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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tips For Successful Shaving - One "Do" And One "Don't"

The list of Do's and Don't is straight razor shaving can be somewhat lengthy.  At least at the beginning, straight razor shaving is a rather involved process.  So rather than throw everything at you at once, I've decided to break it up into bite-sized morsels, of which this is the first.

DO strop your razor before shaving. 

Keep in mind that you are NOT sharpening the edge, merely smoothing it out for your shave.  Remember that a stroke on the strop is NOT the same as a stroke on a hone.  You hone with the blade going towards you and you strop with the spine leading.  Strop blade first and two things are going to happen: 1) You will go online to buy another strop to replace the one you just destroyed; 2) You may be sending your razor back for a re-hone.  At the very least, you will be making premature use of your barbers hone.  Further, you want to just rest the razor flat against the strop.  Don’t press it down or you will actually bend your edge, resulting in a trip back to the hones.  Although experienced stroppers can do it rather quickly, speed usually means disaster for the beginner. So start slow and gentle.  Sound familiar guys?

It is not a bad idea to practice with a butter knife or tongue depressor to get the right stroke.  Even better would be to use a dulled razor from Pakistan – they aren’t good for much else as far as shaving goes, but they are the correct shape and weight for practice.  How long do you strop for?  Good question.  The answer is that I can’t tell you, but with practice you will be able to feel when a razor needs stropping.  You might want to start with 30 strokes (back and forth = one stroke) before shaving.  If you have received the razor from a competent honemeister, don’t strop it at all to start with – you will want to feel at least one shave with a properly prepared blade before you go and screw it up.

DON’T move your razor laterally (sideways) on your face.

Unless you really want that impressive scar and copious amounts of blood on the floor.  I’m serious about this.  Don’t do it –EVER.  Your face is not a meatloaf, but it will look like one if you move your razor left or right.

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