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The myth of the longer lasting BBS

luvmysuper

My Elbows Leak
I've seen posts here and there that talk about a BBS shave "lasting" longer with one razor over another, one blade over another etc.
Sorry, I'm not buying it.

First let us address the ability of each of us to "feel" the stubble after a shave.
The ability of humans to detect surface roughness with fingertips has been studied ad infinitum. The results are that in general humans are capable of determining relative roughness of a surface with the fingers to a significant degree - with caveats.

The caveats are that the ability to determine whether one thing is smoother than another is significantly affected by two factors:
1. The amount of pressure used during the "feeling" stage.
Even slightly different pressure levels causes the fingers skin contact surface to change. A slight increase in pressure causes more surface contact which increases tactile feedback. This means that a person who presses slightly more on a surface may, in error, think the surface is rougher, when in fact it is not.
2. The quantity and viscosity of lubricants present on the surface being felt.
Lubricants decrease the ability of the fingers to detect changes in surface roughness significantly. Lubricants may include moisture either applied or secreted as sweat, sebum (the skins "natural" oil), applied chemicals such as aftershaves or balms, and surface contaminants which are deposited on the face from the surrounding atmosphere.

In order to determine whether your skin feels rougher or smoother over a 6, 8 ,10 or 12 hour period, one would have to exactly duplicate the conditions that existed when the shave was completed and first felt by the individual, including:
1. The exact pressure used when feeling the face.
We are not machines, so this is not 100% repeatable. Moreover, studies have shown that even with people trained to apply a given pressure when feeling surfaces, that pressure is increased subconsciously the longer the feeling period is extended.
2. The exact same exertion level and physical status, which could produce sweat even in the slightest amount.
From day to day, even from hour to hour our reaction to physical exertion, no matter how slight, differs significantly.
3. The exact same environmental conditions over that time frame.
Unless one lives in a laboratory clean room, air quality changes constantly, and the skin is exposed to various environmental conditions such as humidity changes, pollens/microbial contaminants, and other particulate matter.
4. The exact same level of sebum production from the sebaceous glands.
The skin produces sebum, and though peak is during the teen years, even daily sebum production is affected by numerous factors including diet, level of physical activity, and exposure to environmental contaminates.

Next let us address the stubble being felt itself.

When facial hair is cut, there are only 3 options:
1. The hair is cut, to some varying degree above the skin surface.
2. The hair is cut perfectly even with the skin surface.
3. The hair is cut, to some varying degree below the skin surface.
On average, human facial hair grows approximately .27mm in 24 hours. As with all things - each individual may differ slightly on the plus or minus side. For the sake of the discussion, let us assume that in general, the same persons hair growth rate will not significantly change day to day, though it may change very very slightly due to factors such as fatigue.

If the hair is cut at some measurable distance above the skin surface, it is felt almost immediately, and for the sake of this discussion, is out of the equation.

If the hair is cut perfectly at the surface, and all of the above factors of lubrication and pressure are removed, the stubble will be "felt" at the same time period consistently. As mentioned, the factors of lubrication and pressure cannot be controlled to any degree.

If the hair is cut at some level below the skin surface, the hair must grow to a level even with, then above the skin level to be felt.
How much above the skin level it must grow to in order to be felt is again affected by the factors of lubrication and pressure.

Stretching of the skin, and the aggressiveness of the shaving process both have some effect on whether the hair is cut below the surface, and to what degree. However, the significant factors of lubrication and pressure again will bias what we perceive to be the relative smoothness of the shave.

In short, I think that those who experience what they believe to be a longer lasting BBS shave are influenced by the incontrollable factors mentioned above, combined with cutting of the hair below the surface of the skin to some degree. Regardless of which razor or blade is used, the blade will cut the hair at the level that skin stretching and shaving aggressiveness permits, not by virtue of the particular razor or the blade used.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
 
All I know is that the next morning after shaving in the evening I can tell how much better my shave was that night because of growth. Times are always about the same.
One other thing to take into this equation is how sharp your blade was. If it was able to cut the hairs straight across or at an angle because of not being as sharp. This is one thing I noticed in the beginning. A less keen edge makes a different cut.
 
Shavers will always need something to debate. I love the B&B discussions; feels like I am sitting in the local barbershop at times. A little truth, some white lies, a little bragging, and lots of friendly goading. I‘ve completely stopped going for BBS shaves. They still happen often but I don’t chase them…guess I am finally maturing as a shaver or I simply don’t care as much anymore.
 
Shavers will always need something to debate. I love the B&B discussions; feels like I am sitting in the local barbershop at times. A little truth, some white lies, a little bragging, and lots of friendly goading. I‘ve completely stopped going for BBS shaves. They still happen often but I don’t chase them…guess I am finally maturing as a shaver or I simply don’t care as much anymore.
I like the barber shop scene Possum….
Some true stories
Some false stories
Most somewhere in the middle
 
4. The exact same level of sebum production from the sebaceous glands.
The skin produces sebum, and though peak is during the teen years, even daily sebum production is affected by numerous factors including diet, level of physical activity, and exposure to environmental contaminates.


This is why achieving a frequent or regular BBS shave invariably results in a drier skin condition which hinders effective post shave moisturization until the sebum has had chance to build up again?
 
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The one thing that really bothers me is that some folks after shaving have visible perfectly clean faces without any traces of beard at all like actors have in movies and also without even a hint of redness and irritation let alone cuts, nicks, weepers etc.

In my case, no matter how much I try, I always have a permanent barely visible shadow around my face, which I can't remove regardless of the razor, blade, angle, pressure or whatever. My face feels perfectly smooth and even passes the cotton and credit card tests, but I can still see the tiny small dots on the mirror. After a while I came to the conclusion that no matter how much I try I will never be able to achieve the absolute perfection of removing even the slightest hint of having a single whisker on my face and have that actor look.

It's more than obvious that everyone has different whiskers and some folks are capable of removing the visible whiskers even without going against the grain. If anyone knows any trick or secret how to permanently remove everything without applying anything on my face to hide it, please let me know :D.
 
The one thing that really bothers me is that some folks after shaving have visible perfectly clean faces without any traces of beard at all like actors have in movies and also without even a hint of redness and irritation let alone cuts, nicks, weepers etc.

In my case, no matter how much I try, I always have a permanent barely visible shadow around my face, which I can't remove regardless of the razor, blade, angle, pressure or whatever. My face feels perfectly smooth and even passes the cotton and credit card tests, but I can still see the tiny small dots on the mirror. After a while I came to the conclusion that no matter how much I try I will never be able to achieve the absolute perfection of removing even the slightest hint of having a single whisker on my face and have that actor look.

It's more than obvious that everyone has different whiskers and some folks are capable of removing the visible whiskers even without going against the grain. If anyone knows any trick or secret how to permanently remove everything without applying anything on my face to hide it, please let me know :D.

Whether you beard is visible has a lot to do with the contrast between the color of your beard and the color of your skin. I have a white beard and a somewhat pinkish face due to Rosacea. Although I can start to feel my beard within a feel my beard within a few hours of a BBS shave, I can easily go 2-3 days before anyone would ever notice my beard. If my skin were darker, my white beard would be easily spotted.

Likewise, those with dark brown or black beard hair and light skin might even look like they have a beard right after a BBS shave.
 
Whether you beard is visible has a lot to do with the contrast between the color of your beard and the color of your skin. I have a white beard and a somewhat pinkish face due to Rosacea. Although I can start to feel my beard within a feel my beard within a few hours of a BBS shave, I can easily go 2-3 days before anyone would ever notice my beard. If my skin were darker, my white beard would be easily spotted.

Likewise, those with dark brown or black beard hair and light skin might even look like they have a beard right after a BBS shave.

That makes sense, but some of my friends have pretty much the same skin and beard color as mine, but their faces feel much cleaner than mine and since they shave mostly with cartridges and electric razors, I don't think they try that hard like shaving against the grain and stuff like that. Maybe my stubble is slightly thicker than average? I don't know.
 
I've seen posts here and there that talk about a BBS shave "lasting" longer with one razor over another, one blade over another etc.
Sorry, I'm not buying it.

First let us address the ability of each of us to "feel" the stubble after a shave.
The ability of humans to detect surface roughness with fingertips has been studied ad infinitum. The results are that in general humans are capable of determining relative roughness of a surface with the fingers to a significant degree - with caveats.

The caveats are that the ability to determine whether one thing is smoother than another is significantly affected by two factors:
1. The amount of pressure used during the "feeling" stage.
Even slightly different pressure levels causes the fingers skin contact surface to change. A slight increase in pressure causes more surface contact which increases tactile feedback. This means that a person who presses slightly more on a surface may, in error, think the surface is rougher, when in fact it is not.
2. The quantity and viscosity of lubricants present on the surface being felt.
Lubricants decrease the ability of the fingers to detect changes in surface roughness significantly. Lubricants may include moisture either applied or secreted as sweat, sebum (the skins "natural" oil), applied chemicals such as aftershaves or balms, and surface contaminants which are deposited on the face from the surrounding atmosphere.

In order to determine whether your skin feels rougher or smoother over a 6, 8 ,10 or 12 hour period, one would have to exactly duplicate the conditions that existed when the shave was completed and first felt by the individual, including:
1. The exact pressure used when feeling the face.
We are not machines, so this is not 100% repeatable. Moreover, studies have shown that even with people trained to apply a given pressure when feeling surfaces, that pressure is increased subconsciously the longer the feeling period is extended.
2. The exact same exertion level and physical status, which could produce sweat even in the slightest amount.
From day to day, even from hour to hour our reaction to physical exertion, no matter how slight, differs significantly.
3. The exact same environmental conditions over that time frame.
Unless one lives in a laboratory clean room, air quality changes constantly, and the skin is exposed to various environmental conditions such as humidity changes, pollens/microbial contaminants, and other particulate matter.
4. The exact same level of sebum production from the sebaceous glands.
The skin produces sebum, and though peak is during the teen years, even daily sebum production is affected by numerous factors including diet, level of physical activity, and exposure to environmental contaminates.

Next let us address the stubble being felt itself.

When facial hair is cut, there are only 3 options:
1. The hair is cut, to some varying degree above the skin surface.
2. The hair is cut perfectly even with the skin surface.
3. The hair is cut, to some varying degree below the skin surface.
On average, human facial hair grows approximately .27mm in 24 hours. As with all things - each individual may differ slightly on the plus or minus side. For the sake of the discussion, let us assume that in general, the same persons hair growth rate will not significantly change day to day, though it may change very very slightly due to factors such as fatigue.

If the hair is cut at some measurable distance above the skin surface, it is felt almost immediately, and for the sake of this discussion, is out of the equation.

If the hair is cut perfectly at the surface, and all of the above factors of lubrication and pressure are removed, the stubble will be "felt" at the same time period consistently. As mentioned, the factors of lubrication and pressure cannot be controlled to any degree.

If the hair is cut at some level below the skin surface, the hair must grow to a level even with, then above the skin level to be felt.
How much above the skin level it must grow to in order to be felt is again affected by the factors of lubrication and pressure.

Stretching of the skin, and the aggressiveness of the shaving process both have some effect on whether the hair is cut below the surface, and to what degree. However, the significant factors of lubrication and pressure again will bias what we perceive to be the relative smoothness of the shave.

In short, I think that those who experience what they believe to be a longer lasting BBS shave are influenced by the incontrollable factors mentioned above, combined with cutting of the hair below the surface of the skin to some degree. Regardless of which razor or blade is used, the blade will cut the hair at the level that skin stretching and shaving aggressiveness permits, not by virtue of the particular razor or the blade used.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Great explanation!

Some days I am grumpier than others! My mood affects perceptions, including how I rate my shaves!:a29:
 
The one thing that really bothers me is that some folks after shaving have visible perfectly clean faces without any traces of beard at all like actors have in movies and also without even a hint of redness and irritation let alone cuts, nicks, weepers etc.

In my case, no matter how much I try, I always have a permanent barely visible shadow around my face, which I can't remove regardless of the razor, blade, angle, pressure or whatever. My face feels perfectly smooth and even passes the cotton and credit card tests, but I can still see the tiny small dots on the mirror. After a while I came to the conclusion that no matter how much I try I will never be able to achieve the absolute perfection of removing even the slightest hint of having a single whisker on my face and have that actor look.

It's more than obvious that everyone has different whiskers and some folks are capable of removing the visible whiskers even without going against the grain. If anyone knows any trick or secret how to permanently remove everything without applying anything on my face to hide it, please let me know :D.
Some of this is related to color of the beard, also skin tone and density of the beard. Some people with a light skin tone and dark hair will show the shadow no matter how close their shave. The skin is slightly translucent so there is visible contrast for dark hair to show through.
 
I don’t agree. How lubricated the skin is has no effect on whether you catch hairs when you stroke your face. The hairs are either there or they aren’t, and you can feel them through skin oil. How hard you press on the skin isn’t a factor either - I vary the pressure and press harder until I catch hair, or I don’t catch hair. Yes, if I catch hair when I press hard, and not when I press softly, then that is a variable between different people claiming smoothness based on different criteria - but I only count smooth when it is smooth at all levels of pressure.

One thing that could be a factor is the overall condition of the skin. I guess that well-conditioned skin, in comfortable weather, tends to plump up a bit. Skin that is raw, dry or cold tends not to. That would probably account for some differences in stubble exposure. But of course that’s all instinctive and when your skin is dry or cold you tend not to expect the shave to last as long. It’s easy to take things like this into account when you are assessing how good your shave was, since we experience how our skin behaves all the time, throughout our lives, and we are accustomed to it.

Anyway, since I use different razors, soaps, aftershaves, and vary my routine, if I still notice significant and consistent differences between the shave longevity between razors, over time, regardless of other variables, then the difference is due to the razor. I do not notice any differences in shave longevity from any of the other variables - using a particular soap, for example, does not give me longer-lasting shaves regardless of the razors I used.

If you’re saying a 10-12hr completely smooth shave for me is not the same as what somebody else would call a 10-12hr smooth shave, then of course I agree. Just like what I mean by ‘BBS’ is different from others. But if I say one razor typically gives me 12+ hours completely smooth and another razor consistently gives 6-8hrs, then the first razor is certainly a closer shaver.
 
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luvmysuper

My Elbows Leak
This is why achieving a frequent or regular BBS shave invariably results in a drier skin condition which hinders effective post shave moisturization until the sebum has had chance to build up again?
It's a little weird. Cleaning your face frequently can initially decrease the skin oils you have present, but the human body is amazing, and if done consistently, the body can kick sebum production up to replenish what is being washed away.
Some people actually get oilier skin from frequent washing.
 
I also think the timings people quote are pretty accurate, for whatever standard they apply. Once you start to feel the slightest hair emergence under pressure then within an hour or so that hair can be felt with no pressure at all.
 
The one thing that really bothers me is that some folks after shaving have visible perfectly clean faces without any traces of beard at all like actors have in movies and also without even a hint of redness and irritation let alone cuts, nicks, weepers etc.

In my case, no matter how much I try, I always have a permanent barely visible shadow around my face, which I can't remove regardless of the razor, blade, angle, pressure or whatever. My face feels perfectly smooth and even passes the cotton and credit card tests, but I can still see the tiny small dots on the mirror. After a while I came to the conclusion that no matter how much I try I will never be able to achieve the absolute perfection of removing even the slightest hint of having a single whisker on my face and have that movie actor look.

It's more than obvious that everyone has different whiskers some folks are capable of removing the visible whiskers even without going against the grain. If anyone knows any trick or secret how to permanently remove everything without applying anything on my face to hide it, please let me know :D.
Spoiler alert: no blade, soap, cream, or razor can change human biology 🧬 happy shaves!
 

luvmysuper

My Elbows Leak
I don’t agree. How lubricated the skin is has no effect on whether you catch hairs when you stroke your face. The hairs are either there or they aren’t, and you can feel them through skin oil. How hard you press on the skin isn’t a factor either - I vary the pressure and press harder until I catch hair, or I don’t catch hair. Yes, if I catch hair when I press hard, and not when I press softly, then that is a variable between different people claiming smoothness based on different criteria - but I only count smooth when it is smooth at all levels of pressure.

I'm not talking about lubrication and pressure during the shave, I mean that lubrication and pressure affect the ability to accurately "feel" the stubble.

Anyway, since I use different razors, soaps, aftershaves, and vary my routine, if I still notice significant and consistent differences between the shave longevity between razors, over time, regardless of other variables, then the difference is due to the razor. I do not notice any differences in shave longevity from any of the other variables - using a particular soap, for example, does not give me longer-lasting shaves regardless of the razors I used.

Or that you feel more comfortable or have more prowess with a given razor, but the hair is going to grow back at the same rate. Perhaps with a given razor, for whatever reason - you are cutting the hair further below the skin level. With practice and skin stretching you could achieve the same results with any razor.

If you’re saying a 10-12hr completely smooth shave for me is not the same as what somebody else would call a 10-12hr smooth shave, then of course I agree. Just like what I mean by ‘BBS’ is different from others. But if I say one razor typically gives me 12+ hours completely smooth and another razor consistently gives 6-8hrs, then the first razor is certainly a closer shaver.

It's how far below the surface you're cutting the hair. The razor itself, nor the blade, is capable of cutting the hair except where the shaver applies the cutting edge. I maintain that any razor, with the proper stretching or technique, can get as long a lasting BBS shave as any other razor. Assuming of course that we are dealing with a razor that isn't so uncomfortable that the process of shaving is short circuited because it is not comfortable.
 

luvmysuper

My Elbows Leak
There have been studies done where razor blades were compared to electric razors.
There is some anecdotal evidence that a sharply cut hair with a point "feels" like stubble before a hair that was not as cleanly cut.
Again, this is not that a given razor is cutting closer - it's just the perception of feel.
 
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