Archive for the ‘Shaving’ Category
A wonderful shave today, with a BBS result with little effort.
I used the Wet Shaving Products Monarch brush shown and Martin de Candre’s excellent shaving soap. In this case, the soap goes to the brim of the bowl, but the surface is slightly concave. As I have described my lathering method, I have said that I start with a dripping wet brush, hold the tub on the side over the sink, and lather briskly and firmly, letting excess water and the first sloppy lather spill away into the sink, gradually righting the tub as I continue loading, watching for the bubbles being formed to become microscopic. And it’s true to this degree: I first started making a good lather using that technique.
But as I observe what I now actually do, I can see that I have unconsciously adapted the technique with experience, probably (I don’t really know the motives of my unconscious) to save time and effort by eliminating the part of the process where excess lather and loose sloppy foam spills into the sink. I now give the brush one moderate shake—that takes care of the excess water, so cuts out that—and I brush with a bit more restraint: still briskly and firmly but with a more restrained action so all the lather produced during the loading goes into the brush as it is loaded. The tub, which does start somewhat tilted (habit), is turned upright quickly, and I’m more aware of the soap and lather loaded, so I don’t need the clue of the microscopic bubbles: I can tell from the appearance and feel of the brush when it’s loaded and time to move to my beard.
I brush lather all over my beard, and twice I added a driblet of hot water to the center of the brush and brushed that into the developing lather. At a certain point, I recognized that the lather was done (experience again). No muss, no fuss.
I think part of the polishing of performance through practice and experience is the gradual elimination of inefficiencies. At first you start with too much water and get rid of the excess; eventually you find yourself starting with the right amount of water for the task. And, too, one adapts the technique (with experience) from soap to soap: e.g., with some soaps I add the driblets of water as I load, rather than after loading, because I’ve gradually learned/observed that some soaps require more water.
Probably this evolution of technique stems from observing the admonition to experiment: to try different things, and note what one is doing and what results. The adaptive unconscious then molds practice to fit, in the direction of efficiency.
At any rate, I got a really good lather, and the Shavecraft #101 did a great job. I’m beginning to think that razor is an unappreciated gem: extremely comfortable, highly efficient, and quite handsome. As we start making wishlists, keep that one in mind.
Three passes with a Personna Lab Blue blade, and after the final rinse and dry, a good splash of Fine Clean Vetiver aftershave, with the menthol a bit chilly this morning. (Still haven’t turned on the heat, but we are approaching stubbornness in this regard.)
TL;DR: No nicks, great shave.
A very pleasant shave, though at the end I did switch out the Swedish Gillette blade for a new blade: a little too much work on the ATG pass.
But first, the prep. Mr Pomp remains a favorite brush, and Wholly Kaw, a vegan (kaw) soap, made a very nice lather quite easily. The tube is 2 1/8″ tall, and the soap occupies less than half of that, allowing 1 1/4″ for room to load the brush. This is rather generous—anything more than 1/4″ seems more than necessary, and some fine soaps fill their tubs to the very brim (e.g., Martin de Candre).
I have learned, however, that some rely on the empty space because their lathering method is such that without the space to contain the spray from loading, they get lather everywhere. (Presumably they avoid the various soaps that go to the brim of the container or close to it—soaps such as those from Al’s Shaving, Catie’s Bubbles, D.R. Harris, Dr. Selby’s 3x Concentrated, Geo. F. Trumper, La Père Lucien, Martin de Candre, Strop Shoppe, TOBS, Truefitt & Hill, Wickham’s, and doubtless others.)
My own technique seems to have evolved with experience, and I no longer experience significant spillage and can load easily even the full soap containers.
With the fine lather, I did a three-pass shave with the Gillette Toggle: very nice, though it will be even better next time with the new blade.
A good splash of Captain’s Choice Bay Rum, and we hover on the edge of the weekend.
It’s taken a long time for the mainstream media to wake up to what’s happening in the world of traditional wetshaving. But the continuing (and apparently even accelerating) growth has finally caught their eye.
I am embarrassed that I forgot to post Tuesday’s shave, which was quite good:
The shave above was done on Tusday. Sweet Gale has a wonderful fragrance, exactly like a Rusty Nail cocktail. And I got a fine lather, using the Rooney Victorian brush shown.
The razor is the Utopia Care, which sells for $11 on Amazon: a great bargain for a pretty good razor—and since it’s a three-piece design, the handle (plated brass, good heft) can be used with other heads. (I’ve been recommending this handle for the iKon Shavecraft #102 slant head: it’s a good match in terms of weight and balance, and you can’t beat the price. Solid stainless handles of that design are somewhat crisper, but cost twice as much.) The blade was a Personna Lab Blue.
Very smooth and pleasant finish, and a little D.R. Harris After Shaving Milk finished the shave.
The brush is by New Forest, a UK maker of artisanal brushes of traditional design. It’s a very nice little brush, with a feel somewhat like a Simpson Chubby, though the knot is more dome-shaped.
Catie’s Bubbles is one of the soaps that fill their containers, but I’ve learned that about 80% of shavers prefer soaps that fill only half the container. I’m surprised by the strong preference—and certainly many fine soaps are sold in full containers (e.g., Al’s, Catie’s Bubbles, D.R. Harris, Dr. Selby’s 3x Concentrated, Geo. F. Trumper, La Père Lucien, Martin de Candres, Strop Shoppe, TOBS, Truefitt & Hill, Wickham’s).
Still, as has been pointed out to me, soapmakers do spend a fair amount of time thinking about the best presentation and the actual use—and also face the challenge of finding decently made containers of the right size and shape. So the choice to use a container and fill it but half-way is a deliberate one. The idea, I’m told is that the higher walls around the soap prevent the water from spilling away.
The problem is, that for most soaps one wants the excess water to spill away, and by holding the container on its side over the sink, the spillage isn’t messy: excess water and loose, sloppy lather just drops away.
But I’m still exploring this, and since this morning I picked a soap sold in full containers, I observed what it is I now do. I realized that now I no longer use a truly dripping-wet brush, so in fact I don’t have a lot of excess water. In fact, I seem to have gradually learned (unconsciously) about how much water is needed, and although I help the Catie’s Bubbles on its side, there was nothing to spill away: I had the right amount of water in the brush (I had unconsciously given it a small shake), and as I loaded the brush, the lathered soap went directly into the brush. No excess on the side, no need to rinse anything.
I did note that as I worked up the lather on my beard, I did add one driblet of water to the brush and worked that in, but nothing more. OTOH, Catie’s Bubbles is a very high quality soap, easy to lather, and this particular soap is not very thirsty. (I don’t wish to imply that thirsty soaps are of any less quality: indeed, some thirsty soaps are absolute first rate: they simply require me to add a driblet or two of water as I load the brush—and perhaps that’s where the high walls are useful: by using a wetter brush and keeping the water on the soap until it’s all worked into the lather.
More experimentation is required, but it was interesting to note how my brush wetting/loading process has somewhat shifted without my realizing. I’ll be paying attention to that for a while.
In the meantime, some soaps that are not thirsty also have high-walled containers: e.g., Maggard’s, Seifenglatt, Mickey Lee Soapworks. Those could readily be sold in full containers (if containers of the right size and shape can be found), since they do not require extra water.
Somewhat asked about the Apollo Mikron, so I posted a link to photos on my site, and I was embarrassed to see how much the razor needed cleaning. So yesterday I got out my ultrasonic cleaner and cleaned up the Mikron shown above along with a couple of other razors. The ultrasonic cleaner does a good job.
The Mikron left a BBS result in three pleasant passes, using a SuperMax Platinum blade. A small dab of D.R. Harris After Shaving Milk, and the day begiins.
A very fine shave today. I do like Strop Shoppe shaving soaps a lot, and not simply because she (unlike most artisan soapmakers) actually sell full tubs of the soap rather than tubs that are half empty. Wasted space becomes an issue when you happen to own a lot of soaps, and the reason for using tubs that are too large for the amount of soap to be sold is unclear to me, except that it looks as though you’re getting more soap than in fact is delivered. As I’ve mentioned, the fine English shaving soap makers (Truefitt & Hill, Trumper, TOBS, D.R. Harris, et al.) all sell containers (wooden tubs, typically) in which the soap comes up to the brim of the container.
So does Strop Shoppe—and the soap in the container is also superb: very easy to lather, very protective, slick, and thick. I used the Simpson Emperor 2 Super shaving brush.
Then an easy 3-pass shave with the Gillette President—it looks extra-spiffy because it is rhodium plated rather than nickel plated, something I did a few years back. The shave was super nice, and I checked to see whether I was using one of my last remaining Astra Keramik Platinum blades, but in fact it was an Astra Superior Platinum.
A good splash of Paul Sebastian, and the day is launched.
A very nice shave indeed, and I’m beginning to think the humpback slant design is better than the torqued approach. But that’s probably in YMMV territory.
First, a very nice lather from the Omega R&B boar brush and Maggard Razors London Barbershop. I do have to say I like a full tub rather than one half empty. I understand the theory—that the space in the tub above the soap helps in loading—but the theory is wrong: look at English soaps such as Trumper, Truefitt & Hill, TOBS, D.R. Harris: those soaps come up to the rim of the tub, and they are easy to load. Similarly, Strop Shoppe fills their tubs and present no problem in loading. I hope the half-empty tub approach will gradually die away and we can get full (even if shorter) tubs. The wasted height is a drain on shelf space for those who stack their soaps.
Three passes with the Shavecraft #102, still using the same Lab Blue blade, and I had an excellent shave even if not quite BBS: probably time to change the blade.
A splash of D.R. Harris Pink aftershave, which this morning did indeed seem to have a rose fragrance. My sense of smell really is weak.
And the week begins: the last week before Thanksgiving. We’re going with rack of lamb for Thanksgiving this year, and I think for Xmas we’ll have a roast capon.
A really superb shave. My excellent H.L. Thäter brush has hooked bristles, thus the spiky appearance. (Had I brushed the dry brush across my hand, the knot would again look smooth.) Hooked bristles are benign and in fact have a pleasant feel when wet—sort of tacky until the lather’s in place.
And what a lather it was. I do love I Coloniali shaving cream—a wonderful fragrance and a fine lather.
Three passes with the Fatip, which was more comfortable than I recalled, though not really a stand-out in the “comfort” department: I do feel I have to pay careful attention, a feeling absent with a truly comfortable razor. But it did
a flawless job with no nicks a good job, but with two nicks I discovered later*, leaving a BBS result, thanks in part to the previously used SuperMax Titanium blade.
I got out the Dominica Bay Rum because it seems to have gone off the market (the plain version). Maybe it’s just a temporary out-of-stock thing. But a pleasant end to a fine shave.
*And of course this tendency to nick is exactly what makes this razor uncomfortable. A razor is comfortable when it has little tendency to nick.