Shaving Cream, Be Nice And Clean, Shave Every Day And You'll Always Look Keen

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 14.472% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Here is today’s grand straight razor shaving adventure in three photos:
Shaving against the grain
First, here is me unshaven.  And uncombed.  And un-everything, Jesus Christ, I’m not a movie star I BRUSHED MY TEETH FOR YOU BEFORE THIS WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT
Shaving against the grain
Here is me having shaved with the grain of my skin, i.e., “Down slope on the hairs.”  I have pretty much mastered this.  The reason I look terrified is because I am about to shave against the grain, which is to say, “Uphill,” which is to say “I’mma about to cut my face all up again.”
Shaving against the grain
…but it went okay!  A little razor burn, to be sure.  This is the first shave I’ve had since I started shaving with the straight razor that’s actually comparable to the disposable – something no one tells you about.  Sure, you will have a super-close shave, eventually, but first you’re going to have a three o’clock shadow immediately after shaving.  Or, you know, a face full of gashes.  Or both.
There’s really three tricks, I’ve learned, about straight razor shaving: first, you have to have a good cream.  The shaving soap I had wasn’t working, even with the judicious application of hot water to my face beforehand; if you’re an amateur, like I am, you need a thick layer of goop to blunt the deadly edge in your trembling hands.  A handful of tiny bubbles ain’t gonna cut it, Mr. Ho.  Or, to be more accurate, it will cut it all too well.
The second trick is that you have to have a good grip.  But like writing, while everyone’s full of advice and you should try everything out, it always comes down to what works for you.  I have yet to find any manual that suggests the rather awkward grip I use, but once I discovered that’s what I was comfortable with, things got better.
And the third trick is that you have to understand skin.  It is, as polymorphism put it, “a new intimacy with your own skin.”  Straight razor shaving requires you to really pay attention to that fleshy cheek, that ridge over the jaw, that hollow on the left side of your throat.  You’re learning how to interact with your body in a new way – which, as polymorphism also put it, is rather a wonder to discover after possessing a body for forty-three years.
Next up: Honing, in about a month.  We’ll see how that goes.

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