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Thread: Tough Beard

  1. #41
    Senior Member Jimbo7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by avilam View Post
    I have a very rare genetic abnormality. It's called Pili Multigemini. Basically it means that you have multiple hairs growing from a single hair folicle. It only effects approximately 400,000 people worldwide, so I'm not expecting anyone to be able to relate (but you never know). Couple this with the fact that I already have a very thick beard that grows extremely fast and is very course and...well, you get the picture.
    Hey! I didn't know there was a name for this, but from some basic internet reading I can say you're not alone. I'm not sure how many of these little multiple dudes one needs to qualify, but I get them quite frequently on my upper lip and chin. They're actually kind of fun to tweeze and separate if you're weirdly masochistic like I am. I'm also cursed with the Scandinavian fair/red hairs which on a hair-by-hair basis are thicker on average. I feel your pain.

    So, long story short, you're progress is going about the same as mine was. Any hairs within about 2 inches from my mouth cannot be shaved against the grain, they are just too stout. Try to focus on with the grain passes and oblique angles (maybe halfway between WTG and XTG). Also, drawing the blade along the hairs (guillotine or scything strokes) has done me wonders. Try to think about how cutting something on a cutting board is a lot easier if you move in a slicing motion rather than a pushing motion. Now, consider that happening on a microscopic level on your face and you get the idea.

    Just keep at it! My success in shaving has come in strongly-contested small yardage rather than big downfield plays. Big 10 rather than SEC. It won't come overnight, but it will come.

  2. #42
    Flying High avilam's Avatar
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    Ok guys...a quick update. I've tried a couple different ideas that were presented over the past week and I've had some success.

    Axel - I lightened up on the pre-shave prep. and much to my chagrin you were right in some respects. I focused more on softening the hair and less on moisturizing the skin and voila a noticably less irritating shave. I still have to use a post-shave moisturizer and lotion on non-shave days...but that's just to keep my face from falling off flake by flake (sorry for that visual).

    I tried some barbasol to soften the hairs. It works...but it feels like goo. So I'm in search of a cream or pre-shave that has steric acid in it.

    I've avoided the ATG pass except for on the cheeks and neck and I've faired much better. Perhaps I just have to perfect my technique or maybe just live with the ever-so-slightly longer whiskers on my chin and around my mouth. Time will tell...

    I have yet to get an alum block, but I definitely plan to. I'd like to see how it relates to using witch hazel as a post-shave treatment.

    So that's where I stand at the moment. Again, thanks to everyone for your suggestions and help and comments. Shave on gentlemen...shave on!!
    niftyshaving likes this.

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    markdfhr (01-06-2012)

  4. #43
    Member markdfhr's Avatar
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    Excellent feedback. I'm glad things are progressing for you.

  5. #44
    Flying High avilam's Avatar
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    Nice weekend shave today. Woke up took a brief shower and prepped my beard and then really...and I mean really...took my time and paid unusually close attention to angles, pressure, taunt skin, etc. To date, best shave yet. No sting at all when I used the witch hazel. Nice BBS on the cheeks and neck and under the chin and pretty darn smooth around the mouth and on the chin.

    Things are definitely progressing nicely.

    PS - Side point here...I noticed today while stropping that there is a VERY small spot on my blade that seems to scratch the leather on the strop. You can't see any scratch marks on the strop but when you're done stropping there is residual leather in this one spot. On close inspection...and by close I mean with a magnifying glass...you can see a very very small nick in the edge of the blade. It is extremely small. I haven't dropped or hit the razor on anything. The only thing that the edge has touched is skin and hair. Could my beard have caused this? Will it strop out? Do I need to have it re-honed?

  6. #45
    Member markdfhr's Avatar
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    Hi avilam,

    I'm glad things are progressing better for you. I think stretching is probably one task that seems somewhat ignored, for lack of a better description, by a new straight razor; at least that's been my experience with a sample size of one. I think the difficulty in stretching properly for me is that when I attempt to stretch my skin, it's slick with lather.

    As my technique has improved, I've become somewhat like a pool player who's interested in the leave for the next shot, in the sense that when I need to stretch skin, that area's already been shaved. Also, I've gotten better to where a shaved spot isn't as slick as it would have been simply because I've cleaned the lather off better with my razor. It's slowly coming together for me. I wonder if you're noticing this kind of growth in your technique, too.

    As for your blade's nick, if none of the metal is missing on the edge, maybe giving your razor a good go on the linen side of your strop would help. If it's missing metal, I would think it needs to be re-honed.

    -Mark

  7. #46
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    Yes, shaving will wear the edge of the blade. It's very thin. A worn blade will appear ragged when viewed at 10-20X magnification. You can also spot the ragged spots by eye if you shine a strong light at the edge of the blade and move it back and forth. Ragged areas reflect duller, or more shiny.

    Blades get dull much faster for beginners because they don't soften the wiskers as well, they use too upright of an angle, a path that is perpendicular to the blade edge, and too much pressure. They also don't strop very well, so the blade only gets 1/2 way "reconditioned" during stropping.

    Don't worry - all these issues will fix themselves with more practice .

    To fix your edge, don't automatically rehone. Start with options that take less off metal off the razor.
    First, try stropping 75-100 strokes on the poly webbing
    If that doesn't align the edge, try stropping 20-30 strokes on a paddle strop with some Cromium Oxide on it.
    If that doesn't work, try 15-20 strokes on a 12K water stone (or 8-12 strokes on an 8K hone). Use No pressure and an X-stroke. Don't worry - it's not that hard to restore the edge on a razor that already has the bevel set on it.

    ps: I have thick wiry whiskers, and I need to refresh the edge of my razors every 7-10 shaves with 7-10 stokes on a Cromium Oxide paddle strop. The pasted strop rounds the edge over time, so I use the 12K hone roughly about every 3rd time, and the 8k hone roughly about every 6th time. But I only use the more aggressive (metal eating) method if the less aggressive method didn't restore the edge completely.

    Good luck !
    Last edited by JohnG10; 01-09-2012 at 03:13 AM.

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    avilam (01-09-2012)

  9. #47
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    This thread might be a little but but I figure I'd chime in with my own experiences.
    I also have Pili multigemini, and to boot, I have very dark brown hair and 'pale as ghost' skin.
    Can you say permanent shadow?
    Relating to other posts, my experiences shaving are very similar; i.e. difficulty getting BBS without going ATG (which I won't do because...), even going WTG, on day two I get the chin full o' ingrowns, etc.
    I am an experienced straight shaver (and have used a number of different grind and razor styles), and as well a butcher and knife maker, so I am confident in my abilities (granted subjective) to shave with, hone and strop, and in general use a straight razor.
    That being said, I've found a regimen that does a pretty good job of mitigating my shaving issues:
    Prep: A thoroughly wet beard (quick jump in the shower)
    Soap: Any quality shave soap (I've never found this to affect it all that much provided it's not a crap product or to heavy on volatile fragrance oils)
    Shave: Forgive me... I use a safety razor now. My beard unfortunately also has a vicious lay down grain which goes in a different direction on every part of my face. The DE lets my address these areas a little more specifically. I could do it with a straight; assuming I wait for my coffee till after.
    Post: Here's where it made all the difference for me. Thorough warm rinse, cold rinse, and then for awhile (as many have mentioned) it was the alum block. That was a big help. Even more helpful was afterwords, I wash with Biore Pore Refining cleanser (and there go my testicles...)
    No kidding, thus stuff is a miracle for me. It's a exfoliating hydroxy cleanser (and not a mild one... I know, I know, but it works for me) I started using this stuff for chronic dry skin from childhood frostbite, and lo and behold, it practically wiped out any significant ingrown hair occurrences. They stopped making it for a long time, but it's back by popular demand.
    Finally: a good quality moisturizer (I like CeraVe)
    Sorry for the long post; hope someone finds it useful.
    One final note on glycerin:
    Glycerine, like ethanol (alcohol), is very hygroscopic; but, unlike ethanol evaporates much slower than water. I helps with skin moisture because it draws water from deeper skin layers and in the process binds it, keeping it close at hand to the outer layers. That said, using it straight can actually dry your skin out fully in the long run (takes and takes, never gives back... kinda like Social Security) so it should always be diluted somewhat for dermatological use.
    Best!
    Last edited by butcherboy; 08-10-2013 at 03:50 AM.
    "Routine maintenance is mankind's only defense against entropy"

  10. #48
    Razor Vulture sharptonn's Avatar
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    Lord have mercy! Welcome, Butcherboy!

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