Later On

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

Timed shave and more glycerin-based soap goodness

with 10 comments

I did time my shave this morning, though I did not include rinsing out the brush. Total time from wetting MR GLO before washing my stubble at the sink (following my shower) until I splashed on aftershave was 4 minutes 17 seconds, which surprises me a bit. I thought I was still taking 5 minutes. Of course, subjectively the time has been the same since my shaves took 10 minutes or 20: it takes as long as it takes, shaving carefully, paying attention, and not rushing. I focus on what I’m doing and don’t really pay attention to time passing, which is part of what makes shaving so enjoyable.

A commenter yesterday sounded somewhat shocked, since he takes longer in applying lather and letting it sit on his face and thought, as we tend to do, that his experience was standard. But men vary a lot in all sorts of ways and one of those ways is how tough, thick, coarse, and wiry their stubble grows. My beard is around average in the toughness and thickness department.

At one time I wrote that using a shave stick involved rubbing the stick against the grain over all your (wet, washed) stubble and then brushing. A reader complained about the thickness of the lather he got that way, and in our discussion it turned out that he had a thick, tough, “cheesegrater” beard, and it scraped from the shave stick too much soap for a good lather. I suggested that he rub the shave stick against the grain only in the Van Dyke area around his mouth: chin, moustache, and sides of his mouth. He then used the brush to work up the lather there, then use the lather-filled brush to lather the rest of his beard.

OTOH, men who are just starting to shave have soft, sparse, downy stubble that doesn’t scrape off enough soap for a good lather, so they load the brush directly on the shave stick (as shown in a scene in the 1955 film The Dam Busters, where the air crews are taking the afternoon off before setting off on the raid: one of the men decides that a shave is in order in case his plane goes down and he’s rescued).

Do what works best for you, and never rush your shave. The idea of the annual timed-shaving exercise is just to observe that the clock time required generally drops as experience brings efficiency even if the subjective time doesn’t change.

I used a glycerin-based soap in the tub today, just to see what that lather is like. It’s the same excellent lather as the glycerin-based soap sticks: very creamy and thick—and in this case, redolent of cedar and pin from QED’s Special 218, which I’ll be using again in a couple of weeks. The RazoRock Bruce synthetic did an excellent job, but I now want to try a badger brush with this soap to see if the nature of the lather is affected.

Three passes with the Merkur Progess took very little time, and then a rinse of the razor, a rinse of my face, dry, and a splash of D.R. Harris Marlborough (also a woody fragrance) finished the job.


Written by LeisureGuy

2 February 2019 at 7:49 am

Posted in Shaving

10 Responses

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  1. Prep 5 minute no scuttle
    2 pass shave (down and uphill) 9 minutes

    Std Black, Jack Black Cream, EJ Best Badger, Jack Black Aloe Balm


    2 February 2019 at 7:58 am

  2. Steve Riehle commented (and WordPress unfortunately seems to have lost the comment) “This morning my shave itself took 10 minutes, but I shave leisurely to classical music, not to “rock and roll.””

    I replied:

    Tastes differ. I much prefer to shave in a silent bathroom: no running water (thus no shaving in the shower), no fan, no music, no talk radio:just the sound of silence and an occasional rush of water as I rinse the razor—not totally silent, of course: when the bathroom’s silent you can hear the quiet sound of the blade cutting through the stubble, and I enjoy that sound.

    It sounds as though you think that I listen to “rock and roll” while I shave. 🙂 You don’t know me very well. If I did listen to music while I shave (something I’ve never done), it would probably be quiet jazz—Bill Evans, for example.

    Hang in there. Efficiency will inevitably follow from experience.


    2 February 2019 at 8:50 am

  3. Prep time 6 minutes using scuttle.Shave time,3 passes and touch up 14 minutes. Used my Rockwell 6c and flip plate from 4 to 2. Bill Evans would be a great choice.

    ron levine

    2 February 2019 at 10:01 am

  4. I saw Bill Evans in a solo concert once at the U of Iowa Hancher Auditorium. If you time your shave next Groundhog Day, it would be interesting to see how the time changed.

    I tend not to mess with the razor in the course of the shave (e.g., I don’t change the setting on an adjustable razor and I stick with whatever Rockwell baseplate I had for the entire shave). Mostly that’s to not interrupt the flow of the shave. You may recall Bruce Everiss’s three-razor shave, in which he uses a different razor for each pass. That fits well into the flow of the shave: you generally rinse your razor at the end of a pass and put it down to relather. Then you just pick up a different razor instead of the same razor. You could do this if you bought a separate handle—or, at least, I could, since 2 and 4 are on different baseplates in the 6S. (Maggard Razors sells a variety of razor handles.)

    Posts by Bruce Everiss: first post, second post, third post.


    2 February 2019 at 10:36 am

  5. I started wet shaving after buying your Guide and watching Bruce Everiss videos and remember his three razor shaves. Any idea what happened to him?


    2 February 2019 at 12:44 pm

  6. No idea. As I recall, he took a marketing position that took all his time, and I lost track.


    2 February 2019 at 1:49 pm

  7. Minutes
    0 – 1 start prep with face wash with MR GLO

    1 – 2 wet brush, load soap (Barrister & Mann) and begin face lathering

    2 – 4 start shaving (passes 1 & 2) then knock loaded brush into water filled sink

    4 – 5 curse

    5 – 9 shake out and reload brush with soap and continue shaving (pass 3)

    10 – 12 try to figure out where blood coming from

    12 – 14 cover face in tissues and rummage through drawers until find styptic

    14 – 15 rinse brush, wash face and apply alum block

    15 – 17 stare blankly at assortment of aftershaves trying to recall which ones the wife feels “inappropriate”

    18 – 19 apply hopefully “appropriate aftershave” then drop bottle cap

    19 – 21 crawl around bathroom looking for missing cap

    22 – 23 find cap, stand up, hit head on underside of open drawer

    23 – 25 curse


    2 February 2019 at 6:11 pm

  8. It will get better. 🙂

    FWIW, I like a liquid styptic, and use My Nik Is Sealed, which works quite well. It is packaged with a rollerball applicator.


    2 February 2019 at 6:34 pm

  9. Looks to me like brother Owen (above) is a “real world” shaver, meaning, the unexpected often happens, unexpectedly.

    A typical leisurely three pass shave takes me about 20 minutes, including prep and cleanup, and because I psychologically enjoy shaving I’m happy to have that block of time. I would not choose to have it longer or shorter. Like a good meal, a moment of intimacy, or a pleasant vacation, there are things in life that should not be rushed.

    I’ve been shaving daily since 1951, so I think additional experience is not going to reduce my time or give me better shaves.

    It was an interesting experiment. Thank you, Michael.

    Steve Riehle

    2 February 2019 at 6:49 pm

  10. I agree on the psychological benefits and enjoyment of traditional shaving and talk about it at some length in the Guide. To quote one brief discussion, I compare a traditional shave to the Zen tea ceremony.

    >Special room – check
    >Special mode of dress – check
    >Contemplative, unrushed mindset – check
    >Cleanliness and order – check
    >Practice of technique requires focused attention (aka flow) – check
    >Use of special tools, often old – check
    >Tools both functional and aesthetically pleasing – check
    >Suspension of mind chatter, critical judgments – check
    >Senses—sight, hearing, touch, smell—fully engaged – check
    >Physical enjoyment of sources of warmth – check
    >Awareness & enjoyment of aromas arising from hot water – check
    >Reassuring familiarity of quiet, soft sounds – check
    >Definite sequence of steps – check
    >Structure of the entire experience repeated each time – check
    >Feeling of pleasure, fulfillment, and satisfaction at end – check

    As I said, I agree that a shave should never be rushed. I’m sorry that has not gotten across, but I have said it several times. Never should a shave be rushed, and I never rush my shaves. I do lose track of time by being focused and mindful of the experience, but I am by no means shaving in haste but (subjectively, at any rate) taking my time. But without rushing, my experience has been that repeating the process daily for more than a decade inevitably makes one more efficient, so that even thought the enjoyment is undiminished and the subjective time is constant, the clock time decreases. Of course, your experience in that regard differs, but that’s not a surprise: people differ.

    My experience was that the clock time for the shaves has decreased, but the enjoyment and satisfaction have remained strong.

    I consider myself a real-world shaver, and I’m sure you do as well. (What other world do we have? 🙂 )


    2 February 2019 at 7:45 pm

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