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Debugging the lather

I've got a bug somewhere in the lathering process, and I'm trying to do a root cause analysis. Hopefully, y'all can help.

I have a pair of pucks of shave soap that I bought from a nice lady at a farmer's market. They smell lovely, but I'm getting a bad lather. I've tried face lathering and mug lathering, both to the same effect. I've adjusted the moisture in the lather, and have gotten it anywhere from foamy to a slick wet lather.

The problem is this, I can get a nice slick lather on my face, it looks exactly right and covers perfectly. However, by the time I put down my brush and pick up the razor, most of it is gone. Not "slid down my face" gone, but "all the bubbles popped and left a nearly clear glaze" gone. It still shaves decently, and there's still enough lather to see where I have shaved v. where I haven't. However, it makes me rush so that there's still some lather left as I near the end. I should mention that I only trim around my beard, so it's not like I'm shaving my entire face or my head in one go.

At first I thought that I wasn't lathering it up enough, and so I tried whipping the heck out of it. I got nice big foamy lather that disappeared in around a minute. I then thought that I had too much moisture, and wrung out my brush more thoroughly. I got a nice thick lather that disappeared in a minute.

Now I'm wondering whether I'm doing something wrong or whether this artisan shave soap is possibly the culprit. Any suggestions for what to try next?
 
Are you sure that the soap was formulated for shaving? Different soaps are made for different purposes and respond differently to being lathered up. Also, while she may be a very nice lady, that doesn't mean that she knows anything about making shaving soaps.
 
That's my fear. It was sold as a shave soap to me, and I've had worse shaves using other products, but it almost acts like it's formulated as a hand soap. I just want to make sure I've tried everything on my side before relegating these pucks to handwashing duty.
 
"I have a pair of pucks of shave soap that I bought from... a farmer's market"

My experience shows that the overwhelming majority of art fairs, craft shows, farmers markets, et al. have soap booths. Invariably, there will be a greasy stack of something they identify as "shaving soap".

DO NOT BELIEVE THEM.
 
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Have you tried adding 5-15 drops of vegetable glycerin? It probably is just hand soap she cut into a puck and thought it'd work as shave soap. The path to bad shaves is paved with good intentions or greed.

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Most of the "farmers market" soaps are not properly formulated for shaving soap, even when the seller says that the are. Caveat emptor.
 
Thanks for the vegetable glycerine suggestion! Really, I should just relegate these pucks to the sink and get some real shave soap. While I'm at it, maybe I'll replace the coffee mug they're jammed in, too!
 
Can you build a decent lather with commercially available shave soaps?
If so, I'd suggest your technique is not the culprit.
 
I've had similar experiences. Now any artisan soap I buy has been thoroughly vetted by fellow members of the B&B.
 
I have bought some soaps like that. There is an artisan soap maker in Key West, FL whose soaps have a fantastic scent. Unfortunately, they are just about impossible to lather. I gave some samples of these soaps to a number of folks who have substantial experience with traditional shaving and not one person could get a decent lather from them.
 
Lol we oughta take a basic, halfway decent shave soap recipe and hand it out to soap makers at a farmer's market.

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I agree with OP above, there can be a huge difference between a good shaving soap and a bath soap. You might try some of the well regarded options discussed on the soap forums. The problem may be the soap not your technique.
 
Time to move that soap to the shower and switch to something else for shaving. Scads of choices in the Soaps forum that have been vetted by thousands of B&B shavers.

I had a bona fide shaving soap once that I just didn't like. I used it in the shower as a body soap - no waste!
 
"I have a pair of pucks of shave soap that I bought from... a farmer's market"

My experience shows that the overwhelming majority of art fairs, craft shows, farmers markets, et al. have soap booths. Invariably, there will be a greasy stack of something they identify as "shaving soap".

DO NOT BELIEVE THEM.

CAVEAT EMPTOR!!
 
You likely have a soap that is lacking the appropriate fatty acid profile for lather stability/longevity. Can you tell us what ingredients are listed for the soap in question?

I make my own shave soap and have done a lot of experimenting to get my formula down to how I like it. I can probably get an idea of what you might expect if the ingredients are provided.
 
Try with a drier brush perhaps. Soak the brush and soap. Squeeze all the water from the brush and drain the water from the soap. Then try to build a drier, thicker lather.

Failing that you could mix it with a cream to make super lather. Or use it as shower soap.


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Buy yourself a well-respected shaving soap (or cream) and test your lathering skills (hard to go wrong with Proraso). I'm guessing that the problem is the farmer's market.
 
I bought from a nice lady at a farmer's market. They smell lovely, but I'm getting a bad lather. I've tried face lathering and mug lathering, both to the same effect. I've adjusted the moisture in the lather, and have gotten it anywhere from foamy to a slick wet lather
I bought some off the bay a few years ago and had similar problems; lathered like a washing soap. Clearly some producers (if I can call them that) have no idea what is require from a shaving soap. I now stick to TOBS creams. Great shaving quality and easy to buy. Proraso would be my alternative choice but there are many to choose from via the internet.
 
The farmers market and Etsy are, from my experience hit or miss (most likely misses...).

You will sometime find real gems there but when it doesn't work after a few try, let it go. Get your soaps from a reputable vendor but feel free to keep on trying the Market stuff. Who knows, you may discover the next B&M...

Marc
 
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