About Shaving Soaps and Creams
There are many shaving creams, aerosols and gels on the market that aren't
formulated to lather with a brush. Therefore be sure to look for products
intended for brush lathering. The bristles should be thoroughly saturated
with hot/warm water to start. Then some excess water is flicked out
before stirring with the soap or cream. The brush should not be dripping water.
There are two distinct types of lather material. Hard soaps like glycerin
rounds, and shaving creams. Both lather well with a brush but have slightly
different techniques and attributes. Some men prefer the hard soaps, some prefer
the creams and some actually use a combination of the two. Glycerin and hard
soaps are generally more economical. They are thought to cut closer, be more
slick and rinse clean. On the other hand, shaving creams are thought to create a
denser lather and provide more cushion. If you’re not sure which type of product
you will like try one of each to experiment and find out what works best with
your razor of choice.
Or, put a small dab of cream on top of soap
and get the best of both worlds... After all, a good portion of the experience is
enjoying the different aromas available and the process of creating lather.
It can take a few days to learn the
bristle's water retention ratio in conjunction with the lathering product used
because each brush and soap/cream has its own personality and technique. The
lather application does not need to be dense to provide a great shave. Soften
the whiskers with hot/warm water before lathering and use a slow, light touch
with the razor as you let it glide over the prepared shaving area.
These generally have a glycerin base and usually come in rounds or tubs in a
variety of scents. Rounds are placed in a mug, bowl or other container and are
kept there until used up and replaced with a new bar. They can be left in the
open air between use, or kept in a covered container after draining out excess
water. The user takes the wet/damp brush and stirs over the soap until the
bristles are well coated with soapy lather, and then finishes lathering on the
face. If the lather bubbles are too big, loose or runny flick out excess water
from the brush and stir a little more. If the lather seems to dry, put a touch
more water on the bristle tips and stir again. Soap is more forgiving because if
you start with too much water you simply drain off the excess, flick the
brush of extra water and stir some more.
Often a new soap placed into a dry mug or bowl can slide around when used with a
brush for the first few times. You can put about 1/16” of hot water in the
container’s bottom, place the new soap in and let it dry naturally before use.
This should help to form a suction type of seal between the bowl and soap.
Otherwise, the soap should stop moving around after several uses because some
residual soap will help hold it in place. Wipe around the container's edge as
desired to keep clean, however don’t remove the soap between daily use or the
suction seal will be broken. For deeper containers, you can place more than one
soap round in at a time to make reaching the soap easier. Just be sure to put
the newer round under the oldest one to maintain a rotation for freshness, and
rinse off the older one at the same time to keep things tidy.
Tip> To make lathering go faster you can
cover the soap with warm water, drain right away and let sit while you soften
whiskers. Or, you can stir an overly wet brush over the soap a few times before
draining off the standing water, and in this case also shake out the excess
liquid from the brush. Then wet the bristles under warm water, lightly flick and
stir over the soap as usual. The point – moistening the surface of soap
first will soften its outer layer and make lather creation fast and easy. The
quicker the lather is created, the warmer it is on the skin. When finished
shaving drain any excess liquid from the soap container.
Shaving creams have a soft or paste-like
consistency depending on the brand. They usually
come in a tube, tub or other dispenser. It’s best to saturate the bristles with
warm water and then shake a little to start on the drier side. Then dip the bristle
tips back in water as needed. That way you can control creating lather
without overly diluting the cream. Once the cream has too much water you need to
add more cream or stir much longer in order to make the optimum lather. The user
can make cream lather in several ways depending on preference:
By placing a dab (about a heaping dime's worth or
almond sized dollop) on the brush tips and then going straight to the shaving
area to create the lather. For a tub, some people swirl the bristle tips
directly on the cream. However a consideration with this method is that the tub
of cream can get diluted over time by daily dipping of a wet brush right into
the tub itself.
B) By putting a dab into the palm of the hand and then stirring the
wet/damp brush in the palm to pre-whip up some lather and then finishing on the
C) By putting a dab into a mug or bowl
and whipping up a lather first, and then moving to the face.
Tip> With both soaps and creams you can
squeeze the bristles gently moving upward, and the lather inside of the bristles
will bulge out. This provides extra lather for touch up shaving applications or
makes rinsing out the brush go faster. When finished shaving be sure to
thoroughly rinse the brush and shake out excess water. The bristles will
only be damp and not dripping with water.
FAQ: How and why do you
saturate the bristles with water - There are several ways to do this. One
way is to sit the brush bristles facing down in a bowl or mug of hot water (not boiling per brush maker's
recommendations) and letting them absorb water and heat. Or you can
point the bristles facing up under running water and cup your hand around them to
form a funnel to keep the bristles from splaying outward while
allowing the water to heat up, and be absorbed by, the bristles. The goal
is to get the hair thoroughly wet, and the internal hair warm from the water saturation.
That way when you flick out some excess water before stirring with the soap or
cream the lather generated will be warm. While all shaving brushes will help to
create a warm lather, heat retention and water absorption are especially
pronounced with the higher end badger brushes making that one of the reasons
they elevate the shaving experience and feel more luxurious. If you are new to wet shaving with a brush
it may take several times to fine tune your technique based on the brush and
lather product used.
Creating lather can be simple, fun and smell