teach you not to put any pressure, let the razor do the work.

As far as finding the right angle, I would simply do this. I would start with the cap at the top of your cheek at 90 degrees. Rotate it down, when you feel the blade you are at a good angle to start. Otherwise, neutral should be where you should aim for as of now.

You’ll get the hang of it, just try for neutral and get a good beginner razor like a Merkur 23, 33 or 34c.
This is about the angle I shave with ... but I'm still learning! I think of the angle the blade itself is making to my skin.
View attachment 1573797
I generally keep my angle about where you have it here. You also have to go by the feel of the blade on your face. I would say that just about every razor I use, whether it be a single edge or double edge, I use this angle. It seems to work for me.
I'll usually describe it to friends as moving the handle closer to my face or holding it farther away from my face. With all the different razors I have I do what BigJ says and vary the angle, and go by feel until I get it dialed in within a couple of swipes.
That is the most intuitive way to describe what you are doing. Since you are holding the handle describe it with the position of the handle. Up, down, etc...

As far as videos go, they are not very useful.

The challenge with wet shaving and razors comes from the difficult shapes and contours of the face: jawline, under nose, chin, mouth. These areas require a learned muscle response, which men have been learning since dinosaurs roamed the planet.

It becomes intuitive after a short while. Stick with one razor, one blade, a good lather technique, and it comes easily.
I tend to shave steep with all my razors, but I have also come to notice that because I use a variety of razors and blades my intuition comes more into play than just shaving steep or shallow. I bet that if you were to record my shaves with a camera that the angle actually varies much more than I rationally think.

So you are well on your way @AndyPanda - take your time by sticking with one razor for a week or a couple of days until that particular razor installs itself into your micro muscle. From there on the angle will become more intuitive, for one because you may start to notice that you listen to the audio feedback from the razor and blade.


Here is my 2 cents on this.

@AndyPanda has solid advice with one razor and one blade to start. There will be plenty of time for RAD and BAD, and believe me, it'll happen soon enough :) I'll take it one step further and say use a new blade every time until your technique improves. No sense adding the dulling blade into the equation in the beginning. It won't take long to learn and then you can figure out how long a blade will last.

@rodrigaj also has it correct, there are many contours on the face and trying to learn the angle on all of these areas can be a bit frustrating on these areas. My suggestion is that you FOCUS on the area between the end of your sideburn down to your jawline and over only 2 or 3 razor head widths onto your cheek. This is usually the flattest area on the face. Start your first pull with the angle so steep (90 degrees or so) so that it doesn't cut anything. Add more soap and do it again decreasing your angle a little at a time. Do this until you actually start to cut some hair. Remember not to apply pressure. Let the blade and razor do the work. Keep doing this until you don't hear the razor cutting hair anymore. . Now you have found the correct angle. It really is that easy. All of us do this anytime we get a new razor we are probably unaware we doing this. Eventually you will have enough experience to do this in a single stroke.

I don't listen to razor. I know that it is an effective technique for a lot of guys, but I don't do it. With my whiskers, shaving is a loud event with many different sounds and tones. So depending on what part of my face I'm shaving, the noises can be very different. What I rely on is the feedback I get physically in my fingers. Regardless of the area on my face, the feel of an effective cut is the same. I am lucky enough to have consistent whiskers covering about 90% of my face.

Remember that every razor is different with it's optimal angle and you have to learn that every time you pick up a new razor. Every blade also has a different angle and efficiency for optimal cutting. Only experience will help lessen the learning curve for those three factors. That only comes with time and focus.

There is one more factor that I rarely hear guys talk about. That is handle length. If you change where you hold the handle, it will impact the angle. I hold my razors very close to the head regardless of the handle length. If you hold the end of the handle you will change the angle with every different handle (of different lengths). Just something to keep an eye on and remember that it could be part of the issue.

One more thing. When you use soap to create lather, you want the consistency between soft peak and stiff peak whipped cream. Big bubbles in your lather are the enemy. You want tiny bubbles. You'll learn your preference. Something that has a big impact on lubrication is how much water your razor retains. You'll develop a consistent technique for creating lather over time. If you find that your soap isn't working well, you can adjust the lather moisture. I have found that how much water the razor retains and how quickly displaces it from the head dictates how wet or dry my later needs to be to be effective.

Again, just my 2 cents. Have fun, this is supposed to be enjoyable. I tend to find over analyzing to be fun and enjoyable. :crazy::crazy::crazy:


three-tu-tu, three-tu-tu
My goal is an efficient, irritation free shave. I use the same razor every day, so it's fairly easy for me to find the correct angle for my goal, but some razors seem to like a slightly different angle. I experimented until I found the angle that worked the best for me.
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