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Shaving soap

Wet shave bowl

Normality is gradually returning, the kids will soon be back at school, and I can get busy making soap again. January is normally quiet, and I’m looking forward to testing new recipes, fragrances, and trying new products.

That strange twilight zone between Christmas and New Year, when you have no clue what day it is, and you’re subsisting on bizarre combinations of snack foods, actually ended up being quite productive, for me. In a sitting-down-and-not-moving-much sort of way. I started reading about shaving soap, and found an absolute goldmine of information, so spent a huge amount of time researching different ingredients, and the qualities they bring.

Old Spice Mug
Vintage Old Spice shaving mug

My experience of mens’ shaving accoutrements was quite limited. My dad used to have an Old Spice shaving mug like this one, and a brush, but mostly used an electric shaver. My grandad liked a wet shave every day, I remember him answering the door fully lathered up, but I don’t recall what else he used. Other shavers in my life over the years have used a can of shave gel and whatever branded multi-blade razor was available from the supermarket. My husband just lathers up whatever soap is in the bathroom, and shaves with that – currently my Enchanted Isle soap. Not really connoiseurs, any of them.

I knew that there are people out there who are really serious about the whole thing, collecting favourite brushes, bowls, mugs, etc, but really, I had absolutely no idea of the true scale of the thing, and how much time, effort, and consideration goes into it! Vintage razors, blade preferences, Silvertip badger hair brushes, straight razors… I’d never heard of a kamisori – a Japanese razor not intended for use by oneself but designed to be used by a barber to shave someone else. (It looks terrifying.)

Shaving brush and scuttle

Some like to lather up the soap in their hands, some directly on the face, others like to collect some soap on a brush and then lather it up in a scuttle: a special bowl or mug which keeps the lather warm, ready for multiple passes with the razor.  Of course, if you regularly shave your face, you’ll probably know all this, and have your own preferred tools and techniques, but to me, it’s all new, and quite fascinating!

I bought my husband some “fancy” shaving soap a while back, and I thought I’d go and lather it up, and see what it looked and felt like. I did that, and to be honest, I was underwhelmed, considering what I’d paid for it! So I went on YouTube, to see if I could find some reviews for this particular soap. Seriously, I never anticipated that one day I’d be searching for YouTube videos of men shaving. But I did find one, and the man got a really good lather from the same soap, but he spent aaaaaages swirling the brush round, lathering it up. I realised I’d been doing it wrong. I’m not sure I’d have the patience, to be honest. But then I used it to shave my legs, and, I can’t lie, they felt amazing afterwards!

Anyway, after my somewhat sedentary period of reading and researching (and finishing up the remaining snackery), I can’t wait to get started making shaving soap! I’ll be trialling a couple of recipes, and will take pics and compare when they’re ready.

Tell me about your shaving preferences? Extra points if you include pics of your favourite tools! Comment below, or head over to facebook and comment on the thread there.