Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Shaving Technique: The Strip Shave

If you have days (maybe every day) when you don't have time for an elaborate shaving ritual with multiple passes and multiple latherings, you might give the strip-shave technique a try. With it you can get a close shave in a short time.

No!!! Not this kind of strip!!
And no, this shaving technique has nothing to do with the removal of anyone's clothing, sorry.

First, a bit of history: The strip-shave process has its roots in the idea of a regional-shave process as well as a single-lathering, not multiple-latherings, approach. It also makes use of longer, slow buffing strokes throughout the entire shave. Lastly, it makes use of the double-edged razor's unique design.

A little more like this
kind of strip, only smaller.
Here are some of the reasons why the strip shave can save time and trouble:

  • You only lather your face once
  • You usually don't have to take and re-apply lather from the underside of your razor or extra water for additional moisture
  • In many shaves, you won't even have to rinse your razor during the shave
  • You will automatically get approximately even wear on the two edges of your blade
Here's the process:
  1. Prep and lather your beard as usual. (I, personally, use cool tap water throughout my shave, only wet my beard pre-shave by two or three times rubbing cool water into the whiskers, and I face lather using an inexpensive badger brush that is never rinsed in preceding shaves.)
  2. Pick a shave-starting point that makes sense, and shave using vertical strokes up or down the beard  using long, slow buffing strokes (that is, don't lift the razor for the return, non-cutting stroke). This first pass in a given strip should be in the most with-grain direction you can achieve with a vertical stroke. Shave only a small strip from a given region of your beard. That is, the shaved strip should only be a single, short razor stroke tall (about an inch and a half or two inches tall), and only as wide as four or five overlapping strokes. For example, when shaving my neck, I only shave  a strip half across my neck, from below an ear to about a vertical line centered on my Adams apple. On the lower half of my neck, the most with-grain vertical stroke is upward. On the rest of my beard and neck the most with-grain vertical stroke is downward.
         The reason I suggest buffing strokes is that the on-face return stroke spreads lather and moisture back across the area just shaved. The reason for only shaving a single strip at a time is because you are going to give that strip a second shave, and by only shaving a short strip of beard, you're not giving time for the just-shaved area to dry out.
  3. Use the other edge of the razor and re-shave that strip using slow buffing strokes and in the direction opposite the pass just completed. If you initially made and applied lather that was of sufficient quality and moisture content, there should be enough lather and moisture in the just-shaved strip to successfully and comfortably complete this second pass.
  4. Move to an adjacent unshaved area and repeat the double-pass shave on another strip of beard.
  5. My process for shaving the regions of my beard one strip at a time is as follows:
    1. One side of neck up to jaw line
    2. The other side of neck up to jaw line
    3. Jaw line and cheek on one side of face
    4. Jaw line and cheek on the other side of face
    5. Chin and lower lip
    6. Upper lip
  6. The only exception to the process of the preceding steps is when I finish with my upper lip. Because I don't shave this against grain, I will shave that with grain, then cross grain.
That's it! Happy strip shaving!

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