I was feeling kind of grungy this morning, so I decided to use a soap that smells nice to help me get out of my funk. I’m continuing with my middle of the road products today, but I will try to emphasize what works well with these products rather than focusing too much upon their short comings.
Today I decided to go with a few products that I rarely use. First up is the soap. I dug into my gear box and pulled out my Mama Bear’s Toasted Coconut soap. This soap is easily my favorite smelling soap. The coconut scent is so nice that I could sit around sniffing it all day long. Like all of Mama Bear’s soaps this is a glycerin heavy melt and pour soap. I am a fan of glycerin soaps and I enjoy the many variations that they come in, however I am just not very fond of Mama Bear’s. I find the lather to be lacking in glide and fairly quick to disappear. The soaps also tend to be picky as far as the correct water/soap ratio is concerned and because of this I have accidentally created a useless foam out of a Mama Bear’s soap on a number of occasions. In spite of its short comings, when this soap works it is a real pleasure to use. For my brush I have selected my Van Der Hagen basic boar brush. This brush is a good choice when used with stubborn soaps which require some aggressive lathering and can be quite effective once it is properly broken in. Its bristles are quite rough and it tends to eat lather, so if you are using an underperforming soap or a thin cream then this brush should be avoided. It’s easy to find this brush in pharmacies and grocery stores and consequently is quite often the first brush for many new wet shavers (myself included). The razor of the day is my trusty Union Cutlery 5/8 full hollow square point straight razor (say that five times fast). This razor is an excellent performer that I have come to rely heavily upon as I learn the art of straight razor shaving. It is easy to use and fairly mellow, but does have a deadly sharp point that will attack if it is not properly respected. I purchased this razor on eBay and have done a lot of work to get it looking half way decent, it is a perfect example of just how much of an investment of time and money vintage straight razors require to become truly usable. This razor was honed for me by Larry at Whipped Dog and was the tool that gave me my first successful straight razor shave, it will always have a place in my heart and in my shaving rotation.
As per usual I set my brush aside to soak and stropped my blade before taking a hot shower and then splashing some warm water on my face. I can not stress enough how important proper prep is. A dry brush, a dry face, and unprepared whiskers make for a bloody and rough shave. It is better to skip a day than to skip good prep. I performed a two pass with the grain/against the grain shave followed by a cold water rinse. The soap lathered well, but took some work to come out properly. Even with a good lather whipped up I still had issues with it not lasting as long as I would like. The razor shaved smoothly and easily and let me off without a bite. My brush actually performed quite well with this soap and felt petty good against my skin. My overall shave was excellent and left me with a pleasant coconut smell on my skin, but also left my face somewhat dried out. If I could find a way to combine this soap with another product that would help to provide better glide and to moisturise my skin then I might use it more often, but so far this soap does not pair well with preshave oils or after shaves. As it stands, I am content to use this only on days when I feel the need to smell coconuty.
Pre: Hot shower and warm water splash
Razor: Union Cutlery 5/8 full hollow
Brush: Van Der Hagen basic boar brush
Soap: Mama Bear’s Toasted Coconut
Post: Cold water rinse
Mama Bear’s Toasted Coconut:
Van Der Hagen basic boar brush:
(This brush is easily found in many pharmacies and grocery stores and is a better deal if purchased as part of the Van Der Hagen Premium Shave Set, which comes with the brush, a bowl, and a puck of VDH Deluxe soap for about $9.)