Archive for the ‘Shaving’ Category
I make it a practice to purchase the products I use (not as the alternative to stealing them, but to accepting gifts and gratuities), but occasionally I will find myself using a freebie—much less frequently than some suppose—and in this case the freebie is because the soap and aftershave are not yet available, and I am responding to a request to test them and provide feedback.
I didn’t think it fair to use the Whipped Dog High Mountain Badger brush for a test of a shaving soap until the brush is performing better, so I chose the l’Occitane Plisson synthetic. The soap is in a 5″ tin, a size I enjoy for the ample working surface. It looks like a glycerin soap—transparentish—but has a different feel, somewhat rubbery. I easily got a very good lather. I did not identify the fragrance, but certainly it was pleasant enough. The lather was quite good, I thought, and easily awakened. I did take care to load the brush fully: the lather springs forth so readily I think it might be easy to overestimate how much soap the brush has loaded. Go for the microscopic bubbles and then some.
Three passes with the Mongoose polished head on an iKon Special Edition handle, an Idea I owe to BostonPhotoTourist. That combination does indeed work quite well. Again a comfortable shave with a BBS result and no nicks or burn. I did note a strong impulse to flip the razor to the other side at those places where I normally do that—for example, when I start shaving the second side of my face in each pass. Instead, I rinse the head at those points. An SE razor is not quite so efficient as a DE razor but the time penalty is probably less than 10 seconds per shave.
The aftershave was a pleasant fragrance. I spritzed a fair amount in the palm of my hand, rubbed hands together and applied it, and I enjoyed the sensation. It does not seem to be alcohol-based; my skin showed its approval by feeling good.
That’s pretty much the feedback I have: looks good to me, but the fragrances might be pumped up a bit. Still, that’s a trade-off: as the fragrance grows stronger, more will have skin reactions. The right balance must be found. Still, I would like a bit more.
It has been repeatedly suggested that I establish a Facebook page for the Guide, and now that the Kindle version is out, it seems time. Here’s the page. I’ll post my SOTD there (as well as in this blog), along with other things as they occur to me. Suggestions welcomed.
The Mongoose is a single-edge (SE) razor that uses blades made for professional shavettes: somewhat wider and a lot narrower than a DE blade or a GEM-style SE blade. Tryablade sells a couple of good blade-sampler packs for this razor, and I recommend it if you get the razor.
I got two, including handles, to test. One will become a gift or be sold. The handles have deeply engraved spirals with no cross-check, so for me they are not fully comfortable, feeling as though they might twist. (In the UFO spiral handles and in the British Gillette spiral handles, the spirals include cross-checks so there’s no tendency to twist; this spiraling is more like that of the Merkur barberpole handle (38C and 39C), and I do not care for that handle either.
The stain-finish handle is not bad, but I think I would replace the polished handle: it really is slick and twisty. However, the threads are totally standard, and I’ve already tried a couple of other handles, so it’s easy to swap handles—and you can also purchase the heads by themselves, which is basically what I recommend. However, given the weight of the head, you will want a pretty heavy stainless handle for comfort and balance.
Now to the shave: I got a very nice lather with Tim’s Greek Peach, which has a terrific fragrance that will provide year-round enjoyment and should certainly spark up a cold, dark, drizzly morning. Today I got two good passes before finding the lather pretty much gone by the third—similar to the pattern with the R&B commemorative boar brush. That brush was completely broken in after a week’s use and no more lather problems ensued. So I think I’ll continue to use the Whip Dog High Mountain Badger for a week and watch it improve.
The shave: I used a Kai Captain Sharpblade in one razor, a Feather Pro Super in the other. And, naturally enough, I forgot which was which, but they both did a good job. BostonPhotoTourist had strongly recommended the Mongoose, which was the push that moved me to buy, and he’s right: the razor is extremely comfortable and extremely efficient. No cuts or nicks—didn’t feel like such was possible, but I didn’t try to test it—and the result is BBS. I have to say that I like the razor.
Typical of a SE razor, though, you’ll rinse more often: once the razor fills with lather, you can’t flip to the other side. Minor drawback.
The fit, finish, and overall quality of the razor is really superb: top-notch workmanship and a terrific razor to use. My comments about the handles are undoubtedly in the YMMV, personal-preference area, but it does mean that, so far as I’m concerned, you can order the head alone and get along fine with a Bulldog handle from Weber or iKon, or use the iKon OSS handle, or one of the Maggard stainless handles, or a handle from Above the Tie or Wolfman Razors: there’s no shortage of choices.
TL; DR: Great shave, superb razor.
A really excellent shave this morning. The brush is a high-mountain badger from Whipped Dog, and it was used for a test lathering yesterday so you see it somewhat bloomed. I got it to compare it to the Whipped Dog silvertip. For both of the brushes I have, I used 22mm knots set at the standard depth. I think the high-mountain badger is a bit shorter in loft and bit more resilient, but it’s still early days.
I loaded it easily with the Lenthéric, whose lather has an exquisite fragrance, but the lather was pretty much gone by the second pass. I suspect this is due to the same sort of lathercidal action I’ve noticed in some new boar brushes. I’ll continue using it to see whether the lather becomes more persistent as the brush breaks in. It was not a real problem: I just reloaded and continued. (I do not find that this happens when using other brushes with the Lenthéric.)
I took the trusty Parker 24C and again got a very comfortable shave with a very smooth result: BBS once more. A good splash of D.R. Harris Pink After Shave, and the day finally is launched. (I’ve been weaking in the early hours of the morning for a couple of hours for some reason, so by the time I get back to bed I end up arising fairly late.)
Terrific shave once more. The Plisson synthetic made a very fine lather from Dr. Jon’s Handcrafted Hex shaving soap, the components of whose fragrance are listed on the lid. I continue to find these soaps quite wonderful, and in fact I have ordered more.
The razor shown is the BBS-1 from the LA Shaving Soap Company, and is made by Wolfman Razors for them. With a Personna Lab Blue blade it is totally wonderful: gentle and comfortable on the face, efficient and effective at removing stubble. And, true to its name, it produced a BBS result with no discomfort or nicks.
A good splash of Ginger’s Garden Havana Cognac aftershave, and the week begins, in effect.
Terrific shave, and some observations below on style and feel.
The Plisson Chinese Gray is a coarse-feeling brush—quite pleasant and grainy on the face—and today I shook it perhaps a little too dry. I got little lather as I loaded it on the excellent but quite soft Dr. Jon’s Handcrafted Propaganda shaving soap (vanilla, sandalwood, musk, patchouli, and mandarin), so that when I brushed across my beard, it deposited tiny specks of the soft soap rather than a lather. It was an interesting effect—and probably required the Plisson’s blunt bristle tips. When I added a driblet of water and brushed, the lather immediately arose, much as when using a shave stick: rubbing the soap stick against the grain of the beard scrapes off particles of soap, and then brushing with a dampish/wettish brush immediately evokes the lather.
Three passes with the Above the Tie S1 on a UFO handle, and perfect smoothness was the result, with no trace of a nick. A good splash of Fine’s Clean Vetiver and Memorial Day begins.
NeedsMoreMenthol brought up an interesting point in this thread on Wicked Edge. I quote:
Leisureguy: That [Gillette Tech with a Feather blade] is a great combination for me as well: very comfortable and very efficient. It’s on a par with the top tier of razors. And it’s even better if you use a heavy handle (I’m currently using a handle from Wolfman Razors, but the stainless Bulldog handle (Weber or iKon) or the iKon OSS handle or one of the Maggard stainless handles would work as well.
NeedsMoreMenthol: “It’s on a par with the top tier of razors.” – That explains a lot about why you prefer the iKon #102 over the 37C. The Tech is uber-mild, while I add a shim to the Fatip and Gillette Old Type to make what are already aggressive razors even more so. Your preference seems to be a sharp blade in a mild razor, while I am the exact opposite, preferring a less-sharp blade in an aggressive razor.
Leisureguy: I do indeed like comfort in my razors, but also efficiency: with a Feather in my Tech or with a blade good for me in the #102, I get not only the uber-mild feeling on my skin, but also a cutting efficiency that leaves much of my face BBS after the second pass and totally BBS after the 3rd pass. That’s plenty close enough for me.
I like to distinguish feel from performance in talking about razors, since comfort and efficiency really do seem to be somewhat independent. And while we all want efficiency (I think), I agree that preferences on feel probably vary: some may not want what I call a high level of comfort but instead want to feel something that, while not harshness, is in that direction: some edge to the feel, a sense of aggressiveness in the razor—referring here not to performance, but to the feeling on the face.
Similarly in brushes, I think: some clearly like the feel of a stiff scrubby brush, while others like the feel on the face of a a soft, puffy brush, particularly when the brush is filled with warm lather: a gentle caress rather than a stiff scrub.
So far as lathering efficiency, both types of brush are effective: loading the brush and building the lather work well with either type, but the two types definitely feel different, and it’s easy to observe that some like the feel of one type and some like the feel of the other.
So with both razors and brushes, we seem to see a common desire for performance efficiency and effectiveness, but a division in preference for feel. One wants complacence and accommodation in the feel, the other prefers some fight and kickback. Interesting. I had not thought of the difference in preferences in brush feeling being also reflected in differences in preference for razor feeling, but it makes sense and seems to match somewhat what we observe.
Thanks. Good insight.
EDIT: I thought more about this as I shaved this morning (with the extremely comfortable and highly efficient ATT S1), and it struck me that these differences are found in other arts as well. Consider the urbane, effortless dance style of Fred Astaire in contrast to the more effortful and gymnastic Russ Tamblyn. You see it also in styles of playing the piano: not in the music, necessarily, but in the visual performance of creating the music: Jerry Lee Lewis, for example, beats the music out of the piano, whereas in contrast, as described in “Beat Me, Daddy, Eight to the Bar,” there’s the “A-riffin’ out with ease” that you see in, say, the manner in which Art Tatum or Oscar Peterson perform.
Michelangelo commented that it takes work to remove the traces of work, and it’s perhaps notable that in the top tier of razors I find ultra-comfort combined with ultra-efficiency: Above the Tie (at least with the baseplates I like), Feather AS-D2, iKon, Wolfman Razors and others—and the Tech with a Feather blade falls into this category as well. No trace of effort/aggressiveness in the feel, along with flawless removal of stubble.
But I can see that other styles might appeal to other people: we all want flawless removal of stubble, but some want more action, as it were: the effort made more evident.
Freddie Slack played piano on that, with vocal by Ray McKinley, the drummer. Trombonist is Will Bradley (né Wilbur Schwictenberg).
If you like that, listen also to “Celery Stalks at Midnight” with the same personnel and “Down the Road a Piece,” performed by the Will Bradley trio (Freddie Slack piano, Ray McKinley (“Eight-beat Mac” in the song) drums and vocal, and Doc Goldberg bass, with Don Raye helping with the vocals).
I didn’t realize how many Amazon sites carry the Guide to Gourmet Shaving. I just updated the links on this page so that it now reads: