Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Nuance to Best Use the Gillette Slide

The Gillette slide is a razor stroke made in a direction that is not quite perpendicular to the blade edge. I prefer to call it by a more generic name, the oblique stroke, and I wrote an article about it many weeks ago describing how to perform it and what it accomplishes (click to read).
A simple diagram of an oblique stroke
-- also known as the Gillette slide.

There is a nuance to using the oblique stroke, which can make it more effective in delivering a close shave. This subtle user option is the choice of which direction to angle the razor in relation to stroke direction.

Let me clarify:

Let's consider that one is shaving his upper lip, and that the grain of the hair in that area grows downward (as it often does). Upper lips are also often too sensitive to shave with upward strokes against the grain. So many men make three passes on their upper lip 1) with grain, 2) cross grain, and then 3) cross grain in the opposite direction to the second pass.

Because this double-cross-grain shaving pattern usually doesn't shave quite as closely as when one includes an against-grain pass, the oblique stroke can be used for both cross-grain passes to get a closer shave.
So this is how a cross-grain pass would be made to
optimize closeness on downward-growing hair

Remember that in this example, the hair on the upper lip grows downward. Therefore, to best use the oblique stroke to shave this area, each cross-grain stroke should move the razor directly across the grain of the beard, but the handle of the razor handle should be pointed upward -- that is, slightly in the against-grain direction. This allows the angled blade edge, though moving in a cross-grain direction, to first contact the downward-growing hairs a bit underneath them. This tends to straighten up the hair as it is being cut -- in a small way similar to making an against-grain stroke, but with less aggression, less risk of irritation or cuts.

Now you know another shaving secret. ;-)

Happy shaving!

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