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Monday, February 15, 2016

Mapping the Terrain

Calming the savage beast

If you took my advice in my last post, you should already begin to see the benefits of using Witch Hazel. It is a great anti inflammatory agent that really reduces the redness and pain from razor burn. If you are a young guy with bouts of acne, you will also see an improvement in that also.

When I first started DE shaving, I had a lot of trouble with remembering to use light strokes. Having used those disposable cartridge type razors for so long, I was use to the fact that you had to press down on my skin to get it to shave. Using DE razors the opposite is true. You have to remember to use light pressure and let the blade do the cutting. If you press to hard then you will begin to irritate the skin and razor burn and bumps will be the end result. Witch hazel is your best first line of defence.

One thing I did fail to mention in my last post was that Dickenson's comes in two different types. There is the one I use that is in the blue bottle and is found in the pharmacy department, and then there is another type that is found in the cosmetic department. From reading the contents on the bottle there is not a noticeable difference in the contents of either. The main difference is the one found in the cosmetic department is a couple of dollars more.

First aid use
Cosmetic use

Mapping the direction of growth

So far I haven't ventured off into DE shaving products yet. If you are still shaving with the multi-blade shavers, don't make a change just yet. One of the basic things that you need to know first is how to shave with the growth and get the best benefit with each stroke.

Learning the direction of hair growth is kind of tricky (at least it was for me.) When you look at your face, look at it as five different quadrants. You have your right and left cheek, right and left neck and chin.

Spend some time rubbing your hand up and down and sideways across one of your cheeks. You will notice that you will feel the pickiness of your beard as you go against its direction of growth. Begin to make mental notes of this growth and see if it is the same on the other cheek. Do this also with each side of the neck areas. What you will notice is that the beard grows in all different directions and this needs to be remembered as you shave. I would recommend that you concentrate on one area such as your cheek and learn how to shave in relation to the growth.

In my particular case, the growth on my cheeks are the same on both sides. However, it grows straight down next to the ears, it angles outward and down from the end of the moustache area, and then from the ears to the chin right above the jawbone area.

My chin area grows inward from the corners of my mouth to the center of my chin. Under the jaw line, it grows from the bottom of my ears to the centre of my chin. Then the neck areas it grows from my Adam's apple to the side of my neck only to switch 180 degrees about two thirds of the way.

As you can see it is not uniform, but consistent in each quadrant so there is a pattern that needs to be discovered to get a close shave. this keeps you from dragging your razor over the same spot numerous times trying to get everything shaved off. Learn the growth, speed up the shave and get better feeling results!

Once the direction of growth is learned, then you can apply the three pass shaving method. This consist of first shaving with the grain (WTG), across the grain (XTG) and then against the grain (ATG). This is then followed by a few pick ups that may have been missed.

Here is a hand map to use that is easily found on the internet. Print it out and draw little arrows that show your growth.

Thick or thin, standing or lazy?

Another thing that you have to think about is what type of hair do you have. Is it thick and closely grown, is it thin and finely spaced? These things can make a difference when it come to selecting a razor and blade. It also makes a difference in what type od shaving cream you use. So, when you are mapping your direction of growth, it doesn't hurt to identify what type of hair is growing there. It will help you to remember when you start learning technique.

Another thing that you need to try and make note of is whether your hair stands out or lays down. I have both and as luck would have it, my beard lays down on my chin area. This makes getting a close shave on a hard to navigate area. My razor has a tendency to just ride over the hair if I can't make it stand up. So try and note this also.

Tough or sensitive?

I really envy those guys that have a tough skin. My most tender place is on my right neck area. If I don't get things just right with blades, soap and technique, shaving there will make me cry like a baby. Even though the hair is fine, the sensitivity of the skin is extremely high. If you are thick skinned, count your blessings!

Avoid ploughing dirt

Finally, avoid ploughing dirt! What I mean is, start learning to use less pressure on the razor. This is a very, very, important thing to remember once you switch from multiple blades to a single blade, When you get this under control, your shaves will become very comfortable and you will begin to feel like an artist. When I get that perfect shave with no razor burn or nicks, I point into the mirror and at my face and say; "Beat you again, you fiend!"

All's fair in love and war!

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