Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Starting the Super Speed series with the first Super Speed

with 5 comments

SOTD 29 Sept 2015

This is the first Super Speed Gillette offered in the 1940s—the one in the photo has an unnotched center post. (A notch was added fairly soon to make it easier to pull the blade from the dispenser.)

The brush is from Brent’s Brushes. As with yesterday’s brush, I initially didn’t like the brush because it was so soft—”lack of backbone” is the common expression—but once I decided to learn to use it, I find I like the brush a lot.

The soap, Le Père Lucien, is quite good, an artisanal soap from France, and you’ll note the tub is filled to the brim. This does not, in practice, present any difficulty in loading. I wet the brush well, give it a good shake, and brush the soap briskly. Because this brush is soft, I cannot use much pressure—though I do use some pressure—but briskly brushing the soap suffices to load the brush well.

Sharpologist has an interesting review by Craig K of Catie’s Bubbles, another soap that fills the containers rather than shipping partially empty tubs, and the reviewer comments:

Tub is crammed full of product and so cannot be easily loaded and cannot be brush lathered in the tub should you lack a scuttle of some sort. This close tolerance packing makes loading a mess, and cleanup more extensive than it ought to be. CB should either use an 8 oz container for their 6 ozs of product, or scale back loaded volume and prices accordingly.

I don’t quite understand what he means by “crammed full” (as distinct from “full”), but he clearly prefers to use partially empty containers: indeed he specifically states that he likes the soap container to be 1/3 empty when new.

I also don’t understand what he means by “brush lathered in the tub should you lack a scuttle.” I asked about it, since building the lather is normally done in a separate bowl or scuttle, or on the hand or face—but not directly on the soap. In his response, he noted that he also face lathers, so I’m still not sure what “brush lathered in the tub should you lack a scuttle” refers to. It sure sounds to me that he’s suggesting that one build the lather directly on the soap, using the tub as a scuttle.

In any event, I found that loading from the (crammed?) full tub of Le Père Lucien was not a mess, but easy and quick. Perhaps it’s simply that I have more experience and have learned how much water the brush should hold for efficient loading without a mess: too much water, and you get spills; too little water and loading is more difficult. Learning the right amount of water to use is where experience helps—and, of course, paying attention to the brush’s action in loading, in much the same way that one pays attention to the razor’s action in shaving: enough focus on what’s happening so that one can control it. I find that sense of control, whether loading the brush neatly or shaving with the right angle and pressure, to be gratifying.

I did have this thought: wetshaving is increasingly popular, so naturally we have many who are using a brush and shaving soap to make lather for the first time. Novices by nature lack the experience and thus the skill of more seasoned practitioners. Many probably do not pay the sort of attention to the loading because it’s one more thing to learn and the cost of being sloppy with the brush is nowhere near so dear as being sloppy with the razor. So novices pay close attention to the razor and quickly learn to avoid using too much pressure or a bad angle, but in using a brush carelessly just makes a mess, and if that can be blamed on something other than lack of skill or learning (“It’s not my fault. The container is too full!”), then that’s one less thing to learn. But learning occurs quickly if loading the brush is given the same degree of focused attention as using the razor, and the result is similarly satisfying.

In today’s shave, no cleanup was required, other than rinsing the brush at the end and sponging some water (not lather) from the counter. (I rinse the razor after each pass and place it on the counter while I rinse my beard and lather for the next pass, so the razor wets the counter a bit.)

And no additional loading was required: the reviewer commented that he must reload the brush a bit after the first pass. Again, one learns from experience how to load the brush with enough soap for all three passes, which mostly amounts to loading a bit longer (though my loading time is generally around 10 seconds and I doubt that it ever exceeds 15 seconds). Brisk brushing is the key, with a pressure appropriate to the nature of the knot: firmer pressure for firm knots, lighter pressure for soft knots.

If sloppy loading produced nicks, then proper loading would quickly be learned. But brushes don’t nick, so less attention is given to how they are used.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 September 2015 at 9:42 am

Posted in Shaving

5 Responses

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  1. Also read the article and agree with your comments. By the way, How was the shave??????????


    29 September 2015 at 11:12 am

  2. Ah, yes. I used a Voskhod blade of prior use, and I seemed to have some problem getting a clean shave—had to blade buff more than usual. So I changed the blade as soon as the shave was done. But then when I felt my face after the aftershave (Anthony Gold’s Red Cedar from The, my face was almost perfectly BBS and had no really rough spots. Excellent shave, in the outcome. But I think the new blade will make the experience better.

    Great little razor.


    29 September 2015 at 12:02 pm

  3. The comment string at the article has continued and is, I think, worth reading. It has a particularly clear example of a decision made based on expectations rather than experience—the same sort of error cartridge shavers make when they tell you they’re not interested in a DE because the shave with a cartridge razor is much more enjoyable and also gives a better result than a DE razor can deliver (all said, of course, without ever having tried a DE razor). You can really only know whether you prefer Neat Lathering™ after you have tried it. Otherwise you’re comparing your actual experience (messy lathering) with what you expect the other experience to be like. But as we know, experience often contradicts experience. So I would suggest a week of Neat Lathering, followed by a week of messy lathering, and then another week of Neat Lathering. That gives experience on which a decision can be based and also allows time for the (relatively easy) skill of Neat Lathering to be mastered. The week off in the middle, when one reverts to messy lathering for a week, is important for the learning process. As William James wrote, we “learn to [ice-]skate in the summer and to bicycle in the winter.” The seemingly fallow period allows for the new learning to be integrated, so that when you return you’re even better.


    29 September 2015 at 12:35 pm

  4. I think there are a lot of messy latherers out there – or they are a vocal minority. We used to have completely filed shaving soap tins, but we got so many requests for mostly (vs. Completely) filled plastic tubs, we finally switched. I guess the tubs work for both types, but there are disadvantages. Shipping the bigger containers can be more expensive, depending on the order.

    Brian Trepka

    29 September 2015 at 4:03 pm

  5. I think you’re right: many people leap into wetshaving without any real instruction, and often you see the blind leading the blind (cf. the 5-star ratings of the Escali shaving brush). In a real desire to help, people pass along all sorts of things—e.g., “Razors with a comb guard are aggressive, razors with a bar guard are mild” (though I think the first half is more commonly said).

    In fact it only just occurred to me that loading the brush is as open to a mindful approach, with attention closely focused on what one is doing at the moment, as is wielding the razor. Thus this post.

    It’s interesting to look at the soaps that stick with the complete filled container. That French organic asses’-milk shaving soap is one, Martin de Candre, le Père Lucien, and probably others.


    29 September 2015 at 5:40 pm

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