Lessons from an L-Plater

Discussion in 'Shave School' started by ChrisB, Dec 11, 2022.

  1. ChrisB

    ChrisB Active Member

    10 Dec 2022

    SoD 10 Dec 2022 posted Resized.jpg
    Overall fine shave.
    Day 4 of my Astra Platinum Superior.
    I will stick with my Muhle R89 for the moment.
    In the last 2 days I started out the Muhle Rocca R96 and the Merkur Progress on 1 ½ but both felt a bit crude and so I quickly came back to the R89.

    3 passes and a number of touch ups needed today.

    No cuts or bleeding, didn’t need alum, Thayers felt fine.

    Each “pass” does not feel complete, what I mean is that for example pass 1 does not get the whole face. Seems like I need to segment my face out and focus on different areas on subsequent passes.

    Still had some left over reddish bumps in my lower left side of neck from the last 2 days, only did 2x WTG in that area. Getting better already.

    Getting better on my chin area, this still had grey stubble left over from yesterday, buffed and attacked at different angles, smoother today. Still not ideal.

    Lesson for the Day:
    Each part of the face is unique and needs a different approach.
    In front of the ears and sideburn area easily cope with WTG, 2x XTG and ATG.
    Neck is a bit more different, more sensitive, more care needed.
    Some scars on the chin area will need a different strategy.

    Question 2:
    After one has learnt one's personal beard map, does one get proficient enough later on to be able to ignore that and just go N-S then S-N and be done with?
  2. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    Where's question 1?

    To question 2 - how your beard grows is how your beard grows, it won't change. You figure out how it grows by mapping. Technique can improve, but it may or may not change the direction or number of passes you make. Your face will tell you what works and what doesn't. No one here can answer for your face. We can only offer suggestions.
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  3. ChrisB

    ChrisB Active Member

    Ah yes, question 1 is under the Welcome thread Hi to All!
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  4. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    Thought that be it.
    But I'm old and confuse easily! :happy102:
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  5. Jorvaljr

    Jorvaljr Operation Daytona 8000

    In reference to question 2
    Generally speaking yes. If you identify how your facial hair grows, you can eliminate unnecessary shaving in a particular area becoming more proficient. For instance, if your cheek hair grows down but at an angle say from ear to chin, you can shave from chin to ear. This could eliminate a generic S to N pass.
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  6. ChrisB

    ChrisB Active Member

    No worries I'm always confused and getting older easily!

    Sorry my questions are mixed up, still getting the hang of the forum.
  7. ChrisB

    ChrisB Active Member

    Right, thanks that makes sense to me. I am aiming to avoid going over certain areas more than necessary at this stage.
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  8. riverrun

    riverrun Well-Known Member

    Absolutely not.
    The bottom of my neck goes S-N and if I were to go the N-S "because I know my beard map", I'd still be in trouble doing N-S as the first pass in that area. Big trouble.
    What happens is that you know your beard growth and get into a routine for each pass.
    I do the correct direction for each part of my face and each pass without even thinking about it.
    I have done it hundreds of times and doing my "complicated pattern" for the first pass (or any other) now feels way more natural than just going N-S, which wouldn't even cross my mind.
    Find the best way for you, do it for a year at least - and never look back.
    There is no shortcut. Sorry.
    It sounds worse than it is. You have the rest of your life to slowly get used to it.
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  9. ChrisB

    ChrisB Active Member

    @Jorvaljr, thanks for the replies.

    Been at home all week recovering from Covid and watching too many shaving videos!
    One in particular, a likeable enough fellow, seems to mostly go N-S from sideburns and down to neck, and then S-N all the way up the neck on the 2nd pass. That's why I asked, is that years of toughening up the skin and lots of muscle memory kicking in? When zooming in to his 3 or 4 day growth this does not seem to entirely follow his growth pattern. But the more I watch some of these videos, and see the weepers and so on, I am less inclined to follow their advice.

    My goal at this stage is to enjoy this new learning curve without too much damage!
  10. ChrisB

    ChrisB Active Member

    Sunday 11 Dec 2022
    Yesterday was Blue Proraso Sunday

    SoD 11 Dec 2022 posted resized.jpg

    Growth: 1 day.
    Prep: thought I would try cold water face wash. (Rinnai 26 gas heater takes to too long to heat up the water in my upstairs bathroom)
    Pre shave: Blue Proraso.
    Cream: Blue Proraso. It needed much more cream than TOBS, also needed to add around 4 cc extra water, whipped great lather.
    Aftershave: Blue Proraso.
    Razor: R89
    Blade: Astra Platinum, day 5.

    Result: not good. Tugging. Because blunt or because cold?
    Tossed the blade, took a new Astra Platinum Blade. Swapped to warm prep. Much better. Then the shave was excellent.

    Problem Area: left neck below Adam’s apple: 2x WTG only : healing nicely.
    Directly under jaw my growth is left to right: did some XTG up and XTG down/slide, working fine.
    Cheeks/sideburns, WTG and XTG ear to nose once only never been so smooth.
    Trying to come down from my right cheek over the jaw line into right neck W-E in one pass following the grain. Still tricky.
    Under the angles of jaw below ears works well with buffing both ways into the hollow.
    Below Adams apple right side of neck got a tiny nick because I went N-S in that area.
    Upper lip I did N-S and the XTG/slide up from angle of mouth to nose, and N-S down to border of lips.
    Lower lip: N-S, XTG down and out, and the S-N, I seem to tolerate that ok in that area.
    Problem areas side of chin will need working on.
    Under chin I managed to short stroke around the bend, needing skin pulling out, and then stroking ear to midline.
    Overall very happy shave. Still nice and smooth in the evening. Only a few areas missed.

    Lessons of the Day:
    1. Maximum use of 4 days, better 3 days with Astra Platinum Supers. Think I will stick with 3 days per blade.
    2. Still prefer warmer skin preparation.

    Question 3:
    Still have 2 or 3 stubborn hairs that grow at weird angles in the groove between where my lower lip and chin meet: tough to get in there, no matter how I distort the face.
    If I pluck these will they regrow?
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  11. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    People get too fixated on direction and multiple passes. Too much focus on smooth skin and not enough on comfort. The less pressure you use, the more you shave with the direction of hair growth, and the fewer passes you use will all contribute to a better feeling shave.

    I almost always shave with the grain, even on multiple passes. I can shave against the grain, now, but it took a decade of wet shaving, and even now is a guaranteed way to give myself some irritation.

    The best technique for that is blade buffing. Small back and forth movements of your razor, and a thin layer of lather. Don't be afraid to get your fingers in there to stretch the skin.
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  12. ChrisB

    ChrisB Active Member

    Thank you Sir, it seems that you have pre-empted and answered some of my next questions! No fair!

    Was going to ask:
    How long till one's skin gets used to DE (or SE for that matter?), it seems it may take a while, but if I understand you correctly you meant it took you a decade of wet shaving to get used to ATG?

    Is it worth just going With The Grain for all passes?
    From your answer this is what you mostly do. I will give that a crack too.

    Presently growing out my stubble for 5 or 6 days to refine my beard map. Looking a bit scruffy but at least we still have to wear face masks at work.

    I had drawn up what I thought was a good beard map about a month ago, but it turns out to be a bit vague and imprecise.
    I drew another one up a week ago and found it differed quite a lot from the first one, so the first one was not entirely correct.
    I will need to refine that a bit over the weekend once I have a few more days growth, there seem to be a few areas that swirl rather tightly and change direction quickly.
    The 2D 'map's one finds on line are a bit tricky to follow because (a) in my opinion they are not detailed enough, and (b) in reality we are dealing with a 3 dimensional face, and one that is often mobile and distorted through the shave!

    What I am hearing is that to avoid razor burn and bumps, the goal has to be to avoid ATG for the most part. At the moment there are some areas of my face/neck that can not tolerate this at all, but some that can.

    To negotiate the tight swirly bits I guess the best option is to just go WTG as best one can, or go XTG both ways and be done with. Detailed beard map should help me plan this out better.

    Lessons for the Day/Week:
    Mapping can be done by (a) sight, (b) by feel, (c) with the cotton wool trick (I think that was KevyShaves?), or taking photos as in the tools of men website.
    What I do now at the end of the day is take the Razor without blade and "dry shave". This highlights the areas I missed in the morning. The feedback from the cap tells me when I am against the grain. But also helps me plan how to identify the tricky areas and how I might best negotiate them ahead of time. It should also help with muscle memory for those tricky areas.

    Question 4:
    Fun question: do you shave before or after your morning coffee? I love my coffee, but find I have a mild tremor if I have the coffee first and then shave afterwards. :-(

    (re-reading this I guess I am looking a bit OCD, but a man has to have a hobby, right);)
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  13. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    My answer to question 4 - with.
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  14. yuriahelf

    yuriahelf New Member

    Where do you buy all that stuff from?
  15. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Not exactly. I didn't spend ten years shaving ATG and then suddenly "figure it out." I spent ten years shaving WTG, occasionally using XTG on touchups, and rarely shaving ATG on my neck.

    For a really long time I assumed I had sensitive skin. I don't, and the vast majority of people who think they do, don't either.

    What I do have is an addiction to sharp blades. The one downside to really sharp DE blades is that they have a strong tendency to dive into the skin, especially when shaving against the grain. When you shave against the direction of hair growth, it pushes the hair follicle against the skin, causing the skin to bunch up there. If you are using a sharp blade, it will slice through that bunched up skin like it isn't even there. A smooth blade will ride up over the skin, giving you a less close shave, but a more comfortable one.

    Remember, this is all happening at a near microscopic level. If you get bunches of pin prick weepers, that's what is happening.

    Is it worth going with the grain for all passes? Maybe. It depends on you, your hair, your skin, your tools, and your techniques. We've just talked about how shaving against the grain can cause irritation. It also shaves closer than shaving with the grain.

    So let's say you shave two passes with the grain, and one pass across the grain, plus touchups, for a total of 3 passes.

    On another shave, you do one pass with the grain, and another pass against the grain, plus touchups, for a total of 2 passes.

    You might find doing a two pass shave is more comfortable for your face than a three pass shave, even though the 3 pass shave would technically be the 'milder' of the two shaves. Savvy?

    (Edit: this is also assuming that the shave results were roughly even between the two shaves).

    Blade choice doesn't dictate our shave style, but it does influence it more than people realize and it is why the mantra of the wet shaver will always be "Technique Trumps Tools."

    The cotton ball trick has been around since there were cotton balls. If I recall correctly, I've seen it referenced in old barber training manuals.

    As for the swirly spots of hair growth, you might try blade buffing (moving the razor back and forth in small increments) with a thin, slick lather, while following the spiral in the direction of hair growth, and then avoid shaving that spot in subsequent passes.

    As for shaving pre- or post-coffee, it's almost always post-coffee, especially when I'm working. I'm a boilermaker by trade, so shaving is usually done after my post work shower in the afternoon. When I do shave in the mornings, after a pot of coffee, as I have been doing lately, I find the self vibrating razor effect doesn't negatively affect the shave.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2022
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  16. ChrisB

    ChrisB Active Member

    Hello. Online mainly. Not much in the local shops anymore
  17. ChrisB

    ChrisB Active Member

    17 Dec 2023.
    Well after 6 days growth, it started to get itchy. Time to shave. Took some photos for the record. Just need to figure out how to create a detailed map. Tricky to draw because there is a lot of swirling!
    Prep: Warm water face wash. 55C hot water 2x 40 seconds. Blue ProRaso pre shave.
    Brush: Puro Tasso boars hair, soaked for 3 - 5 min.
    Cream: TOBS Tobacco Leaf +/- 1/2 cc, needed to add around 4cc water to get good lather.
    Razor: Muhle R89
    Blade: Astra day 2.
    1st Pass. WTG as much as possible, part reduction successful.
    2nd Pass: WTG cheeks and neck. XTG top lip.
    Touch up: ATG side burns and lower lip: these seem to tolerate this ok.
    Warm then cold water rinse, Thayer's and ProRaso balm.
    Results. Good shave.
    Weeper: one tiny one below right corner of mouth: hair here grows in all directions.

    Residual stubble found after wash and dry:
    a. Part of top lip: will need more attention XTG
    b. under left chin: hard to figure out.
    c. Under centre of nose. Need to angle more to get this area.
    d. Adam's apple: still residual stubble. I am least optimistic about this area. Hair grows West to East as I look at the mirror, from my left to my right side. Bull frogging and half swallow help a bit, need more practice.
    e. Below right jawline: beard really swirls here, will need to figure out how to tackle this without going ATG.
    f. Scar on right side of chin: can leave this for now.

    Overall very satisfied. Thought I would add some mug shots.

    Before Neck.jpg Before Right.jpg
    After Right.jpg

    Lessons of the day.
    1. Quit while I am ahead.
    2. I now have a clear idea of where ATG is on my face and why N-S and S-N will not work, at least not for now.
    3. There seem to be areas I am prone to miss: need to pay more attention to those areas.
    4. I have to, and can actually, sort of do a Gillette slide under my chin, to follow those West to East hairs, first down left to right and then up left to right.
    5. Lather is about right when it is easy to rinse out of Razor. Otherwise too dry.
    6. Avoid photographing my ageing face!

    Question 5: Choreographed shave or Ad-lib?

    What is most people's routine? sticking to exactly the same shaving sequence each and every day, or just ad-lib and go with the flow?

    I think for now I will try and stick to a fixed routine:
    Pass 1: WTG : Left face, left neck, left lower neck, right face, right neck, right lower neck, tip lip, lower lip, chin and under jaw.
    Pass 2: XTG: same areas, same order.
    Pass3: touch ups as needed by feel.

    (Apologies for the long and self-indulgent post.)
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  18. PanChango

    PanChango Not Cute

    Question 5. Anymore, I generally use the same razor, soap, and brush for all my shaves. Occasionally, I will want a change and put a blade in a different razor. I only keep a soap or two in use.

    Good luck and don't go too deep with it. I generally do two passes and a little touchup along the jaw line. On my neck, my hair grows center to out, so I and doing two XTG passes on it. If I do any more than that, I get a bunch of irritation. Hair grows back rather quickly and honestly there is no need obsess over being BBS. If two are too many, do one pass, have a little stubble and no irritation. Over time, your skill-set will improve and so will the shaves.

    Mindset, skill-set, then tool set
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  19. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    Same shaving technique every day. I've found what works, so why mess it up?

    Now I do use a different DE every day, Monday - Friday. I have 7 straights, use a different one every Saturday. Sundays is a different SE every week.
    I rotate through 18-20 soaps, different one every day. Same with all my brushes; never use the same one on consecutive days.
    Blades are different. I've found two DE brands and one SE brand that work very well regardless of the razor I'm using. I've never felt and urge to play around with all the different brands. I did try a sample pack in my early years, found Astra SP and a brand packaged for the military BX/PX and never looked back.

    You seemed to have learned one very important lesson quicker than most - don't chase the baby!
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  20. ischiapp

    ischiapp Well-Known Member


    Technique trumps tools.
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