Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How to Get a Superior Standard Shave

This morning I got a better-than-normal standard shave. That is, I lathered once, did a single pass with a few touch-up strokes in problem areas using a bit of extra water, and got better than merely acceptable results. Is it baby smooth? No, but it's a good shave -- better than your average generic one and done. Here's how I did it.

I started with a Personna Super (lab blue) blade that had already performed four light shaves. This was mounted into my mild-mannered post-second-world-war Gillette Tech. The mild-shaving razor is a key point as I'll explain below.

I performed my normal, minimalist beard preparation, which includes the following steps:
  • Two full-beard rubs with cool tap water
  • A third rub with cool water and a little soap residue (from wetting in my palm the brush loaded with previously-used, dried lather)
  • Rubbing additional shave soap directly on my wet beard and face lathering
A different superior
After lathering, I made my sole full pass with grain, using an anti-raking stroke pattern. Up to here, this process was not particularly unique. What came next, however is the latest wrinkle.

What made this shave a little different is that not only did I use oblique strokes (meaning the razor's blade edge is held canted, slightly off perpendicular to the stroke direction), I combined that with short buffing, almost polishing strokes. (I keep the razor in constant contact with the beard, when making buffing strokes.) The mild Tech razor makes these oblique buffing strokes safe and easy. This yielded good results in the areas that are not difficult to shave.

For my trouble areas, which are under the jaw line and the lowest half of my neck, I re-wetted those areas without re-lathering, and took a few against-grain clean-up strokes.

The result was a good shave with no wounds, no irritation, and pretty reasonable smoothness for a single-lathered shave. In fact, because of the low irritation factor, I applied Aqua Velva after-shave lotion directly to my rinsed-and-dried face. Then as a final step after drying my gear and oiled-palm-stropping my blade, I applied a bit of fragrance-free moisturizer and called it good.

Happy shaving!


  1. Interesting, will have to give that a try :)

  2. Replies
    1. Absolutely. Have done so since late June on the advice of Gillette Company itself. The following article is where I first introduced the concept: