Friday, June 16, 2017
I'm on record as previously saying I didn't care for the added mess that shave oil adds to the shaving process. Paradoxically, I'm also on record as extolling some of the benefits of shave oil. I continue to experiment with it, and I'd like to share some of my current thoughts.
I've become a firm believer that most types of oils (that is, those that are compatible with human use; not motor oil, for example) make for good shave oil. I've used fancy, exotic shave oils and oil blends from commercial manufacturers and sellers. However, I also use cooking and edible oils such as olive oil, sunflower oil, castor oil, and others with equivalent results. The big difference between commercial shave oil and pedestrian edibles is the scent.
However, unless one is using a matched set of shave products such as shave soap, oil and balm with the same bouquet, then what's the big deal about the scent of the shave oil? Nada, I say, nada.
I do use shave oil pretty regularly. I use it when I shave with a straight, when I plan to get a very close DE shave, or just when I'm not in a rush. But I don't use it as most do; I have a bit of a twist in my process. (Ouch! That sounds painful! But it's not. ;-)
These days (because I almost never shower before my shave), my shave preparation begins with splashes of water. Then I use an inexpensive or home-made shave soap and lather that with my hands, adding water to make sure my beard becomes well hydrated. Then I often go about my business of setting out and preparing the various additional tools and accoutrements for the day's shave. Then I re-wet my hands and rub more water into my soapy beard, which thins out the soapy lather on my face.
This is where my shave-oil use deviates from the norm, I would surmise: I leave my hands wet and soapy (that's the key thing here: soapy), and pour a little oil into my soapy palm. Then I rub my hands together and work the oil from my hands into my soapy beard.
The layer of soap on my hands makes it easier to rinse the oil off my hands without having to resort to hand soap and the process of washing my hands. Although shave soap is a poor product with which to wash because of its formulation to protect rather than clean, the layer of soap under the oil on one's hands still diminishes the oil's tendency to cling to the hands.
After the oil is rubbed into my beard and my hands are rinsed, I then apply my day's ultimate shave soap over the oil-soap lather remaining on my beard, and face lather. After the shave, the majority of the oil has been removed by the shaving process. Just the slightest hint remains post shave, which I find to be protecting and therefore useful. I will often finish a shave with a splash of mint witch hazel, which does not completely remove the slight oil remaining (due to the witch hazel's low alcohol content), and then cap the process with an application of soothing, pleasant balm.
Speaking of balm, I want to mention that I continue to enjoy the Black Bot aftershave balm from Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements (PAA). And speaking of PAA, I had my third shave with their original-design double-open-comb razor, which continues to be very high on my hit parade. With it I had an extremely close and comfortable shave this morning.
And speaking of PAA, which was represented at the Maggard Meet in May (very alliterative, eh? ;-), I continue to test and use various products that I received at that event. Some noteworthy products are mentioned below. I also have to state that I am not going to comment or place much weight on the bouquets of various products because olfactory sensibilities and preferences vary greatly. (For example, some years ago I worked in an office where one young man, to my senses, stunk as though he were doused in ammonia! Awful, offensive! I discretely mentioned to a third co-worker that the stinky man must have washed his clothes in ammonia with insufficient rinsing. He laughed at me and said that the scent was not ammonia, but rather Patchouli essential oil -- considered by some to be healthful and pleasant smelling. Obviously opinions vary!)
Okay, this isn't a shaving product, but it's great nonetheless. I'm normally not nuts about flowery scents, but this one is an exception with its added mint bouquet. This Lavender + Peppermint soap, most importantly, even in my hard Michigan water, this soap lathers beautifully and, unlike normal bath soap, acts as a great shampoo and conditioner as well! Really! Natural soaps have the ability to both clean hair and leave it soft and manageable.
I love this soap and will likely order some when my current (way-too-large) inventory of bath soap runs out. It's available from The Sudsy Soapery.
I received a one-ounce sample of Neroli Soleil shave soap from the manufacturer-seller, Through the Fire Fine Craft. (It appears that as of this writing their web site is under construction, but their products are available through distributor-sellers such as Maggard, West Coast Shaving, and others. Do a web search for more information.)
This is a soft soap, and I actually loaded too much on my shave brush, but the lather was creamy and protective. Bouquet is, as always, a personal thing that you'll have to try for yourself.
Whew. I'm out of gas for now. Happy shaving!
at 8:43 AM