Monday, November 10, 2014

Face Versus Bowl Lathering

When using a shave stick such as the Arko brand, the simplest way to use this soft, cylindrical stick of shave soap is to face lather. And the soap is well suited for that. Rub the stick directly onto wet whiskers and lather away with a nicely-damp brush. The lather benefits from added water, so as I'm going through the lathering process, I will dip the tips of my shave brush into water and continue to make lather. The object is to make enough lather on the face for the first pass, and still have enough lather in the brush to handle two more passes.

This method is simple enough. However, if one skimps a bit when initially rubbing the stick on beard, there may not be sufficient lather for the entire shave. There are two ways to handle this issue. One is, when out of lather, to rinse the face to remove stubble (to keep it from getting onto the shave stick itself), and rubbing more soap from the stick onto one's face, and then re lather that with the brush.

This shows the unwrapped Arko shave stick and the re-purposed
prescription vial that I use to store it when not in use.
The second approach, and the one that I prefer, is to temporarily save used lather from under the razor head just prior to each rinse; I save it in a clean, re-purposed yogurt cup. Then when more lather may be needed late in the shave, I can simply use a finger to spread the lather where needed.

Benefits of face lathering:

  • Logical process when using a shave stick; one doesn't have to press the stick into a bowl or otherwise cut off bits of soap to make lather in a container
  • A separate lathering vessel isn't necessary
  • Good for traveling when using a shave stick
Drawbacks of face lathering:
  • Can be messy
  • Limited short-term lather storage in the brush when one isn't generously applying the shave stick to face, which can be wasteful, and...
  • A separate container may be needed to stage used lather in case it's needed late in the shave, or one must be willing to re apply the stick to face as appropriate

These are my preferred lathering tools these days. The yogurt cup in the background holds the puck of shave soap. I use the larger blue plastic cereal bowl as the lathering vessel.
When using a soap puck, I prefer to keep the soap in a smallish container from which I load soap onto the damp brush. But to make lather, I then swirl and reciprocate that brush within a larger, five-inch diameter bowl to actually build the lather. With the creamy, fatty-acid-laden soaps that I prefer due to their skin-protecting qualities, a generous bowl in which to lather gives ample space to work up a rich, creamy end product.

Benefits of bowl lathering:

  • Can be less messy than face lathering
  • Lather for multiple passes will stage in the bowl
  • In many cases, the lathering process can be more precise when done in a bowl
Drawbacks of bowl lathering:
  • Need that extra bowl in which one will make the lather
Is this a big issue? Not to me, but the fact remains, when I'm not using my favorite shave stick, I prefer to make my lather in a bowl, not on my face.

I should also mention that I didn't even consider writing about hand lathering; it seems to combine the worst aspects of face and bowl lathering. I think of hand lathering as a last resort, and prefer not to do at all. 

Happy lathering!

No comments:

Post a Comment