Possibly hair too strong for straight razor.

Discussion in 'Razors, Scissors, & Personal Grooming' started by MyLegsAreOk, Mar 14, 2018.

  1. MyLegsAreOk


    Aug 31, 2017
    Well my hair is thinning so I'm taking some vitamins as well as using shampoos and rogaine to correct it. I don't like the millimeter of hair left that I get with the electrics so I picked up a straight razor and it's impossible to get a close shave on my face. The shaving is very audible and jagged, it all leaves even more than an electric.

    Do you think all the vitamins and rogaine are making the hair so strong that it would make it a struggle to shave? I'm thinking about going back to razor tomorrow. Also I can't "pop" or shave hairs using a very shape knife on either of my forearms because of the monoxadil (sp) and instead I need to try things out on my leg. Just wondering if anyone else is in the same boat and if so should I drop straight razor all together (and sell it).
  2. oldtymer

    oldtymer Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 7, 2014
    Sounds like your edges are not as sharp as you think they are.
    GABaus likes this.
  3. MyLegsAreOk


    Aug 31, 2017
    Are you using minoxidil and hair vitamins with stuff like biotin in it? I mean I can only get a real answer from someone that has beefed up hair follicles too.
  4. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    I did that for a while before giving up and going chrome. With a straight, 90% of problems come from prep. Are you getting a good minute under the soap before going in with the razor? Also, are you certain you are going with the grain on your first pass? Sounds pretty normal for a beginning.
    If it was me, I'd go for a good DE and a sampler pack, far easier and more forgiving.

    What soap are you using at the moment?
    gunfixrjoe likes this.
  5. MyLegsAreOk


    Aug 31, 2017
    For prep I found you do need to heat the blade, the brush, the face, and keep the towel under hot water. Everything must be warm or hot at all times. When stroking I do go with the grain. For soaps I used cremo for starters, then cremo and barbasol, now I only use barbasol. What do you mean DE? German? The blade I'm using is a Boker Elite 955.

    I gave up on it a day to see if it helps having longer hair. Last attempt I got it fairly well on the sideburns but it took a bunch of passes and I got cut.
  6. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    DE refers to double edge, the old-school safety razor.

    I think prep is your problem. Last I checked it was generally accepted that canned shaving cream doesn't do what a straight needs from it. Straight shaving is a long slow learning curve, so if you want to keep at it, go for it, but expect some effort. I'd go for a proven straight razor soap like Mitchel's wool fat, taylor of old bond street, Col Conk, or Proraso. These older soaps have been around longer and have more of what a straight shaver needs. A lot of the "hipster" brands don't (although I think the jack black stuff is pretty good)

    As for your statement about everything needing to be warm, that tells me that your prep is below what it needs to be. The creme isn't softening the hair enough on its own, and so you are relying on just the warmth to soften the hair. A cold blade cuts the same as a hot one, but the warm blade "feels" more comfortable, thus masking some of the other shortcomings.

    Longer hair in and of itself doesn't really change things, however having the extra day of skin healing does, so many guys do a two shave a week schedule until they get really good at it.

    How much pressure do you feel you need to apply to the blade?
    What is your stropping regimen?

    Hope this helps some. For your info, I did minoxidil for 18 months, didn't notice much change in any hair growth, but I'm pre-disposed to male pattern baldness and was at the time an undiagnosed celiac (which can cause hair thinning) but I did not see any change in the consistency at all of my hair. What I found a difference in is that electrics and straights are about as chalk and cheese as one can get, and I really had to re-calibrate my expectations. I've since gone to a Double edge safety razor (vintage gillette adjustable) due to the time factor and ease of use/maintenance, and now do my full head with it. I use headblade creame on my scalp, and TOBS (taylor of old bond street) for my face.
  7. MyLegsAreOk


    Aug 31, 2017
    I'll get Proraso since I at least heard of it before. I strop before I shave about 10 passes with the blade laying complety flat. The ridge on the razor tilts it to something like a 20ish angle and I don't press hard as not to roll. The strop I use for it is different from knifes, it's some really soft Dovos tan reindeer stuff. I'm guessing the stropping is working as the edge never got dull or I should say never got AS dull as any of my general use knives after a few days of boxwork. I also got a really bad cut just wiping the blade down, which goes to show it's crazy sharp.

    As for the monoxidil I guess it depends on your case. Any region of hair it touches the hair follicles are thicker and darker than what they normally would be, however without DHT blockers and other vitamins or herbs with weird names I wouldn't have retained or regrow much of the hair. The true battle is from within. It's just that I do have harder time cutting any hair from the affected region.
  8. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    10 passes might not be enough on clean leather, I was doing 75, but I've heard ranges from 25-150, depending on the leather and the blade. Some blades will actually change in sound as the edge gets to its max keeness, while others might change in feel, but many also are just a guess. But blade flat on a reasonably tight strop is the way to go. The blade should never even get as dull as your knives when they are sharp, but it will make a difference with the shaving. (I hope that sentence makes sense)
    David Martin and GABaus like this.
  9. MyLegsAreOk


    Aug 31, 2017
    Yeah the sentence does makes. It's hard to describe what I (and maybe you mean) but when I say dull I don't mean dull like a spoon. It's just that the steel of the razor is so thin that when sharpened to its best it's much much keener than a sharpened knife at its best. Maybe sharp isn't the right word, it's just the angle is so steep it that it passes through material with much more ease so it seems sharper. I'll try stropping 80 passes then.
  10. gunfixrjoe

    gunfixrjoe Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 11, 2011
    I agree with the suggestion to try DE shaving if the straight continues to not workout. The Taylor of Old Bond St. creams and soaps are exceptional.
    David Martin likes this.
  11. Adam Timmins

    Adam Timmins

    Apr 4, 2018
    It sounds like you are new to shaving with a straight razor. It is indeed a learned skill and your shaves will get better with time. My first few months of shaving I didn't get very close shaves either. With time, I got better at stretching the skin and learning how to hold the razor and what direction each pass should go. Now my shaves are closer than any other method. Originally I shaved with an electric razor as well, then switched to double edge safety razors, then to straight razors. Be patient and keep practicing. Another thing, is make sure your razors have been honed properly first. It's not like sharpening a knife, it's a whole other ball game. I use stones up to 10,000 grit, then 14,000 grit lapping film, chrome oxide polishing compound and finally stropping on bare leather.
  12. Blades&Bullets


    Oct 28, 2013
    How much experience do you have using a straight?
    Why are you heating up the blade?
    Who honed your blade? It may be very sharp, but not actually shave ready for facial hair.

    What grind is your blade? People with really coarse hair usually gravitate to heavier grinds. The more hollow the blade, the more audible feedback you will get. Some people like it, some don't.

    I'm still learning as well so I don't always get a super baby butt smooth shave, but I can get a good comfortable shave.

    Don't use too much pressure or do too many passes. Work on your angle.
    "Shave the lather, not your face" is a good illustration for how much pressure to use.
  13. eKretz


    Aug 30, 2009
    1. Who sharpened the straight razor?
    2. Have you ever used a cartridge or DE razor? Did it cut your hairs?

    If the answer to 2. is yes on both, your straight razor isn't properly sharpened. Prep is good for that last bit of ease in shaving, but I have shaved in a pinch before using a straight razor with hand soap 3 days from a face washing and had NO problems. Most fellows I've seen who have a razor that isn't sharpened well seem to tend to blame it on the tool, rather than the operator.
  14. Shampt


    Sep 15, 2018
    Sort of getting to be an old thread but here's my two-and-a-half cents. I have had experience with over-the-counter straight razors not being... desirably sharp...

    My first razor, a De Luxe came reasonably sharp out of the box from HouseofKnives, however, after inspection there was a small warp in the edge, so moving from a 1000 to 3000 grit stone then making a makeshift flat-strop from an old belt epoxy'd to a 1x2 strip of scrap stock pine using tool honing compound on one side and polishing compound on the other, followed by the belt I wear everyday (one end in hand and with the belt buckle held in one toe), this was enough to bring the edge sharp enough that I pop hairs off of my arm or face without even touching skin and feel little to no pull. Clean, quick-ish and soft ever since.

    Before then the first few shaves were "noisy" and rather uncomfortable, catching hairs and leaving patches of visible hair after a pass (after which, yes, I would reapply soap and go for a second round across/against the grain, just to get the job done). Following the sharpening though, as long as I give it a plain strop every 2 shaves and a polish strop every 10 or so, it remains comfortable and problem free.

    Very "make-work" but I hope if the several older posts didn't get you on the right track to sticking with the straight razor, this could hopefully act as a minor "how-to" for an average joe getting their razor back to "razor sharp" status.

    My suggestion, if you don't have the time or resources to get the materials together to do at least this level of honing-sharpening-maintaining, would be to locate someone or a facility near you who can, it's my understanding most places who do it professionally charge pretty reasonably, but having a buddy who knows what they're doing is invariably cheaper. It is my understanding some people consider 8000 grit stones to be a minimum before stropping, though not having access to one is what prompted me to go to tool honing compound->polishing and it works fine enough following the 3000 stone.

    I personally find the straight razor to be the best feeling shave and wouldn't shy from it unless I absolutely had to. My first go wasn't perfect, so I went out of my way to make it what it pretty darn good. Hopefully you can get a pleasant enough shave from one, one day, as well.


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