There are many ways to get a good lather. Opinions will vary but what everyone that uses a safety razor will agree on is how important it is to obtain and use a good lather from your shaving soap. Here is a brief guide on how to use shaving soap and how to get the best shaving soap lather. The most important thing to keep in mind is that different soaps will respond differently so you will need to experiment and see just how much whipping and water is required. But trust me, it's time well spent.
We are assuming you already have a basic kit. If not you can check them out here.
Let the lathering begin
- Fill your bowl or sink with hot water and place your shaving brush in it. Let it sit for at least a few minutes.
- Put a small amount of water onto the top of your shaving soap and let that sit for a few minutes. This is called blooming the soap and it will get the soap ready for when you take your brush to it.
- Empty your shaving bowl and shake out your shaving brush. 2-3 good shakes is all it takes. If you hold it upside down it shouldn't drip but it should still be fairly damp.
- Remove the water that is sitting on top of your shaving soap. Some people like to use a small amount of it in their shaving bowl since it will likely be a soapy color at this point. Make sure its just a little, too much water can cause issues at this point.
- Now it's time to load your brush. Use the whole brush but focus on the tip and with light - medium pressure and with circular motions move it over the soap. You are looking for a paste like consistency and the brush will feel different as it moves over the soap compared to when you first started. You'll have to experiment with how much soap you like to load at this point but a good starting point is around 30 seconds.
- Your shaving brush is considered loaded when its bristles are clumped together.
- Now you should take your shaving brush to your bowl and build the lather up in it. Swirl it around and you should notice a pasty lather start to slowly build. Patience is key here. You should slowly add a few drops of water at a time until you have a nice rich lather that you can transfer onto your face. You should be doing way more whipping than adding water. One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking you need to fill the bowl with lather. Not true at all as you really don't need anywhere near that to shave, even if you are making several passes. By trying to create that much lather too much water is often introduced into the mix ruining the lather. There is a sweet spot with every soap. Your job is to find it.
- The lather you have created should be like thick yogurt. If you squeeze it out of the brush it should be very thick and if you turn it upside down it shouldn't even think about dripping or falling off your hand.
- Now it's time to shave. Shaving technique will vary so practice is the key. Most people will make one pass with the grain, apply more lather and then make a second pass across the grain. Some people stop at that even though it sometimes doesn't give the absolute best shave. For people with naturally sensitive skin this totally makes sense. The third pass after re-lathering is against the grain if you choose the apply it.
- Run you hand across your face and find any places that need touch ups.
- ....and you're done. Well, almost. Rinse your face off with warm water, then apply cold water to close up those pores. Dry off and apply an aftershave. We prefer an alcohol free aftershave, but hey whatever floats your boat.
Some people prefer to ditch the bowl and use the face lathering method. Cool, it works great too. The concept is the exact same as above with some minor changes. The biggest alteration is that once you have loaded the brush you will dip the tip ever so slightly into the water and then swirl the brush directly on your face instead of in your bowl. Build the lather by gently dipping the tip of the brush into water and then swirling that on your face. The goal just like with the bowl method is to have a thick, yogurty lather that has a light sheen to it, kinda like wet paint. There is a small window once you hit that sheen. Play around with how far you can push it before it starts to thin. Somewhere in that zone is the perfect balance of cushion and glide. Every soap is different in how it will react which is what makes wet shaving so exciting. There is alot of room for experimentation and it does involve some skill. Luckily anyone can obtain those skills with practice.
Don't be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you. If you find something that works really well and you want to share, let us and the world know in the comments.