Monday, August 24, 2015

A New Discovery: The Anti-Raking Stroke -- Recommended

There is an aspect of wet shaving that I have never seen discussed. Never.

Yet, it may be of some small significance.

A clearing pattern good for removing leaves, but
perhaps not quite optimal for shaving....
Most who shave, I would assume, shave into their lather; I certainly have done so for the most part. By shaving into the lather I mean that one shaves like one would rake leaves off a lawn; that is, you start at an edge of the area to be raked, and sweep the raked leaves toward the area to be cleaned. This leaves behind you a clean swept area, and moves the raked leaves toward those not yet raked, thus easily piled up and removed. A shaving equivalent of this would be shaving one's cheek by starting high just under the sideburn or high on the cheek bone, and stroking in a pattern that is progressively downward toward the jaw line. This common approach leaves in its wake an expanse of skin that is shaven and relatively lather free.

This leaf-raking approach is rather tidy. But what might be a drawback?

Consider its effect on lather and moisture. After the first few initial strokes, each subsequent stroke begins in an area of skin already shaved and then moves into unshaven, well-lathered territory. But the already-shaved area is pretty much barren of lather and moisture. As the stroke continues into lathered real estate, the bar or comb pushes some of the lather and moisture ahead of the blade, and the blade, of course, then removes most of the remainder as it cuts whiskers.

But what of the other approach? This involves beginning each stroke in the heart of lathered territory and stroking toward an area not to be shaved or already shaved. This begins the stroke in a well lubricated spot and pushes lather and precious moisture toward the area where the stroke will end, which is initially rather clean and dry.

This anti-raking pattern helps ensure that at the end of each razor stroke there is better lubrication between blade and skin. Using the anti-raking stroke certainly is unlikely to diminish the quality of your shave, and may actually improve it.

Happy shaving!


  1. This does make sense. You would definitely have to do multiple passes to get the spots you missed though. A razor like the Phoenix double open comb (which is based on an older razor, the Grand Shave King) was actually made to address this issue - to leave some lather behind.

    1. If you give this a try, you are likely to find as I did that it is easy to shave without missing any spots. After a single pass, I had a shave that was quite acceptable and, had I stopped there, would have been a good standard shave (standard: as discussed in recent articles). I did take a second pass and ended up with a truly fine shave -- close and comfortable. :-)

  2. As much as I dislike the gooey lubricating strips on cartridge razors, they might actually help with leaving a layer of lubrication behind for subsequent strokes.

  3. Dammit, I've already shaved today, otherwise I would try this! :) I'll give it a shot on my next shave. Makes sense though.

  4. Novel description, at least... I don't know where I might have first read the suggestion, but it might be a relatively common approach to ATG. My own pattern is pretty mixed nowadays.

  5. Great article....may have to try this