Friday, June 20, 2014

Lots of Shave Variables Including Shave Prep

I got a harsh shave on Father's Day, and have been reacting to that ever since. I continue to ruminate on why that shave kicked off a less-than-ideal shave or two on subsequent days.

The bowl with my custom shave soap, SS#1E, pictured about an hour after
my morning shave. This left-over lather stays with the puck in its bowl and
isn't relegated to the generic left-overs bowl.
The last two days, yesterday and today, the shaves have been good. I continued to use the Dorco ST-301 blade -- yesterday in my Merkur 33C straight bar, and today in my 37C slant. As I have written, with the 33 I tend to make mostly oblique strokes, and with the 37 slant, the only stroke that makes sense is a direct stroke, strictly square to the shaving head and parallel to the handle.

My shave preparation has varied though throughout the week. On Father's Day and the following couple of shaves, I was washing my face with bath soap (always with cool water) prior to lathering. The last two shaves, yesterday and today, I skipped the bath soap and simply wetted my beard with cool water. During the dry-heated-air winter, I have been going with cool-water shaves and generally skipping the bath-soap face wash because both tend to remove precious oil from my dry, sensitive skin. On a whim this spring, I have started using bath soap occasionally as part of my shave prep. Father's Day, however, may have been a perfect storm of factors: uncoated Lord-brand blade, TTO razor, bath-soap-pre-shave wash, and the shave soap used, which is what I want to discuss today.

For several weeks, off and on, I've been using my own shave soap. After doing much research, I came pretty close with my first formulation. Then I took that recipe and tweaked it with all-natural after-cook additives to enhance its shave and skin-care properties. My first formulation, SS#1 (that's Shave Soap #1) was used in its basic form and had five variations, identified as SS#1A through SS#1E. I also adjusted the basic soap to create SS#2, which currently has one derivative, SS#2A. I have also created recipes for SS#3 and SS#4, but haven't made those yet. Of the custom shaving soaps that I've made so far, I prefer SS#1E, which I used for the shaves yesterday and today.

My SS#1E lathers quickly, but initially is a bit frothy. Then with a bit more swirling of the brush, the lather becomes thicker and more creamy. I have experimented with varying amounts of water, and too much will definitely ruin the lather, rendering it thin and foamy again. But if just a wet, slightly-shaken brush is used, the lather tends to be slick and creamy. It goes on the face rather thin and economically, unlike canned foam, but creates a slick, creamy layer that doesn't dry out quickly, and lubricates and cushions rather well, IMHO.

So the last two day's shaves have been very nice. Yesterday a three pass (with the straight bar), and this morning a two-pass (with the slant bar), both very close. When compared to earlier shaves this week, the difference, in addition to the hardware, was skipping the pre-shave face wash, and using my own SS#1E shave-soap formulation.

My Father's Day shave was done using left-over lather from my left-overs bowl. Now, when I use a soap that I like, I put the left overs back in that soap's bowl, rather than the generic left-overs bowl. So lately, my left-overs bowl has become a combination, a hodge podge, of the various custom and commercial soaps I've been using but weren't my favorites. So it's a small factor, but just using a better shave soap like SS#1E probably helped a bit to improve the quality of the morning shave.

Happy shaving.

1 comment:

  1. For pre-shave I use a bar soap, but it's Ph-neutral (Cetaphil cleansing bar soap). It cleanses but doesn't dry or strip out the oils.