Advice from me for the first-time Fine slant user
I thought it would be handy to summarize in one linkable post some pointers for first-time Fine slant users (either first time with the Fine slant or first time with any slant). In fact, these same three pointers apply for any new razor, slant or not. So far as wielding the slant, you use it exactly as though it were a regular razor, pulling it in the direction the handle points. In general, forget that it’s a slant and just shave with it, observing these three points:
- Do some blade exploration: a brand of blade that’s best in one razor may not be best (or even good) in another. Try 3-4 different brands, then stick with the best of those for a month or two to work out your technique without the distraction of varying the blade. A razor can go from harsh to smooth, or from inefficient to efficient, just by changing the brand of blade—and NO brand works well for everyone. A brand that’s great for one may be terrible for another: that’s why there are blade sampler packs. For me, my usual brand in the iKon X3 and iKon 102 is any of several blades: mostly I use Personna Lab Blue blades, but Astra Superior Platinum and others work well for me in those. However, in the Fine Superlite slant and in the Phoenix Bakelite slant and the Maggard slant, I kept getting nicks, mainly in the XTG pass. I finally started avoiding those razors, but then at the suggestion of a commenter on the blog I tried a Derby blade, and lo! all was well. No nicks, and the razors felt more comfortable. So do not neglect blade exploration and you might try a brand that in your conventional razor doesn’t seem sharp enough. In a slant, it may work fine, as the Derby did for me.
UPDATE: Some people prefer to keep the brand of blade fixed and (in effect) do razor exploration: any razor that doesn’t work well with that brand of blade is rejected, so that in time the collection consists of those razors that work well with whatever brand of blade the shaver has identified as “his” brand. And it should be mentioned that some men cannot detect any differences between different brands of blades, though for most differences are clear.
- Find the optimal angle. Move the handle of the razor farther from your face (toward perpendicular to the skin being shaved) until you hear/feel the cutting stop; then move it closer until the cutting sound/feel just resumes. Right around there is the optimal angle. Experiment judiciously. It will be easier to find/remember the angle if you focus on making sure the cap is touching your skin. (Forget about the guard—it’s there if needed—and focus instead on the cap.) The best angle may have the handle a little farther from your face than you expect, but focusing on the cap makes the angle easy to maintain.
- As with any razor, use extremely light pressure, barely enough to keep the razor in contact with your skin. Use the same pressure you’d use if you had a sunburn and the razor were an uncomfortably warm metal rod: still touch the skin, but barely. Slants in particular cut easily, and that virtue can turn against you if you press the razor against your skin. Sometimes it is advised to “let the weight of the razor do the work,” but this is a mnemonic to mean “very light pressure, just enough to keep the razor’s head touching the skin.” In fact, with a heavy slant (e.g., the iKon B1 slant with their SE handle), the weight of the razor may be too much: you have to support most of the razor’s weight in your hand, or you’ll get nicks. And with a very light razor, such as the Fine Superlite or the Phoenix Bakelite, about around 18g, the weight of the razor is not enough: you will need to apply some pressure (although a very small amount) with your hand.
Rather than thinking about the weight of the razor, think about the pressure on your skin. That pressure should be just enough to keep the razor’s head in contact, but not more.