Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Any Which Way You Can....

I have a few challenging areas to shave: upper lip, chin, lower neck and under jaw line. The reasons these areas are challenging to shave differ by area.

My chin is sharply contoured, which makes it difficult to shave smoothly. My upper lip is sensitive, with grain that grows downward and a little laterally (toward the corners of my mouth). Under the jaw line it's just difficult to get a close shave -- likely because there are areas that are always concave. My lower neck has sharply-angled grain (almost lies flat) and the skin is very susceptible to weepers.

Keep in mind that for months my shaves have been single lathered, and I make lather right on my face rather than in a bowl. Also for months I haven't rinsed my little badger-bristled brush -- instead just hanging it to dry still full of clean lather.

I get away with the single lathering by making most of my razor strokes reciprocating strokes; that is, the razor usually stays in contact with my skin for both the shaving and return strokes. I also tend to shave in an anti-raking pattern -- that is, the shaving stroke of the razor tends to run away from the lathered area, and this tends to leave a fair amount of lather/moisture on the skin after initial shaving strokes. This combination of reciprocating action and anti-raking pattern tends to spread lather and moisture allowing multiple strokes in various directions as needed in any given location.

So even though for most of my beard I shave first against grain and then make other clean-up strokes as needed, yet for my upper lip I will either start with grain or cross grain, and then make other strokes from other directions. For my chin like my upper lip, I generally start using with-grain or cross-grain strokes. The difference is that on my chin I may actually end up shaving from all directions, with grain, cross grain (both ways), and against grain.

Under my jaw line, I usually start against grain, then will stroke in the direction of ear to chin. For my lower neck, I will typically shave downward, which is mostly an against-grain direction, and then repeat that a second time.

Bottom line, for my difficult-to-shave areas, I'm really not committed to any particular methodology -- other than minimalism. Instead I do whatever works best without any unnecessary fuss, work, or preparation.

Happy shaving!

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