Archive for the ‘Shaving’ Category
A really terrifc shave this morning. The brush has a snakewood handle and a very nice knot: it’s soft, but it does a great job. A few seconds brushing the Martin de Candre and I had a lather to be proud off. With that on my beard and worked well in—and following a discussion on WE on how my method of lathering, while avoiding the too-little-soap problem, can fall into a too-little-water situation. So I took some care to add a little water to the center of the knot as I worked up the lather.
The Eros Slant left parts of my face BBS after the first pass. Two more passes (X and A the grain) spread the smoothness everywhere.
A good splash of The Shave Den’s aftershave milk, the Coconut Lime Verbena fragrance, and I’m ready for a new week. Ingredients of the aftershave milk:
Hydrosol Blend (Rose, Hibiscus, Jasmine), Jojoba Oil, Water, Witch Hazel, Shea Butter, Lecithin, Allantoin, Vitamin E, Glycerin, Aloe Vera, Potassium Sorbate, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid
First: the lather was superb, as always with these Special Edition soaps. The problem was the razor/blade. I think it may be that I’m simply out of practice using the Tradere Solid Bar, which at one time was quite a comfortable razor for me. Not today: several minor nicks and a bit of burn on the upper lip. I swapped out the blade at the end of the shave and decided to use this razor more frequently, particularly in the coming week, to see whether I can recapture the excellence.
A good splash of Saint Charles Shave Avocado balm—it’s been quite parky outdoors—and I’m ready to roll.
Absolutely terrific shave. I do love this shaving soap (and yes, I bought a spare—and I have given one to The Son and to my doctor).
Yesterday I used my Plisson High Mountain White (size 12), and today I’m using my other Plisson brush, which The Wife brought me from one of her Paris visits. She went to the sole Master Barber in Paris and got his advice, and he (after questioning her about my beard and what I shave with) recommended this Chinese Grey. It would be called a “pure badger” in general—i.e., not a silvertip—but whereas some pure badger brushes are very prickly with sharp bristles, this brush is quite comfortably, almost as if the ends of the bristles were blunted somehow. The feel is a coarse texture that’s quite pleasant, and I do enjoy using it. The handle, I believe, is plated brass and in any event is quite hefty.
I loaded the brush easily, enjoyed the lathering, and had a very pleasant 3-pass shaving with the Schick Krona and a Feather blade. BBS results.
A splash of Pashana aftershave, and the weekend will soon be here.
An absolutely perfect BBS result—and a very pleasant shave—with my new Standard Razor. I do think that’s an odd name for the product: I like to use “standard” to refer to… well, standards—this razor has some distinctive non-standard features.
But let us begin at the beginning. After the usual pre-shave beard wash at the sink, I worked up an instant lather from the Los Angeles Shaving Soap Company’s Vanilla/Eucalyptus/Mint shaving soap, and I do like the fragrance. (Vanilla—that pretty much brings me in). The lather was quite good—dense and admirable—and I used the Astra Superior Platinum blade that came with the razor.
Aside: At one time the consensus was that one should never use the blade shipped with this razor. This was based on an assumption that the loose blade would become terribly damaged in shipment. That never made much sense to me, and with an increasing number of razors accompanied by a pack of blades, the idea seems to have withered: no one wants to throw away a full pack, and if blades are not protected in the pack, what’s the point of ordering them on-line? They should be purchased then directly at the plant, as they come off the assembly line, to avoid damage. But we don’t do that because in fact wrapped blades are pretty secure against damage.
I think what was happening is this: in those days, the Merkur 34C was the overwhelming choice of a new razor. (Secondhand/vintage razors do not come with a complimentary blade, so the issue arises only for new razors.) And indeed many found that the loose blade included gave a terrible shave. The simple explanation, however, is not that the blade was damaged, it’s that Merkur blades work well for very few. The majority of shavers find Merkur blades pretty bad in shaving performance.
It was, I believe, a hasty generalization from the poor performance of Merkur blades for most shavers . /aside
I did three passes with no problems at all and achieved a perfect BBS result. A splash of Stetson Sierra, and the weekend’s in sight.
Now, some comments on the non-standard aspects of the razor.
First, it’s made of aluminum. Because aluminum is a superior heat conductor, I worried that the razor would feel hot on my face after being rinsed in hot water. Not so: it feels no different than any of my other razors. Theory crumbles beneath experience.
Second, the head is slightly wider so that you do not feel the ends of the blade protruding from the head. I like this treatment since my fingertips don’t get gouged when I change the blade (as with three-piece razors where the ends of the blade protrude: the Gillette NEW, the Sodial, et al.). Like most (all?) of the iKon razors, the ends of the head are perfectly smooth even when the razor’s loaded with a blade. (I think the original idea was to let the blade’s ends protrude to make it easier to remove the blade from the cap, but blade removal really isn’t a problem with the wider head, and the feel when assembling or disassembly razor is much improved without the blade’s ends sticking out.)
Third, the handle is a smooth rod with no finial knob of any sort. Almost all razor handles end with some sort of knob, which proves quite useful in the ATG pass. When I took the razor from the package, the smoothness initially worried me: it seemed smoother, because of its very fine texture, than a polished handle (e.g., the Edwin Jagger chrome-plated razor, whose handle is smooth and polished—the Standard handle is smooth with a very slight texture that makes it feel slipperier than the EJ in the grip of a dry hand). But in fact the handle’s smoothness did not turn out to be a problem: it was easy to hold once wet, and I never noticed any slipperiness during the shave. If it had turned out to be slippery, it wouldn’t really be a problem: brushing one’s wet fingers over an alum block provides a totally secure grip.
And the lack of a terminating knob on the handle also proved to be no problem in practice. Certainly the handle had a different feel from the typical razor handle—dare I say it had a nonstandard feel?—but it was easy to grip throughout the shave, including the ATG pass.
It’s worth noting that my worries (i.e., expectations regarding the experience) were groundless. I’ve learned that that is often the case with expectations, good or bad, regarding future experiences.
The fourth non-standard feature has a bit more impact. One advantage of the three-piece design (in addition to its simplicity and sturdiness) is that you can swap handles from one three-piece razor to another. Indeed, some vendors sell razor handles separately:
These offer excellent handles for sale separately:
And, of course, you can use the handle from any three-piece razor—e.g., a Gillette Tech or NEW or whatever—except with the Standard Razor, which has a nonstandard handle attachment:
The standard (small-s) way to attach the handle is that the cap has a threaded center stud that extends through a hole in the baseplate, and the handle is tapped with matching threads. NoHelmet, of Wicked_Edge, advises:
Two different thread pitches are the most common [for razor handles]. They are 10-32 (US) and M5x.8 (Metric). If the handle is tapped to M5, practically any head will work with it. This isn’t always true when trying to use a 10-32 (such as all vintage Gillettes) handle on a newer M5 head. The pitches are very similar, but M5 is ever so slightly larger.
As you can see, in the so-called Standard Razor, the threaded stud extends from the handle, not the cap, and the diameter of that stud is significantly smaller than is standard among three-piece razors.
Regarding the threaded stud: before receiving the razor, I had concerns about threaded aluminum parts (cf. the Mühle aluminum travel brushes: I would recommend the nickel-plated brass version since the aluminum threads tend to strip over time). The threaded stud is not aluminum: it appears to be stainless steel (which is why it can be of a small diameter and still be strong). The tapped stud in the cap appears to be aluminum, but this aluminum alloy seems to be quite strong—aircraft aluminum—and I do not foresee any problems at all with the threaded connection: another worry proved baseless in practice.
It works perfectly well, but you are not going to use this handle in another razor, nor another razor’s handle with this head.
The fit, finish, and workmanship is excellent throughout. Although the razor is sold at StandardRazors.com, I did note that my order acknowledgement came from Associated-Works.com, “a Los Angeles-based Product Design Consultancy.” That doubtless accounts for the slick, minimalist design (and the non-standard aspects of the razor).
Overall, I would rate it as an excellent razor, with quality like that of the Weber or other premium razors, but going a somewhat different direction.
UPDATE: One reader wrote to suggest that the exposed blade tabs (the part of the DE blade that protrudes from the end of razors such as the Edwin Jagger, Gillette NEW, and the like) actually serve a function beyond facilitating blade removal. He points out:
[Having the blade tabs exposed] allows for minor adjustments of the blade which I find necessary with DE blades and razors. I find the iKon slant really difficult to load the blade straight, takes me 3-5 times usually, exposed blade tabs would make this so much easier just to wiggle the blade into the right space. The only design where I find the blade tabs covered to be useful is when the top cap has the blade-holding tabs in the corner like the OSS and Feather AS-D2.
I find that not all DE blades are 100% exactly the same, there are some slight variations that sometimes require the blade to be wiggled or adjusted slightly. Notice how small the posts on the iKon slant are versus the slots in the DE blade.
It’s good that the shave came out so well—had it been a bad shave, I wouldn’t know whether it was razor, blade, or this particular razor-blade combination. But it ends well, so all’s well.
First, the prep. The Wee Scot did a fine job with the D.R. Harris shave stick: terrific lather and loads of it. I do use the shave stick by rubbing it against the grain all over my wet and washed beard, then brushing vigorously to bring up the lather.
That Maggard razor is really attractive and shaves quite well. When I ordered it, I ordered a bunch of blades I’ve not tried, and this is the first. For me, a good blade, as it turns out.
A good splash of Marlborough aftershave, and I think I’ll get through the middle of the week.
WordPress is working again. Hallelujah!
And hallelujah equally for the absolutely superb shave I got—experience and result—using inexpensive tools.
I washed my beard as usual with my Jlocke98 mix (1/4 c Dr. Bronner Rose liquid soap plus 2 tsp emu oil), then rubbed the Arko stick against the grain all over my wet, partially rinsed beard. I like to use shave sticks as shave sticks.
Then I began brushing my face briskly with the Ecotools Bamboo Finishing Kabuki, a make-up brush that serves admirably as a shaving brush and costs about $7.50 in the cosmetics section of many drugstores. The lather I achieve by brisk brushing with the Ecotools is somewhat different than my regular lathers: it is somewhat stiffish, as with whipped cream that is whipped into stiff rather than soft peaks. The vigorous brushing that produces this excellent lather also feels extremely good to my face because of the softness of the Ecotools. Even when I bear down some and brush at speed, it feels soft and pleasant to my face.
The the $2 Sodial razor, holding a Kai blade, gave me a perfect shave in three passes with no problems at all: just superb smoothness. A splash of Irisch Moos on that, and I’m feeling good.
The issue of cost is relevant: according to a listicle in this post:
#1 The lowest earning 23,303,064 Americans combined make 36 percent less than the highest earning 2,915 Americans do.
#2 40 percent of all American workers (39.6 percent to be precise) make less than $20,000 a year.
#3 According to the Pew Research Center, the top 7 percent of all U.S. households own 63 percent of all the wealth in the country.
#4 On average, households in the top 7 percent have 24 times as much wealth as households in the bottom 93 percent.
#5 According to numbers that were just released this week, 49.7 million Americans are living in poverty. That is a brand new all-time record high.
#6 In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined. . .
The full list is 21 items, but if you look at #2 and #5, for example, you can see why inexpensive shaving equipment that can do a good job might be important to a lot of people. I’m posting this because of some snark directed at the Ecotools and Sodial, presumably by those who can afford better tools. Better tools are better, but these tools do a perfectly good job and are pleasant to use.
A truly fine shave, but I tilted the playing field somewhat: a two-day stubble, for starters. Then the use of the Asses’ Milk shaving soap. And finally my bakelite slant holding a Kai blade.
I decided to use the Ecotools after reading about the problems proaso encountered when he used it. I understand his frustration: you read that a tool does extremely well (e.g., in Cool Tools), you buy it, and it doesn’t work well at all for you. But the Ecotools has worked so very well for me and others that I wanted to try to get to the bottom of it and also observe how I used it to see what I could learn.
First, of course: the Ecotools Bamboo Finishing Kabuki is sold as a make-up brush, so its use as a shaving brush is definitely off-label (though I will point out that some off-label uses of medications have good results). And it’s somewhat unusual. I tried four different make-up brushes (and I had high hopes for a goat-hair kabuki), but none of the others worked well at all. The goat-hair kabuki was a particular disappointment: wonderfully soft on the skin, it had a dense knot into which the soap and lather disappeared, never to emerge. But the Ecotools has been a stellar performer.
Second, proraso does have hard water at his current location: quite hard, apparently. I have relatively soft water—so, with all else equal (brush, soap, technique) the performance difference between his Ecotools use and mine would be due to the water.
I noticed when I used the brush this morning that I do load the brush at some length. I did get a terrific lather (asses’ milk is the best!), and when I finished the 3 passes of my shave, I applied lather for two more passes, rinsing instead of shaving after each application. There was still lather in the brush, and all applications had been generous, so the brush does not lack for capacity.
I suggested that perhaps a longer loading time might help, but proraso said that just one use was sufficient for him, so I don’t think he’ll do much playing around with it. I, however, am still curious, so tomorrow I’ll use it with an Arko shave stick, a soap that novices are likely to favor.
I think the Kai blade may be needing replacement: the cutting ease was not quite what I expected. Nonetheless, the shave went very well: almost BBS after two passes, and the third pass cleaned up every rough spot left.
A splash of Alt Innsbruck, and this morning I noticed the menthol particularly.
And now the week begins.
I broke with the Scent-Off today to celebrate Thanksgiving, and HTGAM’s Pumpkin Pi seemed like the idea shaving soap. I used one of the big, fluffy Omega Silvertips—truly wonderful brushes—and was struck by the wonderfully present and distinctive fragrance of pumpkin pie as I loaded the brush. And the lather this soap is exceptional: it felt as though I were brushing whipped cream from out of the surface of a small pumpkin pie (certainly the 5″-diameter puck made it seem as though I were holding a small pie).
Today I loaded a Schick Krona—relatively mild—with a new Feather blade: very easy shave, very smooth, no nicks or irritation. A good splash of Speick and the festive day commences.
So I begin the last lap of this year’s Scent-Off, using the Green Mountain soap, with the initial lathering done with a boar brush, my Omega Baby Pro.
As usual, lather comments are saved, but the Progress in three passes gave me a very fine shave indeed, and a splash of Creed’s Aventus made for a great finish.
Still a tiny bit of shopping to do.
Really fine shave today. The Simpsons Duke 3 Best is a very fine brush—but like the Simpsons Commodore, often overlooked. I got a very fine lather using the shaving soap sample shown, Dagger from Saint Charles Shave.
I really like the shaving soap sample format of a very thin full-diameter puck. Saint Charles Shave shipped the puck in a little plastic tray, so it was easy to handle and quite easy to load. This format (and I believe HoneybeeSoaps.net uses a similar format) is ideal. I’ve also received as samples small wedge-shaped chunks. Those don’t work so well.
Three passes to BBS smoothness and then a good splash of TOBS Sandalwood aftershave.
I thought I’d summarize my impressions:
The first use of the soap I did not glance at the name and tried to identify the fragrance with my somewhat doltish nose. It definitely had a fragrance, but I could not name it. But as soon as I saw the name of the soap, Ciderhouse 5, I immediately connected with the smell of cider: a fragrance of fermented apples with what I detect a tart but subtle hint of vinegar. I like the fragrance, for all that I couldn’t immediately identify it.
The soap lathered well—no problem getting 3 passes, and the lather is good. And the shave went well, too.
Today’s lather was somewhat better, though yesterday’s was fine. I’m not sure whether it’s the horsehair brush or loading the brush a bit longer, then adding a driblet of water as I worked up the lather. Good glide, no problems.
Final shave of the series and best lather yet. I tried something a little different: I wet the brush thoroughly—sopping wet—then held the puck over the sink and brushed quite briskly and firmly until the bubbles were microscopic and the brush seemed well loaded. Then I added a driblet of hot water to the center of the brush and loaded a little longer. The resulting lather was creamier. This may be one of those soaps that wants a little extra water.
A really superlative removal of two-day stubble. The Omega Pro 48 worked up a terrific lather from Strop Shoppe’s Special Edition (with tallow) Black Tie shaving soap, and the Eros slant, holding an Astra Superior Platinum blade, did a fine 3-pass shave except for one odd nick on upper lip when going XTG—not bad, and staunched immediately with My Nik Is Sealed. I did replace the blade (with another ASP) at the end of the shave. A good splash of TOBS Shaving Shop aftershave, and the week begins.
Tasks include making a new batch of pepper sauce, but it’s pass the season for red Fresno peppers. But we’ll make do.
I decided to use the Pumpkin Pie shaving soap from HowToGrowAMoustache.com, a favorite soap, and I had the inspiration to choose a pumpkin-colored brush, my Rooney Emilion.
An immediate great lather resulted, and I went at my beard with my new Schick Krona, which I purchased on eBay, coincidentally from a blog reader. With a Kai blade I got a very smooth shave indeed: three passes to BBS.
A splash of Geo. F. Trumper Spanish Leather aftershave, and I’m starting the weekend.
Douglas Smythe, proprietor of HTGAM, comments on the ingredients of this soap:
A note on the new formulation: Here is a breakdown on the new ingredients included in Pumpk’n 3.14 as well as all our soaps now:
Chaulmoogra Oil – Used for shield and protection of skin.Contains antimicrobial properties effective to treat eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, sprains, bruises and skin inflammations. Studies have shown Chaulmoogra oil to be an effective treatment for leprosy!
Neem Oil – Used to lubricate and moisturize. Neem oil is rich in essential fatty acids, like those found in sea buckthorn oil, that nourish and balance problem skin. The natural oils and glycerides quickly and easily penetrate outer layers of skin to soothe even chronically dry, itchy or flaking areas like psoriasis and eczema. Neem oil is the next big “it” in skin care and for preventing the signs of aging. Many consumers are aware of the importance of essential fatty acids and anti-oxidants for the health benefits internally and externally. Neem oil contains both potent anti-oxidants and is rich in essential fatty acids; Neem is the perfect skin cocktail for soothing wrinkles and fine lines while helping to prevent the signs of aging when used regularly. It has been traditionally used to even out skin tone irregularities, helping to balance and restore proper skin pigmentation for issues such as vitiligo or age spots. Neem is an ideal herb for acne-prone skin because it can help to soothe irritation and inflammation, clear up pimples and remove un-desired levels of bacteria on the skin that can cause more break-outs. Neem is the ideal plant for mature skin, oily skin, dry or acne-prone conditions. Few plants are considered to be as important a panacea or “cure all” for many skin conditions. Neem is fondly referred to as the village pharmacy for this reason.
Pumpkin-Seed Oil – Added to lubricate, shield and moisturize. Skin Benefits: Antioxidant properties It appears that the biggest skin benefits of pumpkin-seed oil are that it possesses very high levels of the natural antioxidants and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Pumpkin-seed oil is especially high in the gamma-tocopherol form of Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant.
Aloe Vera – A powerful moisturizer. Aloe plants have their own way of being beneficial when applied to skin. Aloe both soothes tired skin and has antibacterial properties. It’s a product used to heal the skin from damaging effects caused by over-exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. Once applied, it releases natural vitamins and enzymes into the skin to produce a deep moisturizing effect that restores its balance.
Yellow Dock Root – Provides skin food and adds slick much like clay. Topically, yellow dock can come in quite handy; it may be used to reduce swelling in the event of an injury. The Native Americans used the bruised leaves to draw pus from wounds. The powder has also been use on insect stings and bites to relieve the pain, swelling and irritation. It is a natural astringent that much like alum can stop minor weepers.
Maca Root – Provides skin food and slick much like clay. Recently, it was shown that Maca root nourishes and softens the skin. Laboratory studies have shown that Maca root stimulates proliferation of fibroblasts in vitro, resulting in younger looking skin. Research showed that Maca root extract stimulates adhesion. The extract from Maca root, (Macaderm) has been tested in vitro, on keratinocytes, which are responsible of the synthesis of extracellular constituents. Cells reside in a protein network, moulded by extracellular matrix constituents. The most important constituents of cell adhesion are integrin and collagen type IV. While integrins interact with extracellular matrix and mediate various cell signals, collagen type IV promotes cell attachment and proliferation. It was shown that in anti-aging skin care formulations, Maca extract enhances keratinocyte production, giving the basement membrane a better network structure. So by increasing keratinocyte production, Maca may increase collagen synthesis, improving the integrity of the skin’s structural matrix.
And some of our classic standard ingredients:
Kokum Butter – For glide and moisturizing benefits. Well known for it’s emollient, and regenerative, properties making it one of the best choices for damaged skin preparations. One of the most useful butters for inflamed skin preparation and enhanced barrier formation. ATTRIBUTES nurtures damaged skin soothes inflammed skin provides a supple skin feel improved barrier for natural hydration
Mango Butter – Adds moisture and glide. Contains a wealth of healthy properties with multiple skin-nourishing benefits that can really do your wonders for your skin. For centuries, Mango Butter has been traditionally used in the rain forests and tropics for its skin softening, soothing, moisturizing and protective properties. It is rich in powerful antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help to reduce the degeneration of skin cells, restore elasticity and offer a protective effect from the sun’s UV radiation. Mango Butter works as an anti-ageing ingredient; fighting free-radicals and plumping up lines and wrinkles (dermatologists often recommend Mango Butter for the treatment of lines and wrinkles, as most people who use it will notice decreased signs of aging within 4 to 6 weeks of daily use).
Cocoa Butter – Provides moisture & shield. Cocoa butter is among the best moisturizers as it penetrates through the outer layer of the skin to reach the skin layer below and moisturizes and repairs the skin effectively leaving your face soft, supple and glowing. Presence of antioxidants and vitamins: Cocoa butter has very strong antioxidants that help in fighting free radicals that are the major cause of aging. The major antioxidants found in cocoa butter are known as flavonols which are very strong antioxidants. The presence of vitamins in cocoa butter, with vitamin E being very abundant in cocoa butter makes it very beneficial on skin as it protects skin that is irritated and sunburned. Beneficial for dry skin problems: Cocoa butter being an excellent emollient and moisturizer, it is very suitable for people suffering from dry skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis which are characterized by itchy, scaly and dry skin. Reduces stress and bring relief: Applying cocoa butter on face has been considered a good way of easing tension from the body and also reducing stress. The antioxidants present in cocoa butter also help in easing away stress related tension.
Avocado Oil – Lubricates & heals the skin. Avocado oil applied topically helps relieve dry and itchy skin. Once applied, avocado oil is deeply absorbed by the skin, thus making it an ideal moisturizer and skin care agent. Increase Collagen Production. When applied, avocado oil increases the production of collagen, which helps keep the skin plump and decreases the effects of aging. Treat Skin Conditions. Avocado oil is useful in the treatment of a variety of skin conditions, including eczema and psoriasis. Others. Avocado oil facilitates the healing of wounds and burns to the skin.
And that’s just some of our ingredients…sorry to bore you, just thought due to a recent influx of emails, some want to know why we use what we use! Happy Shaving! Douglas
A really fine shave today. Lather comments later, but as you see I brought out a Whipped Dog 22mm silvertip, this one with an octagonal resin handle.
The Sodial really is quite a good razor for me: very comfortable during the shave, no inclination to nick, and can readily product a BBS result with the right brand of blade—for me, this morning, it was a Kai blade. I think the thin head helps in maneuverability and access. Truly, this would work as an “only razor.” Do not underestimate it just because it costs $2 shipped.
A good splash of Spanish Leather, and the weekend appears on the horizon.
My second Petal Pusher Scent-off shave, this time with a horsehair brush, as shown. Lather comments later, but with an Astra Superior Platinum blade in the vintage Merkur slant, I easily achieved a smooth finish. A good splash of D.R. Harris Pink Aftershave finished the job. Based on the color, I thought this was a rose-fragranced aftershave when I purchased it, but it’s not. But it’s quite bracing and pleasant.
Very pleasant shave, though I did change the Kai blade at the end. My Omega 20102 did a very fine job, and Petal Pusher Ciderhouse is one of the Scent-Off lathers, so I’ll have more to say later.
Three passes, a splash of Alt-Innsbruck, followed by a drive to Palo Alto, where I’m spending the day and getting a late start blogging.
ShoeboxShaveshop.com is having a holiday sale. The discount/coupon codes:
xmas5 = 5% off orders > $50 & < $100
xmas10 = 10% off orders > $99.99
BBS result, but with a slant that’s less of a surprise.
I kept seeing this shaving cream, and grapefruit sounded like an interesting fragrance, but I didn’t get much of a grapefruit hit from it. But I did get an excellent lather with the help of my G.B. Kent BK4.
Three quick passes, a rinse, dry, and splash of La Toja.