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chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 2:58 pm
by plutek
greetings! curious if any of you have some good wisdom about a little problem area i have: between the lower lip and the tip of the chin!

i'm shaving with a straight razor, and have everything tweaked out nicely (equipment, product, technique) for both comfort and acceptable closeness everywhere except that bothersome little area. it's generally only one or two pores/hairs which end up inflamed and sometimes ingrown. i believe there are two contributing factors...

1. i have a pretty pronounced inward inflection there, so it's super-easy to end up with the razor coming in at too steep an angle, causing the shave to be excessively close.

2. there are two directions of grain happening! the vast majority of my beard hairs are grey and go down, but there are also some black ones, most of which grow up.

for the most part, i believe i've solved number 1. i make sure to stretch the skin well by curling my lower lip as far as possible over my lower teeth - this flattens the problem area pretty well. then i just have to be careful about adjusting blade angle as i go, and keeping minimal pressure.

number 2 is, i believe, the real culprit and i don't know how to solve that one! :( i shave WTG (my skin is sensitive, and a well-sharpened and strorpped blade gives me a close enough shave without irritation that way). however, i believe what's happening is that those few black hairs which end up getting hit ATG are causing problems.

i suppose i should try sideways, or maybe even careful ATG, but i'm afraid of more general irritation that way.

anyone with the same issue?
any ideas about how to approach this?

it's frustrating that this area continues to plague me when i've made such a nice journey to bliss everywhere else on my face and neck!

thanks much in advance... cheers!

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 7:23 pm
by CMur12
Welcome to SMF, plutek!

I'm sorry I can't help you with your questions, as I don't shave that part of my face (I have a beard and only shave my neck) and I don't shave with a straight, but I'm pleased to have you join us.

- Murray

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2017 3:50 am
by drmoss_ca
Welcome, Peter. Generally, when a straight razor causes irritation going against the grain, it is because it is not sharp enough. You can compensate a little for this by lying the blade almost flat against your skin so that as it goes against those hairs its edge will will not be drawn down into the top layers of skin. A better answer is to keep learning about honing. After all these years I still find myself getting better at honing, and there may be room for improvement in your edge.

Chris

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:51 am
by plutek
thanks a lot, murray and chris... looks like a great community here, with interesting, thoughtful discussions!

chris, i've read your advice about honing elsewhere on the forum; i'll be giving some more attention to that, and appreciate the experience and recommendations.

cheers!

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:28 pm
by Brutus
I believe straight shaving is always a work in progress and even after years of straight shaving I sometimes come up with a new tweak that I try. Even if the age of great discoveries and progress in straight shaving may be over for me, I still find from time to time a minor tweak that works better for me than what I had used so far.

The chin area is a notoriously difficult area for straight shaves and took me the longest to master, which was compounded by hair growing in different directions in swirls.
I believe this is also the area where the current trend for larger blades demonstrates their limitations and where 5/8 or 6/8 blades shine and prove their raison d’être.
On the way I learned that the classic WTG, XTG and ATG pass concept is just that, a theoretical concept, and that in real life the most effective passes on the difficult areas usually involve a small element of other - usually XTG - passes.

Over time my skin streching evolved too and currently includes putting the tip of my tongue in front of the lower gums to get a nice tight skin between chin and lower lip.
Around the jaw line I use a predominantly WTG, ATG (all with some element of XTG) and as final touch-up XTG (from the ear towards the tip of the chin) pass, but, as mentioned, this is the result of constant experimenting what worked best and this is what I found worked best for me.

This way I found that I can get consistent good results that I consider BBS with 2 passes plus one touch-up.
Hope that with constant fine-tuning you will get there before long too.


B.

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 5:21 am
by plutek
thanks, @brutus... all comments on point wrt my post!

i'm currently looking longingly at my new japanese stones which will seriously up my game in the edge department -- i've just been squeezed for time lately. i won't rush it, so i'm currently bearded. :?

when i do finish renovating my blades and get back at it, i'll be remembering your words as well....

btw: i'm enjoying your multiplicitous "location"! 8)

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 5:37 am
by Brutus
plutek wrote: btw: i'm enjoying your multiplicitous "location"! 8)
Thanks.

Airline pilot in international ops: base, home, and where I usually end in Europe at least once every month - until I have to retire from active flying at then end of the year.

BTW, probably the best job on earth for shopping all items “classic shaving”.


B.

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 12:54 pm
by plutek
Brutus wrote: ... best job on earth for shopping all items “classic shaving”.
i'll bet it is...lucky man! =P~

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 7:20 am
by plutek
in case it's useful for anyone.... an update and a little story:

i was recently touring for 3 weeks, and started out with a gillette fusion5 (i know -- gack, ick, etc., etc...) just 'cuz i didn't want to deal with straight razor maintenance on the road. horrible; i needed a better solution! so, into the garbage it went, and i set out to research what was available near my hotel.

fortunately, i had a healthy per diem on this trip and could spend some $$ on shave supplies! :) i bought a DE razor -- entry-level, as available at the local drug store -- it's the Van der Hagen butterfly-style. even with the included blades, things were immediately better overall. after some more research and thought, and a few more stops in different cities, i acquired Merkur blades and an array of shaving products for sensitive skin. i was able to shave every other day throughout the tour, with relative comfort, while keeping the chin issues about which i posted originally at a manageable level.

now that i'm home, i've moved to Feather blades, which i find to be absolutely the most tug-free and comfortable.

BOTTOM LINE: i've learned that edge quality is totally the key to making this work -- Chris, you nailed that one, right from the beginning! :)

the particular sequence of skin care products that i've settled on has been really helpful as well (i'm happy to detail that if anyone asks...), but i'm delighted to be able to shave regularly without worry! in the meantime, i'll be working on my straight honing technique until it's comparable (a good challenge!); however, this has shown me what's possible, and how sharp my blade needs to be for consistent comfort.

...and, yeah, i'll be getting a better DE sometime too; don't worry... ;)

cheers, all!
.pltk.

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 7:32 am
by brothers
plutek wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 7:20 am
...and, yeah, i'll be getting a better DE sometime too; don't worry... ;)

cheers, all!
.pltk.
Hi Plutek. It's good to see you here. Before you plunge too deeply into the search for a perfect DE razor, please remember that they're mostly all good, and that "different" isn't necessarily "better"! :D

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 7:37 am
by plutek
it's true, and i'm not impatient for something else... what i have now is helping me to discover important things about technique, and is giving me totally acceptable results. yay!

mostly, i just find the butterfly mechanism overly complicated and not the easiest to clean.

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 6:43 pm
by CMur12
I can empathize with that, plutek. I, too, prefer three-piece razors because they are so easy to clean. As an added consideration, I like Treet Dura Sharp blades, which are PTFE-coated carbon steel, so I like to get the blade out, clean it, and dry it to prevent degradation of the edge from rusting. This is much easier with a three-piece razor.

- Murray

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Tue Mar 20, 2018 11:21 am
by Gene
plutek wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 7:37 am
it's true, and i'm not impatient for something else... what i have now is helping me to discover important things about technique, and is giving me totally acceptable results. yay!

mostly, i just find the butterfly mechanism overly complicated and not the easiest to clean.
If you are interested - my recommendation on an easy to clean 3-piece razor is the Edwin Jager EJ89L. I love mine - it's my daily go-to at home.

I found them at Maggard's (not affiliated) if you want to look at them:

http://www.maggardrazors.com/product/ed ... ety-razor/

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Tue Mar 20, 2018 11:52 am
by plutek
thanks, gene! have you ever used a merkur 15C? i've been leaning that way a bit...

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 11:02 am
by Gene
plutek wrote:
Tue Mar 20, 2018 11:52 am
thanks, gene! have you ever used a merkur 15C? i've been leaning that way a bit...
I have the 25C (I think). Long thin handle and open tooth head. It did not impress me, but with razors it's always YMMV I have noticed.

Are you in the US? If you are then PM me your information - if you want it you can have it. I got it on sale, and it's never been something I could sell on the forums, so it just sits in the box of unused shaving shame. I know you fly internationally, but I am not willing to try my hand at international shipping.

It will take a couple of weeks to get it shipped - I travel a lot, too, and have a ton stacked up right now.

In the Merkur world I also own:

1) 1904 closed bar. Beautiful handle, only OK performance. I use this head and a thick Gillette Tech handle when I travel. I keep it broken apart in my Dopp kit - it goes through the machines OK.
2) Model 45 - the red Bakelite travel razor. Really pretty - but too harsh for my face (YMMV again). I keep trying different blades in it - hoping that one day I will hit on the right combination. Also - I can't bring myself to sell it. The Bakelite thing.

I used to own a slant, and one other - but I didn't care for them, either, and sold them right after I bought them, each with less than a dozen uses.

There's a trend here - Merkur and I don't really get along.

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 4:01 pm
by CMur12
Gene and plutek, I have not liked Merkur razors with the standard fixed head, either, but I do really like the Merkur Progress (in my case, the upgraded "Mergress"). I use it at the lowest setting (I have sensitive skin and require a mild razor), and I find it both mild and effective. (It isn't as mild as a Gillette Tech, but I still consider it mild and amazingly effective.)

- Murray

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:22 pm
by Gene
CMur12 wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 4:01 pm
Gene and plutek, I have not liked Merkur razors with the standard fixed head, either, but I do really like the Merkur Progress (in my case, the upgraded "Mergress"). I use it at the lowest setting (I have sensitive skin and require a mild razor), and I find it both mild and effective. (It isn't as mild as a Gillette Tech, but I still consider it mild and amazingly effective.)

- Murray
I think that Mergress is a beautiful work of art, but they are WAY more than I would normally consider spending. Maybe one day a deal will present itself, but for now it’s the EJ for me.

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:28 am
by CMur12
A less expensive razor that I found recently - and a three-piece model with its easier cleaning - is the Rockwell 6C.

This is a razor that comes with three different razor beds that offer six steps from mild (1) to aggressive (6). I'm using it at 2, which is mild, yet effective, and perfect for me.

The Rockwell 6C is chrome-plated zinc alloy (much like an Edwin Jagger). It is hefty and very nicely finished, with a textured handle that won't even slip out of soapy hands. This model sells for $49.99 at www.swissknifeshop.com
This and the Mergress are my favorite razors.

You can get a less expensive Rockwell 2C, with one bed and settings 1 and 3, for 29.99.

You can also get a version made of stainless steel - the 6S - for 99.99.

My only connection with or interest in the Swiss Knife Shop is that of a satisfied customer.

- Murray

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:51 am
by drmoss_ca
Or you could simply hone that straight until it gives you the same degree of bliss you experience elsewhere. Many roads to Rome, and all that.

C.

Re: chin - problem with grain direction

Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:55 am
by plutek
yes, chris.... i'm working on that! :) it's really where i'd rather be.

and, gene, thanks much for your generous offer. i'm in canada, and don't have any stateside travels in my near future. :(

in the meantime, let's get back to my OP, with a technique question...

after much careful observation of what's going on in my trouble spot, it's clear that whenever i have issues it comes down to ingrown hairs. it's right in the "hollow" in the middle of the chin, below the lip. so, since i do occasionally still have issues, even with a very sharp DE razor, i believe it's about the fact that it's hard to get that area flattened out and/or compensate the blade angle through that zone. i tend to cut much closer through there than anywhere else on my face -- it's easy to see that both post-shave, and in regrowth afterwords.

any words of advice about how to keep the blade angle from getting too steep, while negotiating that in-curved territory? unfortunately, it's accentuated for me, because of lip muscles built up from many years of playing reed instruments. :?

thanks much in advance, guys.......