Technique - Skin Stretching

Technique - Skin Stretching

Postby dappershaves » Tue Jun 22, 2021 7:23 pm

Do you struggle getting BBS everywhere on your face, especially those tough areas such as the jawline, chin and neck without irritating your skin? You can significantly improve your results by stretching the skin. Stretching the skin while shaving is a “lost art” for many due to the lack of education/instruction. By stretching the skin correctly will result in a closer, cleaner shave irrespective if you use straight razor, DE or electric shaver. Not stretching the skin increases irritation/sensitivity that can lead to nicks and cuts. But first, how does skin stretching actually help?

Stretching the skin on your face forces the hairs to stand upright so that your razor can get a closer shave, but also flattens the skin to allow the razor the effortlessly glide over the taut flat surface. There’s less resistance and drag on the firmer surface and with a wet lather the razor will slip and slide across your skin effortlessly.

Note: Alum block/crystal will provide tackiness for your finger tips even with slippery skin. There’s no excuse not to to properly stretching your skin.

I’ve extensively tested the effect of omitting/neglecting this practice form my routine and the results were easy to feel. The lack of closeness is immediately noticeable on my trouble spots on my neck and jawline (right side). Its near impossible to get BBS after 3 passes even with buffing. By effectively stretching the skin I can get BBS in 2 passes with some buffing. That’s a huge improvement with one less pass and the reasons my skin will tolerate daily shaving. The other major benefit is that awesome face feel 16 hours after your shave.

The image above is the typical approach taught in barber school with the arrows indicating cutting direction with the razor. The barber is free to adapt this based on each customers growth and direction (beard mapping here viewtopic.php?f=53&t=1665). With regards to stretching you must be stretching (pulling) the skin in the opposite direction as the razor. If you are older and have some wrinkles, stretching the skin taut can help to flatten out wrinkles while shaving and get a closer shave even on wrinkled skin.

I'll do some light stretching when shaving with a DE and get excellent results, when omitting stretching I will need to do more buffing to get BBS so I know and understand the value with stretching. The following are technique I use to improve cutting efficiency on difficult areas.

The J-hook sounds just like it is executed. You could also call it the pivot stroke. Draw the razor down and then swing it very lightly in a j shaped motion. This stroke is helpful for shaving off those little remaining hairs, especially in places where the hair changes direction of growth or in swirls. The stroke can be reversed to an upside down j for the same effect.
Blade Buffing
Blade buffing is a very simple technique but a very effective one. Taking the razor, and with an extremely light hand, shave over the spot quickly and repeatedly. I’ll buff my chin by lifting/moving my chin, not the razor. Buffing is useful for those stubborn, tough stubbles.
Gillette Slide
The last and most complicated of the techniques is called the “Gillette Slide”. It is named such for the technique comes from printed instructions included with Gillette razors. Fundamentally you use the razor in a “slant” motion. The razor is held at an angle and pulled straight down. It’s a slice cut. This increases the efficiency of the stroke especially among varying hair growth patterns.
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