Saturday, August 22, 2015

Optimizing a Shave and More on the Standard Shave

More on the Standard Shave

Yesterday's article musing on the standard shave got a fairly large readership. I would like to begin by following those thoughts with just a couple more:

1) Note that I define a standard shave as a daily shave.

If one shaves less frequently than every day, there is sufficient reason to make more passes than one. If one shaves infrequently -- that is, less than every other day or so -- that may be justification to consider shaving with a double-edge razor of large capacity. By large capacity, I don't mean aggressive shave character; I mean the ability to handle long growth without compromising the ability to cut closely and cleanly. By definition, this large capacity would point directly to an open-comb razor. 

Open-comb razors do not all have aggressive shave characters. For example, the Merkur 15C, with which I am very familiar, is a rather mild shaver, but, owing to it's open-comb baseplate, does have unlimited shaving capacity.

2) Despite the much-appreciated comments from those who suggested that their personal shave routine typically includes more than one pass -- as does my own personal daily routine, which is most frequently two passes, I would still maintain my position that the standard wet shave is one pass. 

Most of the western-world wet shavers are using cartridge design with two or more blades -- sad, but true. I, myself, used a pivoting, disposable, double-bladed cartridge design for years. Typical, I imagine, of most non-hobbyist, non-aficionado wet shavers, I always took one-pass shaves, and never even considered going beyond that.

Even with my classic, vintage c.1948 Gillette Tech, I can get a completely adequate shave in a single pass, which brings me to topic two this morning....

Optimizing a Standard Shave (That is, the Single-Pass Shave)

This morning I got a good shave in a single pass. Then with my second pass, the shave quality became very good. Below are some thoughts on how to optimize a standard, one-pass shave as well as any passes you choose to make beyond that.

  • Use adequate water to wet the beard, and combine that with a slick, protective shave soap.
  • Use a razor that has at least a neutral blade exposure. You don't have to use a high-risk instrument that is terribly aggressive, but if you use a razor with a negative blade exposure, where the blade edge is within the cove of the top cap and baseplate, it's difficult to get even a moderately close shave -- especially in a single pass. 
  • Use oblique strokes, in which the blade edge is NOT perpendicular to the stroke direction.
  • Use short, slow strokes of the razor. This mindful process allows one to better optimize angles and pressure to get the best hair removal without insult to the skin.

That's it for this morning. Happy shaving!

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