Archive for the ‘Shaving’ Category
Almightywhacko recommended this soap, of which I’d never heard. The maker has an Etsy store, however, with a good selection of soaps. I ordered several and this one is the Tobacco. The fragrance is like a good-quality tobacco, not overwhelming. When I smelled it, I thought immediately of Alt-Innsbruck as a good aftershave.
No problem at all in getting a very high-quality lather. Based on this first tub, it really is an excellent soap. It’s somewhat soft, though by no means so soft as some of the Italian soft soaps.
Today I did the entire shave with the loaner AS-D1 shown, and I see what the owner means: sometimes the head somehow does not allow the blade to engage. I got a good-enough shave, though not the BBS I get from my own AS-D1 (at least in my memory; I’ll use mine for tomorrow’s shave to confirm). And I was indeed using a Feather blade. This may indeed be the problem that prompted the AS-D2, which looks much the same but probably addresses this problem. (Massdrop.com is selling the D2 for $147.50 right now on a mass order—a few days left to join and order. Since the normal price is $200, that is a good savings.)
A good splash of Alt-Innsbruck, and we undertake another day.
A really superb shave today. As you see in the photo, I used the Omega Pro 48 (which after the last use apparently dried with part of the knot pushed out of place: the cowlick vanished when the brush was wet, and will probably not return) with the Honeybee Soaps Lilac that disappointed me previously with a boar brush, but did a fine job with a badger brush and the boar brush subsequently did a fine job with D.R. Harris shaving soap.
So today I took another boar brush—the Pro 48—to the Lilac soap—and got an extremely good lather, which lasted through the shave with plenty more to go. Of course, the Pro 48 has substantially more capacity than the boar used before, but still.. I now have to try that previous boar again with this soap. Maybe I just didn’t load the brush enough.
But a great lather, and then I set to work with my new $11 Utopia Care razor, a very good price (possibly introductory) for a razor. Mantic59 spotted this one and pointed it out to me, and today’s the first shave, using a Personna Lab Blue blade and having a BBS result. There may be just a tad of razor burn—not sure—but certainly no nicks and the razor itself feels good and substantial. I think a beginner might well find this razor an inexpensive way to begin—and, let’s face it, a beginner is going to have to do some learning of how to use a razor regardless of which one he picks.
I do enjoy this BBS result, to which I applied a good splash of Pinaud Lilac Vegetal. This time I’m showing the backside label, as a service to readers (and because I didn’t notice the bottle was backwards until now).
Another fine shave.
A two-test shave. First, I was testing the Omega boar brush shown. I got a poor lather from it last week. I tried the soap with another brush (a badger) and got a fine lather, so now I have to try that soap with a different boar brush, but I also wanted to test this brush using a different soap. (It produced the poor lather last week from a Honeybee Soaps shaving soap, which almightywhacko has found does not produce good lather for him, thus the test with a different soap.)
So, first test: Use a soap of impeccable lathering credentials, D.R. Harris, and see how the brush performs. And it performed very well indeed. I had a rich, creamy lather and the brush still had an abundance when the shave ended. So it’s not the brush, which clearly can perform well with some soaps.
The next step is to try the same soap (HBS Lilac) with a different boar brush. Perhaps that soap doesn’t work well with boar brushes in general, and no particular fault is associated with this brush. A second use will help figure that out.
With good lather in hand (and on beard), I next turned to the razor test. For me, the Feather AS-D1, when used with Feather blades, is a top-notch razor, both extremely comfortable (most agree) and aggressively efficient (some don’t find it so). I have reports from multiple sources that the efficiency depends upon using Feather blades in particular.
However, a reader reported that he has to struggle to get a good, close shave with his own Feather AS-D1, so we agreed that he would send it to me for a test. Today is the first test.
I thought I would shave with both, but that was hard to do, though I did shave a bit with mine (the one with no tape on the handle). I thought my Feather perhaps did feel a hint more aggressive, but that was only one part of one side in the XTG pass. I’ll do this again and use one for the left side of my face, the other for the right.
And, in any event, I did get a very close and smooth shave with no nicks. Not quite BBS, but close and a more than satisfactory shave. So: another test is needed. (I will be sending the razor back in a week, so I have time for some more testing.)
A good splash of Arlington afteshave, and the day is properly begins.
It’s too bad the razor test—or, for that matter, the brush test—was not immediately conclusive, but it’s a step by step process.
BBS comes easily when you have a two-day stubble and use a good slant—and the white bakelite vintage Merkur slant is one of the best, though now scarce. Italian Barber had a trove for a while, but it went quickly. (Some cynics thought—and said—that additional troves would turn up repeatedly and the supposed scarcity was merely a marketing move. They were wrong, but the Stealth slant from Italian Barber was modeled on this razor, and the Stealth—though still in short supply—is comparable.)
The brush is the Plisson synthetic now being sold by l’Occitane for $30, which to my mind is a great bargain. There’s a rumor that the pricing is low because the line is discontinued and they’re clearing out stock. I have no idea whether that’s true, but I got one and ordered one for The Son after mine arrived.
The knot is what some call “floppy,” and I have figured out what that means. It does not mean that the knot has a tendency to flop over (I’ve never seen a brush that does that). The term exists because saying a brush is “soft” is somewhat ambiguous: it might mean that the tips of the bristles are quite soft—in that sense, a velvet-covered iron ball is “soft”—or it might mean that the entire knot is soft—like a very fluffy (but resilient) pillow.
Some really like a dense and stiff brush, one that is resilient like a steel spring, but they still want soft tips. Those are probably the originators of the “floppy” nomenclature because they want a brush that is scrubby, and knot that is soft overall is not scrubby.
I like knots that are soft and yielding (though still resilient: the knot deforms under very slight pressure, unlike denser, stiffer brush, but when pressure is released the knot resumes it shape immediately), and this Plisson Synthetic knot fills the bill—and in addition, the tips feel like velvet.
The softness of the knot has no effect on lathering ability, given that the water is reasonably soft: I got a wonderfully thick lather instantly from my (old formulation) Geo. F. Trumper Sandalwood: fragrant, thick, lubricating lather.
Three passes of the redoubtable bakelite slant holding a Personna Lab Blue blade, and BBS emerged—with no nicks at all. In fact the second pass revealed several BBS areas: they had been there all along, under the stubble.
A good splash of TOBS Sandalwood aftershave and the week begins.
Sometimes I have a full-on “duh” moment. Today was one.
I’ve been working through a batch of samples of Honeybee Soaps shaving soaps, following this negative review by almightywhacko posted on Reddit’s Wet_Shavers subreddit . I was struck how much that review differs from my own experience with Honeybee Soaps shaving soap.
I was curious to see whether my own experience was indeed an outlier, so I tried collecting the experience of other HBS customers. I also ordered the set of samples I’ve been using this week. While in general I’ve had quite good lathers, but Tuesday’s shave produced a substandard lather: quite sparse by the third pass. In the comments to the post, Ron notes that he himself had had some bad results using the same model of Omega boar brush (the 11575) as I had used in that shave. That observation requires at least three more shaves:
- A shave with the same soap and a different kind of brush; and
- A shave with the same soap and a different brush of the same kind (boar, probably the 20102); and
- A shave with that Omega boar brush and a different soap.
Today I tackled the first of those: using the same lilac soap but with a badger brush—in this case my Rooney Style 2 Finest, a very nice brush indeed. The Rooney Style 2 Super Silvertip ($70 a few years back, $90 now) is an excellent brush, and I had one and loved it. The Finest is indeed somewhat better, but the incremental improvement resulted in a substantial increase in price. However, that’s a common pattern: it costs a certain amount to reach a reasonable level of quality, and incremental improvements beyond that are progressively more expensive. (Check out the price of Purdy shotguns to see how much incremental improvements can cost.)
So today I picked my Rooney Finest silvertip brush and worked up a lather—and wow! what a good lather! Day and night as compared to the lather from the same soap using that Omega boar brush (the Rooney’s lather being the “day” lather, just to be clear). Indeed, after I finished the (three-pass) shave, the brush was still puffy with stored lather (which this brush releases easily):
Not only was the lather better, the fragrance was much more noticeable and (to my nose, at least) very nice indeed. Fragrances, however, are like everything else in shaving, a matter of YMMV.
UPDATE: I’ve had a pleasant exchange with almightywhacko and wanted to clarify some things. First, I have indeed used better soaps than HBS soaps, but these are (for me) quite good given their price (under $5/puck). My thought is that HBS soaps work well for their price, but indeed there are soaps that work better—the Synergy soaps from Howtogrowamoustache.com and Strop Shoppe’s Special Edition soaps are two examples that spring to mind, but Arko ($2/stick) and various other artisanal soaps are also good at not much more. Still, I have no trouble getting a good shave with HBS soaps, and for those who want to minimize expense, it seems to me that trying a few samples would answer the question of whether it will work for them. /update
When I saw today how very much better the silvertip badger brush worked than the boar brush on the same soap, I had my “duh” moment. Silvertip badger brushes are much more expensive than boar brushes. That means that the invisible hand of the market is willing to pay (substantially) more for silvertip badger. The invisible hand of the market is considered by some to be pretty much an infallible guide: if prices that are artificially high (i.e., in excess of the benefits gained), then those prices must fall as “the market” turns to lower-priced alternatives to keep the cost/benefit ratio acceptable. So of course silvertip badger would perform better than boar—otherwise, everyone would buy boar, since the higher cost of silvertip would produce no benefit.
I personally am not that enamored of “the invisible hand of the free market,” particularly when Libertarians present it as a universal panacea. We see manifold failures of the free market: environmental degradation, refusal to develop medicines for which the market is small or poor (I’m looking at you, ebola vaccine, but many other examples exist), and in general all the government services undertaken for the general welfare that the invisible hand will either not address or screws up abominably (e.g., for-profit hospitals, for-profit schools, for-profit military units like Blackwater).
Still, given the undeniable major difference in lather quality from the silvertip badger brush and the Omega boar, one can certainly see how the invisible hand will pay more for silvertip badger than for boar. I do understand that boar is more readily available (more supply) and thus less costly to obtain, but the fact that the market is willing to value silvertip badger so much more highly means that (overall) the market recognizes the superiority of the brush in terms of its function: making lather.
The next shave will be that same Omega boar brush with a different soap—D.R. Harris, probably—and then a shave using a different boar brush and the Lilac soap. Step by step.
Three passes with the Standard razor holding an Astra Superior Platinum blade, resulting in a BBS result (no nicks), to which I applied a good splash of Pinaud Lilac Vegetal, now well on its way to a pleasant hint of fragrance.
Really fine lather today—does badger make the difference? I’ll return to the Lilac tomorrow with the Mr Pomp brush shown and see.
Three passes with the Stealth holding a Personna Lab Blue blade, then a good splash of Krampert’s Finest Bay Rum Acadian Spice Aftershave, one of my faves.
Little to report: no experiments (other than the soap) and a good BBS result with no problem.
I was about to post my SOTD this morning when I was interrupted, and by the time I got back the “already posted” flag had been set in my brain. But I did remember at last. (I like to have the SOTD mark the beginning of the day’s posts—this one marks the end instead.)
The Vie-Long horsehair brush did a very fine job with Honeybee Saps Vetyver: absolutely no lather problems today, either in thickness or in lifespan—plenty of lather left in the brush at the end, unlike yesterday’s shave. (I’m going to try the Lilac soap again with a horsehair or badger brush to see whether the problem was the boar.)
The iKon S3S is a stainless razor with a massive asymmetric head, and the iKon handle shown is their “Bamboo” model, which I don’t think is available any more. However, Maggard has a new razor, the MR5, with a handle that is quite similar. The blade was SuperMax Titanium and three passes produced a BBS result without a sign of a nick.
A good splash of Pinaud Lilac Vegetal—the aftershave I should have used yesterday for a lilac theme—and it turns out to be quite nice after the initial blast dies down (though of course fragrances are very much YMMV).
Apologies for the delayed post.