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Artisans: Heart of Traditional Wetshaving
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My suggestion is that you simply read the book, reserving the links for later, and only for those things that you want to explore further. To improve the readability of the textand because I suggest that you start by simply reading. And, to make the links even easier to use, Ive also provided them on the Web as hyperlinks so that you can simply click each to go to the site of interest. The companion Web list of links is especially worth checking since I update it as new information becomes availablefor example, price changes that affect recommendations, or the appearance of new vendors or products.
See tinyurl. I recommend that you bookmark that page. You can review shaving posts on leisureguy. That will present all shaving entries in abbreviated formclick on the title of any post to see the whole thing. If you comment on a post, I will normally reply. Links to some specific shaving posts can be found on the Useful Knowledge page of the blog see the list of links at the right when viewing the blog.
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I began shaving with a Gillette DE safety razor around After a couple of years I switched to a Schick Injector, a safety razor that uses a singleedged blade. But that was then, in the dark ages of the isolated shaver, when each shaver had to depend on his own knowledge and what he could pick up from members of his family. The only sources of information I had, for example, were my step-dad who knew no more than I about shaving and commercials and ads, whose general content was, Buy this product.
I used a brush, Old Spice shaving soap, and Gillette Blue Blades, and my shave consisted of two complete passes: one down, and one upthe second pass without lather. I used little pieces of toilet paper on the resulting nicks and over the course of my high-school career must have used up. As soon as I got to college, I grew a beard. I still remember reading in high school a nearfuture science-fiction novel about a guy getting ready for a big night.
He lathers up and shaves with the grain, then he lathers up again and shaves against the grain. I thought, Thats oddhe lathered up a second time. It never occurred to me that lathering before each pass might be the right way to shave. Todaynowis truly the golden age of shaving. Only with the Internet has it been possible for the far-flung band of safety-razor shavers to pool the knowledge gained from their experience and trials and provide all shavers, new or old, with so much information, and to gain easy access to vendors of wet-shaving products all over the globe. This book grew out of my own experience, augmented and illuminated by the experiences other shavers shared in the on-line shaving forums.
I thank the guys on Pogonotomy. I also thank the vendors listed in the appendix for the fine array of products and information they offer, essential to the practice of traditional shaving. And in particular I want to thank shaving novices, whose questions and desire for reliable information first stimulated this book. I am not a dermatologist or a cosmetologist and have no professional background in skin care or shaving. I am a retired guy who found a way to making shaving enjoyable; I wrote this book as a report of my own experience and observations, not as recommendations specific to you, whom I dont know.
My hope is that you find tools and techniques you can adapt to your own situation, at your own pleasure and risk. I certainly cannot guarantee outcomes, since I dont know what your shaving issues might be. So read, enjoy, and be judicious in your experimentation. With the existence of the Internet and active shaving forums, is a book like this even needed?
I believe it is. A book, unlike a collection of Internet links, can serve as a gift for men who hate to shave, and I hope that this volume will often be among presents such men receive for graduation, Fathers Day, birthdays, and other occasions. Some who receive the book will not have previously considered traditional wetshaving. One of their friends or family members knew that they found shaving a tedious chore and gave them the book so they could enjoy the morning shave.
Thus the next chapter makes the case for traditional wetshavingjust in case youre now considering the idea for the first time. Although the Internet does provide access to much information, the information is inconsistent and disorganized, so a beginning shaver must spend considerable time wading through esoteric minutiae discussed at length while searching for basic guidanceessential basic information that may be hidden, glossed over, misstated, or omitted altogether.
Of course, beginners can ask questions in shaving forums, but Ive observed that those new to traditional wetshaving often dont know. This book was written for a beginning shaver who values his time and wants an organized and consistent presentation. Information in the shaving forums also is volatile: new threads constantly push old threads out of sight, and entire threads are occasionally deleted, erasing all the information and photos they once contained.
The information in the book will still be here when you return. The shaving forums are nonetheless valuable, and I encourage you to participate in them. For one thing, you can ask questions about specific problems that you encounter. For another, it is through the forums that word quickly spreads of new products and new ideas. Much of the information presented here I learned through the forums and from vendors, though all of it was subject to my own judgment, use, and interpretation and some is even my own invention.
I hope that this book will be an enjoyable and informative companion in your journey of exploration. Why put aside all the modern technology of pressurized cans of formulated shaving foams and gels and the modern multiblade razor cartridge that allows you to shave while still half asleep? Why pick up tools and techniques from a generation or two ago? Traditional shavers offer several answers. Care of skin For some, the reason is pragmatic and down-toearth: the multiblade cartridge uses a tug-and-cut technique that, along with the dry chemical lather squirted from a pressurized can, leads to ingrown whiskers, razor bumps, and skin irritation for many shavers, most of whom think that they have sensitive skin.
They continue to suffer, buying. Some, however, switch to the double-edged blade and safety razor for the comfort they achieve with single-blade shaving. Most find that, once they master the techniques and skills of traditional shaving, their skin problems vanish, never to return.
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A guy in one of the shaving forums commented that he started traditional shaving and, after a few months, returned home from college to see his mom. She felt his cheek and commented that it was the smoothest and softest it had been since he was 5. He said he had been aware that traditional shaving had improved his skin, but the improvement was so gradual he really didnt understand how dramatic the change was.
Quality of shave Some men choose a safety razor with a doubleedged blade because they enjoy getting a much better shave: smoother, closer, and longer-lasting. This contradicts the ads about the latest disposable. In fact, the very closest shaves are probably done with a skillfully wielded straight razor, but using a straight razor demands a panoply of skills, including sharpening skills This book focuses on the DE razor which uses an inexpensive, disposable, double-edged blade.
One double-edged blade, which will last you roughly as many shaves as the cartridge, generally costs around 25 but better prices are available with bulk purchases. The razor and the brush last a lifetimeindeed, even longer: some shavers enjoy using double-edged razors from 80 or more years ago. You can buy a complete safety razor kit for a beginnerrazor, 5. Quality of life I didnt have skin problems and wasnt all that unhappy with the shaves the Mach 3 delivered. I turned to safety-razor shaving for the sheer pleasure the morning shave now provides. Shaving has changed from a routine at best, a chore more often, to a wonderful ritual from which I emerge feeling truly pampered.
I now look forward to shaving each day. That feeling more than repays the little bit of equipment required. The daily shave: a daily pleasure. How many men can say that? Very few. I strongly suspect that the current fashion of young men wearing a stubble of 4 or 5 days growth originated because shaving is unpleasant for most men who use todays shaving paraphernalia. Fashion photographers, seeing many young men with visible stubble, decided it was a look, and put such men in ads, trying to. In fact, these young men simply dont like to shave but for whatever reason may not grow a full beard.
So they put off shaving, and the look becomes a fashion statement that means their Significant Other gets a sandpaper experience with every kiss. Those who use traditional equipment, in sharp contrast, enjoy shaving. Indeed, the focused attention and meditative mindset of shaving with a safety razor can provide a morning ritual not unlike 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 Sensessight, hearing, touch, smellfully.
If the task is too easy, attention wanders; if too difficult, anxiety ensues. Most people know from their own experience that the state of happiness is usually recognized only after the factat the time, one is unaware of i t per se, but simply enjoys each moment.
Flow seems to exactly describe the state of experiencing happiness, so the more flow one can arrange, the happier ones life. Shaving, with the right. The contemplative aspect of a satisfying shaving ritual is important. Most of us live hurried lives, multitasking and rushing about, harried by time demands. What the morning shave with a safety razor offers is a small oasis of unhurried calm and single-minded attention to remind you what it feels like to be unrushed and not to be doing one thing while thinking of something else. And modern psychology suggests that this shaving ritual can increase your self-esteem: Cognitive dissonance3 posits that a person holding contradictory beliefs or observing himself acting in contradiction to his beliefs will add to or modify his beliefs to resolve or reduce the contradiction4.
I thought of this regarding shaving of course : By acquiring the specialized tools and supplies and taking the time and care to create a shaving ritual, the shaver presents himself with a behavior that leads to increased self-esteem: If Im taking this much time to pamper myself, I must be worth. Not a bad feeling at all. Theres another quality-of-life issue for men who suffer from hay fever and other such allergies: their suffering can be greatly alleviated by shaving during allergy season.
Pollen and other allergens can get trapped in mustaches and beards, exacerbating the sneezing and sniffling. To minimize symptoms, pay attention to facial hair: wash it frequently during the day, particularly after being outside, or easier and simpler stay cleanshaven during allergy season. A summary of reasons men enjoy traditional shaving:. Sensual enjoyment: hot lather, the feel of a flexible yet firm shaving brush, the razor making a nice sound as it mows through the stubble, feeling your smooth face after the shave, the fragrances of the lather and the aftershave, etc.
It really clears the mind. Gadget appeal: brush styles, razor mechanisms, blade characteristics, soap varieties, etc. The great feeling of transforming a daily chore into a daily pleasure: conquering, in a small way, drudgery itself. Frugality: the satisfaction of knowing that soap and blade cost just pennies, rather than the high-priced products of marketing that other men typically use.
F i na l l y, getting the best smoothest, closest shaves of your life with zero skin irritation. If its so great, why are cartridges so popular? Some guys are skeptical because everyone uses cartridges.
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So why was the double-edged blade abandoned? The answer will shock you: money. The blades were sharper but they found that the edge deteriorated quickly and became quite rough to shave with. Wilkinson held many of the patents and grabbed a considerable proportion of Gillettes market share ever so quickly in the late 50s early 60sbasically, WS blades were noticeably better.
And so Gillette made a deal for them to use Wilkinson technology. All of this helped in the demise of the DE as Gillettes patents were coming to an end and they were no longer in the controlling seat. Gillette decided to take a new direction in the early s and cartridge systems would be the end result. Some have expressed a fear of the safety razor, but its called a safety razor for a reason: the only damage you might encounter are some few nicks while youre learning as compared to years of skin irritation and other problems stemming from use of the multiblade cartridge.
With daily practice, your technique quickly improves so that any start-up problems vanish. Indeed, you can begin by continuing to use your multiblade cartridge razor, just adding to your routine a fragrant lather you create with a shaving brush and a high-quality shaving cream or shaving soapmuch more satisfying than squirting some goop from a can of shaving mix. And then perhaps you might move to a Schick injector razor described later , which has a feel very like a cartridge razor and is easy to shave with.
If you want, you can use a practice blade to perfect your technique before using a real blade:. In a way, the fear that precedes your first shave with a safety razor resembles the similar fear that precedes your first kiss with someone on whom you have a great crush. Your mind is filled with everything that can go wrong, but you decide to try it anyway, and you get a kiss in returnand suddenly everything is okay.
The fears are revealed to be but phantasms, and they vanish in the pleasure of the experience. Dont just take my word for it: give it shaving ago. One safety-razor shaver pointed out that, if you were to describe a cartridge razor to someone in the old days, it would sound quite scary: Five blades?!
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Wont you cut yourself a lot? Fear of the safety razor may be merely fear of a new experience, a distaste for feeling awkward at the beginning of the process of acquiring new skills. You also might want to read the following report6 from someone whos grown accustomed to. My uncertainty about whether to check or carry on was solved by forgetting to pack my Futur [razor] I was going to decide when I left work whether to leave it in the bag.
So my only real shaving option were the things that I had left at home. I wasnt about to drag out the old Norelco, so that meant the Mach 3 that I left there as a spare. I have not tried a Mach 3 a single time since picking up a DE, so I was actually very curious how it would go. I had often wondered if it was really that much different. After all, unlike some, I remember getting decent shaves with it.
But then, I never went against the grain, so my shaves were not that smooth. I did use shaving soap and a brush. First impression is that this thing does not sit well in the hand. I remembered the metal handle having decent weight, but, well, by comparison [with the Futur] the Mach 3 felt dinky. Also much too light in the head.
With the grain. Not tearing up my face or anything, just not pleasant. Much to my surprise, I realized that even with three blades, the onepass N-S result was not as good as I can get with many DE combinations. So I decided to keep going, and see if my improved technique and good soap would allow a good multipass shave. I did three passes, but never fully against the grain because I was getting too much irritation going across.
With the M3 it was good, but not great. But the real problem was irritation. My skin simply did not look happy. And sure enough, there came the red bumps. I had to back down to a one pass with the grain the next day, and the third day just did not shave at all. What is interesting about this, though, is that this is coming from someone who was perfectly happy with his Mach3 and saw no need to change. I only tried a DE because of the price of stupid cartridges, and the guy love of gadgets. And, more recently, this note, under the title What was I thinking? Not only that, but I used a can of Nivea shaving foam.
Its been some time since I used a combo like this, and my face didnt thank me one little bit!! Its taken a week of using my usual combo Progress [razor], Trumper [shaving cream], and Rooney [brush] to calm my face down and get rid of the ingrown hairs. Needless to say, none of the offending items accompanied me on the flight home and all my remaining Mach 3 blades have been sent off to a good.
Dont think Ill make that mistake again On a positive note, it has made me appreciate more the whole shaving experience. For the ladies Traditional wetshaving may also be of interest to women, in two ways. First, some women choose to shave their legs and armpits rather than waxing painful , permanent laser hair removal costly , using depilatory creams or lotions applying to your skin caustic chemicals strong enough to dissolve hair , or simply letting hair grow as it pleases.
But shaving products aimed at women have not provided good informationfor example, they seldom emphasize the importance of shaving prep the step in which the stubble is softened and prepared for shaving. Indeed, some shaving products offered to women imply that prep is not needed: ads frequently show women shaving in the shower, suggesting that all you need is water. Its true that some multiblade cartridge razors marketed to women have a strip moistened with an aloe vera solution that supposedly lubricates and protects the skin. The strip also gives the stubble approximately 2 milliseconds to absorb the solution and soften before the blade strikes.
A woman who understands the importance of prep and uses a quality shaving soap or shaving cream and a brush, working up a good lather on her legs or armpits and allows the stubble to soften will get a better shave and a more pleasant shaving experience even if she uses a multibladecartridge razor. Not only do good soaps and creams produce a lather that softens the stubble effectively, making shaving easier, they also come in a wide variety of fragrances that make the entire task more pleasant.
Shave sticks, described later in this book, are the most convenient form of shaving soap for a womans use. And if she uses a real razor the Lady Gillette, for example, easily found on eBay with a favorite search, or the long-handled Merkur Classic, still in current manufacture , the experience becomes.
Its probably best to practice with an unloaded razor no blade to get an idea of angle and position. If you make a little fake blade from a piece of thin plastic for the razor, you can feel the dull edge, which would help judge angle. A second way in which the topic of traditional shaving may be of interest to women is that romantic interactions with men tend to be more pleasant and less irritating to the skin when the man in question is clean-shaven. Rough, sandpapery skin can ruin the romantic mood; smooth and fragrant skin is more suited to the occasion.
This may be one reason this book so frequently serves as a gift from a woman to the man in her lifethat, along with the wish to make the mans life more pleasant by converting a daily chore into an enjoyable interlude. BASED on what many shavers have experienced, you can expect something like the following.
You initially feel skeptical of the idea, but thats followed by the thought that the way you shave now is a boring chore and your skin is in terrible shape. So, you think, why not give it a go? You go to the drugstore and get a cheap brush and shaving soap. You buy any convenient double-edged bladebecause the blade is so cheap, it doesnt seem all that important. You lather up andvery carefullypull the razor down your cheek. You try to remember what youve read about the correct angle, and you try to exert very little pressure. Light pressure is hard to.
You finish, perhaps with a nick but maybe not: the first shave is done very carefully andon the wholenot bad. In fact, it was sort of interesting. You decide to check in at the shaving forums to read more and also perhaps to brag a little. You post the results of your experience, and you start reading. You suddenly realize youve spent more than an hour reading messages in the forum, and you now understand quite a bit more about the process, including some ways to improve your technique.
You order a blade sampler pack so that you have a large number of different brands of blades to try in addition to all the brands you can find locally in the drugstore, and you stop by a Crabtree. Within a week of your first shave with the safety razor, your shaves are getting progressively better and the nicks have become rare.
If you do get a nick, you check pressure and blade angle and resume. You usually get advice from someone who had the identical problem and figured out a solution. You start to really get the hang of it. Youve spent some time reading the forum and eyeing the various choices of razors, brushes, soaps, creams, and aftershaves.
Youve found in the sampler pack a blade that seems to work well for you, and already you can tell that this blade does a better jobor maybe your technique is improvingor both. You are learning so much, and its so interesting fascinating, eventhat you eagerly tell your significant other all about it. You observe a certain. Now, as you read the forums, you occasionally find a question from a newbie that you can answer.
One day, after a couple of weeks, you feel your face after shaving and realize that its smooth and not just smooth, but baby-bottom smooth! In every direction! You rub your chin and cheek and feel no sign of whiskers or stubbleyou cant even tell when youre rubbing against the grain. And theres no razor burn! Your face is totally comfortable as well as being totally smooth. All through the morning you surreptitiously feel your face, and you find yourself thinking of tomorrows shavewhich soap or cream to use, which aftershave Youre hooked9.
IN the following chapters I explain in detail the process of shaving, following the sequence of the shave. Each chapter focuses on a single part of the shave or a single tool. Optional steps are indicated. The series of YouTube videos made by Mantic is an excellent complement to the information in this book. Grain of your beard Before you begin to shave, determine the grain of your beard: the direction of its growth.
You must know grain direction because your first pass is to shave with the grain, your second pass across the grain, and later, once youre comfortable using the razor, a final pass against the grain except in areas in which you tend to get in-grown whiskers. Youll probably find that your beards grain has. Part of learning to shave is learning the lineaments of your own face. When you shave with a single blade rather than a multiblade cartridge , you will make 2, 3, or even 4 passesthough when you begin, 2 passes are enough.
The reason for the multiple passes is to get a close shave while using minimal pressure: instead of trying to achieve a close shave by pressing harder, you make more passes. Pressure produces nicks, cuts, and razor burn scraping away the top layer of your skin. In shaving with a safety razor and a good blade, the weight of the razor is generally as much pressure as you want. To determine the direction of your beards grain, wait hours after youve last shaved, then rub your fingertips or the edge of a credit card or a cotton ball over your beard. The roughest direction is against the grain at that point.
For most men, the beard grows downward on the cheeks, so that part of the beard feels roughest if youre rubbing upward. But I discovered that at the corner of my right jaw, my beard grows. And just around the right side of my mouth, the grain tilts. The grain on your neck probably has some odd directions. Its not unusual, for example, for the beard on the neck to grow upward, so that shaving downward is against the grain.
One reason the neck is so often a shaving challenge is the irregularity of the grain of the beard there. Thats also why good prep is particularly important on the neck: you might find yourself shaving against the grain at any point in the shave if your neck stubble grows in whorls. When you start, you may want to make a small sketch of your face and indicate the grain directions with arrows as a memory aid.
Soon, though, you will know the grain of your beard by heart. THE quality of your shave largely depends on how well you prepare your beard for the shave. A dry whisker, according to Gillette, is as tough as a copper wire of the same diameterbut a whisker, unlike a copper wire, can soak up water and become soft. Good prep ensures that your whiskers soften. Inadequate prep leaves your whiskers tough, so the blade tugs, catches, and skips, giving you an uncomfortable and scraggly shave, complete with nicks and cuts, and a blade thats now dull.
Shaving resembles painting in that you spend a good amount of time preparing the surface before actually picking up brush or razor. Step 1: Shower For most men, its a good idea to shave after showering: the hot water and steam of the shower give a good start to wetting the beard. Some, however, find that showering makes their skin sensitive and prone to irritation; those should shave before showering. A moisturizing hair conditioner used on your beard in the shower can soften even a tough beard.
Be sure to look for a hair conditioner that softens hairconditioners come in different types If you shower in the evening, consider shaving then as well. For a novice, that works well: in the evening, unrushed, you can take your time as you master the technique. And since the ritual of wetshaving is relaxing, as noted above, its a fine prelude to a date night. And for a date night, try the oil pass, described later in the book: the oil pass guarantees a totally smooth and soft face. Step 2: Wash your beard Even though Ive just showered, I still wash my beard at the sink with soap and water and then rinse before I apply lather.
Some guys find that they get a better shave if they dont use soap at this step but just rinse their face with water. Because individuals differ so much, you have to experiment to find what works best for you. For me, its washing my beard with soap and water.
Wash your beard with this soap, partially rinse with a splash of warm water, and then lather with a shaving soap or shaving cream and enjoy a fine shave. MR GLO is not a shaving soap and doesnt create a lather: it is a pre-shave soap. Use a shaving soap or shaving cream to make lather. Some shavers have experimented using a scrubby shaving brush with the soap, not to work up a lather but to do a better job of scrubbing skin and beard than when just using ones hands.
MR GLO is then rinsed from the skin and lather from shaving cream or shaving soap applied and worked into the beard. Obviously, since youre running a sharp blade over your face, your face should definitely be clean. No grime, if you please. Some find a pre-shave helpful, others do not. Compare the shave that you get with using your pre-shave before the first pass only and the shave when using it before each pass. Some pre-shaves work well only if applied before lathering for each pass.
I generally use no pre-shave treatment and instead just rely on a good lather. I did, however, experiment with various pre-shave options. You can find it at several of the vendors in the list. When I use this, I apply it only once, before lathering for the first pass, and leave it on for about five minutes before lathering.
Some apply it before showering, and leave it on in the shower. As the name says, it can also be used as an aftershave. After the beard is washed and rinsed, you rub the gel into the wet beard and then let it sit for a minute or two. You could do this step before the shower, for example. Then lather on top of the gel and shave as you normally do. Trumper Skin Food Geo. Trumpers Skin Food, available in Coral rose , Lime, or Sandalwood, is normally an aftershave: a soothing balm and skin treatment.
Chris Moss, a safety- and straight-razor shaver who wrote The Art of the Straight-Razor Shave13, discovered that it makes a very good every-pass pre-shave, applied to the wet beard just before lathering for each pass. A few drops of Skin Food atop puck or brush seems to alleviate lathering problems with Mitchells Wool Fat. It turns out to have much the same effect as Trumpers Coral Skin Foodat a much lower price.
Pre-shave oils Ive never liked oils as a pre-shave though later I discuss their use as a post-shave oil, for the final polishing pass , so I dont have much to say about them save that they exist. Its not clear to me that theyre compatible with a good lather or good for your shaving brush. When Ive tried them, I have found that the lather has suffered and the shave was not improved. Your experience may differsome guys love themso you may want to give them a go. On the whole, though, Id say give them a pass. If you do want to try a pre-shave oil, try using a few drops of jojoba oil or olive oil, recommended.
Pacific Shaving Companys All-Natural Shaving Oil seems to include some emulsifier so that it doesnt feel as oily as other shaving oils. Later in the book I discuss a variety of pre-shave oils that can be used for a final polishing pass, after all lather work is done. Shaving oil before lathering is not for me, based on my own experience. Step 4: Apply hot towel [optional unless you get in-growns] If you get a shave in a good barber shop, part of the prep by the barber consists of placing moist hot towels over your beard and often your entire face.
The warmth and moisture from the towels further softens the beard. The technique is simple: Wash and lather your beard, and then mold a moist hot towel over your lathered beard including your neck , lean back, and meditate quietly for 13 minutes. The moist heat of the towel combined with the lather softens the beard remarkably. Then remove the towel, re-lather, and start the first pass. If you have a microwave, you can heat the towel. If you like this technique, consider buying a pack of barber towels: inexpensive and useful.
If youre a true sybarite, spritz a little hydrosol15 or other fragrance on the damp towel before heating it. Using a hot towel before shaving is not optional if you suffer from razor bumps or in-growns. THE quality of the lather you make strongly affects the quality of the shave. Lather is created from either shaving soap or shaving cream by using a shaving brush and hot water.
It takes some practice to learn to create a good lather, so be patient and observe carefully the process as you practice. The defining characteristic of a good lather is that its dense and heavy and the bubbles are microscopic. Larger bubbles indicate either too much water or water added so fast that it could not be worked into the lather. Your whiskers are softened by absorbing water, and a thick, heavy lather holds water against the stubble in addition to lubricating the skin so the razor glides easily.
A good lather may be somewhat drier 16 and thicker than you expector it may be wetter. Experiment to find the best lather for you. Judicious experimentation is always encouraged to some extent you teach yourself how to make lather, just as you teach yourself to make free throws: practice daily, paying attention to what youre doing and the result you get. I should note that after publishing the fourth edition of this book, I learned how to make a particularly thick and creamy lather.
Ill describe how to do it in this chapter. Lets look at the process, beginning with the lathering tools. Lathering tools Specific tools are used to create lather from shaving cream or soap: the shaving brush, the lathering bowl, and the warming scuttle, with the latter two optional. Shaving brush The bristles in a shaving brush are synthetic, horse, boar, or badgergenerally bristles of just one type, but brushes are also available that combine horse and boar bristles, horse and badger bristles, and boar and badger bristles.
Brushes with. Horsehair brushes and boar brushes have been around for centuries and recently are finding new popularity. Badger has long been the standard for expensive shaving brushes, with silvertip badger brushes the tips of the bristles being white or off-white as the top of the line.
Some users find that their new animal-hair brush horse, boar, or badger has a distinct odor. Synthetic-bristle brushes Synthetic bristles have been significantly improved in recent years. The cheapest brushes still use relatively thick white nylon bristles like those found in a plastic whiskbroom and might serve as a brush you keep in your gym locker: they can generate a good lather, but are not particularly. The best new synthetic bristle brushes are justifiably called artificial badger.
These bristles are thinner than the white nylon, though still resilient, and are treated so that their tips have a fine, soft, bushy finish. The best of these new synthetic-bristle brushes are completely satisfactory as shaving brushes, with the bristles designed and engineered specifically for the purpose. Moreover, synthetic bristles offer some advantages over natural bristlesmen- provides a good list of these18, including drying fast and being hypoallergenic and nonabsorbent. The five shown in the photo are five of the best: from left, brushes made by Omega two brushes: first, the Lucretia Borgia; on its right, model , an excellent first shaving brush , Taylor of Old Bond Street, men, and Mhle.
All produce as good a lather as would a badger brush, and all have excellent capacity. After you load one of these brushes with water, give it a slight shake so that it will not spill excess water as you begin to build the lather on your beard the technique I use. So far as I can tell, the knots for all the brushes shown and also for the Edwin Jagger synthetic are much the same, if not identical, with the differences among the brushes primarily being the handleexcept for the Mhle.
This Mhles bristles are somewhat different but work quite wellthis Mhle model 39K seems to me like a high-quality horsehair brush. Horsehair brushes Horsehair brushes are enjoying a renascence. Horsehair brushes seem to be favored particularly in Spain, and Spanish horsehair shaving brushes are available in a range of designs, including some made of a mix of either horsehair and badger or white horsehair and boar, and very nice and inexpensive professional horsehair brushes. The best source of horsehair brushes Ive found is GiftsAndCare.
They are located in Spain, and if you do not wish to order from abroad though Ive had no problems at all a number of domestic vendors also sell horsehair brushes. Vie-Long19 and Tres Claveles are two Spanish companies that make a good variety of brushes. Horsehair is finer and softer than boar, slightly stiffer than badger it seems to me , and in my experience horsehair brushes do a particularly good job of making Creamy Lather, as described later. Mane hair is softer, tail hair stiffer and more resilient. Even though horsehair brushes fell in popularity around the time of the Great War.
Right now, horsehair brushes are my favorites, and they routinely produce exceptionally good lather.