A Damn Good Shave – Part 2 Lathering Technique

In my last [post] I told you about the process of wet shaving.  This time I’ll be going over the details of lathering.

As I mentioned, you begin with a hot soak or a shower to soften the hairs and prep the underlying skin.

Manly men use real shaving soap!The next step is to build the lather.  Now if you’re new to the process, I’d recommend spending a good amount of time just trying to build lather and get that part down, before you begin to attempt shaving.  As you might imagine, having good product is a key to this, but if you’re new – how do you know what’s good or not?

Easy.  Ask around.  There are plenty of [forums] with reviews and descriptions of commonly used items that can get you started.  Don’t get hung up on picking a particular scent, just take a sniff and if it is pleasant enough – go for it.  Depending on your location and proximity to various stores, you should have a few choice product options.  Every mall has a Body Shop store, so I usually recommend a tub or tube of their [Maca Root cream.]

I’ll talk about creating lather in a bowl here, though many users lather up on their face.  The process is pretty much the same for either, as well as for soaps or creams.  I’ll talk about the types of bowls in another post.

The brush should be moist, and I normally do so by filling the bowl up with hot water and letting the brush soak in it for a minute or so to absorb some of the liquid and soften the badger hair much as we do for the facial hairs.  The water should be dumped, and the brush gently wrung out to remove excess water.  You “load” the brush by constricting the brush hairs into a clump using your thumb and forefingers, and then continue either by swishing this in small circles on the product to get it to stick to the brush, or spooning out a small dollup (typically half a teaspoon) into the bowl and then begin.After a beating

The goal here is to create a lather that is thick, like cool whip with formed peaks, but not too thin, airy, or runny that collapses back into soapy liquid shortly after being whipped into being.  Sometimes, between the soap on the brush, and the water absorption in the badger hair, you hit that sweet spot right away.  Other times you might need to whisk the brush ’round and around in the bowl, pumping it a bit to impart some air into the mix to fluff it.  And yet other times it might be too dry with not enough liquid, making the swishing and lather creation stiff and difficult to swirl up.  In those cases I’ll typically dip just the very tips of the loaded brush into water, or just add a few drops in to liven things up.  You can always add more water, but once you’ve got too much it can be difficult to compensate, so start small.  Frankly, it can be difficult to build a good lather, or even recognize when you’ve got it just right, until you have some experience under your belt doing so.  Here’s a [video] that can help.

The last step in lathering is applying it to the face.  Simply take this out of the bowl using the brush, and swirl this in small concentric circles.  I usually begin just below the ear in the side burns area, and move across the face, then down the neck.   Feel free to gather more lather from the bowl as needed.  You may find other online tips mentioning “painting” the face, as though you have a paint brush, rather than a shaving brush.  I also do this, but usually after having swirled the lather into place, to help even it out.  You’ll know at this point if you’ve formed your lather correctly, if it seems to expand a bit after it rests on your face a few moments, softening the edges.  If you’re face lathering, the only difference is that instead of building lather in the bowl, you’re doing so directly on the face after having loaded the brush.

One last reminder for lathering.  Make sure to practice as a beginner.  Set aside a half hour or so, and practice loading the brush, then whipping it up just in the cup of your opposite hand.  Get a feel for the water to product ratio, and intentionally use too much of one or the other to see the results.  Once you feel you’re a pro, move onto doing so in the bowl, and repeat.  You may find yourself going through a bit of product, but most of the time your initial purchase can last for a year, so a few practice batches at the start can be well worth it, and get you up and running quickly.

I hope you’re taking these posts to heart.  Feel free to comment and let me know if I’m not telling the whole story, or skipping over the details.  I’ll next describe how to handle the razor and efficiently remove the hairs from your chinny chin chin and more.  (Part 3)

See you next time.

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  1. [...] plan is to follow this post with the details of lathering and razor techniques, the aftershave, and suggested [...]

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