Despite the advancements in technology, obtaining an excellent shaving experience doesn’t seem to be getting easier to achieve. Sure electric shavers claim to offer the latest and greatest of close shaves and while they have their place, nothing offers a smooth, clean shave as does the use of a shaving brush, shaving soap and a sharp straight razor.
Shaving soaps have existed since the early 1800’s with the first being mass produced in 1840. Shaving soap is a hard soap that is whipped into a rich, thick lather using a shaving brush. It has largely been replaced with canned shaving cream in a gel or foam form, however, die-hard traditionalists will use nothing other than this age-old method.
The traditional shaving soap is typically sold and packaged as a round puck. The bottom of the puck will either be rounded for use with a shaving scuttle or with a flat bottom to be used in a mug. Higher priced products are usually sold with their own preparation dishes made of wood or ceramic that are formed to fit the puck sold. Shaving soap is also sold in the form of a stick in either a plastic tube or wrapped in paper or aluminum foil. It is rarely packaged in the shape of bar soap.
Shaving soap is used with any shaving brush preferred by the individual. The following is an outline for the steps involved when using shaving soaps:
- Prepping – For shaving soap in the form of a puck, one first fills a sink with water a little on the hot side, but not so that it is scalding. Some men even prefer to shave after taking a shower as the warm water helps to soften the facial hair. Next, make sure that the brush has been soaked in warm water and then place it upside down until the excess water has stopped dripping but do not shake or try and wring the brush out as this makes the bristles too dry.
- Lathering –Now it’s time to make the lather. To create the lather for shaving, firmly grasp the shaving brush and vigorously begin swirling it over the surface of shaving soap. This will cause most of the soap to completely coat the bristles on the brush. This step takes about 15 to 50 spins or swirls and is dependent upon one’s personal preference as to the thickness desired. The more swirls the thicker the lather. It is important to swirl gently but firmly without smashing the brush into the shaving soap as this damages the bristles. An alternative some men find useful is to begin the process in the scuttle or mug and then finish it in their hand.
- Application –Once you have the desired thickness of Proraso Shaving Cream Soap Pot Sandalwood you want on the brush, begin brushing the shaving soap onto your face. Be sure to cover every bit of your face and neck that you intend to shave. Brush a fair amount of shaving soap on your face and neck by moving the brush in an up and down fashion. Before you begin shaving you should have an opaque, thick layer of shaving cream. You are now ready to shave.
- Shaving – now pick a top rated razor like the merkur 34c and shaving down starting on the left cheek. You will want to rinse it out after each pass until you are done completely shaved. It’s really a standard shave like you normally would.
Learning to use shaving soap does take practice and it has its good and bad points:
- Benefits – The greatest benefit is that of greater hydration than that is provided by shaving soaps over their counterparts such as canned foam, gels or creams. Additionally, the natural oils on the face and whiskers must first be removed. The oil is removed from the whiskers by the shaving soap in combination with the brush and allows for water to penetrate the whiskers. The end result is that the whiskers are more easily cut and removed than by using canned creams, gels or foams. Furthermore, when traveling, shaving soaps are not restricted by the TSA and are permitted in carry-on baggage. They also have less of an ecological impact on the environment than their counterparts.
- Disadvantages – The lack of convenience in using and storage space. To create the lather obviously takes longer than spraying it out of a can and one has to store the shaving brush, scuttle, or shaving mug. Also, shaving soaps, brushes, and mugs or scuttles, cost more up-front than their counterparts, but in the long-term the costs are comparable if not less expensive. Give shaving soaps a try – you may enjoy the results so much that you will never go back to your electric razor or canned products again.
There are many reviews on shaving soaps online that one can read when deciding which brand of soap to purchase. Keep in mind that shaving soaps are produced in a similar fashion to traditional soaps with ingredients that tend to produce a thick lather. Traditional bar soaps use only sodium hydroxide as the saponification agent, whereas, shaving soaps use both sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide.
Tallow has been traditionally used in shaving soaps, but other oils such as avocado, coconut, palm, and olive oil are gaining in popularity, although shaving soap traditionalists claim these to be inferior products. Shaving soaps with natural products such as avocado oil and Vitamin E are gentle and moisturize the skin while permitting a close shave without experiencing rashes or razor burn.