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  1. #1
    Junior Member jmcgericault's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
    Salt Lake City, UT
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    Default Experiences from My First Time with THE Razor...

    I hate shaving. It’s a chore. A burden. A complete waste of my time. Waste of my money too. One sees those commercials telling you to replace the blade when the blue strip fades away – we’ll for me, that stupid strip is as white as Antarctica after the first shave. Not that I care though; I’ll keep shaving with the thing for a month or two before replacing it. Have you seen the prices of those damned Mach 3s, 4s, 5s, or however many blades they have now? A pack of four blades for the Mach 3 – the original, the one I started using waaay back in high school – is $12.99. I always thought if I stuck with the M3 over the years that the prices would eventually drop as they continually saturate the market with newer, better versions. It hasn’t dropped, though. In fact, prices have gone up! I was paying $8.99 for a pack of four in high school. And forget about the newest stuff that’s out there, like the Fusion ProGlide; a pack of four blades costs about $15 when you add taxes! Yeah, it’s only $15, but there are a million better things I could spend $15 on. And over the course of a year, those $15 can total to over $300 easily. That's a PS3 I could’ve bought. Or a Thiers Issard blade.

    The end result – the shave itself – with something like the Mach 3 isn’t that great either. Yeah, I can get a BBS shave with it by doing multiple passes, but I’ll pay the price for it for the entire following week. Razor burn, razor bumps, zits, ingrown hairs, irritation. They say a con of straight razor shaving is the time one has to devote to it; well I’d argue that it’s comparable to the time I spend in front of the mirror every week picking out ingrown hairs. I’ve experimented with other blades when the cash flow was decent: I tried the Fusion, the Sensor Excel, and the Quattro. What a waste of money the Quattro was; I couldn’t get the stubble out of the thing’s four tightly packed blades – even a water pick couldn’t do it. I threw it away before I even finished my first shave with it.

    So in desperation for a decent, irritation-free shave, I inevitably found myself exploring sights on straight razor shaving. After about eight months of reading up on this forgotten art, watching YouTube videos and even going to a barber for a straight razor shave (best shave of my life!), I finally saved up enough pennies to buy the goods. I purchased a badger-hair brush, shaving soap, canvas/linen strop, styptic pencil and finally a Dovo Bismarck 5/8 carbon steel fully hollow blade.

    And today was my first shave with it.

    Now, I’ve read enough testimonies, advice and suggestions that best advice I can come up with for myself is to do whatever works best for me, whatever gives me the best shave. Yet, despite the plethora of opinions out there, I feel that there are five universal truths in regards to straight razor shaving. Here they are:

    I. Hot water, rich lather & constant moisture.
    II. Stretch the skin.
    III. 30-degree angle, at least.
    IV. Shave in a scything motion.
    V. NO PRESSURE!! (mentally & physically)

    My experience with my first shave, of which I only did the sideburns down to my jaw line, on both sides of my face, was awkward to say the least. First of all, I need to continue practicing stropping -- I’d find that I wouldn’t have the entire blade flat on the strop, or that I’d only have the back sliding across the strop, or that the strop itself would be slightly twisted, thus varying the pressure the blade receives. Furthermore, maintaining a light pressure is not easy – especially when one arm is flexed trying to keep the strop taut, as the other arm, the arm that’s supposed to hold the razor as if it were a feather pen, begins to instinctively flex, thus tightening my grip on the razor and putting more pressure on the blade. Or the opposite happens; I begin to soften my hold of the stop, allowing it to slouch a little. I’m also struggling on finding a grip that allows me to easily turn the blade over from one side to the other. Another thing I have to learn with stropping that I never even considered is keeping count of my passes. It’s probably a good idea to know how many passes on the strop the razor blade you’re about to put to your face went through.

    The shaving experience itself was an awful struggle simply because I couldn’t find a grip on the razor, a body stance, or an angle to the mirror, to see the razor and where I’m placing it on my face. My hand, my arm, and even the handle on my blade would block my view. I can see myself slicing a good chunk of my earlobe off one of these days if I can’t find a way to see where the blade is on my face. Also awkward was having to do everything in reverse because of the mirror. As in, am I bringing the blade close to my face or away? If it’s angled too far left in the mirror, do I move the blade left or right? I see a big “whoops” moment happening here where I should’ve moved the blade to the left and instead went right and sliced half of my eyebrow off. But like I previously mentioned, I did manage to shave both sides of my face from the sideburns down to my jaw line, and as I’m writing this, the results are extremely smooth and with only a minor nick because the mirror confused me as to if I was moving the blade towards me or away. I’m sure I’ll get used to the mirror effect as I continue to practice.

    So that’s my first experience shaving, or at least semi-shaving, with a straight razor. It was an interesting experience and I honestly can’t wait for my hair to grow back a little so that I can try it again. I can see how straight razor shaving can be called an art form, what with how delicate the practice is. Finally, after reading about it, watching it, and even having it done to me, I can say that there is nothing & no way to beat the learning curve in straight razor shaving. I thought I did everything I should to come in on my first shave and do a 100% job. Hell no. You cannot expect success as if it’s a right; you can only expect to practice, practice and practice.

  2. #2
    Senior Member blabbermouth hi_bud_gl's Avatar
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    Nov 2005
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    At first welcome SRP.
    This is what i can say.
    straight razor shaving will take some time. for some people to learn new hobby a lot easier then others.
    took me 6 months. i was bleeding all that time.
    My mistake was didn't know how shave ready blade suppose to be.
    in your case this is what i think may give to you hard time.
    1 your stropping and you know you have problem in here.
    2. Your angle issue
    Who told you you must have at least 30 degree angle?
    angle depends for some razors it could be 30 for next one 12 degree.
    it depends how blade has been sharpened.
    This is why when you start to shave at first couple strokes you make very small and find out the best shaving angle.
    doesn't matter how your blade honed or by whom if you are using wrong angle that blade will just scratch you instead of nice shave.

    i am glad you know PRESSURE AND SCYTHING MOTION SHAVING. it is a BIG +.
    Check stropping videos to strop properly.
    This is the new thread and there is video .
    good luck

  3. #3
    illegitimum non carborundum Utopian's Avatar
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    Jan 2008
    Rochester, MN
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    The first time you rode a bike, it was probably hard as hell to stay on the stupid thing. After a while your brain does a little bit of re-wiring and you can ride the bike without even thinking about it. Straight shaving will go the same way. As you practice, what seem awkward on that first shave will become second nature. It just takes practice, patience, and close attention to what you are doing.

  4. #4
    Still learning markevens's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
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    First one will be awkward. You are not not used to holding or shaving with a str8, you know the blade is sharp and can be intimidated by it, all kinds of things. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is don't be put off by your first time. It doesn't sound like you would be that kind of person, but know that things get much nicer with experience.

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