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Thread: Whiskers: Soften or Stiffen?

  1. #1
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    Default Whiskers: Soften or Stiffen?

    I have read many different approaches to beard preparation, and they all recommend either softening or stiffening the beard hairs. Some say soak in hot water/towel and various other products to soften the beard, thereby making it easier to cut. While elsewhere I have read soaps are intended to stiffen the hairs to make them easier to cut. Now from my experience, shaving and elsewhere, a string or chord or whatever, is certainly easier to cut when under tension, I.e. Stretched out. So my question is which one is right? Or are they both right? Any clarification would be greatly appreciated.

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    May your bone always be well buried MickR's Avatar
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    My thoughts on the matter: The soaps remove oil in the hair which effectively stiffen the hair, the moisture (steamed towel, water splashed on face, lather left on etc) softens the hairs, stretching the skin for shaving stands the hairs up. Cold water for the shave will stiffen the hair more, cause the skin to tighten up and make for a smoother shave. Warm water will offer a more comfortable shave, but stretching will need to be better to stand up the hairs a bit more.
    All this is for nought if you have a respectably sharp razor and decent prep, regardless of hot or cold preference. Oils will be removed form the stubble and the whiskers softened no matter which way you go...Unless you choose to dry shave or something, which makes you either really brave or really silly...



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    Member overgripped's Avatar
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    Soft yet stiff?

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    Pasted Man Castel33's Avatar
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    Default Whiskers: Soften or Stiffen?

    I think Mick really nailed this question. It really is user driven. Some guys like boiling hot shaves, some like ice cold shaves, most are somewhere in the middle.

    If you learn to make a great lather for you and keep your razors sharp it really doesn't matter which you do.

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    castel said it better than I could have lol

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    At this point in time... gssixgun's Avatar
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    Stiffen is not a good word here, it implies that the hair gets stiff, it is the lather that "stiffens" and lifts the hair away from the face.. Any of us that have facial hair ie: beards, goats etc: see this happen each shave.. The hairs are softened from the prep, and as the lather sets up you can see the hair lift up through the lather This is exactly the reason you should let the lather sit as you strop the razor it allows time for the lather to set up and lift the hairs..

    Let your beard grow in over the weekend and try it yourself


    That is how the lather softens the beard and still "stiffens" the hair
    Last edited by gssixgun; 01-21-2013 at 01:46 AM.
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    So lather, just like pulling a thread taught before cutting with scissors makes it easier, is what is meant by "stiffen", while they are easier to cut since softened from the moisture. Then it is indeed both happening at the same time. Aha! That makes perfect sense. Thank you gentlemen.

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    Senior Member JohnnyCakeDC's Avatar
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    After reading what great input on this topic, especially from MickR and GSSixGun, I'd like to add something. Soften of Stiffen? My answer is Watterlog. I feel it's the complete saturization of skin and whisker, either hot or cold that is key to beard prep.
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    Senior Member Malacoda's Avatar
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    Another way to picture it: If you wet your face well it will soften the hairs. Then, if you splash a bit of cool water on your face it will close the pores, causing the hairs to stand up 'at attention' more. They're still soft, but they're also 'stiffened' or 'lifted'.

    Lather helps to do the same thing - make the hairs stand up straighter (lifts them away from the skin, only without necessarily closing the pores).
    Last edited by Malacoda; 02-09-2013 at 12:56 PM.
    John

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    ace
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    The best prep in the world won't make much difference if the blade is not sharp.

    Hand soap applied quickly with the hands is all that is required with a really sharp blade.

    I'll take a sharp edge over prep concerns anytime.
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