Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Perilous Second Pass

I never have any difficulty with first pass with grain. Though really my first pass is mostly with grain and partially across grain because my neck hair tends to grow in all directions. (I shave with upward strokes on my lower neck, downward strokes on my upper neck, and my mid-neck hair tends to grow laterally (side to side), which I've found is safest to shave on the first pass with either upward or downward strokes cross grain.)

It is in the second pass that weepers often tend to appear. This is usually due to the difficulty of shaving my thin, slightly-loose skin under my jaw and on my neck with lateral strokes. I have taken to making J-hook strokes on various areas of my neck during the second pass to help with this issue. As one might suggest, I also pull the skin taught with my non-razor hand as one might do when shaving with a straight razor.

Sometimes, though, my second-pass problems occur because of a careless, cavalier attitude fostered by the confidence-inspiring first pass. This on a rare occasion will even result in in minor cuts caused by a confident lack of attention.

On the third pass I am usually more focused, though I do sometimes get very minor pin-point weepers from shaving extremely closely, going for the baby-smooth shave.

But what to do? How can I improve the second pass?

Probably being more mindful and therefore more careful is a good place to start. But it's going to involve technique adjustments as well, because the problematic real estate from the jawline down has contours, hair grain, and skin characteristics that are just plain difficult to shave.

I have modified my technique to include oblique strokes -- mostly to reduce the effective width of the blade edge to better shave the concave surface of my neck as it transitions from under jaw to mid neck. Also purely lateral strokes just don't work; I have to shave in a slightly upward direction just to optimize the blade contact with beard in that transition area.

By the way, I have also tried various razors of different shaving character, and the Merkur 33, my favorite in general, also seems to perform as well as any on the second pass in my most challenging real estate.

Do you have any areas that are consistently challenging to shave?

Happy shaving?

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