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What Causes Tugging?

What exactly is happening when you a razor produces a tugging sensation? I remember the old, original twin blade razor ads where they showed an illustration of the first blade tugging out the hair, followed by the second blade cutting it below the original skin line. Of course, that can't be happening with a single blade, or at least not in the same way. I'm guessing that the blade is first pulling on the hair and then cutting it. But why do some razors pull like that when the same blade in another razor doesn't pull at all?

Among my razors, the one that does the most tugging is my R41. It is bearable, and it is only on the first, with the grain, pass. And it gives me close shaves without cuts or irritation.
 
Could be a few reasons. Improper preparation , how much time do you spend washing and rinsing your face before shaving ? I use hot water and plain old bath bar soap, wash and rinse twice, it works well to set up my whiskers . Are you dulling the blade by rubbing it out of the wrapper or picking it up off the bathroom counter by sliding it ? Were the blades sharp to start with ? It is possible to get a bad blade, but very rare amongst known brands. Is your lather thick and creamy or thin and bubbly ?? Thick lather clings better and provides a nice lubrication .
 
What exactly is happening when you a razor produces a tugging sensation? I remember the old, original twin blade razor ads where they showed an illustration of the first blade tugging out the hair, followed by the second blade cutting it below the original skin line. Of course, that can't be happening with a single blade, or at least not in the same way. I'm guessing that the blade is first pulling on the hair and then cutting it. But why do some razors pull like that when the same blade in another razor doesn't pull at all?

Among my razors, the one that does the most tugging is my R41. It is bearable, and it is only on the first, with the grain, pass. And it gives me close shaves without cuts or irritation.
What blade are you using Steve? Provided you have prepared your face for the shave as Malocchio mentioned above, that R41, with a sharp blade, should mow down that first pass with the grain without any tugging.
 
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In my experience, a blade that is tugging, is either dull, or defective. And some blades, come with a coating applied to them, which makes the edge rough, until the 2nd shave. Another thing I've found, is that not every razor, works well with the same blade. For example, my Feather AS-D2, and my Rex Ambassador, both do fairly well with Feather's and Bic Chrome Platinum Blades.

After the first shave, the coating gets removed, and then you can get on with a smoother shave the 2nd time around. However, Bic blades do not work well at all, in my Merkur Futur razor, far too much tugging going on, and thats with a blade that was new. or only on its 2nd use! I haven't tried Feather blades in my Futur yet, so can't speak on those.

Not every razor blade is made the same, and not every razor is made the same. This is why experimenting is key, to finding out what you need.

I also agree that facial prep is important. If you are somebody who puts on lather and goes right to it with the razor, your doing it wrong. You need to wash your face with a quality soap, like the bar soaps from Stirling, and then you need to rinse your face with HOT water, emphasis on the HOT. Once you have done that, then you can go ahead and apply your lather.

Also, if your somebody who has really course whiskers, sand paper like, you might also be a prime candidate for using a pre-shave, like a pre-shave cream or oil. The pre-shave should be applied after you have washed your face, and before you apply the lather. Once you have your facial prep locked down, and you got your razor and blade figured out, your off to the races!
 
What exactly is happening when you a razor produces a tugging sensation? I remember the old, original twin blade razor ads where they showed an illustration of the first blade tugging out the hair, followed by the second blade cutting it below the original skin line. Of course, that can't be happening with a single blade, or at least not in the same way. I'm guessing that the blade is first pulling on the hair and then cutting it. But why do some razors pull like that when the same blade in another razor doesn't pull at all?

Among my razors, the one that does the most tugging is my R41. It is bearable, and it is only on the first, with the grain, pass. And it gives me close shaves without cuts or irritation.
The R41 is potentially susceptible to blade flex and or chatter which can lead to tugging especially if the blade doesn't slice easily through your whiskers. If you look closely at the R41 with a blade inserted you will see a sizable distance between the edge of the top cap and the blade edge. This can allow some blade flex which exacerbates tugging. A razor that clamps the blade much closer to the blade edge will not allow as much blade flex and will tend to tug less or not at all. The other suggestions in this thread can also help to reduce tugging. Personally I have used my R41 for over 10 years and have gotten some great shaves but I have found it to be occasionally susceptible to blade chatter and tugging as well.
 
I gave it some thought and my conclusion is less blade exposure allows the razor weight to use its momentum to shear whiskers easier because less risk of nicking where as more blade exposure folks tend to slow down the razor momentum giving a tugging sensation, well at least this is from my experiences using shavette on the chin area or aggressive razor with lots blade exposure.
Example I will use for razor momentum would be similar to a car sliding(heavy object) on glare ice with speed it takes time to slow it down because less friction on the tires to stop it compared to dry road conditions.
Sharp blade like mentioned already will also help shear whiskers easier more efficiently.
Pre shave will help reduce tugging of whiskers if whiskers are hydrated so the blade can slice the whiskers easier.
 
I do not know for sure as I don't have a slow motion microscope. That being said, I have looked very closely in the mirror when shaving and I can see my face move during the shave process as the blade contacts the hair and is slicing through, there is some resistance that also moves the hair/skin and then finally the cut.

I am almost sure what you are referring to is not one of the following: 1) shave prep, 2) blade condition, or 3) clamping. While I am sure 1 & 2 can be factors, I think we are all veterans enough to know how to shave prep and use a new blade. Additionally, I have had blade tugging with 1) amazing shave prep, 2) new blades, and 3) the best clamping and the stiffest blades (single edge).

As such my conclusion (at the moment) is how the razor presents the hair to be cut by the blade. This includes the following 1) top cap design, 2) base plate design, 3) steep/neutral/shallow shaving angle, 4) amount of "plump" allowed in the blade gap, 5) amount of exposure, and 6) the angel the hair is growing at.

I have come to this conclusion because my hair on my face grows almost parallel to my skin vs. 90* (or almost 90*) for most of you gents. A lot of razors don't work for me for exactly that reason - tugging - when everyone else reports how awesome they are. Also, these razor cut fine other parts of my body (I head shave and my hair is different there than my face).

I'm curious - do you get tugging ATG too? And if so, does it cause weepers? For me it seems that tugging is my number one cause of weepers.
 
For me it is dull blades. Either because they have become dull or they are dull to start with. There are some blades that tug and pull at whiskers, even fresh out of the wrapper.

One other factor is if you are not making decisive strokes with the razor. That is a technique issue that can be improved. A dull blade can not be improved.
 
What exactly is happening when you a razor produces a tugging sensation? I remember the old, original twin blade razor ads where they showed an illustration of the first blade tugging out the hair, followed by the second blade cutting it below the original skin line. Of course, that can't be happening with a single blade, or at least not in the same way. I'm guessing that the blade is first pulling on the hair and then cutting it. But why do some razors pull like that when the same blade in another razor doesn't pull at all?

Among my razors, the one that does the most tugging is my R41. It is bearable, and it is only on the first, with the grain, pass. And it gives me close shaves without cuts or irritation.
I have the same experience with the R41…..the GS stainless is a bit better, but still get tugging on first pass. I’ve tried a bunch of different blades, but it’s always the same experience. I only use this razor with multiple days growth….maybe more whiskers equal more tugging…..no idea really.

I think it’s just the blade forward design with not enough blade clamping. This is the only razor I get this tugging from.
 
Great discussion!

I try to limit the number of variables with my shaves. In other words, I use a limited number of razors, pretty much the same prep and a ‘rotation’ of good/great soaps.

That means, that most tugging is related to the blade. And I prefer sharp, smooth blades!

If I am trying a new soap or brush, then I stick to one of my ‘top-tier’ blades.
 
I have been shaving with DE razors for many, many years and I feel confident that the issue is with the razor design and/or shaving angle. I use the same prep and blades in several other razors but only the R41 produces tugging and only on the first, with the grain pass. And it occurs in new blades as well as blades with 2, 3, 4 or more shaved on it. What I don't understand is what would cause the blade to pull a hair instead of cutting it cleanly. The clamping hypothesis sounds plausible; I suppose if the blade moves a bit when it encounters resistance from the hair, it might pull the hair rather than cut it cleanly.
 

AimlessWanderer

Remember to forget me!
Here's the priority of culprits I would be looking to correct.

1) Angle
Having the razor off the optimum shaving angle (be it handle angle too high it low), will lift the blade off the skin. Ideally there should be a shear/scissor action between blade and skin, but if the high is too high, it will snatch, tub, then cut/snap the hair off.

2) Prep/Lather
A nice wet lather, doesn't just give skin slickness for the razor to glide, but lubricated the blade through the cut too. Too dry a lather might not offer the optimal slickness and lubrication, and too dense a lather might be causing the razor to float too high, bringing culprit number one (high blade) back into play. Hydrating the beard beforehand can stop the whiskers sapping the moisture out of the lather. A quick rinse is good enough for me these days, but others may need a little more preparation.

(Newcomers might be tempted to correct both those two with pressure, which could leads to cuts and/or irritation)

3) Blade
Not just in terms of whether the blade is dull, but whether it is a good match for razor and beard. Coatings and edge geometry will vary between different blades. Some blades will work better for you in some razors than others.

4) Razor
Yes, I would consider this last. Negative blade exposure or too small a gap, might be restricting the blade getting where it needs to be (again, this could tempt a new double edge shaver to use pressure). That said, I would still look at eliminating the other culprits first.
 
I have been shaving with DE razors for many, many years and I feel confident that the issue is with the razor design and/or shaving angle. I use the same prep and blades in several other razors but only the R41 produces tugging and only on the first, with the grain pass. And it occurs in new blades as well as blades with 2, 3, 4 or more shaved on it. What I don't understand is what would cause the blade to pull a hair instead of cutting it cleanly. The clamping hypothesis sounds plausible; I suppose if the blade moves a bit when it encounters resistance from the hair, it might pull the hair rather than cut it cleanly.
I feel pretty confident that poor blade clamping is the main problem with the R41. If you use a different wider top cap(a Lord L6 or Merkur 3 piece top cap works perfectly) that clamps the blade better and closer to the blade edge it dramatically improves the performance of the R41. For me it eliminates tugging, improves smoothness and retains the R41's efficiency.

When a blade is clamped well and doesn't flex it will cut the whisker better, smoother and with less effort. This is why most current higher end razors tend to clamp the blade well and one of the reasons why designs like the Tech work so well.
 

Esox

I didnt know
As several have said, there are many variables. When I was testing blades I kept everything else the same for consistency, limiting those variables as much as possible, even shaving at the same 48 hour mark to keep growth consistent.

Shaving first pass ATG for every shave for more than two years taught me a lot. One would assume the sharpest blade, a fresh Feather, would be the best blade but, they wernt for me. Gillette Yellow and Polsilver are my top blades for that shave. A Polsilver, even at shave 20 after 5 weeks of shaves, was still performing perfectly ATG first pass. Gillette Yellow's were finished at shave #7.

Coatings and edge geometry will vary between different blades.

Thats exactly what I came to discover. I firmly believe its the blade coatings that limit tugging, when all else remains the same.

"After discovering in his test lab that shavers could not tell the difference in blade sharpness, he was responsible for break-thru research that determined that blade sharpness was not a critical factor in receiving a good shave; rather a reduction in drag by hair clinging to the blade causing pulling was needed. This Drag Theory lead to the development of coated razor blades and specifically the Organosiloxane Gel coated Super Blue Blade (1959)."

Theres no other way I can rationalize the older green tuck Derby Extra blades working nearly as well for me in my Grande as a Feather does. The only obvious difference between them must be the blade coating process.

The opposite also seems true. I cant use a GSB, a blade which many love but I've tried, hard. The first shave leaves me a bloody mess. The second shave slightly better, the third better again. The fourth shave though, is very good. I believe that whatever the top coat is on GSB blades, by the fourth shave, is mostly gone and thats why my shaves improve. Several have said the same about Voskhod blades, that they improve with use.
 
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