Archive for the ‘Shaving’ Category
The question arose on the difference between badger plain and badger plus horsehair, so I used a brush of each type. Both performed extremely well, so it comes down to personal preference as to the feel of the brush on your face. The Vie-Long is badger plus horsehair, and I purchased it from GiftsAndCare.com some time back. I wet well the knot of this brush before I shower, and then after the shower it’s just right for use. The Simpson I don’t bother soaking.
The difference in feel is that the badger+horsehair feels denser and firmer, the Simpson be softer and with more give. I like them both, but of course I like variety.
The Dapper Dragon Cinnamon Bun lathered well, but I did not get much of a cinnamon hint. Still, it’s a serviceable soap.
My Wilkinson “Sticky” with a Feather blade did a superb job, leaving my face BBS. Alt-Innsbruck was its usual excellent self. I can see that fairly soon I will need a new bottle.
I just learned that Later On has been included in a list of good shaving sites. Take a look.
Really terrific shave today: easy and BBS outcome.
I was talking about brush characteristics on Wicked_Edge, and I am pushing for “fluffy” as descriptors for very soft brushes like the Omega silvertip in the photo. “Floppy” is commonly used, but (so far as I can tell) virtually always by someone who doesn’t like such brushes, so that the word has acquired (to my ear) a pejorative connotation. I can quite understand someone preferring a “scrubby” to a “fluffy” brush—personal preferences vary widely, as you’ve doubtless noted—but since some prefer such brushes, I thought a neutral term was best. And in fact they do not flop in use: they’re simply very soft. (I did hear from one person who said that lather lies everywhere when he uses such brushes, and I’ve since been trying to picture his lathering technique. The only thing I can come up with is slapping one’s face with the lathered brush. That’s not the technique I use, and the lather, though abundant, thick, and creamy, is well behaved.)
The Omega silvertip brush shown is one of my fluffiest and a real pleasure to feel as it caresses my face while filed with a thick, luxurious, abundant lather, this morning fragrant of coconut. Honeybee Soaps are excellent, and the pack of samples is well worth trying.
Face lathered, the iKon Slant with a Personna Lab Blue blade easily wiped off the stubble, and a good splash of Paul Sebastian aftershave—a favorite, as you see from the level in the bottle—finished the job. Like Stetson, PS includes tonka, which gives a very nice vanilla note to the fragrance.
I decided to skip the shave stick today: I know now that a large boar knot like the Pro 48 will require more soap to be fully loaded than my beard scrapes off the stick. So today it’s the Pro 48 and Dr. Selby’s 3x Concentrated shaving cream—a very nice shaving cream with a hard-soap consistency.
Wonderful lather, as always with Dr. Selby. The Standard razor (brand name) is remarkably good. The more I use it, the more I like it. BBS in three passes.
A splash of Stetson Classic (do I detect a note of vanilla?) and it’s off the vet with Megs for her pedicure.
Today continues the boar-brush experiment: I used a smaller boar brush, and on that is well broken in, with a shave stick to see whether the lather would better last through the shave. I forgot I had this rose-fragranced shave stick from QEDusa.com, but I’m glad it resurfaced: very nice fragrance (to my nose, YMMV) and a very good lather.
I loaded the iKon Slant with a new Lab Blue blade and I noticed what some others have remarked on (and questioned): the blade seems to sit crookedly in the razor after the the cap and handle are well screwed together. Looking at either side of the blade, you see substantial exposure at one end which narrows until the other end is barely exposed. It truly does look crooked.
I think if I had not previously used the razor, I would have had misgivings. (I did have enough misgivings that I tried a second blade, somehow thinking the blade had be cut crookedly. Nope: same thing: lots of exposure at one end of each side, dwindling to very little at the other.) I already knew the razor shaved well, so I went to it. No problem whatsoever, and got an effortless BBS shave.
The third-pass lather was better than yesterday, but not so much as I like. I think that with shave sticks I’ll stick to badger, horse, and synthetic. It can be done with boar, but it’s a stretch—at least for me.
A good splash of Savory Rose and the weekend’s almost here.
A really smooth shave today, quite wonderful. The Omega 20102 this morning had loads o’ lather, enough for a couple of three-pass shaves at least. (I did only one.) Obviously, the lather sparsity of yesterday’s third pass was because the brush was insufficiently loaded. Apparently, the soap scraped by the stubble from the beard won’t do for a large boar brush, which requires the amount of soap you can get by brushing a puck vigorously and at length, until the bubbles being formed are microscopic. That’s what I did this morning, and the lather was ample.
To test this theory—that the problem was the size of the boar knot—I am going to use a small boar brush with a shave stick tomorrow, and then on Saturday a large (Pro 48) boar brush that is well broken in.
In the meantime, here I was with a lathered beard. When I commented on the new Apollo razor (foreground), I mentioned that its stainless steel handle had a sort of knob at the end, which is uncommon among premium stainless razors. (The Apollo itself is not a premium razor, but a solid mid-range, selling for $35.) But then I saw the Maggard razor shown, which has the same sort of knob, though its handle is slightly small diameter. I had simply forgotten that.
I used both razors this morning, and I found that—for me—the Apollo handle felt too heavy and bulky, and that on the whole I preferred the handle of the Maggard razor (which was around $16). Both razors shaved well, one with a Gillette Rubie blade, one with a Super Max Titanium, but the handle made a difference in the feel.
BBS without a nick, and then a good splash of Arlington aftershave. I watched American Hustle recently and I’m still thinking about it. What an excellent movie—and what superb acting. It’s hard to define the category: an ensemble politico-caper romantic comedy would do it.
After yesterday’s shave I became curious whether a boar brush better broken in would maintain lather from a shave stick better, so today I took this one, model 20102. D.R. Harris is an excellent shaving soap that provides extremely good lather, so I was hopeful. But once again lather was somewhat sparse on the third pass: enough for the pass, but no more.
So tomorrow I’m going to use this same brush with a D.R. Harris soap in a tub to see whether the problem is simply that the shave stick method insufficiently loads a largish boar brush. And then I’m going to try a shave stick shave with a boar brush that has a smaller knot (and is probably more broken in.)
In the meantime, I got a BBS and trouble-free result using my Eclipse Red Ring razor with a Personna Lab Blue blade. This is one of several razors that have the alignment studs on the base rather than the cap. When that’s the situation, you load a new blade on the base rather than on the cap: a blade is always loaded onto the alignment studs.
I will say that this morning the Marlborough fragrance was quite noticeable—and very good, so far as I’m concerned.
It’s a taking-it-easy sort of day: I feel a little under the weather.
I decided that the lathercidal aspects of the Omega R&B brush were sufficiently diminished—that is, the brush was sufficiently “broken in”—that I could chance a shave-stick shave, which generally relies on the brush holding sufficient lather to carry you through three passes. (You can reload the brush directly on the stick, using the shave stick as an extremely thick puck of small diameter, as we see in the (wonderful) movie The Dam Busters, but it’s easier if you do not have to reload the brush.)
So I washed beard, rubbed the stick all over it, and wet the soaked brush well under the hot water tap, then gave it a good shake so that it was pretty damp but far from dripping wet. Brisk brushing brought forth the lather, and I worked it around my beard and into the brush.
The Weber with an Astra Superior Platinum blade (and UFO handle: rather handsome, I think) did a fine job, and the brush did indeed hold enough lather for three passes, though one more pass would have been a stretch. Still, I had plenty for a good shave, and as I continue to use the brush, it will continue to break in and improve.
A good splash of Saint Charles Shave Very V aftershave, and the day is launched. Some excitement: higher broadbad speeds are now available for our apartment, so I’m heading out to sign the contract that will quadruple our line speed…
I continue to seek the “lifting” action some attribute to the shaving brush: that is, for some it seems that brushing the lather on the face lifts the stubble from its original position. I think my own stubble may not require any lifting, and in any event so far have not figured out how the brushes I use could apply enough force. Certainly the softer brushes (which do a dandy job in shaving) could not, and even the more resilient brushes—a boar brush, for example—don’t show any lifting action in the way that I use them: brushing the lather back and forth across my face.
Today, with a two-day stubble, I used the Ecotools brush, which I think most would agree is too soft and gentle to provide any lifting action. It loaded readily from my (older) Floris No. 89 shaving soap, and on my beard I brushed briskly to work up the unique Ecotools lather: stiffish and thick. But no lifting.
Despite the stubbe’s being unlifted, I got a BBS shave with no effort, thanks to the iKon Slant and the Personna Lab Blue blade it holds. This is faceturbation smooth, not unusual in shaving off a multi-day stubble.
A good splash of Floris No. 89 aftershave, and the week stands before me.
My tentative conclusion: most shave brushes do not lift stubble. They create lather and apply it, and the process is enjoyable and essential, but lifting does not occur. And shaving removes stubble, with any unlifted stubble doubtless removed in the ATG pass. My general conclusion at this time is that stubble-lifting is an urban legend.
This is not to say that everyone will like the Ecotools brush: it is quite soft and gentle and while some like such a sensation on their face, others want more vigor. But this is a matter of personal preference regarding brush feel, not a comment on brush performance. I would imagine that any brush you pick will be liked by some and not by others. Indeed, some do not even like the look of the Ecotools brush, and the appearance is clearly irrelevant to performance.
So I am not suggesting that everyone will like the Ecotools. But I think it is clear that the Ecotools can perform well and do the lathering job just fine. If your primary focus is performance and price, it’s a good brush; if you want a brush that feels good to you and fits your own aesthetic preferences, the Ecotools may or may not be a brush for you. It depends on those personal preferences.
An excellent shave: the Omega R&B brush loaded up well from the Klar Seifen soap, an excellent soap. Three passes with the Standard razor, leading to a smooth finish, and a splash of Klar Seifen aftershave.
A comment on the brush action. Larry Isaacs commented on this post, writing:
For me and my shavers the whiskers need to be lifted away from the face to be properly mowed down. We prefer boar, so it makes sense this brush [the Ecotools Finishing Kabuki brush - LG] wouldn’t do it for me. They’re polar opposites in terms of backbone./blockquote>
Since this morning I was using a boar brush, I paid careful attention to the action to detect whether the whiskers would be lifted away from the face. (Let me note that I shave daily, so the stubble is generally short and, so far as I can tell, does not grow close to the face but away from the face, so lifting the stubble is not an issue for me. But every man has his own patterns of stubble growth. Still, the amount of lift would be miniscule: the stubble simply isn’t that long.)
I could detect no lifting at all: so far as I can tell, the action of the brush is the same as for the Ecotools (and yesterday’s Rooney Emiion): brushing lather back and forth over the stubble, thus softening it for the blade. Of course, the R&B brush is quite soft—it’s made of untrimmed badger bristles—so perhaps another boar brush might act differently. But I don’t think so: the action of the brush as it brushes over the stubble doesn’t seem to lift anything. And while a resilient brush will certain feel different than a softer brush, I don’t see how it can lift bristles unless it is really a scrub brush (which would be unpleasant on the face, at least to me).
So I’m a little doubtful that any lifting is going on, but I’m willing to be proved wrong. Shave a week with the Ecotools brush, then a week with a boar brush, then another week with the Ecotools, and see whether the resulting shaves are any different. I do quite understand that some prefer the feel of a more resilient knot, but I’m more focused her on the shaving efficacy of the brush.
Any who can identify a stubble-lifting action from their shaving brush, please let me know the make and model so I can try it.
I could not ask for a better shave than this morning’s. The Rooney Emilion shown has an extremely nice knot: firm at the core, very soft at the tips, and arranged to be generous with the lather (rather than, and with some brushes, hoarding it in the knot’s interior.
Otoko Organics is an unusual shaving soap of excellent quality: it generates a superb lather. As you can see, the tub’s bottom is now exposed, with soap low around the sides. I still achieved a thick, creamy, luscious lather—and I had the foresight to order 4 tubs when I ordered, thus minimizing shipping costs per tub. So I have a spare all set to go. (One went to The Son, and I sold one.)
I am so pleased that, thanks to a reader’s comment, I returned to the brand of blade that makes the iKon Slant an unparalleled razor—at least for me. I can shave briskly, knowing that I will not get any nicks or burn, and the result is faceturbation smooth: totally BBS. The shave is easy and pleasant, and the result is top-notch.
The brand that works best for me in the iKon Slant is Personna Lab Blues, but each shaver must explore—and I just discovered a new source of blade samplers. TryABlade.com sellsblades individually, and offers also a sampler pack, one blade per brand. As I point out in the book, single-blade samplers are generally unsatisfactory because when a blade doesn’t work, you have no idea whether it’s because the brand is bad for you or because that particular blade was a dud. (Uncommon, but it does happen.) You can get around this by buying two of their single-blade sampler packs; or, if you buy individual blades of different brands, you can buy 2 blades of each brand instead of 1. With this modification, Try A Blade seems to be a good source.
A splash of Crred Aventus and we’re getting ready for the weekend.
The Ecotools continues to perform extremely well. I really do like this brush, for all that it’s a repurposed make-up brush (the Ecotools Finishing Kabuki Brush, around $7.50 in the cosmetics section of Walgreens and the like). Some really object to using it because it’s not sold as a shaving brush, but I think they probably haven’t tried it. Terrific feel (very soft and gentle) and makes a terrific lather. I know some like a scrubby brush, which this isn’t, but in terms of lather performance it’s excellent. And it easily holds 3 passes worth of lather.
Creed’s Green Irish Tweed shaving soap makes a thick and creamy lather very easily, but it’s best to get it as a gift: it’s expensive.
Three passes with the Ri Mei razor (head at least is stainless, perhaps the handle as well), holding a Gillette SuperThin blade. The Ri Mei, for all its low price (less than $5) does an excellent job: BBS this morning.
A good splash of Creed’s Green Irish Tweed as an aftershave, and I’m feeling great: shower that was clogged for 3 days was fixed yesterday.
I was asked to compare the iKon OSS and the iKon Open Comb, so I used both this morning.
First, of course, was the prep, and I again want to express my appreciation to Todd O. for telling me about the Rooney Victorian shown. It’s a remarkable brush: hooked bristles, short but capacious knot: firm in the body, soft on the tips, and generous with lather—plus the long handle is cool.
I got a terrific lather from Strop Shoppe’s Special Edition Barbershoppe, and the two razors were equally comfortable and efficient. So far as I can tell, you can just pick the one that appeals to you: they’re both superb razors.
Three passes to perfection, a splash of Hâttric, and a rainy day begins.
Good shave today. The Thäter is an exceptional brush—hooked bristles, as you see, and very compact and effective.
Al’s shaving soap is pretty soft—the photo shows the head of the Mikron resting on the soap and in fact it sank in a little from its weight. The brush loaded readily but the lather was a bit foamy, so perhaps I didn’t load it enough. I’ll be trying again.
The shave was good but not BBS—may be time to change the blade. A good splash of Stetson Sierra aftershave, and the day begins.
A totally wonderful shave today. The tiny Vie-Long horsehair brush did a fine job and held plenty of lather for 3 passes, and the lather, from the VintageBladesLLC.com private label soap was excellent. I like that soap a lot: as good as premium English soaps but less expensive.
The iKon Slant with the same Personna Lab Blue blade as previous shaves was supremely comfortable, removed the two-day stubble easily and efficiently, and left my face BBS. A splash of Krampert’s Finest Bay Rum—pleasantly moisturizing—finished the job and started the week.
A really find shave today. First a terrific lather from Lenthèric, in a lavender fragrance. It’s a vintage soap, some decades old, but very sprightly at providing lather, this morning generated with a Plisson horn-handled HMW 12.
The Standard razor (brand name) with a new or newish Astra Superior Platinum blade provided a great shave. This really is an excellent razor, for all its non-standard aspects. BBS in three passes.
A splash of Klar Seifen aftershave, and we start the weekend.
A very good shave today, all round. First the lather was wonderful. I really like the I Coloniali shaving cream shown, and my little Omega badger brush made an extremely good lather and held enough for at least 5 passes, based on what was remaining after the 3 passes I did.
Shown are two Apollo razors. The one in the foreground is the new Apollo, recently released by ApolloSafetyRazors.com. It’s also available from Amazon with free shipping for Prime members. It comes with a Merkur blade, and Merkur blades don’t work well for me, so I used a Super Max Titanium.
The razor in the background is an older Apollo, probably not even the same company, made (I would guess) sometime in the late 1930′s or late 1940′s. That one is described more fully in this post. That Apollo is one of my favorite razors (and is, I believe, the source of the Progress design).
The new Apollo—the one I used this morning—is quite a handsome razor, and with the stainless steel machined handle has excellent heft and an excellent grip. The knob at the end of the handle is a larger diameter than the handle proper, an advantage in the ATG pass. (Most stainless handles I’ve seen do not offer any sort of terminating knob—an unfortunate decision, but common: Feather, Weber, iKon: all have handles of uniform diameter the full length. So a kudos for the knob.
The razor’s head is a zinc alloy but with a brushed satin finish that makes it look like stainless steel. And the head is well designed: I easily got a BBS result with no nicks or burn, and this is with the first shave. (My experience is that one “learns” a razor by using it, and the shaves improve as one knows the razor better and finds the best brand(s) of blades for it.)
This would be a good alternative to an Edwin Jagger as a first razor, and it’s priced competitively.
A good splash of the Alt-Innsbruck, with the menthol quite noticeable this morning, and Friday gets underway..
Today’s shave confirmed that the blade brand was the reason I was getting small nicks in recent months when using the iKon Slant. I had been very excited about the razor’s performance initially, but as the small nicks set in (generally from the XTG pass on my upper lip), I had unconsciously started avoiding the razor. Once a commenter faced me with his own dissatisfaction, I was moved to resume use, determined to use it until I figured it out. And then the problem turned out to be the brand of blade: once I resumed using the brand of blade that I first used with the razor, when I was so impressed with its performance, the problems vanished immediately. For me, the “good” brand is Personna Lab Blue, but you may have to explore some to find your own best brand. But I now can say that with a Lab Blue this razor is totally top notch: not only is the result of the shave a BBS face, the shave itself is fully enjoyable: great comfort.
I do use a very light touch indeed—much less than the weight of the razor. With this solid stainless steel razor, the weight of the razor is much more than what is needed, so I mostly support the razor in my grip: the touch on the face is very light, but indeed that is all that is needed.
Prairie Creations shaving soaps make a fine lather, and after 3 passes my face was indeed BBS, with no effort on my part to achieve it. A splash of TOBS Bay Rum, and the day begins.
Totally wonderful shave today, and thanks to Phil Wilson. He mentioned in a comment that he had found the Personna Med Prep blade to work quite well in the slant. I don’t have those, but I do have a box of Personna Lab Blue blades, so I put a new one in the razor.
First, of course, I did a good job of prep: washing beard at sink (after my shower) with the jlocke98 formula, using Dr. Bronner’s Rose Pure Castile liquid soap and emu oil. Then I rubbed my Honeybee Soaps Fresh Lemon shave stick against the grain all over my partially rinsed beard. I wet my Simpson Persian Jar, shook it a few times, then started working up the lather. I added water once (a driblet of hot water to the center of the brush) and worked that in to get a perfect lather.
With the Personna Lab Blue, the iKon Slant was back to its initial feel: smooth shaving, totally comfortable, and no nicks—to the degree that I had the feeling that I couldn’t nick myself even if I tried (although, to be honest, I did not put that feeling to the test). BBS in three passes of full enjoyment.
Since the iKon Slant had felt this good initially—thus my first very positive reviews—I was curious whether just changing the blade had made the (marked) difference in the comfort of the shave. So I looked back at my post of my first iKon Slant shave, and I discovered that the blade I had used was a Personna Lab Blue. I have been wandering in the wilderness of other brands, seeking my way home, and thanks to Phil I found it.
So if you’re having problems with a razor, do not neglect blade exploration. Personna Lab Blues may not work for you, but they certainly work well for me.
I plan to use the iKon slant daily in order to learn it better. Today’s lather was superb: my Plisson Chinese Grey clearly like HTGAM’s Gondolier shaving soap. I got BBS with three passes, but also three small nicks on the upper lip, which seems to be where the problem occurs. All nicks, so far as I can tell, occurred during the XTG pass. Tomorrow I’ll try a different brand of blade and also pay extra-close attention during XTG.
A good splash of Musgo Real—a very good aftershave—finished the shave.
And today, 6 weeks after I bought it, I’ll get my new chair. I’m excited.