Lucky 13

This morning marked my thirteenth straight razor shave, and the first time I shaved entirely with the straight razor alone. Up until now, I had used my Gillette Fusion safety razor to finish trouble areas including my chin and the hallows of my neck, as well as do a general clean-up.

Now, I won't say that I finished off with the closest shave of my life today, but it's pretty decent for straight razor shave #13 so I'm feeling good about it.

13th Straight Razor Shave No Longer Required Use of Safety Razor

The Pre-Shave
As usual, I began with a hot shower and scrubbed my beard with soap. Once out of the shower, I stropped my Dovo straight razor 25 times on linen and 50 times on English bridle leather. I splashed hot water on my face and scrubbed Proraso pre-cream throughout my beard. Then, I held my Omega synthetic badger brush under hot water in the bathroom sink for 30 seconds before lathering up my Dovo mint cream and applying to my face and neck.

The Shave
With twelve shaves under my belt, I have gotten into a routine. I began my shaving with the grain (WTG) on the right side of my face using my right hand to hold the straight razor, and my left hand to reach over my head and pull the skin taught. To help pass cleanly, I tend to blow a little air into the cheek I am shaving. The WTG pass, especially on the right side of my face, has become rather smooth and routine. Then, I shifted to the left side where things were reversed: I held the straight razor with my left hand and and reached my right hand over my head to pull the skin taught, while inflating a little air in my left cheek. Since my first straight razor shave, I have seen enormous progress in my ability to shave with my left hand, though it's still not up to snuff with my right hand. As a side note, one thing I have been doing to improve left-handed ability is to do other tasks with my left hand, like brushing my teeth.

Once my cheeks were done, I moved on to the mustache and chin. I have developed the habit of using my right hand alone to shave the right half of these areas, but I tend to use both hands simultaneously to shave the left half. I have found that enables me to keep a steadier hand on these tricky areas while applying ample pressure to get the job done. Since my first shave, I have seen dramatic improvement in my ability to shave my chin, going from about 1% hair reduction to 99% by the thirteenth shave.

With my face done, I moved on to my neck. This has been the most troublesome area for me thus far due to neck sensitivity, the contours of the hallows of the neck, and the fact that hair grows in all different directions in this area. This time, I was more focused in my approach. I proceeded WTG throughout, but this meant the razor moved downward on the top half of my neck, and a combination of sideways and upward in the hallows of the neck. Concentration was of the utmost importance as I approached the left side of the neck.

With the first pass complete (WTG), I then re-lathered and proceeded to shave across the grain (XTG) on the right side of my face followed by the left side. This is always the smoothest, easiest pass given most of the beard growth was removed on the WTG pass, and is not quite as aggressive as the final against the grain (ATG) pass. I do not formally do a XTG pass on my neck.

Finally, I finished off with the ATG pass beginning on the right side of my neck below the ear and moving up the cheek. I am getting better at ATG but it's still far from smooth and effortless. I'll continue to work on my technique. The ATG pass is skipped on the inner hallows of the neck, chin and mustache. I skip the inner hallows of the neck due to skin sensitivity, and I skip ATG on the chin and mustache because it just seems dangerous with the lips and nose present. The last move I make is ATG in the center of the neck, moving from Adam's apple to chin.

The first image below is helpful if you want to map out the direction of your beard growth. The second image shows my completed map.

Face Shaving Map | Image Credit: Straight Razor Place

My Face Shaving Map

The After-Shave
A few nicks were present on the inner hallows of the neck, but nothing that required the styptic pencil - cold water splash followed by the alum block all over closed things up nicely, finished with a light towel drying on the face and neck. I rubbed some after-shave balm across the face and neck, rinsed the brush and straight razor under hot water, then used a folded toilet tissue to completely dry the blade and inner/outer components of the straight razor handle before putting everything away until the next shave.

Final Thoughts
I am feeling very good about the progress I have made since my first straight razor shave on January 6, 2013. Since then, I went from complete reliance on the safety razor to shaving with nothing but a straight razor. Going forward, areas of focus will continue to be the chin, inner hallows of the neck, and improving ATG technique.

1 comment:

  1. i knew you could do it! you are well on your way to becoming a straight razor shaving aficionado!


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