Later On

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

Archive for the ‘Caffeine’ Category

A good Cuppa Joe and a goodbye to the Aristocrat

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A shaving brush with a black knot and a clear lucite base stands next to a tub of shaving soap with a white label on which is printed the name of the maker, Mystic Water Soap, underlined with three wavy lines in blue, and the soap's name, Cuppa Joe. Ingredients are listed in small type. Next is a transparently round-shouldered glass bottle with a black cap and black label. Printed on the label in white letters is "Spring-Heeled Jack" along with a drawing of a person mid mid-leap wearing shoes with spring heels.

Cuppa Joe seemed a good soap for today, a coffee day. Phoenix Artisan’s Astraeus 22mm shaving brush did a good job and the lather was quite good. If you click the photo you can easily read the ingredients in this Mystic Water shaving soap:

Tallow, Water, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Glvcerin, Potassium Hydroxide, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Fruit, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Fragrance, Stearic Aod, Lanolin, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Allantoin, Citric Acid.
Bentonite, Silk

I did not especially notice the clay, but the overall lather was excellent. I wish I could say the same about the razor. For the first time I noticed that my 1940s Gillette Aristocrat is not really very comfortable, at least not compared to the modern razors I’ve been using. In fact, I did the third pass with my Phoenix Artisan Filament slant.

I did not get any nicks or cuts, but the threat of damage was very present, so the shave was not comfortable. The Aristocrat is now in the outgoing box. 

A splash of Phoenix Artisan’s coffee-inflected aftershave, Spring-Heeled Jack, finished the shave and launched the weekend.

The caffeine this morning is Fantastico’s Guatemala Santa Clara Alto Dos: “Full-bodied, rich, balanced – Chocolate hazelnut cream pastry, vanilla, subtle red berry.”

Written by Leisureguy

25 March 2023 at 10:08 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Planet Java Hive and Progress

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A stylized photo that shows a shaving brush that has a white knot with gray tips and a white handle with a red base next to a tub of shaving soap whose label has a yellow background, the lower portion of which looks to be a honeycomb. In the foreground is the helmet of a purple spacesuit with "Planet Java Hive" in yellow just below the faceplate, which reflects a bee hovering above a sea of java under a turquoise sky. Next is a transparent rectangular glass bottle with a black cap and a label like the one on the soap. In fron is a gold DE razor, a Merkur Progress, the adjustment set at "3."

The Fine Classic brush immediately brought forth a great and fragrant lather — CK-6 FTW — from my tub of Planet Java Hive, whose coffee+honey fragrance I find very appealing. My Merkur Progress, set at #3″ as shown in the photo, easily wiped away all stubble, and a splash of Planet Java Hive aftershave/cologne finished the job. The shave was truly excellent and a great way to step onto the threshold of the weekend.

The caffeine this morning is another cup of my Assam-Ceylon-Keemun blend I made yesterday. Not bad at all, but of course, I was working with Murchie’s excellent teas.

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2023 at 10:22 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

The love-child of Edwin Jagger and iKon #101

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A shaving brush with black knot and base and red handle next to a tin of shaving soap labeled "Savannah Sunrise," with a peach as a rising sun. Next is a brown glass bottle of Savannah Sunrise aftershave with the same overal design but with a logo "Dr. Jon's" show a moustachioed man with a top hat and glasses. In front is a DE razor with a stainless handle and a brown head.

We have at last arrived at mild days — I did yesterday’s walk (2.33 miles) without a jacket (but still long sleeves) — so Dr. Jon’s Savannah Sunrise came to mind: “Orange Blossom, Peach, Gardenia, Jasmine, and Honeysuckle.” The link is to the Vol. 3 version of the soap; mine is the earlier formulation, which still produced an excellent (and exquisitely fragranced) lather, thanks in part to my RazoRock Amici brush, a cute little number that does a good job.

A double-edge safety razor lying on its side and shown view up toward the baseplate. The base of the knurled stainless steel handle shows a maple leaf, and the razor's head has a comb guard on one side and a bar guard on the other.

As the post title indicates, the razor I used has characteristics of both the Edwin Jagger and the iKon Shavecraft #101. As you see in the photo at the right, showing the bottom of the baseplate, the razor is asymmetric in style — comb guard on one side, bar guard on the other — though not in feel and performance: both are quite symmetric, so I use the razor as though it were symmetric. This is the #101 resemblance.

The EJ resemblance is in the drainage design. The #101 has large troughs for the lather to collect and drain, but this one works in that regard more like the EJ, plus there’s an EJ look to the bottom of the baseplate, which in the #101 is concave rather than convex. In fact, if you look at the razor head in profile, facing one end of the head, it looks exactly like the EJ head.

I thought this must be either a Maggard or a Yaqi head. (Some Maggard heads have a similar finish.) It turns out to be a Yaqi head (and an incredible bargain at that price). Despite the illustration at the link, there are no markings on the head to indicate its origin, a violation of the first rule of marketing. (You’ll note that the handle I used is clearly marked to show its Maggard origin — it’s the MR-11.)

Full disclosure: I got to looking at the Yaqi heads and I’m ordering a few. The prices are extremely good, and my experience with Yaqi heads has been very positive. They have a couple of slants I want to try.

The razor has much the feel of the #101: comfortable and efficient — unobtrusive but does an exceptionally good job. This is a keeper and goes now into my regular rotation.

Three passes left a BBS result (some credit to the Personna Lab Blue blade). A good splash of Savannah Sunrise aftershave (a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept’s Aion Hydrating Gel), and the day begins. 

The caffeine this morning is a blend. I put two tablespoons each of three Murchie teas — Assam Tippy Golden, Ceylon Kenilworth, and Keemun Extra Superior — into an empty tin and stirred and shook it well to mix, then used some of that to make my morning cup. It’s very tasty. I’ll call this Leisureguy’s Blend.

Written by Leisureguy

23 March 2023 at 10:15 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Yuzu/Rose/Patchouli — Sometimes good, sometimes great

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A shaving brush with a black handle and black synthetic knot next to a tub of shaving soap with a brown label oon which is shown a drawing of a frontal view of a bison's head, rendered as as a network of straight lines with the planes in tones of brown and tan. Next is a small rectangular glass bottle with gold cap and a label that shows a straight razor hovering above a fleur-de-lis and carrying the name of the maker, Chatillon Lux, and the fragrance, Yuzu/Rose?Patchouli.

This morning I got a good hit of the Yuzu/Rose/Patchouli from Declaration Grooming’s Bison-Tallow soap, and it was a delight. Those three fragrances have excellent synergy. Some believe that mixing fragrance notes produces what amounts to olfactory brown sludge, but the right mix transcends the components, producing something better and beyond the individual notes. So it is with Yuzu/Rose/Patchouli, a combination due to the perfumer Chatillon Lux, who produced the aftershave.

This is another 22mm $10 synthetic from Maggard Razors, and it is also an excellent brush. It easily created a fine lather, and the Rockwell Model T felt especially good this morning and produced a perfect result. I was thinking of adding this to the discard pile, and apparently it sensed that, because today’s shave was so fine, in both feeling and result, that I’ve decided to keep it.

A splash of Chatillon Lux’s aftershave lotion finished the job. Chatillon Lux made a particularly good aftershave lotion/toner. I wish he would resurrect the line.

The caffeine this morning is Fantastico’s Sulawesi Toarco Jaya: “Silky, clean, and expressive — Sugar cane, pineapple, nectarine, dried mango, black tea, vanilla.” Very smooth, with not a trace of bitterness.

Written by Leisureguy

22 March 2023 at 10:54 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Solstice for the first shave following the vernal equinox

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A black-handled shaving brush with a cream-colored knot with gray tips stands next to a tub of shaving soap whose label depicts a desert sunrise over a silhouette of three buttes, the sun's rays shown as wide stripes, alternately yellow and gold. "SOLSTICE" is printed in large white letters against the dark foreground. Next is a transparent glass bottle with a black cap that has the same label and holds a clear liquid. In front is an aluminum double-open-comb safety razor.

Yesterday’s shave occurred well before the vernal equinox, which came at 2:24pm local time (PDT). So today’s shave is the first chance to celebrate that event, and my only shaving soap with a solar-cycle connection is Phoenix Artisan’s Solstice, one of my favorites: “Sage, Sweetgrass, Cedar, Rose Absolute, and Benzoin Resin,” a lovely fragrance.

The link above is to the CK-6 formula, but my tub, which antedates the advent of the new formula, is the (still excellent) Kokum Butter formula. If I were buying it today, though, I would get the CK-6 version because that soap is so remarkably good — the palpable benefit to the skin lasts beyond the shave.

Three passes with Phoenix Artisan’s excellent double-open-comb Ascension did a pretty good job, far short of its usual excellence. So I change the blade and did a quick fourth pass, ATG, using the PA Filament slant I used yesterday, since a good slant is unexcelled for smoothness of finish.

I finished the ritual with a splash of Solstice aftershave/cologne to carry the fragrance with me through the day.

The caffeine this morning is Murchie’s Library Blend: “Ceylon, Jasmine, Keemun, and Gunpowder tea.”

Written by Leisureguy

21 March 2023 at 9:23 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Declaration Grooming’s Unconditional Surrender and Phoenix Artisan’s Filament slant

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A shaving brush whose white handle in profile has a keyhole shape and whose knot is cream-colored with grey tips stands next to a tub of shaving soap with a white label with an imagine of a front view of a bison's face rended as lines and shaded planes. A rectangular glass bottle with a tall ssilver cap has a label with a fleur-de-lis. In front is a translucent plastic DE slant razor.

On Mastodon I was recommending a shaving brush, and my first thought was the Omega Pro 48, a terrific brush with a relatively short break-in period (1-2 weeks of loading, lathering, and rinsing before using it for a shave should do the trick) and a relatively low price (around $17). But then I had to recognize that the best bang for the buck is found in synthetic-knot shaving brushes, such as this Keyhole brush from Italian Barber: $10.

With the brush I got a fine lather from this Bison-tallow formula shaving soap from Declaration Grooming. The Bison soap is a predecessor of their current (and even better) Milksteak formula. The lather was excellent, and I like the fragrance: “amber, tonka bean, amyris, cedarwood, agarwood, vetiver, cigar tobacco, black tea, jasmine, and geranium.” 

Phoenix Artisan’s Filament is a terrific slant, though not quite so good as their double-slants. The Filament provides a very comfortable, very efficient shave, with three passes producing a BBS result.

A splash of Chatillon Lux’s aftershave lotion in the Unconditional Surrender fragrance, and the week is launched. I’m a little groggy because after waking up in the middle of the night I finished Elizabeth Moon’s SF novel Victory Conditions, the fifth and final book in her Vatta’s War series, which I enjoyed immensely. I was going to read only a few pages, but you know how that goes.

The caffeine this morning is Murchie’s Baker Street Blend: “Lapsang Souchong, smooth Keemun, rich Ceylon, Gunpowder, and floral Jasmine.”

Written by Leisureguy

20 March 2023 at 11:34 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Aces over 8s once more, and a razor discovery

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A Rooney silvertip badger shaving brush stands next to a tub of shaving soap whose labe has a patterned background in light green that looks like wallpaper, and centered are a large spade (the symbol on a playing card) over a large numeral 8. Next is a dark-brown bottle of aftershave with the same label. In front is a razor with a stainless steel handle.

I had to return to 345 Soap Company’s remarkable shaving soap. (As I had assumed, the “345” is the street address — cf. Floris No. 89, TOBS #74, Alpa 378, 4711 cologne, and doubtless others).

I used my Rooney Finest and the lather was wonderful in both fragrance and consistency. Whether a fragrance is good or not is very much YMMV, much as with flavors of food and for the same olfactory reason. This fragrance definitely appeals to me: “Tobacco, Mint, Rose, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Cedar, Patchouli, Vetiver, Tonka bean.” I imagine some of its allure for me is the fragrance from Vanilla and Tonka bean, but the others combine with that into a harmonious whole.

I did note that the soap is a little thirsty, but with a small addition of water, I easily loaded the brush and then worked up a fine lather that felt good on my skin. Great prep: enjoyable and good for both skin and razor.

As I indicated in my previous SOTD post, I have started going through my razor collection and culling those that are redundant or don’t present anything special. All killer, no filler — that’s what I’m going for. I have now a little box of discarded razors. I also brought out my box of spare parts: heads I’m not using, spare handles, and so on. In that box, I found a couple of interesting heads — comb guard on one side, bar guard on the other. One had a brown finish, and that one I feel sure came from Yaqi or from Maggard Razors, though I have no memory of it. The other was aluminum and had small lettering. I peered closely and made out the words “iKon Shavecraft” — it was a #101 head!

I was astonished. I have a Shavecraft #101 in my current rotation, one that I bought because I could not find the one I had originally. I had decided I must at some point have sold it, and so I replaced it. But here it is, all ready to go. Even better, one of the handles I removed from a head I’m retiring — an EJ clone — is an iKon bulldog handle, probably the original handle for the #101 head I found. (I know it is an iKon handle because iKon marks it handles, as does Maggard: on the base of the handle is, for iKon, the word “iKon” with a skull within the “o,” or, for Maggard, a maple leaf.)

So I’ve reconstituted my first #101, and that’s the razor in the photo above. Regaining the razor is enormously pleasing, like a prodigal son returned. I don’t really need two #101s, so I will have to find a good home for the spare. 

In looking over the razors I used this week, I see that all are keepers. I’ve made one pass through the collection removing razors that don’t have a strong appeal for me. The Holy Black SR-71 Slant, for example, is just a Merkur 37 with a thick handle, and I already have a Merkur 37G. No need for the SR-71. And do I need the 37G if I have the German 37, which has the same head but in a 3-part razor? Undecided as yet. But each week as I bring out the six razors for the week, I’ll be making sure that each has a special appeal. Any lacking that will go into the box of discards.

The #101 delivered a fine shave this morning. In looking back through comments, I found one reader for whom the razor did not work, but for me it is a terrific little razor, and the two sides, though having a different guard design, feel the same on the face — the razor is asymmetric in appearance but symmetric in feel and performance.

Three passes produced a BBS result, and a splash of Aces over 8s aftershave finished the job.

I do highly recommend 345 Soap Company’s soaps. I have found three good sources:

  • 345 Soap Company itself  
  • The Razor Company, located in the US but ships to Canada with very reasonable shipping costs, including free shipping for orders over US$35 — and that’s free shipping to Canada as well. TRC is also a stockist for The Grooming Dept.
  • Top of the Chain (located in Canada), which has excellent selection overall (though no Grooming Dept as yet).

The caffeine this morning is Fantastico’s Sulawesi Toarco Jaya: “Silky, clean, and expressive — Sugar cane, pineapple, nectarine, dried mango, black tea, vanilla.”

Written by Leisureguy

18 March 2023 at 12:21 pm

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Reader request: Return of the iKon Shavecraft X3

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A stylized photo with splashes of color of a shaving setup: a brush with a white handle labeled "Emperor," a tub of shaving soap with a label showing a polar projection of a map of strange land, and a rectangular glass bottle of aftershave with a similar label. In front is a slant razor with a stainless-steel barber-pole handle.

I received a reader request for a shave that features the iKon Shavecraft X3, here shown on the excellent RazoRock stainless-steel Barber Pole handle. I last shaved with this razor on January 30 (this year, I hasten to add). I rotate through my razors, 6 shaves a week. Right now I have 66 razors, so that means I use any one razor once every 11 weeks — right at 5 times a year. 

That doesn’t seem enough, particularly for razors I like a lot. I thought about making a “favored razors” collection of razors to use more often. But I do like a lot of them… I thought about picking a razor and using it once in every week for a month — then I could have 12 favored razors. But then those favored razors would each be used roughly 4 times a year instead of 5 times a year.

This is so very much a first-world problem, isn’t it? And only a fraction of the first world at that. But I do have some razors (such as the X3) that I would enjoy using more often. Maybe — just maybe — I have too many razors. Perhaps I should start pulling from the rotation razors that don’t bring all that much to the party — the Gillette Heritage and the King C. Gillette spring to mind, along with the Charcoal. All three of those are simply EJ clones, and I have an actual EJ. 

I’ll be thinking about it. And I am definitely getting rid of this inept Stealth counterfeit copy. On to today’s shave.

The CK-6 lather was extremely good, and I enjoyed using my (pre-Vulfix) Simpson Emperor 3 Super. It’s a big knot, but it’s comfortable, and I really like the handle design. There was a guy making custom handles to order and I wanted a black palm handle in this design, but I reached out to him just as he decided to quit the business. (He did say that it looked like a great handle for black palm.) 

I do like Agharta’s fragrance: ““Talc, Ambergris, Amyris, French Vanilla Bean, Japanese Sandalwood, Cedar, and Oak Moss.” And even this label design adds its mite of pleasure to the shave.

Well-prepped (because of course I had also used Grooming Dept Moisturizing Pre-Shave, as I do for every shave), I set to work with the X3. One benefit of not using a razor very often is that you experience a semblance of the initial delight of discovery — “Oh, wow! This really is a good razor!” — and I enjoyed that this morning. Flawless performance and a very comfortable shave — just as our AI overlords have said, a slant works best. The X3 slant is one of the more comfortable slants for me, one where I don’t feel I must exercise some care and thought about the angle (as I do with the iKon stainless steel slants and the Fine aluminum slant). Three passes produced a perfect result.

A splash of Agharta aftershave (augmented with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept’s Aion Hydrating Gel) and the day is launched — a brilliantly sunny day, and warm enough for a comfortable walk. (I have brought out the Nordic walking poles and resuming the daily walk.)

The caffeine this morning is Murchie’s No. 10 Blend: “a mild, sweet combination of Gunpowder and Jasmine greens and Keemun and Ceylon black teas.” (His tartan in green and black, I swear.) 

And a Happy St. Patrick’s Day to ye. For the green today, see photo at right, with a nod to John Murchie (for all that he’s a Scot.)

Written by Leisureguy

17 March 2023 at 11:28 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Tallow + Steel Cognac and the superb Stealth slant

with 2 comments

A shaving brush with a wooden handle dyed black with the grain showing lighter and a white knot with gray tips.  It stands next to a tub of shaving soap with a green label showing an image of green grapes grown on vines in front of a cask. The label reads "Cognac." Next is a narrow cylindrical bottle of dark amber with a black cap and the same label. In fraont is a black slant razor with a ribbed handle.

Tallow + Steel’s Cognac is a good soap with a satisfying fragrance: “Cognac (38%) | Oakwood (21%) | Vanilla (18%) | Orange (8%) | Tobacco (7%) | Cocoa (6%) | Jasmine (2%).” I easily got a very nice lather with this brush from Chiseled Face purchased some years back.

The Stealth is a wonderful slant that Italian Barber made — and experimented with, coming out with several versions — some years back. It is machined aluminum, and it is one of the best slants I have: very comfortable and non-threatening, and also incredibly efficient — three passes as my face is totally smooth with no trace of roughness. The design — based (or at least inspired by) the vintage Merkur white bakelite slant — is unusual in that it has one hold the handle close to the face, as one does for a cartridge razor. 

A splash of Cognac aftershave and the job is done. Tallow + Steel does very interesting work. I’ve commented before on this aftershave, but it bears repeating: 

Aftershave.Water-based splashes that soothe and invigorate the skin from irritation, dryness and razor burn. They are full of nutrient rich organic ingredients that will leave your skin feeling soft, and can be used as a daily moisturizer. Highly concentrated – apply to a wet face for best results.

Organic Witch Hazel + Organic Aloe Vera + Water + Organic Glycerin + Organic Quillaja Extract + Organic Rose Hydrosol + Organic Calendula Hydrosol + Alcohol + Organic Willow Bark Extract + Organic Cucumber Extract + Organic Licorice Root Extract + Organic Rosemary Extract + Leuconostoc / Radish Root Ferment Filtrate + Lactobacillus + Coconut Fruit Extract + Natural Fragrance (Botanical Extracts)

The caffeine this morning is Murchie’s Queen Victoria, a favorite: “rich Darjeeling and Ceylon, smoky Lapsang Souchong, and sweet Jasmine.”

Written by Leisureguy

16 March 2023 at 9:43 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Lo Haiku and the *true* semi-slant

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A stilvertip badger saving brush wil a long black handle next to a tub os shaving soap with a label that shows in the background a hand holding a brush, writing in a vaguely oriental script, the soap's name, "Lo Haiku,," and another hand in the foreground holding back a red curtain. Next is a rectangular glass bottle with a black lid and the same label, filled with a colorless aftershave. In front is a stainless-steel safety razor lying on its side.

Phoenix Artisan’s Lo Haiku is here in the CK-6 formulation, and with my Copper Hat shaving brush, it produced the usual exceptional lather. (“Usual exceptional” sounds very like an oxymoron, but you know what I mean.) 

• Top notes: lavender, bergamot, lemon, rosemary, anise
• Middle notes: geranium, fern, carnation, cinnamon, cedar, heliotrope
• Base notes: oakmoss, vanilla, tonka bean, amber, musk

Parker’s Semi-Slant has, so far as I can see, nothing “semi” about it. It’s a slant, pure and simple, very much like the Goodfellas’ smile Legione Slant — so much so that I thought the latter was just the former rebranded. And those are similar to the iKon Shavecraft X3.

But this slant, an Above the Tie S1, is so barely slanted that I always have to check the bottom of the baseplate to see whether it’s the S1 or the R1. It is a true semi-slant. And while I don’t get much slant action from it, it does deliver a very nice shave, much like the R1.

Three passes delivered a BBS result, and a splash of Lo Haiku aftershave, augmented with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept’s Aion Hydrating Gel, finished the job. 

The caffeine this morning is Fantastico’s Mexico Malinal Nayarita: “Full-bodied and smooth. Dark chocolate and spicy, with a brown sugar sweetness and a hint of smokiness.”

Written by Leisureguy

15 March 2023 at 10:24 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

The Razor Company’s stainless steel razor and 345 Soap Company’s Aces Over 8s.

with 2 comments

A boar brush with a large aluminum handle sits next to a tub of soap with the playing card symbol for spades above a line and the numeral 8 below the line, bothe in black on a light tan patterned background that looks like wallpaper. Next is an amber glass bottle with a black cap and the same label. In front, lying on its side is a matte finish stainless steel razor; the upper third of the handle is fluted.
Photograph of the head of a man with long hair and a very long moustache in a suit. Photo is from the latter half of the 19th century.

Aces over 8s, the dead man’s hand, is (legend would have it) the poker hand held by Wild Bill Hickok, pictured at the right, when he was shot dead in the back of his head in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, in 1876. The actual hand he held is not actually known, but tradition has generally settled on it being two pairs, the black Aces and the black 8s, with the hole card being the Queen of Clubs in the accounts that have the game being five-card stud. Other accounts say the game was five-card draw. 

Be that as may — and we’ll never actually know — the 345 Soap Co. Aces over 8s shaving soap is extremely nice. I ordered mine from The Razor Company along with the razor I used today. The fragrance I like a lot: “Tobacco, Mint, Rose, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Cedar, Patchouli, Vetiver, Tonka bean.” And the soap made a really excellent lather — unusually good. I don’t know that I’ve previously used a soap that has camel milk among the ingredients:

Stearic Acid, Beef Tallow, Milks of Donkey, Camel, & Goat, Shea butter, Coconut oil, Palm oil, Potassium hydroxide, Distilled water, Castor oil, Sodium hydroxide, Glycerin, Grapeseed oil, Cocoa butter, Yogurt, Lanolin, Jojoba oil, Capuaça butter, Murumuru butter, Kokum butter, Panthenol, Allantoin, Hydrolyzed Silk Protein, Fragrance.

This soap wasn’t on my radar before, but I rate it as top-tier — really worth a try. 

Now, the razor. It’s stainless steel with a bead-blasted finish. The handle is fluted at the top, which offers a comfortable and secure grip with an interesting feel. The head design reminded me in profile a bit of the Henson razor head, but the feel on the face is not the same. The Razor Company’s razor feels more like an extremely comfortable traditional head — unthreatening and smooth in action — while at the same time, it is extremely efficient at removing stubble. I got a perfect BBS result with no real effort. It is the sort of razor I like — mild in feel on the face but aggressive in removing stubble. This is a first-rate razor at a reasonable price for stainless steel. Highly recommended. (It’s currently sold out, but you can enter your email to be notified when it’s back in stock.)

A splash of 345 Soap Company’s Aces over 8s aftershave, and I’m ready for what the day offers. The aftershave, like the soap, has excellent ingredients:

Alcohol, Witch Hazel, Distilled water, Hydrovance, Rose Hydrosol, Jojoba oil, Panthenol, Allantoin, Hydrolyzed Silk, Aloe Vera, Vitamin E, Fragrance.

The caffeine this morning is Mariage Frères Smoky Sakura: “A sensory journey. This large tea is smoked in Japanese cherry wood according to an artisanal method. Its soft liquor floods the palate with its wooded notes enriched with a fragrant veil evoking incense and licorice. Coming from a family garden in the shizuoka region, close to Mount Fuji, this tea is cultivated according to a method registered in the ingenious system of the world agricultural heritage, respectful of the biodiversity of plants and animals.”

This tea is like an oolong, brewed at a lower temperature (I went with 180ºF) and for a slightly longer time (5 minutes). Extremely nice.

Written by Leisureguy

14 March 2023 at 9:42 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Slant razor debate now settled — also, a great shave

with 6 comments

A boar brush with a long loft and chromed plastic handle next to a tub of Spitfire shaving soap whose label is a target design  — outer ring purple inner ring white, bullseye red — with a silhouette of an overhead view of a Spitfire WWII fighter plane center at the bottom of the white ring. Next is an aftershave in a rectangular transparent glass bottle with a silver cap and brown label: "Shaving Shop: A Superb Gentleman's Aftershave." In front is a slant DE razor lying on its side. It has a black head and a stainless-steel handle.

Post revised with a substantial portion moved to the preceding post. (see previous post) is an app in which an AI takes on three personae in a debate: both Debater A and Debater B and also the role of Moderator, who sums up the debate and decides the winner — three persons, one AI. (The fact that the AI plays 3 roles is not an issue since an AI has no ego and thus can do all 3 jobs impartially and with equal facility — cf. AlphaGo Zero, which learned Go by playing games against itself and thus figuring out which patterns worked best.)

This morning I had Opinionate debate this proposition: “A slant double-edge razor delivers a better shave than a conventional double-edge razor.” You can download a PDF of the full debate (or, indeed, replicate the debate for yourself). 

Debater A defends the proposition, with A’s initial statement being:

I believe a slant double-edge razor delivers a better shave than a conventional double-edge razor for several reasons. Firstly, the slant design allows for a more aggressive cut, meaning the razor blade can more easily cut through thicker facial hair without tugging or pulling. Secondly, the angulation of the blade in a slant razor allows for a more natural cutting angle, reducing the likelihood of nicks, cuts, or razor burn. Finally, the slant razor provides a more even slicing of the hair, which results in a smoother, closer, and more comfortable shave.

The Moderator’s summary:

Both debaters have made excellent points and demonstrated sound reasoning, but based on the arguments presented, the winner of the debate seems to be Debater A. Their arguments were more convincing and presented a detailed and well-reasoned case for the slant razor while also acknowledging the potential challenges involved. Debater B made some valid points but failed to provide sufficient evidence to support their argument. Overall, Debater A provided a more comprehensive and convincing defense of the topic.

I tried also a debate with this proposition: “The shave from a slant double-edge razor is no better than the shave from a conventional razor.” The Moderator’s summation for that debate:

While both debaters made compelling arguments, I must give the edge to Debater A, who presented more concrete evidence and logical reasoning in support of the topic. While personal preferences certainly play a role in the decision to use a slant double-edge razor, Debater A effectively demonstrated that a slant razor offers clear benefits in terms of efficiency, durability, and precision. As such, I believe that anyone looking for a better shaving experience would do well to consider a slant razor.

So far, BTW, Opinionate and I have reached the same conclusions on a variety of issues — see the preceding post.

Today I returned to Phoenix & Beau to see whether its curiously creamy lather would still result when using a boar brush. I had used very nice silvertip badger brushes previously; today I brought out my Omega Pro 48. Again, I obtained a wonderfully thick and creamy lather. It’s the soap, not the brush. And I do like Spitfire’s retro-like fragrance.

Monday means using a slant, and this iKon stainless steel slant with a coated head is one of the best I have. It was a lovely, comfortable, enjoyable shave, and at the end, my skin was as smooth as it could possibly be: totally BBS. I will note that this slant definitely requires maintaining a correct angle, with the handle held far from the face (unlike cartridge razors, designed so that the handle must be held close to the face).

Mr. Taylor’s Shaving Shop, A Superb Gentleman’s Aftershave, seemed in keeping with the WWII spirit of the shave and provided a fine finish.

The caffeine this morning is Murchie’s Hatley Castle Blend: “a mix of black and green teas that includes Ceylon, Keemun, Jasmine, and Gunpowder.” Great stuff. Again I say that if Murchie has a clan tartan, its colors are black and green.

So far, BTW, Opinionate and I have reached the same conclusions on a variety of issues.

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2023 at 11:10 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving, Software

Tobacco is good in a shave

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A 3-band silvertip shaving brush with a black handle stands next to a tub of shaving soap whose maroon label bears in gold script lettering the names of the maker (Wholly Kaw) and the soap (Merchant of Tobacco). Next is a tall white bottle with a large black cap. The bottle is labeled Tabac Original After Shave Lotion. In front, lying on its side, is a DE razor with a stainless steel handle and a brass colored head and base.

Today I used the 3-band silvertip Prince, and I have to say that I prefer it. It’s not so stiff as the 2-band — more comfortable on my face and, I suspect, with a greater lather capacity. Certainly it had no problem in generating an excellent lather from Wholly Kaw’s Merchant of Tobacco: “Tobacco, Bourbon, Oud, Black Pepper, Vanilla, Peru Balsam, Honey, and Bitter Cocoa.” 

Wholly Kaw’s soaps — which are excellent — come in two versions:

Made with high quality ingredients including Donkey Milk, Castor Oil, Kokum Butter, Cocoa Butter, and Shea Butter for added post shave benefits. Vegan does not contain Donkey Milk.  Vegan includes Soybean Glycerides and Shea Butter Unsaponifiables with Kokum Butter, Cocoa Butter, and Shea Butter.  Hops Extract is incorporated into the formulation as a soothing natural extract for relief of skin inflammation and skin redness.


Tallow Version
Potassium Stearate, Sodium Stearate, Aqua, Donkey Milk, Glycerin, Potassium Tallowate, Sodium Tallowate, Potassium Ricinoleate, Sodium Ricinoleate, Potassium Shea Butterate, Sodium Shea Butterate, Garcinia Indica (Kokum) Butter, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Butter, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Lanolin, Fragrance

Vegan Version
Potassium Stearate, Sodium Stearate, Aqua, Glycerin, Potassium Ricinoleate, Sodium Ricinoleate, Potassium Mango Stearate, Sodium Mango Stearate, Potassium Shea Butterate, Sodium Shea Butterate, Garcinia Indica (Kokum) Butter, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Butter, Hydrolyzed Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Polyquaternium-10, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Soybean Glycerides, Shea Butter Unsaponifiables, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Fragrance

I could not resist using my Quantum again, returning to the Ω baseplate. (The blade,  BTW, is a Swedish Gillette, but that may not be the best blade for you.) The Ω baseplate is better for me. This razor is a delight to use, and after three passes I had a BBS result with no problems and, indeed, no threat of a problem.

A good splash of Tabac Original augmented with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept’s Aion Hydrating Gel and the weekend is launched. A good week, overall.

The caffeine this morning is Fantastico’s Guatemala Santa Clara Venezia: “Milk chocolate, almond brittle, sultana raisin.”

Written by Leisureguy

11 March 2023 at 10:27 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Quantum Shaves: Yesterday Ω, Today α

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A somewhat stylized image of a silvertip badger shaving brush with a black handle standing next to a tub of shaving soap whose label shows an overhead view of a red rose on a black background. Next is a small rectangular bottle of frosted glass half filed with a yellow liquid and tall silver sap labeled "Dark Rose." In front a DE razor lies on it side, stainless steel except for a bras baseplate and the end of the handle.
Two brushes with matching black handles, standing side by side. One is a one-band silvertip, the other a two-band silvertip.

I have a twin pair of Prince shaving brushes from Wet Shaving Products, but as you can see in the photo at right, they are fraternal twins. The two-band brush on the left has a slightly chubbier handle. 

The two-band is what I used for today’s shave. Typical of two-band silvertips, it has noticeable backbone — not stiff, exactly, but definitely very resilient. The tips are soft, and it’s not uncomfortable, but I prefer a bit more give in a shaving brush, though of course some really like the strength of this sort of knot.

It was easy to load with this Grooming Dept exclusive from The Razor Company. Pomp uses the Donkeymilk formula, and I like its fragrance a lot: “Bourbon whiskey, Dark Rose, Dark Fruits, Dark Woods.” 

The Quantum with the α baseplate is more aggressive than with the Ω baseplate, though still very comfortable — but it clearly takes a sterner attitude toward stubble. I think this would work well even for a man whose beard is particularly tough and wiry.

A vintage double-edge razor,, the Eclipse Red Ring, lying on its sides, with the unusual ribbed guard clearly visible, along with the red ring in the groove around the base.

As you can see in this photo of an original Red Ring (click to enlarge), the Quantum’s handle is noticeably thicker and, for me, more comfortable and (with the better knurling) offers a better grip.  The Red Ring’s cap has grooves to match the guard’s ribs, and in the photo above you’ll see grooves also in the Quantum’s cap. 

I am still trying to figure out the right nomenclature. These razors have, in effect, a comb guard whose tines are reinforced by the bar attached to the back of the ends of the comb’s tines — but then it’s not really a comb guard. I have settled on “ribs” as the right name for this guard: separated bars, but both ends attached — unlike a comb guard, which has one end free.

So far as I know, the Quantum and the Eclipse Red Ring are the only razors to feature a ribbed guard. Comb guards and bar guards are common (with bar guards being plain or scalloped).

The α baseplate is extremely efficient — three passes to an easy BBS result and — due to my own momentary carelessness — one nick on my upper lip. (Not a bad nick: My Nik Is Sealed stopped it in its tracks.)

A splash of Saint Charles Shave’s Dark Rose EDT, augmented with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept’s Aion Hydrating Gel, finished the shave. My face feels extremely smooth — a BBS result, for sure.

The caffeine this morning is Murchie’s Balmoral Blend: “a strong, traditional, rich blend of bright Ceylon and malty Assam teas.” It really is a remarkably good cuppa this morning.

Written by Leisureguy

10 March 2023 at 11:21 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Phoenix Shaving’s Quantum razor and Grooming Dept’s Amber Rose

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A shaving brush with a black wasp-waist handle and a white synthetic knot with gray tips next to a tub of shaving soap with a black label that has an image of a long-stemmed rose with the name "Amber Rose" and at the top, in white letters, "West Coast Shaving." Next is a transparent rectangular glass bottle with a white cap labeled "Pink After Shave.'" In front, lying on its side, is a DE razor with a stainless handle and cap and brass baseplate. Another brass baseplate lies next to the razor, with a comb guard reinforced by a bar across the tips of the teeth.

Grooming Dept Amber Rose is a West Coast Shaving Exclusive, and it has a lovely fragrance: “honey, rose, amber, orris, myrrh, oakmoss, vanilla, benzoin, musk, and patchouli.” It is made with Grooming Dept’s Donkeymilk formula, and the lather is superb. Today I used the fourth and final of my wasp-waist brushes, this one a $10 22mm synthetic from Maggard Razors, an excellent brush.

The razor arrived yesterday from Phoenix Shaving, aka Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements (and referred to by me as simply “Phoenix Artisan”). The website shows the name “Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements” but the URL is so I’m using the name that matches the URL. 

This is the Quantum razor, modeled on the Eclipse Red Ring, one of which I had for a while. It’s an interesting design: it uses a modified comb guard, with a reinforcing bar attached behind the tips of the tines. It works like a charm, and so far as I can recall the action is very like the original: extremely comfortable and highly efficient. The Quantum lacks, however, the small magnet that was embedded in the base of the Red Ring’s handle, very useful in picking up razor blades lying on a countertop. 

The Quantum comes with two baseplates, the Alpha (more aggressive) and the Omega. (On the back of each baseplate the appropriate Greek letter, α (lower-case) or Ω (upper-case), is engraved.) This morning I used the Omega, and tomorrow the Alpha will get a go. 

Photo of optional handle tips in various colors.

The razor has excellent heft, and the knurling, based on the design Gillette used for its flare-tip razors of yesteryear, is crisp and effective. The gold-colored base can be unscrewed, and bases in a variety of colors are available. The workmanship — fit and finish — is first-rate.

The shave was remarkably comfortable and effective: after three passes, no trace of roughness remains. I’m very glad I bought this razor. I’ve been missing the Red Ring, and this seems every bit as good in feel and performance, and the feel in the hand is even better: a thicker and heftier handle with a better grip.

A splash of D.R. Harris Pink After Shave with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept’s Aion Hydrating Gel and the (cloudy) day begins.

The caffeine this morning is via Murchie’s Black Currant Tea: “A blend of rich, smooth black teas enhanced with the zesty essence of black currants. Dried blueberries and blue cornflower are added to the sweet-smelling tea blend.”  

Written by Leisureguy

9 March 2023 at 9:38 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Rustler’s Ridge with the Kent BK4 and my trusty Edwin Jagger

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A shaving brush with a white wasp-waist handle and a  silvertip badger knot stands next to a tub of Rustler's Ridge shaving soap with shows a masked Western gunman in the foreground and a stagecoach in the background (but no cattle at all). Next is a rectangular transparent glass bottle of aftershave with a black cap and the same label. In front, lying on its side, is a chrome DE razor with a lined black handle.

This morning the G.B. Kent BK4 felt as I expected: much gentler than the Monarch. It loaded well and the lather was silky smooth and reasonably dense with a fine fragrance: 

Top Notes Madagascar Vanilla Bean, Ozone, Prickly Pear
Heart Notes Sage, Animalic Musk
Base Notes Spruce, Cedar

The soap is no longer available, but Phoenix Artisan does have a Rustler’s Ridge T-shirt.

My Edwin Jagger with its fresh blade did a wonderful job — BBS with no effort. It seems the blade is important. Three passes were pure pleasure, and then a good splash of Rustler’s Ridge aftershave/cologne with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept’s Aion Hydrating Gel finished the job.

The caffeine this morning is Fantastico’s Mexico Malinal Nayarita, and it’s delicious. I have perfected my brewing, and I now know to grind the be-jesus out of the beans using my spice & herb grinder. Uniformity of the ground coffee is important if you use a French press or a percolator or pour-over, but I use the Clever Coffee dripper, which lets the grounds steep in hot water. Once the brewing time is over, the coffee goes through a paper filter. For that, a fine grind is good, and uniformity doesn’t matter so much. 

Written by Leisureguy

8 March 2023 at 10:06 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

No lather problems and a BBS result

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A silvertip badger shaving brush with a faux-ivory wasp-waist handle next to a tube of shaving soap whose label shows a mallard duck taking flight against a black background. To the right of that is a small glass bottle with a white pump top and a yellow label that reads Grooming Dept Rejuvenating Serum. In front is a chrome razor with a lined black handle.

Absolutely no lather problems today, and I like this brush, with its faux-ivory handle (note the grain) better than yesterday’s brush, which is also a WSP Monarch. The soap is Grooming Dept Mallard Almond Vanilla: ” Bergamot, Heliotrope, Cumin, Almond, Lavender, Jasmine, Vanilla, Sandalwood, and Amber.”

I decided to replace the blade in the Edwin Jagger razor and use a brand I know well: Gillette 7 O’Clock SharpEdge (which has a yellow package). The new blade made the shave much easier and delivered a BBS result without any particular effort on my part.

One squirt of Grooming Dept Rejuvenating Serum as the aftershave finished job. My face feels very nice indeed.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s No. 22 Blend: “a superb blend of green Gunpowder and Jasmine, as well as Keemun and Ceylon black teas.” I think that John Murchie, a Scotsman, must have a clan tartan that is green and black. 🙂 

Written by Leisureguy

7 March 2023 at 10:08 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

So-so shave

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A wasp-waist silvertip badger shaving brush with a white handle,next to a tub of shaving soap whose label is a painting of laundry hanging from a line between city buildings..Nex is a small bottle with a white pump top. It has a navy-blue label with white lettering that says "Aion Skincare Nourishing Balm." In front, lying on its side, is a DE razor, chrome, with a black lined handle.

After my Saturday confusion of brushes, I decided that I would use all my wasp-waist brushes, beginning with this Wet Shaving Products Monarch. This handle is plain white, lacking the grain of the handle I used Saturday and will use again tomorrow.

I thought I loaded the brush well with Grooming Dept Laundry II shaving soap, but for some reason the lather faded, and I had to reload prior to the third pass. That must be operator error; the soap is the regular Kairos (tallow) formula and normally works well.

I got a damn fine shave (DFS), but I did have to work at it a bit, so after the shave, I changed blades. The new black is a Rockwell, and tomorrow I’ll see how I like it since I am using this Edwin Jagger razor every day this week, reporting on the quality of the shave. A DFS is not quite a BBS, but (damn) close to it. 

A tiny squirt of Aion Skincare’s Nourishing Balm, also from Grooming Dept, served as an aftershave, and I am pleased as I feel my face now.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s London Afternoon: “Fragrant rose petals are interwoven with smoky Lapsang Souchong, sweetened with creamy vanilla and a touch of bright bergamot.” This really is a good tea.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2023 at 9:01 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

A honey of a shave

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A silvertip badger shaving brush with a wasp-waist faux ivory handle stands next to a tub of Mystic Water Sardinian Honey shaving soap that has a white label and thre lwavy blue lines representing waves. Next is a rectangular transparent glass bottle of aftershave whose label shows a purple space helmt on a yellow background. Through the helmet's visor we see it half-filled with a brown liquid in which a bee is swmming. The helmet is labeled Planet Java Hive.

Mystic Water Sardinian Honey is a good shaving soap, though the honey fragrance is light. The lather was excellent, and the knot of my G.B. Kent BK4 Wet Shaving Products Monarch (see comment), a very gentle knot, felt almost firm from its load of lather. [It felt firm because the Monarch has a much firmer knot than the Kent BK4.]

Fine’s Marvel razor head, here on a bronze UFO handle, is a good head, and it easily produced a BBS result in four passes. A splash of Phoenix Artisan’s Planet Java Hive aftershave/cologne, augmented with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept’s Aion Hydrating Gel, finished the job and launched the weekend.

The caffeine this morning is coffee — Planet Java Hive was on my mind. I used 30g of Fantastico’s Mexico Manial Nayartia and a pint of water. I use my spice & herb grinder and grind the beans finely. Very tasty for an overcast day.

Written by Leisureguy

4 March 2023 at 11:13 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

International shave: Italian, English, French

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A silvertip shaving brush with white handle, a tub of shaving creams whose label shows a couple of tough-looking WWI pilots, and a tall bottle of Lilac Vegetal aftershave lotion. In front is a chrome razor lying on its side. The photo is rended as though it were painted, with visible brushstrokes.
Nationalities, L to R: English, Italian (shaving cream and razor), French

In a sense, today’s shave is just a regular workaday shave: not trying any new products, not comparing products or techniques, just getting shaved to start the day. Yet, withal, it is a pleasure. My Rooney Style 2 Super Silvertip looks good, feels good in my hand, and does a fine job, especially with a high-quality shaving cream like Extro 17 Stormo. This shaving cream is grey-brown in color and has a wonderful fragrance: 

Woody, aromatic fragrance that boldly contrasts mysterious, erotic and warm aromas with top notes of black pepper and with hints of heliotropies, resins and coffee and with a background of incense, oudh, amber, musk, and red pepper. 

The lather was thick and creamy with excellent glide, and the Fatip Testina Gentile did a wonderful job. The testina is indeed gentile but also highly efficient and easily produced a BBS result.

A splash Pinaud Lilac Vegetal — the oldest aftershave on the market (not this particular bottle, you understand, though it is indeed quite old) — augmented with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept’s Aion Hydrating Gel, and the shave is complete — a pleasurable and satisfying experience that makes me feel ready for the day.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s 1894 Select Orange Pekoe: “A union of bright Ceylon and rich Assam tea.”

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2023 at 9:45 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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