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majorrich's avatar

Preshave or not to Preshave That is the question?

Asked by majorrich (14711points) November 17th, 2015

Yesterdays shave I felt a little dragging I hadn’t felt when I was using canned foam, so I thought I would anoint my face with baby oil prior to lathering up. Unfortunately, I applied the oil before doing the hot towel thing. Be that as it may, I didn’t feel as much tugging, but the quality of the shave was about the same.

You wet shavers out there, Is a lotion under the lather a good practice or a Noob thing? I can’t seem to find a definitive answer out there on the interwebs. Because I use aloe after I cold towel, my face is just as smooth as before, but maybe with longer term anointing my skin will stay moisturized. What do you guys think?

Do the same rules apply when legs or other miscellaneous body parts are shaved?

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7 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

I have only soap and mug shaved a few times and I can only offer what works best for me and that is to wet the beard long enough to hydrate and relax the whiskers and why I shave after I shower or in the shower and my shave goes smoothly with no tugging. I use a homemade body oil as an after shave that is made of mineral oil, almond oil and a bit of olive oil and makes my skin soft and smooth. Tugging for me means time for a sharp and fresh razor.

zenvelo's avatar

The keys for a good shave for me are:

1. A hot, hot water source.
2. Pre-heat the soap and brush. I fill the mug with the hottest water and plop the brush bristles into it.
3. Put the hottest water i can stand on my face.
4. Lather up using hot water to foam the soap.
5. Shave with a fresh razor.

The soap I use has some oil in it, so it lubricates pretty well.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

From your previous question on brushes, I’m assuming you’re going old-school all the way: straight razor, strop, mug, soap… about $150 in equipment. But after you buy all the gear, you’re set for life. You’ll never have to buy razor cartridges or double edge blades ever again. Just give your straight razor a nice stropping and you’re good to go. The only cost you’ll have from here on out is an occasional tube of shaving cream. They say once a man starts down this road, he’ll never go back to safety razors and canned cream ever again.

Here’s a site that will walk you through the whole schmear from advice on equipment, to to soaps and creams, to technique in both shaving and caring for your razor and strop.

Below is said to be the proper barber’s shave of old:

Beard Prep
For a comfortable, close shave, a little preparation before putting blade to face goes a long way. Soft whiskers cut more easily than dry whiskers. That’s why barbers wrap a hot towel around your face when you get a straight razor shave. The heat and water combination softens your beard and makes it ready for shaving. You can replicate the barbershop experience by soaking a towel in hot water, wringing it out, and placing it on your face for a few minutes.

If you don’t have the time for such luxury, just shave after you get out of a hot shower. If you want a really soft beard, rub some hair conditioner into your beard before you start showering and rinse it out when you’re done.

Lather Up
Place a nickel-sized dollop of shaving cream into your mug. If you’re using shaving soap, put the soap cake at the bottom of the mug. Soak your brush in hot water. Flick excess water off the brush. With the brush, mix the cream/soap thoroughly, using a combined stirring and churning motion until a thick lather appears. The more you rub the brush on the cream, the thicker the lather.

Apply the lather to your face with your brush in swirling motions. Ensure that lather gets up under every single whisker. When you’ve covered your face completely, take a few strokes to even everything out.

The Shave Stroke
Begin with slow, even strokes and shave in the direction of your beard growth. Shaving against the grain can cause ingrown hairs and razor bumps. Hold the blade at a 30-degree angle. Anything more and you risk cutting yourself; anything less and you won’t cut the whiskers. Also, apply very little pressure when you shave. Let the razor do the work! Pressing down on the razor will only cause cuts.

Shave the Right Side of Your Face
Start off by shaving the right side of your face. Reach over your head with your left hand and draw the skin upward with your fingers, thus making a smooth shaving surface. Shave downward until you clear about half the right cheek. Slide the left hand down further until the fingers rest in the middle of the cheek. Pull the skin upward. Continue shaving downward until you shave the entire right side of the face.

Shave the Right Side Under Your Jaw
After shaving the right cheek, move on to the right jaw. Tilt your head back and to the left, exposing the skin under your right jaw. With the fingers of your left hand, draw the skin tight under the jaw. Shave downward if the beard grows in that direction.

Shave the Left Side of Your Face
Many right handed shavers switch hands to shave the left side of their face. Personally, I don’t trust the dexterity and touch in my left hand to make the switch. So I continue using my right hand to shave.

Place the fingers of your left hand in front of and just above the ear. Pull upward on the skin so as to draw the skin taut. With the razor in your right hand, toe pointing upward, reach across the face, and shave downward. Walk your left fingers down as you get to the lower part of the cheek and chin. Keep pulling the skin taut.

Shave the Left Side Under the Jaw
Tilt your head back and to the right, exposing the skin under your left jaw. Pull the skin downward with your left hand and shave with the grain.

Shave the Upper Lip
Draw the upper lip down as much as possible to tighten skin. Shave downwards.

Shaving the Chin
Draw your lower lip up as much as possible. This will pull the skin tight, making it easier to shave the whiskers underneath your lip and on your chin.

Shaving Under the Chin
Throw your head back and elevate the chin. With your left fingers, draw skin downward. Take extra care as you shave. The skin under the neck is much more sensitive and prone to cutting.

Important Note: Always wear a sweet vest when shaving with a straight razor. This greatly improves the quality of your shaves.

Should I do multiple passes?
If you want that smooth as a baby’s behind look, you’ll have to do multiple passes with the razor going across and against the grain. For the beginner, I recommend just going over your face again with a downward stroke. Shaving across and against the grain increases the chances of cutting yourself.

After you gain some experience with your straight razor, you can try adding an across the grain and against the grain pass. An across-the-grain pass is when you shave in the direction perpendicular to that which the beard grows. So if your whiskers grow downward on your cheek, you’ll shave across your cheek from right to left or left to right. Shaving against the grain involves shaving against the direction your beard grows. It’s basically the reverse of shaving downward.

If you decide to do multiple passes, the sequence goes thusly:
Shave with the grain.
Shave across the grain.
Shave against the grain.
Before each pass, wash your face off and re-lather.

Post-Shave
Rinse your face off with cool water. Splash a manly smelling aftershave on your face. Witch hazel and bay rum are nice. Aftershave helps reduce skin irritation and leaves your skin looking healthy. Follow by applying a small quantity of talcum powder to your face.

Dealing with Nicks and Cuts
Cuts and nicks happen for several reasons, such as:
Using a dull razor
Holding the razor improperly
Shaving with a razor that’s too hollow
Shaving in too great a hurry
Shaving against the grain

When you first start out with a straight razor, you’re guaranteed to cut yourself. Don’t let this discourage you. Cuts happen to even the best barbers. Just keep at it. You’ll get the hang of it.

You can stop most minor cuts and nicks by simply pressing the cut together while adding pressure. If that doesn’t work, take a syptic pencil to the cut. If you cut your jugular, well, you’re sort of screwed. So don’t do that.

majorrich's avatar

I am unpacking a lot of Mom and Dad’s stuff from storage in a vain attempt to get a car in the garage this winter. I came across my Dad’s old toilet kit. His blades, hones, a strop that came apart as soon as I tried to unroll it, a block of alum, and a couple bottles of his aftershave (I use the same Old Spice) I could swear the old version smells different than the current, but it so happend my electric razor crapped out and I was out of cartridges so I jumped in and started using his razor. So far only one is what I would call ‘shave ready’ after some time honing and stropping it will cut a hanging hair. I’m having quite a time getting the other that sharp. I am stropping on newsprint for now. I found this site that also has a lot of information. I’ve only really disfigured myself badly once on my jowel line with the saggy skin, but the last three tries have been pretty OK. This looks like it can become an expensive hobby if I were to let it.

When I stand in front of the mirror smelling the smells and going through the ritual (which is very relaxing but requires a lot of focus) I feel especially close to my father with whom I was very close. I used some of his aftershave this morning.

gorillapaws's avatar

You guys put a lot more effort into shaving than I do. Haha.

I tend to use shaving cream, hot water and often I“m too cheap to use fresh blades so they get reused a lot more than designed.

majorrich's avatar

Heck, I’m retired. I’ve got the time to slow down and enjoy the trip. And I feel like a cowboy when I’m shaving.

gorillapaws's avatar

@majorrich That made my night. I might put in a fresh blade tomorrow (I’m overdue) and see if I tap into my inner John Wayne.

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