Monday, September 29, 2014

Nuances Using an Arko Shave Stick

Arko shave stick is a really good shave soap. Before I tried it, I wouldn't have guessed that I would come to like it so much. Nor would I have thought that I could so happily abandon lathering in a bowl in favor of applying the soap directly to my face and then face lathering. But both have come to pass.

The beauty of rubbing the soap stick directly on one's wet beard is that it can be applied to the areas of the face that need the most protection -- that is, the most sensitive areas. This may provide just a bit of extra lubrication where most needed.

I also suspected that more soap than actually needed would be grated off the shave stick as one rubs it against the beard. That is, the frugal shaver in me wondered if the soap stick process might be more wasteful, applying too much soap on the face, and then washing the unused lather from the brush down the drain. Actually, I believe my suspicions were born out. If you initially rub too much soap on the face, it will be wasted. If you don't rub enough, your lather for the final pass can be too thin. However, I found a way to address that without having to re-apply the soap stick to my face mid shave.

I only rub the shave stick on about a third of my beard. The face lathering creates an extremely plentiful, rich, slippery lather. So as I shave, before rinsing the razor in water, I swipe some of the used lather off the underside of the baseplate, and wipe it into an empty yogurt container. I do this during the first two passes of my shave. Of course, I re-lather my face for subsequent passes from the brush, which usually contains enough lather to complete the shave. However, if I have skimped too much on the soap, I have the lather in the yogurt cup that can be applied by hand to my face for additional passes and buffing as necessary.

I also found that Arko likes water. For the initial face lathering, I get my brush just a bit wetter than I would when lathering other soaps in a bowl. On many days I will also dip the brush back into water during the lathering to add still more moisture to the lather that is building on my face.

Then when the shave is done, I do rinse all the left-over lather down the drain. I have found that, unlike some other lathers, clean, unused Arko lather does not do well when dried and re-used days later; it tends to support undesirable microbial growth.

A common objection to Arko shave soap is its fragrance, which can be a bit strong when brand new. There are two solutions to this problem:

  1. When new, unwrap the shave stick completely and let it air out. The intensity of the fragrance diminishes with a little time.
  2. Expect this shave soap to smell kind of like old-time Ivory-brand bath soap. If instead you are expecting it to smell like expensive cologne for men, you are sure to be disappointed.

In all, I  really like the Arko lather as well as the shave-stick process.

Happy shaving!

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