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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.


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.


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.


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)

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”.


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~