Archive for the ‘Shaving’ Category
I just read this review on Amazon.com and am chuffed by it. The reviewer really did a comprehensive review. (I’ve noticed that Amazon reviews in general have recently tended to be shorter, around 140 characters.) Just wanted to share my happiness. Every writer wants readers who understand.
UPDATE: Oops! I omitted the link. I hate it when I do that.
Extremely fine result. I selected one of Shannon’s Soaps and had no problems neatly loading my Copper Hat shaving brush. The razor today is a flare-tip Super Speed, and as you can see in comparing it to yesterday’s TV Super Speed, this one has horizontal grooves that the TV Super Speed lacks. The blade is a Rapira, previously used.
The Esbjerg aftershave gel was very thick and when I rubbed it on my face it felt quite slick but was also quite visible. It took a while to realize that this sample was of shaving cream, not aftershave. (Damn small lettering.) I added some water to rinse it off and realized that (a) it was really slick, and (b) there were some rough patches. (The Rapira blade should have already been replaced, obviously.) I used the slickness and picked up a razor close to hand—my Apollo Mikron—and tried out the shaving cream (without lathering it), and ended up with a fine shave.
I checked my other Esbjerg sample, and it is the aftershave gel. Monday I’ll use the shaving cream sample as a shaving cream and not as an aftershave. (I did notice that it was MUCH thicker than before, but I thought perhaps it was older and had dried out somewhat. I’m not necessarily thinking clearly at the time I shave.)
End result was a fine shave, and that’s what counts.
Very nice shave indeed today. I used another shaving soap that is sold in full containers, Martin de Candre. As you see, the soap goes to the very brim, but is in fact not at all messy if you pay attention as you load the brush. And the brush is RazoRock’s new synthetic, which I picked up at the introductory price of $10. (Some, I was surprised to find, become enraged at introductory pricing because they expect the product to sell forever at the introductory price. This happened specifically with the RazoRock Baby Smooth, which had an introductory price of $45, which was (I believe) below cost. One commenter here had terrible things to say about Italian Barber for not continuing to sell at the introductory price. So I want specifically to note: The $10 price was a one-time only introduction. The price of the brush once it’s restocked will probably be at least twice that and maybe even $25.)
I got a wonderful lather (and no mess) and this morning I noticed as I rinsed that the lather felt particularly slippery. Martin de Candre would indeed be a desert-island soap for me.
The Gillette 1958 TV Super Speed (offered as a TV special) is identified by having only the vertical grooves—no horizontal grooves. (I’ll use the non-TV version tomorrow.) Gillette also had a special TV offer in 1954, and that razor was like the original Super Speed from the 1940’s. (I was interested to learn that the 1958 TV Super Speed in the UK was rhodium plated.)
I had a fine shave—BBS with no nicks—and I enjoyed the splash of Saint Charles Shave Bulgarian Rose.
UPDATE: I forgot to note that this new RazoRock brush follows what I believe is a recent trend: putting the logo on the bottom of the brush. I like that. I first saw it on a Wiborg brush, and then Fine did it, and now others, including RazoRock.
An extremely nice shave today. Once again I picked a soap that’s sold in a full (rather than partially empty) container, this time Strop Shoppe’s Lemon Eucalyptus. Although the Simpson Emperor 3 shown is a relatively large brush, there was no problem in loading the brush fully with no mess at all. And the soap is excellent: the lemon fragrance comes through clearly, with the eucalyptus tagging along.
On the left in the photo is the British Gillette Red-Tipped Rocket, on the right the US Gillette Red-Tipped Super Speed. Although the Rocket feels a little more robust than the Super Speed (and very slightly heavier: the Rocket is 69g, the Super Speed 67g), the shaves were much alike. The Super Speed had a Schick Plus Platinum blade, and after sharing shaving duties for the first pass, I stuck with the Super Speed for the remainder of the shave.
A nice little splash of Mickey Lee Soapworks Italian Stallion aftershave milk, and the day began.
Since then, I’ve done various things including a new batch of homemade mayonnaise, using the recipe at tinyurl.com/easymayo.
In yesterday’s post and the comments that followed I figured out that loading in the brush is a thing—something that repays mindful attention—so today I selected another soap sold in full (rather than partially empty) containers and tried loading with minimal mess.
It turns out to be pretty easy (but then I’ve had a fair amount of experience in brush-loading, so I am better able to recognize when the goal (a fully loaded brush) has been achieved). I picked the Vie-Long horsehair brush shown, and wet the knot well before showering. Then I held the knot under the hot-water tap to get it dripping wet, gave it a shake or two to leave the right amount of water in the brush (the Goldilocks amount: not too much, not too little, but just right—and, obviously, this is where experience pays off and where learning occurs), and then brushed the soap briskly and with focused attention.
It took very little time—my impression is that it took no more time, but when an activity is the focus of mindful attention one’s sense of time passing is distorted, but I didn’t feel that it took any longer than my usual brush loading, and it was indeed more interesting.
I got an excellent lather—it’s quite a good soap—and picked up the red-tipped Rocket, the British version of the Super Speed, made to a higher standard of manufacture and noticeably more skookum. (Tomorrow I’ll use the regular Rocket.) Three passes, very comfortable, BBS result.
A good splash of Pinaud’s Lilac Vegtal, and we get underway.
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.
User cgdntx asked an interesting question on Wicked Edge this morning: “When you try a new product, how long do you give it?” He was specifically asking about Mitchell’s Wool Fat shaving soap, which initially some find hard to lather.
I immediately thought of my Apollo Mikron, which initially would give me a lot of nicks. But since I loved the look of the razor, I continued using it, and soon the nicks ceased and now it shaves easily, comfortably, and reliably, never giving me a nick. I was not conscious of whatever changes I made in technique, but it’s quite common for practical skills to be a matter of unconscious learning through practice.
The brush in the photo is another example. I bought it for the beauty of the snakewood handle, and when I got it I was disconcerted by the softness of the knot, and initially was disappointed. But then I reflected that the knot is what it is, and I should learn to use it. It turned out that with very little practice I learned how to load the brush well, and the knot’s soft feel has made it a favorite brush. I knew from the start there had to be a change, but it turned out that what needed changing was not the brush but my attitude toward it. Once I accepted it as a soft brush and learned to use it, the brush became a favorite because of its fine performance and great feel.
So this morning I was planning the use the brush already, and after reading the post, decided that today’s soap would be MWF. I wet the knot well, gave it a good shake, and brushed the soap briskly but (given the brush’s softness) not much firmness. Brisk did the job, though as the brush loaded, the puck seemed too dry, so I added a small driblet of water to the brush and loaded a bit longer.
Ample lather—and a very good lather—and the Merkur white bakelite slant did its usual marvelous job: perfectly BBS in three passes with no problems at all. This razor really is one of the all-time great slants.
A couple of drops of D.R. Harris After Shave Milk, and the week awaits.