Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Frugal Shaver: Re-Using Shave Soap -- Two Options

I have written previously about re-using clean shave lather. What I mean by reusing clean shave lather is that with certain shave soaps including my preferred Grandad's shave soap as well as the ubiquitous Williams-brand shave soap, after the shave, any clean lather left in the shave brush and bowl is wiped or squeezed out and deposited on top of the soap puck in its storage cup. (I found this doesn't work well with certain soap formulations such as Arko and Palmolive brands due to interesting and colorful fuchsia microbial growth. Therefore I ceased this reuse practice when I was using Arko every day, but since I've made the switch to my favored Grandad's shave soap for sensitive skin, I'm back to saving and re-using lather every day, with great results.)

Wet, clean, uncontaminated lather from my morning shave drying in the white puck cup and the blue shaving bowl.

I then turn the lather-filled soap-puck cup on its side and set it into my five-inch lathering bowl. This allows excess water in the lather to run out of the soap-puck cup, and the clean residual lather in the cup dries to a light, flaky foam. The soap dissolved in the water that runs into the lathering bowl also dries leaving a soapy residue. Both the residue in the bowl and the light, flaky foam in the puck cup can be reused in subsequent shaves, thus reducing the soapy waste that daily is run down the drain and into the sewer or the septic tank. It also makes my shave soap last much longer before needing replacement.

What this lather reuse requires is the right soap, as mentioned above, and the practice of thoroughly rinsing one's face with clean water prior to applying a coating of shave-soap lather for each pass. Obviously this rinsing step keeps contaminants out of the shave lather in brush and bowl, keeping it clean and suitable for drying and reuse.

The other option of reusing shave soap involves unclean lather that may contain whisker stubble or even a bit of blood from a nick or weeper. Because this process doesn't involve storing used lather, it can be done with any shave soap or cream including those that don't store well overnight when once already lathered and wet.

When making a fussy pass that involves shaving the same face or neck real estate more than once to get extra close, instead of washing down the drain the used lather that has been squeegeed off my skin as a natural part of the shaving process, I will often run a finger under the baseplate of my razor to scoop off the lather and re-apply that to my skin. I will also wet a finger or two and re-wet the area to be re-shaved before wiping on the once-shaved lather. This extra water is very helpful to lubricate the area because once-shaved lather can be a bit dry, too pasty; and the combination of the fresh water and the once-shaved lather can be very slick, delightfully protective, and very effective.

With the result of rinsing less lather down the drain each day, these processes both save money and lighten the environmental impact of your shaving routine.

Happy shaving!

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