Foam Slinging: How to lather like someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

True story: Once a year my school does an externship fair, where all sorts of law offices come in seeking externs (like an intern, but less coffee fetching).  Hundreds of students print up their resumes, dress up in their most lawerly looking clothes, and go out there to try and win themselves some work.  While wandering through the hallway during one I saw an interesting situation: one student had apparently either tied his tie wrong, or had it come undone and he didn’t know how to re-tie it, so one kindhearted faculty member was hurriedly trying to fix it for him.

I could empathize, while I learned a while ago how to tie one properly (double Windsor, FTW) I’m currently going through a similar experience: finding out that I don’t know much about shaving cream.  For a brief moment where I thought I’d figured out how to properly lather.  I was creating a good amount of rich foam, it spread well, and protected great.  That lasted two or three days, and then for the two weeks following I found myself getting a lesson in humility.

I think a lot of it had to do with that I still haven’t worked out a process that works well for me, and that I don’t know much about the steps involved.  So, I went back to school (so to speak) and turned to the internet for help.  The last few days have shown a marked improvement, and while I think I have a long way to go I do think I’m on the right path now.  So, without further ado, here is the method I’ve worked out for lathering (using shave soap):

The tools involved: badger hair brush and Col. Conk's bayrum shave soap.

The tools involved: badger hair brush and Col. Conk’s bayrum shave soap.

  1. I start by soaking my brush in warm water for a couple minutes, placing it bristle down in a mug and filling to about the handle.  I also drip some water onto the top of the shave soap bar, just enough to get it wet, to help warm and soften it.
  2. After soaking I shake out my brush, trying to leave enough water in the bristles for it to be wet but not much that it is dripping of soaked.  Basically, getting the water out that’s easy to get out.  Two or three shakes.
  3. I then “load” the brush with soap.  I was previously doing this by wiping the brush on the shave soap like a paint brush, but I am now doing moderate pressure circular motions, primarily in the middle of the bristles but occasionally rotating the brush to get the edges.  If it starts getting bubbles on the soap block then I try to remove a bit of the water, rather I try to get a thicker goo.
  4. I don’t have a lather bowl, so I first apply directly to the face.  Usually a pretty light coat if I’m doing a two pass shave, as the first pass will be with the grain and that doesn’t need a whole lot of foam to keep the skin happy.
  5. For the second lather I use my hand to mix up a thicker foam, using circular motions and occasionally squeezing out the brush between my thumb and for finger.  This pulls thick lather from the middle, which is then applied to the face with the brush.  While the lather directly on the face method feels good for it’s light abrasiveness, applying already lathered foam makes for a soft and slick conclusion.

Is this how you’re supposed to do it?  Darned if I know, but it works for me.  You can spend a year researching every possible method, but at the end of the day you’ve just got to dive in and start trying stuff out.  Besides, it’s not like it’s anything that can’t be undone with the run of a tap.



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