Monday, March 24, 2014

Second Baby Step Toward Shaving Like Grandad: The Two-Pass Shave

If you're following this sequence of baby steps* toward shaving like Grandad with a double-edge (DE) safety razor, then you've already begun the ecologically-friendly, economical, face-pampering process of lathering with shaving soap (or cream) and a brush as described in a previous article.

With today's step, you still use your normal shaving razor, whether single-blade disposable, or the more common multi-blade, pivoting system.  However, you are likely to get a better shave from your razor than you have before.

The process of the two-pass shave is simple.  Prepare your beard as usual; then lather and shave with the grain of your beard.  Then rinse with warm water.  That is the the first pass.

The second pass involves feeling your face and neck for the spots that were not shaved closely.  Then lather, and shave again -- only this pass will be not with the grain, but rather, across the grain.  That means that in a given section of your beard, if the hair tends to grow downward, then you wouldn't shave with downward strokes (that would be with the grain, a.k.a. WTG), and you wouldn't shave with upward strokes (that would be against the grain, a.k.a. ATG.  Don't shave against the grain at all with your multi-blade device if this is something you don't normally do!  Shaving against the grain of your beard using a multi-blade shaver is a formula for irritation and in-grown hairs!)  Across the grain (XTG) shaving on this patch of downward-growing hair would be defined as shaving with sideways strokes -- strokes parallel to the floor.

When making this second pass, concentrate on getting a close shave in the areas poorly shaved in the first pass.  This doesn't mean pressing the razor harder against your face.  It means manipulating the skin with your free hand to make it tighter or flatter, moving your jaw, using your tongue or puffing air in your cheeks to get a better skin surface for the razor system to shave more effectively.

If you've never done a multiple-pass wet shave before, once you try it you will likely find that you're now getting a closer shave without any additional irritation.

Next baby steps:  If you are taking these baby steps to completion, now might be the time to acquire your first DE  razor.  Some good first-DE-razor choices to consider are the following:

  • Merkur 33C Classic:  A 3-piece design available for under $35 and can ship from North America -- meaning reasonable delivery time.  Gives a nice shave. This one can become an heirloom if used with care.
  • Lord  LP1822L (formerly the model L6):  A lower-cost knock off on the Merkur 33C.  Same head design and shape.  Little lighter weight.  Longer handle. Same good, mild shave.  Can also be shipped from North America. Probably less durable than the Merkur; unlikely to become an heirloom. Can be had for under $15.  
  • Wilkinson Sword Classic DE razor:  Mostly plastic and low cost but not necessary a bad buy.  Nice weight, non-aggressive blade exposure & angle.  (Comes with a pack of Wilkinson blades, but I, personally, don't care for most uncoated stainless blades such as the Wilkinson Sword blades that come with this razor; I find them to give a harsh shave out of the package.)  This razor can be gotten for under $12, but it ships from Europe, so it takes a little longer.
  • Weishi 9306-f:  This is the only twist-to-open (TTO, a.k.a. butterfly) design of the group. Sellers can be found in North America.  (Shipping from China takes longer, of course.) Again, like the Wilkinson, be careful with included blades -- especially Chinese brands. Note that this razor is the only one of this group that I haven't yet used;  I'm waiting for mine to arrive. However, from the credible reviews on the Internet (there are many other, non-credible reviewers who obviously don't know what they're talking about), it may be a good first-DE choice. Can be purchased for less than $12.
Be aware that choice of blade is important and, for sure, not all DE blades are equally sharp or smooth.  It is the razor-&-blade combination (as well as your technique) that determines your quality of DE shave.

Important:  Before you use any new DE razor (or any new razor of any kind, for that matter), be sure to carefully inspect for curved or wavy blade and other potential problems.  See this article for more details.

I will be posting reviews of these razors and more in the near future. 

*These baby steps are inspired by similar thoughts that originated in the blog,, which comes to the Internet from Great Britain.

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