Sunday, March 22, 2015

Myth Busting: Exfoliation while Lathering

According to the all-knowing Wikipedia (, exfoliation is defined as follows:

Exfoliation involves the removal of the oldest dead skin cells on the skin's outermost surface, and has been used for many years to help maintain healthy skin. Exfoliation is involved in the process of all facials, during microdermabrasion or chemical peels at medical spas. Exfoliation can be achieved through mechanical or chemical means.

Further, Wikipedia goes on to discuss specific methods including mechanical means:

This process involves physically scrubbing the skin with an abrasive.[5] Mechanical exfoliants include microfiber cloths, adhesive exfoliation sheets, micro-bead facial scrubs, crepe paper, crushed apricot kernel or almond shells, sugar or salt crystalspumice, and abrasive materials such as spongesloofahsbrushes, and simply fingernails.[6][7] Facial scrubs are available in over-the-counter products for application by the user. People with dry skin should avoid exfoliants which include a significant portion of pumice, or crushed volcanic rock. Pumice is considered a good material to exfoliate the skin of the feet. Microdermabrasion is another mechanical method of exfoliation.


Within the DE shaving community, there is this persistent assertion that using a shaving brush (most are soft) as part of the lathering process "exfoliates" the skin.  The reality is that unless one lathers with a loofah, scotch-boy scouring pad, a sand stone, steel wool, facial-scrub brush, etc., there isn't any exfoliation taking place.

The actual exfoliation likely takes place during the act of shaving itself -- you know, the scraping of sharpened steel against one's face. 

From now on, whenever you find yourself about to repeat this myth -- either spoken or in writing -- that it is the shaving brush that is exfoliating skin, quickly slap yourself across the face and shout, STOP, (which is a behavior-modification technique). There are far too many myths in the DE world without repeating this one, which is so obviously false and silly.

Happy shaving!


  1. I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one. I agree that using a soft tip badger brush and bowl lathering will produce minimal exfoliation. However, using a boar bristle brush and face lathering is an entirely different game.

    The only reason you can load a shaving brush with soap is the "abrasive" quality of the brush tips removing soap from the puck. If this action can wear down a puck of hard shave soap, imagine what happens to your softer skin when mechanical agitation and the lifting action of foaming suds are applied.

    If someone is truly not seeing any exfoliation then I would hazard a guess that they may need to spend more working the lather into their face.

    Anyways, while I disagree wit this opinion I do want to state I am a fan of your blog. Keep up the good work.


    1. Water melts the soap, Matt... lots of soaps "exfoliate" brushes when noobs fail to perceive that.

  2. Will have to respectfully disagree as well. Take a razor, don't put a blade in, and pretend to shave. Look inside the head after a while, and my guess is you'll see clumps of skin cells. In addition, gently using a toothbrush on my beard area a la Mantic59 (I get a lot of PFB) will yield a ton of skin cells in between the bristles.

    Yes, you can argue that the bristles of the softest toothbrush would be firmer than a shaving brush, but I still think some exfoliation occurs.

    Regardless, thanks for all the content. I acquired my own Rimei shortly after you got your own, and I like it a lot more than my DE89.