Shaving soaps: How can you create the perfect lather from a shaving soap?

Posted by The Two Barbers 26/06/2018 0 Comment(s) SHAVING,

Shaving soaps: How can you create the perfect lather from a shaving soap?

For a very long time, you did a research on the internet, about traditional wet shaving. Images of your beloved grandpa, performing his shaving routine, kept coming on your mind. You read a lot of articles, reviews about brands, compared prices and eventually you bought yourself a small armory of fine quality products. Among them is a luxurious shaving soap. And now is the time to do some practice. Making a good lather is one of the first and more important steps for a comfortable shaving. Below you can find some tips to help you achieve that.  

The term "shaving soap" typically refers to a hard soap that is whipped into a lather by using a shaving brush. The lather that is being produced is used to coat the face during shaving, providing protection, plus it helps the razor glide better across your face, minimizing the possibility of getting cut.  

A hard shaving soap is produced like a traditional soap with a selection of ingredients oriented to produce a stable, slick lather. Historically, tallow has been a popular ingredient in shaving soaps and is still in use in some traditional products. Palm oil is frequently used as a substitute for tallow where animal fats are not desired. Other oils such as coconut oil are commonly used. In a few words, for soap in the form of a bar, the brush is first soaked in water and then swirled vigorously over the surface of the soap, causing moist soap to coat the brush's bristles. The brush is then transferred either to a separate bowl or to the shaver's face to be lathered.  

A great lather consists of tiny, thick bubbles that create a tight lather. To obtain the desired density of lather can be a complicated part of the wet shaving practice as there are a few parameters that must take into consideration.

Hard or soft water: How does it affect the creation of the lather?

Water varies from region to region. If you have already tried to create lather and things didn't go as well as you wished, then you should pay attention to the consistency of the water you used. Hard water, normally, contains a great number of trace elements like calcium and magnesium. Those trace elements are definitely going to interact with the soap and that will affect the creation of the lather. But if you live in a region where the water is soft, then you are lucky. Using distilled water could be an answer to your problem, but isn't that practical, because you will have to warm it before the use. In any case, you can always experiment with the quantity of the water, that you are about to use, after every time you buy a new product.  

The choice of a shaving brush really can make the difference

Brushes made from a different kind of material and for that reason will work up a lather in different ways. Boar and badger hair brushes have the ability to absorb water, that is the reason why we must let them get soaked before the use. A brush filled with boar hair is harsh enough to create a good lather but could be also harsh to your face. A badger hair brush is considered the best choice by many. Unlike synthetic fibres, badger hair is naturally soft and retains water like a sponge. They require another management because they aren't able to absorb water and consequently they require different proportions of water.
You can create lather either by using a bowl or you can work it directly on your face.

Using a bowl

First of all, you must soak the brush either by holding it under hot running(not boiled)water either by embedding it in a pot filled with hot water. Shake the brush in order to cast off excess water, put a small quantity of water on the soap so as to make it softer and start rubbing the brush against the soap in circular movements. When the brush is filled with soap move it to a separate, empty bowl and keep working with the lather. Then, it is time to test the lather between your thumb and index finger. If it feels sticky you must add a few drops of water and keep stirring. Test it again and continue this way until the lather doesn’t feel sticky between your fingers, but smooth, silky and thick. When you add water, you always must be careful because if you exaggerate you will feel that the foam starts becoming sticky again. Dampen your face and put the foam on your face using circular movements.

When you are able to recognize a good quality lather then you can skip the use of the mug and try to create it directly on your face.

Creating lather directly on your face

The first steps are similar to the method described above. You must soak the brush in hot water and then shake it in order to cast off the excess water. Put some drops of water on the soap again in order to soften it and start rubbing it, as described above. Don't use any pressure, it's not necessary. When the brush is filled with soap the time has come to step into the next level. Wet your face and start building up the lather using circular moves, firstly, on your cheeks. After some seconds of swirling on your wet face, you will have a nice and thick lather. If accidentally exaggerate with the water, don't worry, put some extra soap on your brush, by rubbing it again on the soap's surface and keep building up the lather on your face. If the lather is too sticky and thick just add a few drops of water on your shaving brush and continue.

Choose the method that best suits you and enjoy a traditional, comfortable shaving.