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Monday, January 16, 2017

X Marks The Spot

As I have often said, I just don't have the luxury of taking the time to enjoy a lengthy shave. Shaving at the end of he day only allows me to have a 10 or twelve minute shave. Recently I have changed how I approach the with the grain, across the grain, etc. approach. What I have discovered, I can reduce the amount of time spent when I stray away from the traditional 3 pass shave.

First Pass

My approach is simple. I divide the shaving area into three sections. The cheeks, jaw line, and neck. After face lathering, I start with the right cheek and shave the sideburn area parallel towards the ear. I then go from the top of the jaw line and shave diagonally towards the end of the sideburn with a sweeping curve motion working towards the mouth. I then change directions and upward diagonally from the bottom of the ear working towards the corner of the mouth. This upward crosscut motion isn't actually against the grain but a combination of both across and against the grain. It's an upward X pattern. For me, it produces a very clean cut.

After I do the cheek, I proceed to the lower jaw line and from the corner of the jaw I shave upward and diagonally toward the lower ear using a flicking motion as I come off the jawbone. I then repeat the same motion as I shave over the jawbone a second time. After I do this then I proceed to do the left side of my face as well.

The next thing is the area under the lips. This is where I have the most problem with ingrown hair. I shave diagonally downward from the corner of my mouth to the center of the chin and slightly under the jawbone. I do this a couple of times and then reverse the down cut. Instead of going diagonally right to left I cross the path going left to right making an X pattern. I do both sides this way and then I shave the lower lip diagonall left to right and then right to left.

Going to the neck area, I shave the right side down ward at a 45 degree angle towards the Adams apple. I then do the left side the same way. After rinsing I'm ready for the second pass.

Second Pass

After lathering up again, I proceed to shave the cheeks the same way as before, except my first stroke is not towards the ear, but straight up against the grain by the ear. I then do the same X pattern as before and throw in a few straight up passes for good measure.

After I finish both cheeks, I then shave the chin are diagonally right to left and then left to right working down the jaw line about an inch under my chin. I then add a little more lather to the under chin area and proceed to the neck area. Starting on the right side I shave upward at a 45 degree angle from the outside toward and moving inward. As I get to the jaw line, I then shave diagonally across the entire jaw line with a light flicking motion as I come off the jaw. I then proceed to the left side of the neck and shave upward. At this point I could call it good if I'm in a hurry. The final pass is what gives me the nice BBS shave that I enjoy.

Third Pass

At this point I lather up the neck area and chin. Holding the skin of the neck and slightly pulling it tightly, I shave against the grain tightening or loosing the pull on the skin to adjust to the pull of the razor against the stubble. After a could of clean up strokes I then proceed to the right side and do the same. I generally have to reach behind my head to reach the neck area to pull the skin tight.

After this, I then shave the chin area going against the grain by shaving upward diagonally from underneath to over the chin. I move from the right side to the left allowing the razor to pass over the previously shaved area. I then proceed to use a buffing stroke as I shave upwards cleaning up the lower lip and squaring off the bottom edges of the moustache. (Yes, I have a moustache, so no help on shaving that area!) I then re-lather the chin and shave the chin a second time only after the upward stroke I lightly use a buffing motion as I on the upper chin below each corner of the lower lip. I criss-cross in an X pattern upward then downward with a clean-up parallel to the lip.

Finishing Up

At this point I don't need many touch-ups. I just leave the soap on the shaver and wet my left hand and feel for the missed areas and light hit the offending spot. After a few of these I'm finished. Rinse, aftershave the balm, and I'm good to go.

The whole procedure from start to finish only takes about nine minutes. What I have found is that diagonal strokes are combinations of across the grain and against the grain while eliminating the with the grain pass. This produces a finish that is close to an against the grain cut.

Just because I've learned to shave quickly doesn't mean I've lost the pleasure of the shave. It's still there! And the finished product is better than I've ever had before. So if you are still doing things the traditional way, throw caution to the wind and experiment. That's part of the fun of DE shaving!

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