Comprehensive Guide to Lathering Soaps, Creams, Shavesticks on the face and in a bowl

Discussion in 'Shave Clinic & Newbie Check-In' started by heirkb, Oct 21, 2009.

    Hopefully this will go into the big sticky at the top of this sub-forum, or it will get good use from newbies. It's my submission for the Carnival of Smiles, but I think it might be helpful since it's the only post I know of that has most types of lathering in one. I'm missing upside down lathering and whatnot, but that's ok I hope

    My procedures are very very similar for all my lathers, but there are slight differences, so I will outline them here. You may see that I copy pasted certain sections, because those are the ones that are the same. Also, I didn't add pictures for every step, because some steps are repeats of others and the first of those will always have a picture.
    As a note for all these logs/guides below: I ALWAYS add water very very slowly and monitor how much I add instead of just adding 3-4 drops every 15 seconds. I watch if the lather needs more, then I add it.
    Bowl Lather: I don't own a scuttle, but I do on very rare occasions drop my lather bowl in some hot water in the sink to keep it warm. I just mentioned that here, because I do it at times, but I won't put it in my guide, because it's not part of my regular routine.

    Creams: tube
    1. Soak your brush in a cup of water while contemplating which cream to use.
    [​IMG]
    2. Squeeze a dollop of the cream in the bowl. The amount depends on how many passes I want on any given day. The amount in this picture (almond sized) is plenty for 4 passes and touch-ups.
    [​IMG]
    3. Take the brush out and gently squeeze out the water and give it one gentle shake. It's not dripping wet, but not dry either.
    [​IMG]
    4. Swirl the brush around for about 5-10 swirls. Should start foaming with big bubbles, like this.
    [​IMG]
    5. Swirl for another 10-15 seconds. Now, lather will start coming up the sides of the bowl. Push down that lather into the bottom of the bowl again as the pictures show and push the brush down into the lather that's there to get it soaked up in the brush.
    [​IMG]
    Lather pushed down.
    [​IMG]
    6. Repeat step 5. That is, swirl for 10-15 seconds and push lather down, swirl for 15 seconds and push lather down and so on until it starts to look like the lather shown in this picture. If during this stage it's just way too thick and not gaining any volume (you're just pushing cream around), I wet my fingers and drop only 3-4 drops of water (literally drops. I carefully monitor the amount of water I get) in at a time until the lather starts building in a more meringue consistency instead of just a thin coating on the bottom of the bowl. I like my lather very thick, so I leave it at the stage you see in the last picture here and move on to the next step.
    [​IMG]
    7. Apply just a thin initial layer to face as shown in this picture. If it looks too thick or too dry, then I dip the tips of the brush in water and swirl in my bowl a bit more. The lather on the face in this picture coming up looks a little too dry to shave with in my opinion. There's no wet shine to the lather and there are holes in the application because of how dry it is. But that's all ok, because you want it to be here at this stage. You can always add water as you'll see, but can't take it away.
    [​IMG]
    8. Apply to face in circular motions all over for at least 30 seconds. I like to get a good scrub (which is why I prefer short loft brushes), but I also have very sensitive skin, so I don't apply too much pressure and prefer soft tips on my brushes. After swirling for 30-90 seconds, I apply the lather in a paint brush motion, with the last stroke of the brush on any given area being ATG. If it starts drying out now, I dip the tips of the brush in water again, but this time, swirl my brush on my face briefly until the lather gets to a stage where it has nice stiff picks but looks glossy and wet. Then I go ahead with the paint brush motions ATG. That's it for bowl lathering creams from a tube.
    Dipping tips of brush in water.
    [​IMG]

    Creams tub
    1. Same as above. Soak brush and think about choice of cream. Today it's the Nancy Boy Replenishing SC (a hard cream similar to TOBS or SMN in texture. SMN is my only other tub cream at the moment so I use this technique for that as well). This will work for softer tub creams like AOS too though.
    2. Take the brush out and gently squeeze out the water and give it two to three gentle shakes. The brush is now drier than it would be with a cream from a tube (not quite as dry as a soap brush. More on that later).
    [​IMG]
    3. Stick the bristles of the brush in the tub (this is a smaller tub than normal, so only the tips of the brush can fit). Gently swirl the brush around about 10 to 15 times (depending again on how many passes are involved. This would be good for a 3-4 pass shave with touch ups). This is why the brush here is drier than it was for the tube creams, you don't want to fill up your precious tub of cream with water. That is also why I swirl gently, so as to just pick up the cream and not squeeze water out of the brush. The tips of your brush should look like the ones in the picture (mine do at least).
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    4. Go to the bowl. Start with the same thing as tube creams. Swirl the brush a bit. Unlike tube creams though, this should look drier and have fewer large bubbles.
    [​IMG]
    5. I add 3-4 drops of water with my fingers since the brush started out drier here, then swirl for 15 seconds. As the lather starts coming up the edge, I push it down like I do with tube creams and push the brush into the lather.
    See the drop hanging off my finger? I add 3-4 of those at a time (it's not a science, but it's pretty careful)
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    6. Repeat step 5. Like with the tube creams, I push the lather down, swirl for 15 seconds, push down, swirl, and so on until I get a thick meringue-like lather. During this step, if the lather is too dry and has no volume, so I'm just pushing a thin layer of cream around the bowl, like with tube creams I start by adding 3-4 drops of water at a time until it starts to gain some volume. I stick with pretty thick lather at this stage.
    [​IMG]
    7. Then I continue as with tube creams and apply a thin layer to my face to see if it's too dry or not. Again, like with tube creams, if it's too dry, I dip the tips of brush in water and swirl more in the bowl.
    8. Like with tube creams, apply to face in circular motions all over for at least 30 seconds and get a good scrub. After swirling for 30-90 seconds, I apply the lather in a paint brush motion, with the last stroke of the brush on any given area being ATG. If it starts drying out now, I dip the tips of the brush in water again, but this time, swirl my brush on my face briefly until the lather gets to a stage where it has nice stiff picks but looks glossy and wet. Then I go ahead with the paint brush motions ATG. That's it for bowl lathering creams from a tub.

    Soaps: bowl only (can't bowl lather a shavestick :tongue_sm)
    1. Same as creams, soak the brush while contemplating which soap.
    2. I occasionally add 2-3 drops of water on the puck while I wait. I don't do this very much anymore though.
    [​IMG]
    3. Squeeze the brush dry and give it 3-4 solid shakes. The brush should feel damp, but no water should be leaving that thing. This is because the wetter your brush, the harder it will be to pick up soap from a puck.
    [​IMG]
    4. If there is water on the puck drain it off into the bowl, if not, don't worry about this step.
    [​IMG]
    5. Swirl the brush about 15-30 times on the soap (again depends on number of passes). The tips should look like this. There should also be a little white on the soap puck like in the picture. Scoop that up with your finger and rub that onto your brush.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    6. Swirl brush in the bowl for about 10 seconds and a thin foam should appear.
    [​IMG]
    7. If the lather is very dry and not a thin foam, add 3-4 drops of water (the brush did start out quite dry after all. May not need to do this if you had water on the puck which you drained into the bowl). Continue swirling for another 15 seconds, then push the lather that comes up from the sides down to the bottom of the bowl and push the brush into it.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    8. Repeat step 7. Swirl 15 seconds, push lather down, swirl and so on. Add 3-4 drops of water during this step if the lather is not gaining volume and you're just pushing soap around the bottom of the bowl. I stop once I get nice thick lather.
    [​IMG]
    9. Apply to face in a thin layer to test dryness. Dip tips of water in brush and swirl a little more in the bowl.
    10. Apply lather in circular motions for at least 30 seconds. After 30-90 seconds of swirling, I paint the lather in paint brush motions and finish with an ATG stroke. If it's too dry at this stage, I add 3-4 drops of water at a time to the bowl and swirl, then reapply to my face in paint brush motions until I have a lather with thick peaks and a glossy finish.

    Face Lather: My favorite! This method does often need you to reapply more of your cream or soap though, because you don't have a bowl full of lather on the side.

    Cream: tube: The advantage of creams in the tube over ones in the tub for face lathering is that you can easily get more cream in between passes if you need it without creating a mess.
    1. Soak brush like with all the other lathers.
    2. Gently squeeze brush dry. You don't need to shake it since you're not going to be able to add drops of water to your face. You want your brush wet enough from the start if possible.
    3. Wet face so it's dripping wet. DRIPPING.
    [​IMG]
    4. Squeeze a little cream (almond sized or a little more for 3-4 passes) into your hand. You may then rub it onto the tips of the brush. If you decide to keep it in your hand (instead of rubbing it on the brush), swirl the cream around evenly on your face.
    [​IMG]
    Rub on the brush
    [​IMG]
    Or rub on the face
    [​IMG]
    5. Start gently swirling brush on face. A thin foam with bubbles will appear just like it does in the bowl.
    [​IMG]
    6. Keep lathering in circular motions for 45-90 seconds. The lather should be thick enough and meringue-like by now. If it's too dry, dip the tips of the brush in water and work back into the face in circles until thick, voluminous lather develops.
    [​IMG]
    I usually take my paint brush strokes all the way to the back of my face, but I made some of them short here to show the peaks in the lather
    [​IMG]
    7. Paint in paint brush motions, with the last stroke being ATG on every area. That's it for face lathering creams from a tube.
    Here's the brush
    [​IMG]

    Creams: tub
    Exactly the same as creams in the tub in the bowl, so:
    1. Soak brush and think about choice of cream. Again, it's the Nancy Boy Replenishing SC (a hard cream similar to TOBS or SMN in texture. SMN is my only other tub cream at the moment so I use this technique for that as well). This will work for softer tub creams like AOS too though.
    2. Take the brush out and gently squeeze out the water and give it two to three gentle shakes. The brush is now drier than it would be with a cream from a tube (not quite as dry as a soap brush.).
    3. Stick the bristles of the brush in the tub. Gently swirl the brush around about 10 to 15 times (depending again on how many passes are involved. This would be good for a 3-4 pass shave with touch ups). This is why the brush here is drier than it was for the tube creams, you don't want to fill up your precious tub of cream with water. That is also why I swirl gently, so as to just pick up the cream and not squeeze water out of the brush. The tips of your brush should look like the ones in the picture (mine do at least).
    Then, it's the exact same as creams in the tube, so:
    4. Wet face so it is dripping wet. DRIPPING.
    5. Start gently swirling brush on face. A thin foam with bubbles will appear just like it does in the bowl.
    6. Keep lathering in circular motions for 45-90 seconds. The lather should be thick enough and meringue-like by now. If it's too dry, dip the tips of the brush in water and work back into the face in circles until thick, voluminous lather develops.
    7. Paint in paint brush motions, with the last stroke being ATG on every area. That's it for face lathering creams from a tub.

    Soaps: bowl
    Start off the exact same way as soaps from a bowl lathered in a bowl, so:
    1. Same as creams, soak the brush while contemplating which soap.
    2. I occasionally add 2-3 drops of water on the puck while I wait. I don't do this very much anymore though.
    3. Squeeze the brush dry and give it 3-4 solid shakes. The brush should feel damp, but no water should be leaving that thing. This is because the wetter your brush, the harder it will be to pick up soap from a puck.
    4. If there's water on the puck, pour it into your brush or just pour it off.
    Then it's the same as face lathering creams, so:
    5. Wet face so it is dripping wet. DRIPPING.
    6. Start gently swirling brush on face. A thin foam with bubbles will appear just like it does in the bowl.
    7. Keep lathering in circular motions for 45-90 seconds. The lather should be thick enough and meringue-like by now. If it's too dry, dip the tips of the brush in water and work back into the face in circles until thick, voluminous lather develops.
    8. Paint in paint brush motions, with the last stroke being ATG on every area. That's it for face lathering soaps from a bowl.

    Soaps: shavestick: My favorite among favorites! The advantage of these is similar to creams in a tube. If you need more soap, you just rub it on your face instead of creating a mess by dunking a brush full of lather back into your soap bowl.
    1. Soak brush and pick your favorite stick (my custom MWF stick of course!).
    [​IMG]
    2. Squeeze the brush gently, but don't shake it. You won't be dipping this into any tub, so the water won't get squeezed out until it's on your face and that's a good thing, because you can't add drops of water to your face very easily.
    3. Wet your face so it is dripping. DRIPPING (again with the all caps. Last time I promise :lol:). At this stage you can also dip the tip of your shavestick into some water if you'd like (I don't usually do this, cause I don't need it)
    [​IMG]
    4. Apply the stick to your face in ATG motions. Make sure you get a nice thin froth and full coverage like in the picture.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    From here, it's the same as all the other face lathering, so:
    5. Start gently swirling brush on face. A thin foam with bubbles will appear just like it does in the bowl.
    6. Keep lathering in circular motions for 45-90 seconds. The lather should be thick enough and meringue-like by now. If it's too dry, dip the tips of the brush in water and work back into the face in circles until thick, voluminous lather develops.
    7. Paint in paint brush motions, with the last stroke being ATG on every area. That's it for face lathering the amazing shavestick!

    Rushed No-Brush Lather: Here's a category that doesn't get covered enough. It can be done with creams in a bowl, but is best with tube creams and shavesticks. It cannot be done well with soaps from a bowl. I'll discuss the tube creams and shavesticks, because that's what I do.

    Creams: tube
    1. Squeeze some cream into your hand (a little less than almond sized for each pass. This does use more cream unfortunately, but it's great in a pinch). Rub the cream onto both sides of your hands.
    2. Wet your face so it's dripping wet.
    3. Rub the cream evenly over your face so it creates a thin froth just like when face lathering.
    4. Keep rubbing with your hands (occasionally wetting them if the "lather" is too dry) until you get something like in the picture below. Then shave!
    [​IMG]

    Soaps: shavestick
    1. Wet your face so it is dripping wet.
    2. You may dip your stick in water if you want (I usually don't). Rub the stick on your face ATG so you have a thin froth just like when face lathering.
    3. Rub the shavestick with wet or dry hands depending on how much water is needed. Once the froth becomes a little more opaque like shown in the picture, you're done. Shave!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2009
  1. great effort and detail, well done
     
  2. Thank you for posting this, the pictures are excellent quality and I appreciate seeing them. I will keep coming back to this over time. I have a lot to learn.

    --Bob
     
  3. Glad to help Bob. Someone on another forum pointed out that I forgot to include issues of hard water, soft water, superlather, etc. He had a point, so you may have to look elsewhere to learn about that since I have no experience with any of those topics.
    I did try to cover the general styles of lathering and to bring them all into one thread though.
     
  4. i agree. this is extremely helpful for someone who's only been doing this for about 2 months. having the pics makes it easy to understand what the lather is supposed to look like. i've bookmarked this page so i can easily find when i need it.
    THANKS A LOT!!!
     
  5. I am going to have to revisit my lather making techniques...my lather is not even close to that. Thanks for the post and pics!
     
  6. Wow... I nominate this post to become a sticky. Can I get a second?
     
  7. I don't worry about any of this because heirkb makes my lather for me, and overnights it to me for my morning shave. Every day. Thanks for showing the other guys how it's done though, H. :001_smile
     
  8. Can too.
     
  9. Hahahaha it's been our agreement for a while now. Where do you think all of cfriend's beautiful razors went? To me in exchange for fresh lather :wink2:
     
  10. Wait, really? I guess you could rub the stick around the bowl or on the brush a little, but that just seems silly
     
  11. Thanks so much for this! It's a huge help to see the pictures and to get a good idea of the lather quality and different types!
     
  12. No prob. I hope its helpful to all the newbies, we've all been there

    Edit: I edited the guide to clarify a few things. You may not notice, but I think they were necessary edits
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2009
  13. very nice, informative post and the pictures are great too :cool:

    thank you very much!
     
  14. Thanks mate. Much appreciated.

    +1 on the sticky
     
  15. You are correct. Shave sicks are not designed to be used that way.
     
  16. I agree on the sticky.

    +1
     
  17. How did you make the MWF shave stick?
     
  18. :lol: I actually believed you for a sec when you made that first post

    It's pretty easy actually. Buy one of those thingies from Mama Bear's site. Grate half a puck for one stick. Put a little grated MWF into the tube thing, add a few drops of water, then pack it down. Repeat until you reach the top. Just FYI, the stick twists up totally fine, but when I try to twist it back down on mine, the plastic thing at the bottom separates from the soap and the soap stays where it is while the piece of plastic twists down.
     
  19. What do you use to pack it back down with? And the opposite, making a soap out of a shave stick, what do you pack it down with?
     

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