Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Potential Causes of a Poor Shave, Part Two: Aspects of Technique

In a previous post (click here to view), I began discussing the reasons for a poor shave. This article takes a deeper look at causes four through seven of the list below, which is reprinted from part one of this series:
  1. Razor-blade edge that is not straight due to razor defect
  2. Rough surfaces on the razor due to defect/damage
  3. Incorrect blade position in razor head
  4. Excess pressure of razor on skin
  5. Excess speed of shaving strokes
  6. Shaving multiple planes of the face in single strokes
  7. Shaving in the wrong direction in sensitive-skin areas
  8. Too many strokes in the same area
  9. Insufficient prep and lather
  10. Dull blade
  11. Mismatched razor design (blade angle, exposure, and gap) to skin sensitivity and hair toughness
  12. Mismatched combination of blade, razor, and skin
Generally speaking, more pressure of razor on skin is more likely to create razor burn, nicks, cuts, etc. Less pressure usually offers a more skin-friendly shave. (Yeah, I know, most DE users know this.)

Quicker strokes can make for careless shaving technique including excessive pressure, wrong angles, inappropriately long strokes, etc. This, too, increases risk for a less-rewarding shave.

If one has an angular face with more sharply-defined planes, the intersection of those planes may be potential trouble spots. Shaving across plane boundaries in long strokes can obviously lead to nicks and cuts. For those with plump, smooth, round contours of the face, chin, and neck, long shaving strokes are less likely to lead to a rough shave.

Lastly, choice of stroke direction can make or break a shave. Some shavers have sensitive areas that will not tolerate against-the-grain strokes. For example, on the the upper lip, this is often the case. Also, generally speaking, it is difficult to get a close shave -- even with multiple passes -- if appropriated stroke direction isn't used. (This may be obvious too; I'm just being thorough.)

So to summarize, a good shave will usually, for most who shave with a DE, include light pressure of razor against skin, slower strokes, limiting a given stroke to one plane of the face, and choosing stroke direction appropriate to several factors including which pass (1st, 2nd, 3rd), direction of hair growth, and skin sensitivity.

That's it for this one. Next time will be number of strokes, shave prep, lather, and blade sharpness. Then after that, the home stretch including the most interesting topic of this series (to me), which is razor design.

Happy shaving.

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