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Back to the Method

For several different reasons I have spent the last couple of months experimenting with traditional wet shaving products: creams (both English and otherwise), soaps of every kind, and even a few brushless preparations. Since I received my new Shavemaster brush a few weeks ago, I have gone back to a pure Method Shaving set up. It was interesting to come back after being away for so long.

Myself and others have written that Method Shaving is more about skin care than pure shaving. After being away for a while I have found out just how true that is. Getting a skin close shave is not hard and once you develop good blade technique, getting one with minimal irritation isn't a major challenge either. Shaving every day, day in and day out, with skin that is smooth, blemish free, and maintains its normal color, is no mean feat. Method Shaving is the only way that I have found to do it.

The first thing I notice after Method Shaving for three or four days is the color of my skin. Most gents do not realize how red their skin gets, and stays, while using traditional products. It isn't until that color is gone that you see what your natural skin tone is supposed to be. The other thing that you can't get anywhere else is the "wet crushed velvet" finish (CAR's term, not mine.) The combination of HydroLast, Cutting Balm, and copious amounts of water, leave a warm smoothness that I have been unable to duplicate with anything else.

During my extended foray into the traditional world, I found myself enjoying some of the brushless products that are out there for the sole reason that they do not dry the skin. Traditional creams and soaps contain surfactants and thus are drying. Many of them contain moisturizing agents to fight the inherent drying action of something that lathers, but I have not found a single traditional cream or soap that does not dry my face to some degree, particularly in the winter. Method Shaving is the only way I can use a brush and not dry my skin (which is probably why it is not red anymore.) Yes, you do use soap (The Cube) to prime the brush, but it is a gentle soap and is counteracted by the emollients in HydroLast and the Cutting Balm.

The big selling point of the HydroLast/Cube combo is that it is all natural and free of chemicals. One of the experiments I will be conducting in the future is using other all-natural soaps in place of the Cube. The Cube is still great, but I find myself wishing for more variety on that end.
Can you expand a bit and describe how you use the various CAR Hydrolast products and at what stage of your shave ? Also, I am still lost as to why naprods (makre of the hydrolast) says the paste is a cream replacement and needs NO soap/cube to "stabilize" it where Enchante says the opposite.

Here is what I have been doing for a little while now. It is fairly straightforward and quite effective.

After soaking my brush for a minute in a sinkful of hot water, I scrub whatever soap I am using (I don't always use the Cube nowadays), to generate the beginnings of a nice lather. I then put the soap down and continue to develop the lather by working the brush against my left hand with a series of pumping & scrubbing moves. Once it is to my liking (fairly dry and thick) I'll use the brush to lay it up on my face.

After rinsing my hands, I'll dip a small amount of paste (dime sized or less) and manually rub it over the lather that is already on my face. This gives a super-heavy base from which to work.

Then I take another small amount of paste and stick it directly into the breech of my brush. I'll scoop up some water from the sink and drop it into the brush right on top of the paste. After using my hand to gently squeeze the brush closed (careful not to lose the water), I gently lift the brush to my face and begin infusing the mix with a pumping/swirling action. Depending on the mix and my mood I may do this one or two more times. The end result should be a mix that is very wet but not so loose that it runs off of your face.

I typically make three or four passes these days, depending on what razors I'm using. The brush (either a Shavemaster or Chubby) holds enough mix for three passes. If I'm going to do four, I may reload a little bit off of the soap after the first pass. Otherwise, I'm good to go.

I only use the brush to put up that first layer. After that everything is done by hand. I like to roll the mix into my left hand and then work it back and forth to get it really wet and dense.

Cutting Balm is great stuff but I don't like dealing with things that are too oily. Here is how I have come to peace with it. Before my final pass I'll squeeze out whatever mix is left in the brush. I'll put 1/2 to a full squirt of balm directly into the mix and then work it in my hands for a few seconds. I'll lay that up, wash my hands with a bar of bath soap that sits on my counter, and finish things off. I find I get all of the balm benefits without too much of a mess.

As far as Naprodis goes, where did you get that information? Did you call them or something? I checked their web site and didn't see anything. I have tried to volumize HydroLast with a brush with no success. Adam Mendelson uses it in that manner, but he has a water softening system in his house. I don't know about the Naprodis claim but from what I can tell, if you have soft enough water and it works for you, go for it. Otherwise you probably need some kind of stabilizer. Pretty much any surfactant will work, but using something that is not chemical-free defeats the purpose of the system.

Thanks. I'll give your techniques a try as I have some of the paste and a cube that have been sitting idly in my cabinet.

The info on the paste was given to me by the owner/developer of Naprodis. He told me that it was not necessary to "stabilize" the paste with soap and it certainly was not developed to be used in this way. He was aware, however, that Enchante suggested mixing it with his Marseille olive oil soap.

BTW, do the EO fragrances in the cutting balm match the shave paste ? I know they are meant to be the same but many times the "medium" alters the olfactory profile.

Was he talking about using it with a brush or by itself? If you are using it brushless, then you certainly don't need to stabilize it. I've used HydroLast that way before and it worked fine. Not my first choice but OK if you're really pressed for time.

I view HydroLast paste as a supercharger. Most all-natural soaps that I have tried (including the Cube) can be shaved with straight but do not lather as rich as shaving products that have been fortified with other things. Adding HydroLast gives them the beef that they need. Is it essential? No, but I haven't found anything else that can duplicate it.

I don't know about the EO blends. I would assume they are the same since they both come from Naprodis, but I wouldn't bet any body parts on it. I've never tried the lime & green tea nor the grapefruit paste so I can't say how they match up to the balm. I don't like the sandalwood paste, yet the sandalwood balm is my favorite. Go figure. Peppermint is my favorite paste and I use it with the sandalwood balm all the time. Doesn't clash at all as far as I'm concerned. By the time I've used the moisturizer and splashed on whatever scent I feel like wearing, I can't smell the products I've shaved with anyway.
He recommended using a brush. He said the paste was designed to be used by itself in place of traditional style cream.

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