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about shaving – a primer

Building up your first lather.

All right.  You’ve finally bought one of our shaving soap kits, I hope, and you’re wondering where to start.  If you bought your brush elsewhere, the instructions still hold, and if you're like most beginners you'll probably begin with a boar bristle brush. All new brushes have a slight odor that will dissipate in a few days. A few practice latherings will get rid of it, too. You may at some point decide to add a badger brush to your rotation, but you’d have to be bonkers to use anything but our shaving soap.  I am also going to assume you're going to learn by building up your lather in a “bowl,”  that is, you will be bowl lathering.

The steps we're going to follow are these: you're going to soak your brush, then take up soap into your brush, whip up a lovely lather, and we'll leave you on your own to then paint it on your face, legs, or whatever, and shave. If you have a badger brush, soaking is not necessary, just dipping.  If you have a boar bristle brush, it is. You cannot oversoak your brush, and boar bristle absorbs water rather slowly – allow a few minutes.

 

Toss your brush into a vessel (cup, bowl) filled with water while you shower and dampen your soap at the same time – just pass it beneath a stream of water, but don't leave water standing on your soap.  It's pretty critical to soak your brush, but it just makes it a little easier if you dampen your soap.

 

Now we're going to load up your brush.  If your hands are large enough or the handle of your brush is small enough, place the butt of the handle in the hollow of your hand, and with your fingers grasp the bristles themselves just below the knot.  (The knot is just inside the handle, so you won't be seeing it.)  If your hand is too small, use the grip on the right. This relieves the flex point of the bristles just when you'll be applying the greatest pressure, taking up soap. This should extend the life of your brush, which will probably be around for a decade or longer in any case.

 

I find it easiest to swirl my wet brush first one direction, then another.  When the soap has "climbed" up the bristles, say a half inch or little more, you've probably got enough soap. If you have a small brush, you may have to take up still a bit more soap. Don't fret if you're seemingly using a lot of our soap. The tub in the picture is mine, and I started using it in August and it's now the end of February, about seven months later. You can see I have a lot left.

 

Now we're going to whip that baby into a lather. A relatively small, fairly straight-sided bowl works fine for our purposes, but most any bowl or cup will do. Rinse out your bowl, leaving a residue of water. Now pretend you're whipping cream. If it seems too dry, dip your fingers into water and flick it into your lathering bowl – a few drops at a time. Whip like crazy.  My son Sven whips till it's like thick whipped cream – by the time he paints it on his face, he looks like a vaudeville character who's just gotten a pie in the face. Being of a more restrained nature, I make do with a fairly light, thin coating: our soap is plenty slick.

You should have enough lather for three passes.

And don't forget to give your brush a good rinsing and to hang it upside down to dry.  Put the lid back on your soap after a bit.

 

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