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Foolproof Lather Method (TM) - any soap - any brush

Example #3, an Artisan soap

Barrister & Mann, Reserve lavender and a TGN Best Badger 22mm reknot of an old Ever Ready handle.

This one can be finicky, and there's a half hour video on YouToobz talking about how thirsty this stuff is (and it is) and how it's a low-structure lather (won't be in stiff peaks, won't hold the brush up in the bowl). That's all true, but ... you guessed it. Use a damp, nearly dry brush and load a lot of product. I dipped the tips of the brush in water once for this load.

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Half a minute of lathering, obviously not ready yet.

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After adding water slowly and working it for a long time (this one took at least two minutes, for sure, again I don't time it) but you will creep up on the right hydration level. Do not be tempted to dump water in it because it's "thirsty". You go too far and you're cooked. Creep up on the right lather slowly. I took it to my face right here.

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After the first pass, mixed back in with the bowl lather for the second pass.

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Where did you get that brush? I have one that is nearly identical, which was given to me by @brianw and he used a TGN knot for the restore. It is one of my favorite brushes.
 

JCinPA

The Lather Maestro
Where did you get that brush? I have one that is nearly identical, which was given to me by @brianw and he used a TGN knot for the restore. It is one of my favorite brushes.
It’s an Ever Ready 100T. I either got it on eBay or at a flea market and followed a tutorial on here. I did two brushes, I’ll post the other one tomorrow.
 
Great job. This is the best and most straightforward method. When you need to add some water, you can either dip the tips of your brush in water, or drip some from your fingertips into the bowl/mug.
 
It’s an Ever Ready 100T. I either got it on eBay or at a flea market and followed a tutorial on here. I did two brushes, I’ll post the other one tomorrow.
That’s the one. I was just too lazy to go see what brand my handle is. It’s the only restore that I have and it was my favorite until I picked up an Omega badger hair brush in Barcelona a few years ago.
 
Wonderful help! I read something similar when I started out, then got bogged down for months with all the minutiae. Did a bunch of searching on this site, found the method (again) and haven't looked back!
 
While the damp loading method makes wonderful lather I have experienced one downside. That is brush hair damage. If not careful, one can put too much twist in the hairs, due to the lower friction of a damp brush. I think it’s an excellent starting point though.
 
I am a Lather Master!

Not being braggadocious, just stating a fact. And you can be too! I'm here to teach you. No need for a Brotherhood of Lather Masters, every member of B&B should be a Lather Master.

Unfortunately, with so many people who enjoy this activity so much, and the more OCD of us probably tending to experiment and post more, I think some of us are confusing the dickens out of new shavers. We're well-meaning, but we're not helping. What follows is a 100% totally guaranteed lather method that works for any soap (or cream) with any brush, except possibly for stuff like Mitchell's Wool Fat or Williams Mug Soap.

If you are not using a scuttle (some soaps do not hold up to heat well), there are only three things that can go wrong with a soap lather.

1. Not enough product
2. Too much water
3. Not enough patience.


Different soaps do have different hydration requirements. If you don't have enough product, the product/water ratio becomes critical. If you start with too much water, there is no recovery from that, you toss your lather and start over. And it takes a little elbow grease to make a great lather. If you don't have the patience, go with Barbasol.

So, are you ready for the secret to the Foolproof Lather Method (TM)? Before the hand-wringing and recriminations begin, let me say this. This is not the best or the only way to make lather! There is the Marco (Italian Barber) method, the Modified Marco method, the contraption methods (glue pennies in the bottom of your bowl), and any number of other methods that work just fine. But if you are having trouble getting good lather and/or you are slinging it all over your bathroom, start here. Just start here. Play with the other stuff the OCD's post later, that's fine, I sometimes use other methods or I shortcut with products I know like the back of my hand.

Here are the secrets

  • USE LESS WATER- DAMP BRUSH
  • USE MORE PRODUCT
  • CREEP UP ON THE WATER S-L-O-W-L-Y
  • TAKE YOUR TIME

Example 1 - Soft Italian CROAP with Boar brush

Razorock Don Marco and a Sterling 24mm boar brush

So, first thing it to get your brush nearly dry, you can always add water, you can't take it out. You are going for LOADING THE BRUSH, not proto lather, not some thin soup that you hope will congeal into something workable later. Shake it, squeeze it. You want to load from the soap into the brush. If you are not picking up any soap, carefully dip just the very tippy tips of the brush in water and keep going. The top of the soap will look very, very dense, even gummy with some soaps, and the stuff in the brush will be very dense indeed. Get that off the soap with your fingers and onto your face.


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Now, work the brush in the bowl a bit. Notice this is a plain ceramic mug, no ridges, no glued pennies, none of that is bad, but none of it is needed, either. After about 15 seconds you'll have something like this, which obviously needs water.

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Now, dip just the tippy tips of the brush in water and continue whipping it up, doing however many dips are needed and however long it takes. I think this took about 4 little dips of water and about 90 seconds, but I hesitate to say that, because you don't count or time! This is not a recipe it's a method. The recipe is different for each soap. Counting swirls, or load time or water dips is where the problems start. This is where I go to my face.

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Now, lather on your face for a while, maybe 30 seconds. It will continue to build. If it needs it, dip the tippy tips in water and add some. S-L-O-W-L-Y. The photo below is after my first pass. I whipped the soap from the face lathered brush with what was in the bowl again for 15-20 seconds, vigorously. You may add water again, but it likely won't be necessary.

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The key to all this should make perfect logical sense. If you start with more product and less water than needed, you will be able to creep up on the proper hydration level slowly. If you start with either not enough product or too much water, or both, you cannot salvage things.

Damp, nearly dry brush
More Product
Add water slowly

Guaranteed success
Great job on the making your great lather tutorial, it will help some folks in the future IMO!
 

JCinPA

The Lather Maestro
While the damp loading method makes wonderful lather I have experienced one downside. That is brush hair damage. If not careful, one can put too much twist in the hairs, due to the lower friction of a damp brush. I think it’s an excellent starting point though.
Also true, but my assumption was that once folks get this down, they'd be starting out with a slightly wetter brush, as do I. I don't normally go for that soap pulling away from the surface of the soap gumminess, but I was looking for a no-kidding, foolproof way to get someone who is having trouble lathering get to a good lather, guaranteed, and quickly. And this is it.

For the more experienced shavers here, I don't actually squeeze the brush, but I do shake most of the water out of the brush before starting. I'll get a somewhat wetter protolather going and work that onto my face. And that's with familiar products. I do back off the water a bit with a new (to me) soap, until I understand it.

@ylekot Try it this way until you get the lather you like, then you can start using a slightly damper brush, but not dripping, and you'll find you can get a good lather with a damper brush, adding less water along the way. But again, my goal here was to get folks who were having issues (and some of our new shavers struggle with lather building for quite a while, apparently) to start off way, way below the proper hydration level so they are starting out at a point they can build to without fail.

Eventually, one gets experienced enough with a product to know how much water to start out with at the beginning, and they end up hitting the lather sweet spot much sooner, after adding less water. But that's an experience and practice thing. I start with a much wetter brush on my Barrister & Mann than I do on my Stirling soaps, for example, because now I understand how B&M behaves. When I bought it, I started exactly this way. One builds experience with a product first and then, with experience can get to the sweet spot much quicker.

My method is the best way, IMNSHO, to get someone like ylekot from a level of pure frustration to one of being pretty happy with his lather, and well on to understanding the nuances of different products, with little heartache, and a high success rate. The least of his concerns (read his other thread) right now is losing a few brush hairs.
 

JCinPA

The Lather Maestro
In thinking about the prior post, that's what I meant when I said I think we're confusing new shavers with all the different ways to approach a lather. I also said this was not the only or even the best way to do it (I usually use the Modified Marco with Italian Croaps, actually).

But it's the right way to get someone started with a method that is foolproof. Starting someone out who cannot make lather with the Marco Method is bound to drive further frustration (and mess) for them until they know not only their soaps, but their brushes, which all behave differently, and hold varying amounts of water. This is why I did a soap with a boar, a badger, and a synth.

This is not necessarily the best way to do things, but for a noob who picked up a whatever brush and some unknown soap, this is the quickest way to get them on track.
 
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How long did it take to become Lather Master from total beginner? I basically use the same concept (somewhat wet brush-more product-slowly adding water) but for me it took two years to get on track. Now I'm happy with that, but damn it was a long learning.
 
In thinking about the prior post, that's what I meant when I said I think we're confusing new shavers with all the different ways to approach a lather. I also said this was not the only or even the best way to do it (I usually use the Modified Marco with Italian Croaps, actually).

But it's the right way to get someone started with a method that is foolproof. Starting someone out who cannot make lather with the Marco Method is bound to drive further frustration (and mess) for them until they know not only their soaps, but their brushes, which all behave differently, and hold varying amounts of water. This is why I did a soap with a boar, a badger, and a synth.

This is not necessarily the best way to do things, but for a noob who picked up a whatever brush and some unknown soap, this is the quickest way to get them on track.
This is exactly my situation. I have my first soap and first cream. I can’t seem to get a good lather with the soap. Even if this isn’t the “best” method it does reduce some of the variables allowing the user to also reduce the frustration.

Tom
 

JCinPA

The Lather Maestro
How long did it take to become Lather Master from total beginner? I basically use the same concept (somewhat wet brush-more product-slowly adding water) but for me it took two years to get on track. Now I'm happy with that, but damn it was a long learning.
I hope you know I was using the Lather Master tongue in cheek, trying to get across the idea that anyone can do it. But to answer your question, I wasn't a total beginner, I had used Williams Mug Soap for nearly 20 years when I started here, with multi-blade carts. It was the only soap I used, every day, but I quickly started playing with other soaps here, and I would guess it was about 6 months to a year when I felt I could lather anything. But I was using some pretty easy soaps, too, Proraso green, Mama Bear, Tabac, Cella, the first "artisan" soap I tried was Queen Charlotte. I think all of those are fairly easy to lather, and while there are some very, very good soaps around today, some of them are a little more difficult.

Take the Barrister & Mann Reserve line, for instance. If you do a search, it stymied a fair number of experienced shavers here when it came out, and I mean experienced guys, not beginners. It's an altogether different type of lather than many of us were used to. But using the method I laid out I figured it out in about 6-10 shaves, I'd guess. Now I start with a wetter brush, load the proper amount and get to where I want it to be in a couple minutes. I was not the biggest fan at first, but now I love it, it's really slick. I would think SR shavers would love it. But it's a very different product from what I used before.

I think the reason so many new shavers have such troubles lathering is that they get into the long, detailed discussions of the old heads trying to figure out something like the B&M Reserve line, and get all wrapped around the axle. That's why I did this. Again, it's not the only way, it may not be the best way, but it is a way, and the only one I know of guaranteed to get beginner's on track. ylekot could lather B&M Reserve line like a bauss in a handful of shaves using this method.

One thing I think we old heads do wrong here is to get new shavers all excited about getting a half dozen razors right away, we recommend blade samplers so they can "find their blade", etcetera. I used to rail about this years ago, but gave up, we're such an enthusiastic bunch, it will continue. But I really wish more of us would tell them to get 100 Astra SP's, an EJ DE89 or a Muhle R89 (or a vintage tech), one cream or soap (maybe one cream and one soap), and one brush, and tell them to not get anything else until they shave for a month or three. Then go wild.

You'd be making great lather inside of a few days that way, and having much better shaves! Much of the frustration with newer shavers, I firmly believe, revolves around not locking anything down. The go from Gillette carts and Foamy every day, to three razors, a dozen blades, a half dozen soaps, and then get a ton of different advice ... it's a wonder to me any of you pick this up! :lol:

[/rant]

So, noobs, lather this way and don't worry about twisting hairs out of your brushes, lol, you'll be Lather Masters in short order.
 
…One thing I think we old heads do wrong here is to get new shavers all excited about getting a half dozen razors right away, we recommend blade samplers so they can "find their blade", etcetera. I used to rail about this years ago, but gave up, we're such an enthusiastic bunch, it will continue. But I really wish more of us would tell them to get 100 Astra SP's, an EJ DE89 or a Muhle R89 (or a vintage tech), one cream or soap (maybe one cream and one soap), and one brush, and tell them to not get anything else until they shave for a month or three. Then go wild...
Definitely agree. I used to make the recommendation to even use your favorite cartridge for a while. The fewer changes the better. Get a brush, get a soap, enjoy the wonderful improvements that come from making your own lather.

I do like the idea of blade samples though, because the wrong blade can wipe out all of your other efforts. An EJ DE89 with most premium blades would be a great first setup for most people. I’m one of the ones who simply could not get a good shave from an Astra SP, even with decades of experience (until I got a Henson). So don’t fear the Feather, or Meds, or…
 
I’m new here so forgive my ignorance but I know nothing of different methodologies beyond bowl and face lathering. I have tried both but have ended up with lightly loading the brush and going straight to the face. The bowl seems completely unnecessary to me. It’s just more to clean up.

So my question is, what am I missing by not bowl lathering? Something tells me using a large synthetic knot has made my life easier completely on accident but maybe that has nothing to do with it. I genuinely have no idea.
 

JCinPA

The Lather Maestro
I’m new here so forgive my ignorance but I know nothing of different methodologies beyond bowl and face lathering. I have tried both but have ended up with lightly loading the brush and going straight to the face. The bowl seems completely unnecessary to me. It’s just more to clean up.

So my question is, what am I missing by not bowl lathering? Something tells me using a large synthetic knot has made my life easier completely on accident but maybe that has nothing to do with it. I genuinely have no idea.

You're not missing anything is the answer to your question. There was a member trying to figure out how to do it, that's all. It's a matter of personal preference, and he was having trouble. If you were having trouble face lathering, someone would have likely done what I did. Both are viable approaches and neither is superior.
 
You're not missing anything is the answer to your question. There was a member trying to figure out how to do it, that's all. It's a matter of personal preference, and he was having trouble. If you were having trouble face lathering, someone would have likely done what I did. Both are viable approaches and neither is superior.
Thank you! That clear statement is super helpful. Your write up was very helpful and I am planning to give bowl lathering a second chance.
 
I’m new here so forgive my ignorance but I know nothing of different methodologies beyond bowl and face lathering. I have tried both but have ended up with lightly loading the brush and going straight to the face. The bowl seems completely unnecessary to me. It’s just more to clean up.

So my question is, what am I missing by not bowl lathering? Something tells me using a large synthetic knot has made my life easier completely on accident but maybe that has nothing to do with it. I genuinely have no idea.
Sounds like you have figured out your way of shaving and a lot of folks shave just that way. I remember cartridge shaving with Gillette gel and all I did was wet the face a little apply gel with my hand and hand massage lather and did that for 30+ years.
Why change that 30 year old system is because a bowl does have some advantages like not using your skin as a washboard to get your lather correct and less irritation for some. I mentioned a few reasons in previous posts on another thread, I'm retired and have time as where younger folks have to get to work.........time restrictions.
A lather bowl is a shaving tool to me and I can fine tune my lather if I want or just make foam for a quick shave. Arko can be a little harsh on the skin if you load a brush and smear it and then add a little water that takes about 1 minute from my experiences to make a nice Arko lather, a bowl with pressed in Arko and fine tune the lather in the bowl takes about 1 minute and I can just paint the lather instead of scrubbing my face with Arko.
I find a lot of Youtube shaving celebrities use bowls also because they can apply more painting lather with a slight scrub. I find a bowl more enjoyable than other methods out there. So there are about 4 different ways to at least to make lather, (1)Canned foam or gel and use your hands to massage the ingredients on your face to make nice lather , (2)use a lather machine to give you heated foam and use a brush or hand massage, (3)load your brush from the soap tub and face lather and just add a little water to generate your lather or (4) press a little soap into the lather bowl and generate lather and then paint lather on my wet face for less irritation & drying out of skin.
I have done all these methods and still prefer bowl lathering, I can still face lather if I choose any time but I enjoy a step more by using the bowl it seems.
 
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