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How To Build a Better Shaving Soap Lather-West Coast Shaving

How To Build a Better Shaving Soap Lather

In this Shaving 101 video, Jared and Aviv explore how to build a better lather on a shaving soap or cream. You can get by with a run-of-the-mill whip, but here we explore how to reach a better lather.


 

 

Loading a Shaving Soap vs Cream

  • Loading a brush on a soap is usually done right in the container. Most shaving soaps today come in a wide mouth tub. Soaking the brush helps to soften the tips and soak up water needed for creating a lather. As you do that, slowly add water by just drops at a time on the top of the soap. (Jared will simply dip his fingers in water and sprinkle a few drops at a time.) 
    • Step 1: Lightly swirl the damp tips of the shaving brush on the surface of the shaving soap. Some shavers choose to “bloom” the soap (leaving a small amount of water on the surface of the soap for a few minutes before lathering/loading). The water helps loosen the soap to work into the shaving brush head.
    • Step 2: Proto lather develops. (A thirsty soap might have quite a bit of water/bubbles overflow but it can handle that much water. Go slowly for the first time trying a new soap.)
    • Step 3:  Swirl until the tips of the brush head are pasty. Some shavers prefer a 30 second load, but Jared supports a much longer load. 
  • Shaving creams don’t need the load time that a soap takes. In fact, creams are soft enough to be scooped out so they don’t even need to be loaded in the tub/container.
    • To Load: Place a small (dime-sized) amount of shaving cream on the head of the brush or in the bottom of a mug/bowl. Press the cream into the bottom/ridges of the bowl.
    • Begin to swirl the brush and create a proto-lather.

Lathering a Shaving Soap/Cream in Bowl vs Surface (face/palm)

  • After loading, both shaving soaps and shaving creams can go to your surface to build a lather. If you are face lathering, you will get more of an exfoliating effect by building your lather on your visage. Some prefer to lather on their palm and then apply to their face.
  • You can also continue to build your lather in a bowl or mug. Finding one with ridges on the bottom is helpful as it helps to activate the lather more than a smooth/flat surface. Continue to swirl the brush, adding a few drops of water at a time.

FINISH LINE: You will know you have achieved a final product when you get a sheen to the lather - bright, shiny white.  However, you can still get a good shave with a lather anywhere along this range. Aviv prefers a quicker load and whip to get done and get going. Jared enjoys the lather making process and likes to take his time on a denser whip.

Final Thoughts on Lathering a Shaving Soap or Shaving Cream

  • Remember a natural, animal hair shaving brush (like badger) is likely to retain quite a bit of water (this is a good thing) but you might want to squeeze it out pretty good before starting your load, as it is easier to add water than take it away.
  • Most US artisans today are crafting shaving soaps. Most shaving creams you find are coming from long-time brands from Europe. This isn’t exclusively the case but definitely the trend. 
  • Make sure you work past the proto-lather stage, but then how long you spend developing your froth is up to you. You can get good lubrication and protection with a range of lathers.

How are your lathering skillz? Are you a lather guru - loving the time and attention you spend on crafting a dense, frothy, voluminous lather? Are you a lather pragmatist - good enough to get the job done but efficiently as possible? Let us know your lather love language in the comments below.

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Comments

Profe Sam - April 13, 2020

Benjamin has it right. There is soooo much information from so many different sources that it can be overwhelming for someone new to wetshaving. Don’t try to research “too much.” There’s not just one right way to lather soap with a brush. Give it a go! You will get better with experience and develop your own preferences as you experiment. It’s a relatively inexpensive thing to lather a puck of soap so don’t fear experimentation.

Benjamin - April 1, 2020

Hey Guys…..making a lather with a soap isn’t brain surgery…gosh…wet the brush, shake out the excess water…swirl the wet brush on the slightly moistened soap…add water as needed…swirl…paint on face…shave. After trial and error several times the entire process becomes second nature.

Thanks for posting….

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