Friday, October 10, 2014

Shave Soap #10C: Maiden Test

It pains me to admit it, but I liked the Arko shave-stick formulation better than I liked my own shave soap #10A, which I thought was pretty darn good.

I pondered why this was so, ruminating on the ingredients of the Arko as compared to my own latest-best recipe. I thought I may have found the answer.

So I tested my idea with a simple modification to the #10A formula, creating SS#10B. It became more luxuriously creamy and slick, but not quite the same volume of lather. The lather was thinner than version #10A, and more difficult to whip up as well. It performed well, however, in terms of protecting skin from a sharp blade, but I thought it wouldn't please shaving enthusiasts, who admire aesthetics, who admire lather porn on the Internet.

Hmmmm.... More thinking, thinking, thinking....

Then I went back to my lab and added some natural-soap ingredients that should, in theory, make it easier to lather and offer a larger volume of lather, while still preserving the slick, creamy, less-drying character of the soap. That was my hope in creating SS#10C, which I created yesterday and left out on the counter overnight to dry out a bit and firm up.

Looking back, I have found it more difficult to create a superior, all-natural, unscented, less-drying shave soap for sensitive skin than I imagined it would be those months ago, when I started this shave-soap-making project.

Today was my day to give this latest formlation, #10C, a maiden test drive.

So with my normal minimalist prep of only cool water to moisten my beard, I then lathered up with formula #10C. For the shave itself I used my factory-stock Merkur 33C razor with the test-Bluebird blade that already had five shaves on it. After the three standard passes and rinsing the lather off with more cool tap water, I had given myself a close, comfortable shave.

My face and neck did not feel irritated, but I used an alum rub on my damp skin anyway -- this time not as a soother, but rather as an indicator to try to expose any latent irritation from the shave. And there was essentially none!

I have come to believe that the Bluebird blade is a superior product -- sharp, smooth, and durable -- giving a really good shave even in its sixth use. But today's shave also promises good things for my latest prototype shave soap.

The next task with the soap is to use it with various blades over time to see how it performs. If all goes well, then the challenge after that would be to translate the prototype formulation into a production-process recipe -- but more testing is obviously required before that stage is necessary. To do this right, these things take time, so I'll continue to report occasionally as appropriate.

Happy shaving!

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