Product Review: CJB Razor

Communication Jamais vu Beauty Model WH100B.  CJB Blade Handle.  CJB Razor.  CJB Japanese style replaceable blade razor.  CJB Kamisori.  No matter how you say it, when you bring up the CJB you’re likely to get the same response: praise followed by disappointment.  Praise for the razor’s low cost, overall good quality, and excellent performance.  Disappointment at how difficult it can sometimes be to find these little gems.  Having lusted after this razor on and off for the last year or so, I finally broke down and purchased one.  Sadly, my first CJB had a defective tension spring which made loading and unloading blades extremely difficult (I even managed to bruise my finger tips while loading a blade).  The spring snapped after two uses, turning the razor into a slightly expensive paper weight.  Luckily the eBay seller, Purosdave, was quick to respond and replaced this first CJB with a properly functioning one.  I can’t speak highly enough about this seller.  I don’t  know how many folks out there got their CJB and Sam Seong razors from Purosdave, but he is one of the folks working to spread these amazing razors to the western market.

Before I get into the actual review of this wondrous piece of shaving gear I just want to address a small issue that often pops up when folks talk about these razors: the use of the word kamisori.  Kamisori is the Japanese word for razor.  After speaking to several Japanese folks about this (and, yes they all thought that the question was weird) I have ascertained that this word is used to refer to any razor and does not exclusively refer to traditional Japanese style straight razors.  Some folks in the traditional wet shaving community have taken to calling traditional Japanese style straight razors kamisori, and while this does make things simpler it also creates tension whenever anyone refers to anything else as kamisori.  This is a ridiculous thing to get upset about for a number of reasons, but the most notable is that Japanese folks do not seem to use the term kamisori to refer exclusively to Japanese style straight razors.  So, while I do not refer to the CJB as kamisori, I also do not get bent out of shape when someone does.  And now onto our regularly scheduled review.

One of the most notable issues that people have when considering Feather AC/Kai Captain/Sam Seong/CJB razors is the price.  I purchased my CJB for about $37, including shipping.  This is a fairly reasonable price for a well made razor and did not give me any cause for alarm, but the blades are another story.  The CJB uses the same blades as the Feather Artist Club, Kai Captain, and Sam Seong razors.  These blades are, by far, the most expensive blades that I have come across in the world of traditional wet shaving.  A package of Feather Professionals (the base line standard) will normally run around $20/20 which makes them $1/blade, or ten times the price of my favorite DE blades and about twice the cost of my favorite hair shaper blades.  With some digging I found that it is possible to occasionally find Feather Pro blades for as little as $16/20, but this is still a pretty steep price.  Many users of these types of razors claim that Feather Pro blades routinely last between ten and fifteen uses, which would help to justify paying such a high price, I suppose time will tell.  In any event, one of the things that makes pause when considering a Japanese style replaceable blade razor is the overall cost.  My initial purchase of a CJB, Feather plastic protector case, 1 package of Feather Professional blades, and 1 package of Feather Super Pro blades ran me about $80.  For $80 I could have purchased a nice DE razor and a few hundred blades, so why in the world would I spend that much money to buy a razor that uses such high priced specialty blades?  I have to admit that curiosity was what drove my initial decision, but the impressive quality and performance of the CJB and Feather Pro blades is what hooked me.

The CJB design and construction is all business.  This is a razor designed to be as efficient and lean as possible, but constructed with quality materials.  It feels nice and maneuverable in hand and has as little flash as possible.  Its short Japanese style design means that the handle is ergonomic, the head is easy to use in tight spaces, and the whole thing feels solid without being bulky.  The grey hard rubber handle is about 3 1/4″ long and slopes gently upward to help angle the head properly when using it.  There is a small notch for the thumb with jimps to help stabilize the razor as well as to ensure a solid grip, even when wet.  The head is a little over 2 3/4″ long and has the same design as the Feather RG non-folding razor (the spine is pinched to open up the blade holder and the side piece is removable to allow proper cleaning.  The CJB does have a few quality flaws, such as molding not being cleanly cut away and a mediocre finish, but these are fairly minor issues and mostly aesthetic in nature.

The CJB is more or less exactly what I was expecting.  The largest surprise for me were the blades.  I was expecting Feather Pro blades to be just as long as hair shaper blades, but this is not the case.  Feather Pro blades are 50mm long (or just under 2″), while Fromm and Personna hair shaper blades are 57mm long (or just under 2 1/4″) and weigh about twice as much as Feathers.  For a little bit of perspective DE blades are about 37mm long and Injector blades are 38mm long.

Thanks to my first one being defective, I have used the CJB only a half dozen times, but it has quickly become my go to razor.  It is quicker and easier to use than a traditional straight razor, handles better than a hair shaper razor, and just plain looks cooler than a DE.  Using the CJB I have gotten two pass DFS and BBS shaves with almost no effort.  The myth that Feather Pro blades are far more deadly than other types of blades is just that: a myth.  I found the blades no more blood thirsty than hair shaper blades and have yet to either nick myself or cause myself any serious irritation.  While I would not recommend that a newbie jump onto this razor, I also would not hesitate to recommend the CJB to anyone who has enough skill to not mutilate themselves on an aggressive DE or SE.

In a relatively short time I have come to love the CJB.  It is a quality razor with a little bit of mystique and a lot of ability.  If you’re lucky enough to find one of these razors for sale (they are always available through Gmarket, but they also pop up from time to time on eBay and are also occasionally found in the B/S/T threads of various forums) then I would absolutely suggest that you jump at the offer.  You won’t be disappointed.

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Local Pig Shaving Cream

When I first heard about the Local Pig butcher shop and their beef tallow based shaving cream I was very interested in trying it out, but I could never really bring myself to buy a tin of the stuff.  After its initial release I waited to see what other folks thought about the product before considering the purchase of some for myself.  What I discovered wasn’t great, I read several reviews of the cream which were less than complimentary and I had some bad experiences with etsy and eBay based sellers of artisan shaving soaps and creams, so I was extremely hesitant to give this stuff a chance.  There HAD been some good reviews of the Local Pig’s shaving cream, and for whatever reason it kept popping up on my radar.  Eventually I was to the point where I absolutely had to try this odd cream out for myself.  Fortunately for me, at the same time that I was agonizing over the possibility of purchasing this cream, a give away drawing was set up by a generous member of The Shave Nook…the prize was a tin of Local Pig shave cream and a nice Comoy badger brush (which is actually a rebranded Vulfix 376S Super Badger brush).  I marveled at the timing of the contest and threw my hat in the ring, hoping that I might get lucky.  When the drawing came about and my name was picked, I was amazed and quite happy that I had actually won.

My prize arrived in the mail yesterday, but since I had already shaved all I could do was give the brush and cream a quick initial try.  I was surprised when I opened the tin of shaving cream, it had the look and consistency of thick petroleum jelly, and had an unusual, but extremely pleasant, scent.  I was afraid that something had happened to cause the cream to gel in transit, but after looking at a few online pictures I decided that this was just how the cream looked.  Setting aside my hesitancy I scooped out a small amount of the cream and gave it a try.  It took a little work to dial in, but after some experimentation it lathered up relatively quickly and easily.  The Comoy/Vulfix brush proved to be extremely soft and capable, I look forward to using it quite frequently in the future.

Today I eagerly jumped into my shave.  I decided to continue with the NOS Dutch made Max Herder Elite blade from yesterday’s shave with the notion that the blade would be a bit less aggressive on its second shave, but as this would only be my second use of this particular brand of blades I was unsure of what to expect.  It’s a rare occasion when I look forward to trying so many new products at once, so to take away some of the unknown factor involved I decided to use my trusty Edwin Jagger DE86 razor.  The DE86 is a fine razor with good balance and a nice heft to it.  As I am very familiar and comfortable with the DE86, it is an excellent tool to use when trying to evaluate new products.  With all of my new stuff gathered up I prepared for my shave.

Following a hot shower (during which my new brush sat soaking) I splashed some warm water onto my face and began to work on the cream.  This time around I had some difficulty getting the lather right.  I ended up with a foam rather than the thick creamy lather that I made when I initially tested this cream, so I washed off the brush and pulled out some more product to make a second attempt.  This time I used much less water and worked the lather a bit longer, which resulted in a usable lather.  The scent of sweet almond and honey remained with the lather and made me smile as I painted it onto my face.  I performed a two pass with the grain/against the grain shave with a touch up pass on my neck and ended with my usual cold water rinse.  The shave left me baby butt smooth with zero nicks and zero irritation, but it also left my skin feeling somewhat dried out.  The brush was a joy to use, it holds a ton of product and applies its load easily and smoothly.  The badger hair is a bit floppy, but not annoyingly so; however, I did have a difficult time judging how well it was loaded up as well as figuring out just how much pressure to use when lathering.  The cream turned out to be very slick and nicely scented, but was difficult to properly dial in and provided little cushion.  I can see why some folks have a difficult time with this stuff, but I think that if it were to be paired with the correct soap that it would create an excellent superlather.  I will continue to work with this cream and have every confidence that I will be able to figure out how to make it sing.  The Max Herder Elite blade paired up with the Edwin Jagger DE86 is the perfect combination, the razor did an excellent job and felt nice and buttery smooth against my skin, although some credit must also go to the incredibly slick Local Pig cream.  In the end my shave was quite close and comfortable, but still not as good as it could be.  The Local Pig shaving cream will take some work to get right and properly using this new badger brush will also take some adjustment.  Given a few more go arounds with this gear I should be able to work all of the bugs out.  That’s part of the joy of new shaving gear, figuring out just how to utilize it properly.

Pre: Hot shower and warm water splash
Razor: Edwin Jagger DE86
Blade: Max Herder Elite
Brush: Comoy Super Badger/Vulfix 376S
Soap: Local Pig shaving cream
Post: Cold water rinse

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Product Links:

Edwin Jagger DE86:

http://www.mensdirect.com/product/Edwin-Jagger-Double-Edge-Safety-Razor-Imitation-Ebony-DE86/Safety_Razors

Vulfix 376S:

http://www.westcoastshaving.com/Vulfix-376S-Super-Badger-Shaving-Brush_p_553.html

Local Pig Shaving Cream:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/123570364/all-natural-traditional-shaving-cream?ref=shop_home_active

Dutch Fever!

I’m from Michigan originally.  I say originally because if I were to just say, “I’m from Michigan.”  it would be inaccurate.  I was born in Michigan and then quickly moved away at the tender age of one year old.  I did end up coming back eventually.  I lived in various towns and cities in Michigan on and off for approximately half of my life.  I have lived in roughly thirty cities all over the world, but Michigan is where I began.  So, while I may not be a true Michigander, I do consider it my de facto home.

Michigan is an odd state, much more diverse than people might believe.  The areas in and around Dearborn and Detroit have the largest Arab population in the world, outside of the Middle East.  You’re just as likely to see signs in Arabic or Farsi as in English or Spanish.  Places with French names like Detroit (originally pronounced: deh-TWAH), Charlevoix (pronounced: SHAR-luh-voy), Mackinac (pronounced: MAC-in-NAW), and Sault Ste Marie (pronounced: SOO-saint-muhree) are common because the French loggers and trappers were the original European settlers in the area.  There is a huge Greek and German population as well.  There are actually towns where German is the more common language and the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan holds an annual Greek festival that literally takes over down town for several days.  The Mennonite and Amish population are pretty well represented as well.  There are an enormous amount of orchards, wineries, vineyards, and fruit markets, all of which attracts a substantial seasonal worker population of various Hispanic folks.  And in west Michigan there is a town called Holland.  This town is, as you might assume, primarily Dutch in ancestry.  They have an annual tulip festival, there is a good portion of the population that speaks at least a little Dutch, and they have phone books filled with names like Voorhees and Van Der This or Van Der That.  The Dutch are actually quite well represented in west Michigan in general, you’re as likely to meet a person with far too many Os or As in their name as you are to meet a guy named Smith.  So, Michigan is a melting pot of sorts and I was lucky enough to interact with many of these different cultures.  One of my good friends in highschool was an Egyptian guy who came to the US via Germany, so he taught me a bit of Arabic and helped me to study German while I taught him how to turn an “independent study” into an ongoing rubber band war with the Spanish teacher.

When I was learning German in highschool I was also learning Dutch on the side, because in a west Michigan town with more Dutch place names than English ones that’s just the way it was.  I was quite fluent in German by the time I left for the military, but I never really took to Dutch.  I liked the Dutch culture, but the language was just too close to German for me to learn both at the same time without mixing things up.  These languages served me well when I dated a Pennsylvania Dutch girl, whose grandparents were ex-Mennonites, but beyond that I haven’t spoken German in nearly ten years and my Dutch is even further away.  It still makes me smile when I’m able to pick up a sentence or two, but I would not claim to be able to speak either language any more.  All of this brings me to my point, in a very round about manner.  I see Germanic cultures and people, especially the Dutch and Germans, as very close cousins to Americans.  I feel a sort of kinship with the Dutch, so when I learned that they had some pretty well thought of shaving gear I was curious, to say the least.  When an opportunity to get my hands on some new old stock, Dutch made, double edge razor blades popped up I jumped on it.

A very kind member of The Shave Den gifted me a package of ten Max Herder Elite blades which, after an unfortunate snafu involving the postal service and what I can only assume was an overzealous sorting machine, have finally landed on my doorstep.  As soon as I had my paws on these blades I knew that I needed to do a Dutch themed shave, so I pulled out my puck of De Vergulde Hand Extra Fris soap, my Van Der Hagen boar brush (yes, I know it’s an American company, but they have Dutch roots), and my Gillette super speed (Ok, I don’t own a Dutch razor, but I’m sure that Mr. Gillette KNEW some Dutch folks…), I loaded up a Max Herder Elite blade, tuned my computer to http://www.nederland.fm, and got down to it.

Following my usual prep I performed a two pass with the grain/against the grain shave followed by a cold water rinse.  The shave left me baby butt smooth and left my skin soft and with zero irritation.  I did manage to get a pretty good nick on the left side of my chin, but that was entirely my own fault.  The DVH Extra Fris soap continues to make me happy, providing an excellent lather and leaving my skin soft and pleasantly scented.  I would love to try either the regular DVH soap or the shave stick.  The VDH boar brush did a passable job with this soap, but was nothing remarkable.  The Max Herder Elite blades were crazy sharp.  These Dutch made Swedish steel blades mowed down my stubble in record time and with zero difficulty.  These blades are so sharp that I could have stopped after one pass and had a damn fine shave.  They are a little bit harsh, but not in an unmanageable way, if you begin with a little bit of respect for the insanely sharp edge on these blades, then you will be rewarded for your caution with an extremely close and comfortable shave.  The one nick that I received happened because my hand slipped on my first pass…it didn’t even begin to bleed until I was rinsing off after my second pass.  I have a feeling that my capillaries were so shocked at how easily and cleanly they were severed that they didn’t know that they were supposed to bleed all over my face until then.  In spite of the nick, my shave was very pleasant and enjoyable.  I’m sad that these blades are not in current production, I would absolutely buy some if they were available.  I am happy to say that the Dutch make some awesome shaving gear and I’ll have to see if I can find a Dutch made straight razor in the near future, but in the mean time I’ll continue to enjoy my Max Herder Elite blades.

Pre: Hot shower and warm water splash
Razor: Gillette black handled super speed
Blade: Max Herder Elite
Brush: Van Der Hagen basic boar
Soap: De Vergulde Hand Extra Fris
Post: Cold water rinse

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Product Links:

De Vergulde Hand Extra Fris:

http://search.westcoastshaving.com/b/q?k=de+vergulde+hand&search=GO&sn=161304780

http://www.royalshave.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=SRCH

Van Der Hagen basic boar brush:

http://www.drugstore.com/products/prod.asp?pid=155181&catid=288501&aid=338666&aparam=goobase_filler&device=c&network=g&matchtype=

http://www.drugstore.com/products/prod.asp?pid=155185&catid=196102&aid=338666&aparam=goobase_filler&device=c&network=g&matchtype=

Shave Of The Day (21 May 2013)

I was rearranging my box-o-soaps when I happened to set two products together that I had never even considered combining.  It’s not that these two products were completely contradictory, it’s just that I had never thought of them as being in the same category.  Thanks to this accidental pairing I decided to try some new combinations out.  The first of these will be my accidental pairing, but I also plan to try out some other odd combinations i n the next few days as well.

First up is my razor, the P.H. Hahn 5/8 full hollow square point.  This is a pretty nifty old razor with an uncertain origin.  P.H. Hahn was an importer, active for only about eight years in the 1880s, who generally rebranded razors from Germany and then sold them in the US under his name. Just which German manufacturer actually made this particular razor is a complete mystery.   I like to speculate as to who may have made the razor, but to be honest it really doesn’t matter.  My brush will be my Omega 11137 boar brush.  The 11137 has a nice high loft with soft springy bristles that make it feel more like a midrange end badger than a midrange boar.  Whenever I anticipate a lot of lather I pull this brush out.  The combination of products will be a superlather of Vitos Extra Super soap and eShave White Tea shaving cream.  Vitos is an excellent tallow based soft Italian soap with extra glycerin added to make it super slick.  This soap is one of my standards and always produces a nice almond scented lather.  The eShave cream is a French made veggie based cream that smells fantastic and lathers easily, I normally combine it with Pre De Province soap and had never really considered pairing it with anything else.  I believe that these two products will work well together and will result in copious amounts of super slick, amazing scented lather.

Following my usual prep I performed a typical three pass with the grain/against the grain/ across the grain shave followed by a cold water rinse.  The results were a baby butt smooth shave with zero nicks and only mild irritation on my jaw line.  The superlather came out much better than expected, it was mountainous in volume and smelled amazing.  The Omega did its usual excellent job of reigning in all of that lather and the P.H. Hahn worked well to now down my scruff.  The Hahn is a bit harsh and could use a better polish to its edge, but until I get around to sending it out, that will have to wait.  For now, it does what I need it to do.  My skin was soft and smooth, but not quite as moist as I usually like.  I avoided an after shave because I like the scent of the soap so much, but I think next time I will have to finish up with something.  All in all an excellent result from a pairing that I would have never considered if fate had not stepped in.

Pre: Hot Shower and warm water splash
Razor: P.H. Hahn 5/8 full hollow
Brush: Omega 11137
Soap: A superlather of Vitos Extra Super and eShave White Tea
Post: Cold water rinse

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Product Links:

Omega 11137:

http://www.connaughtshaving.com/11137.html

Vitos Extra Super:

http://www.razorbladesandmore.com/content/vitos-extra-super-shave-cream-sapone-da-barba-125ml

eShave White Tea:

http://www.dermstore.com/product_Shave+Cream++-+White+Tea_7595.htm

Shave Of The Day (20 May 2013)

Today I am doing an easy shave.  I have a lot to do, so for once I am just going to take the easy road and enjoy a quick, but effective shave.

My razor of choice is the amazing Union Cutlery 5/8 square point full hollow straight razor.  I can not say enough good things about this razor.  It cost me very little, cleaned up nicely, and after a visit to Larry over at Whipped Dog, shaves extremely well.  I highly recommend Union Cutlery razors for anyone looking to get into vintage straight razors.  I am using Kiss My Face Cool Mint because it is a bit hot out today and because Mondays are Menthol Mondays over at The Shave Den.  KMF Cool Mint is an excellent cream that lathers well and has a nice, subtle cooling effect, it does sort of smell like toothpaste, but you get past that pretty quickly.  If you like menthol, but have issues with face freeze, then KMF Cool Mint might be a good choice.  My brush is the Muhle HJM 41-P-3H tortoise shell boar brush.  It is a bit too scratchy for my usual tastes, but it lathers up products quickly and easily and the handle looks nice…I may have to reknot it with something better one of these days.

Following my usual prep, I performed a typical three pass with the grain/against the grain/across the grain shave followed by a cold water rinse and an application of The Art Of Shaving Unscented After Shave Balm.  The shave was great, a wonderful baby butt smooth shave with only a little mild irritation due to my attempting to rush through the process.  The cold water didn’t really take care of my issue, so I dabbed on the AoS A/S balm, which did the job.  My skin feels smooth and soft and I am ready for the day.  What more could you ask for out of a shave?

Pre: Hot shower and warm water splash
Razor: Union Cutlery 5/8 full hollow
Brush: Muhle HJM 41-P-3H tortoise shell boar
Soap: Kiss My Face Cool Mint
Post: Cold water rinse and AoS Unscented A/S Balm

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Product Links:

Whipped Dog Honing Services:

http://www.whippeddog.com/services/view/honing

Muhle HJM 41-P-3H tortoise shell boar brush:

http://www.shoeboxshaveshop.com/mu41babotosh.html

Kiss My Face Cool Mint:

http://pureformulas.ecomm-search.com/search?catalog=yhst-37598795206756&.autodone=http%3A%2F%2Fstore.yahoo.com%2Fyhst-37598795206756%2F&query=kiss+my+face+shave&x=0&y=0

The Art Of Shaving Unscented After Shave Balm:

http://www.amazon.com/Art-Shaving-After-Shave-Unscented-Sensitive/dp/B000FGTTTW

Shave Of The Day (17 May 2013)

I decided to end the week on a high note.  Last night I went a little manic and honed up my Robeson ShurEdge 4/8 quarter hollow round point straight razor.  This razor is much more wedge like than the other razors that I have honed, so it took quite a while to get shave ready, but I eventually got it there.  This was my very first straight razor and I have never been able to use it properly, so today I will give it a go.

The little 4/8 razor is incredibly easy to strop and is nice and tight in its scales, so I was definitely looking forward to using it this morning.  I have done a little work to clean up the blade and to tighten the scales, but this razor was given to me in excellent condition and really needed very little to get it looking great.  I am using some Derby Normal shaving cream, partly because I have heard good things about it and partly because I purchased a tube about a month ago and have yet to use it even once.  Derby creams are ultra cheap and available from just about every online shaving vendor, but are not often discussed.  My Muhle brush has been sitting in its stand, patiently waiting for me to choose it again, so today I decided to throw it a bone.  I don’t particularly like the brush (mostly because its clipped ends will never soften), but it lathers well  and performs reliably, so it is my go to brush for evaluating new products.

Following my usual prep, I performed a two pass with the grain/against the grain shave and finished up with a cold water rinse and some Art Of Shaving Unscented After Shave.  The shave was excellent.  The Derby Normal cream lathered up thick and easily and seemed to be immune to poor water ratios.  The scent is a bit sharp and has a sort of pine/soapy smell, but is faint enough to not be overpowering.  The razor worked well, but did tug a little bit when going against the grain.  I am happy with its performance, but I may send it off for a professional honing just to see what it is truly capable of.  My passes gave me a damn fine shave with zero nicks and zero irritation, and the Derby cream left me with a nice powdery talc like feel to my skin.  My one complaint in regards to the Derby cream is that it did dry out my face a bit, but a quick application of AoS Unscented A/S took care of that issue.  This was a very good overall shave and I look forward to using this combination again in the future.

Pre: Hot shower and warm water splash
Razor: Robeson ShurEdge 4/8 quarter hollow
Brush: Muhle HJM 41-P-3H tortoise shell boar brush
Soap: Derby Normal shaving cream
Post: Cold water rinse and AoS Unscented A/S

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Product Links:

Muhle HJM 41-P-3H tortoise she’ll boar brush:

http://www.shoeboxshaveshop.com/mu41babotosh.html

Derby Normal:

http://www.westcoastshaving.com/Derby-Moisturizing-Super-Normal-Shave-Cream_p_241.html

The Art Of Shaving Unscented After Shave:

http://www.amazon.com/Art-Shaving-After-Shave-Unscented-Sensitive/dp/B000FGTTTW

Shave Of The Day (16 May 2013)

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

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Product Links:

Mama Bear’s Toasted Coconut:

http://mamabearssoaps.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_12&products_id=192

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.)

http://www.drugstore.com/products/prod.asp?pid=155181&catid=288501&aid=338666&aparam=155181

http://www.drugstore.com/products/prod.asp?pid=155185&catid=196102&aid=338666&aparam=goobase_filler&device=c&network=g&matchtype=