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frustrated with budget soaps

I have been frustrated with a lot of soaps lately. Today I used VDH Deluxe, lathered it for about a minute and a half or so, and it just wouldn't lather well at all. Too thin. When I went to strop my razor at the end of the shave (RazorPit), I used some excess soap and the razor had no glide, even less than when I use William soap. When I strop my wife's Venus razor and use her cream (Target Lavender), it just glides over the Razorpit, so I use that as my benchmark. But stropping my Gilette Glide was skippy and halting using this soap.

I'm using an Omega Syntex brush. It usually lathers creams great, but it's a bit more like boar in the scritchiness. Our water here in Orlando is moderate hardness, 8-9 grains. Honestly, Williams seem to lather better yesterday, and deliver a better shave (I used a touch of preshave oil, which I figured I would not need with the VDH, but I was wrong).

Is this typical for VDH to be so thin? It felt nice and slimey on my face but when I went to shave with it the glide was poor, and stropping proved the results.

I've thought about trying to shave with soft water, getting a shower mirror and a water softener for the shower head. The few times I have used softened water to shave seem to have been much better.
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I've never used VDH, so I can't speak to that, but you could try a cream. They're a lot easier to lather IMO. Pacific Shaving Company cream is available at Target now for $5.50. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm going to pick some up this weekend. Kiss My Face also lathers easily and if very slick. I use it most of the time and it's easy to get. The only soap I've used is Stirling. It produces a nice lather and is all natural. It's also reasonably priced. I think it's between $6 and $8 per puck depending on scent. It's a softer soap than VDH too, so it might work better with your brush.
Soft water makes a big difference in lathering. You can buy a bottle of distilled water at the supermarket for $1, and it should last you about a month of shaving every day. Or, get a Brita pitcher and filter the tap water.

And use that filtered water to make coffee and cook with, too. It will make everything that comes out of your kitchen taste better.

I had a filter on the shower head 4 residences ago. I think I got it at Lowes ... if you do find one, post a link for us. I've been looking for another one ever since but I can't find it anywhere.
I failed with Williams right out of the gate (2 years ago), and wasn't impressed with VDH Deluxe, finding it drying/burning to a much lesser degree. But I added Kiss My Face to make an excellent croap, and restocked Select specifically for compounding this way. So easy, in the microwave!

Currently, I soldier through shaves with Arko on occasion. It dries out before I can complete the classic Turkish shave with my Sedef shavette, but it's fine for DE work. I like variety and still am at a point in my shaving career where I do foolish things for the fun of it.

When I want the top shelf, I go between the croap and Stirling. Kiss My Face works is great on its own, too, there's just something about getting it mixed with water that turns me off. Too bad, because one bottle is like a year's worth of soap. Pucks just feel right to me.

Welcome to B&B

Soft water makes a big difference in how your lather comes out.

Drop into the Shave Wiki and read over some of the shaving articles. http://wiki.badgerandblade.com/ You will find a LOT of useful info in there.

If you have not already done so, stop into the Hall of Fame and tell everyone a little about yourself

VDH makes my face red and irritated, but I remember the lather being just ok. Williams is challenging. Try Arko!
I've not used Arko, Williams, or VDH, but for my opinion, RazoRock. To me their prices depending on the scent fall into a budget category, and I get a great/consistent performance from them with both their Tallow and Non-Tallow formulas.
I'm just up the road in Jacksonville Beach...water tends to be pretty hard all over Florida. I know this from working for a public utility, not from a lifetime of wetshaving in Florida. (I've been wetshaving with DEs for just a couple months now).

Having said that, I tried VDH select this morning for the first time and got decent results. I used the instructions posted here for building a lather. It wasn't super rich, but it was good enough for a DFS. I've got a better brush on order...so I'll see if my results improve with that.

Someone suggested creams, and I've had very good results with Cream-O shaving cream. I put a peanut sized dollop on each cheek and use a cheap badger brush (Perfecto) to add hot water and build something that vaguely resembles a thin lather. (I don't think cream-o is really designed for a great lather.) This stuff is super slick and I get nice nick-free shaves using Feather blades, a Merkur long-handled razor, and hard Florida tap water.

I know I'm a noob...but those are the results I've been getting.

Edit: Walgreen's carries Cream-O in this market, if you want to look for it locally.
I never had any problems with the Palmolive stick, and I have taken that with me on many business trips throughout Europe.
I use Brita water all the time for making coffee and tea. I was unaware that it softened water, but maybe I'll try that some time. I'm not sure I'd want to shave in the shower every day but if it meant better shaving I might do it. In the winter here I don't take too many showers as I have fibromyalgia and I'm cold intolerant (everything makes me cold... sometimes I even wear long sleeves in the summer here in Florida because restaurants and shops are so cold), I take a bath a few times a week. I tried shaving while taking a bath and hunched over a little mirror- interesting experience, definitely great shave but bad for my back.

Williams actually lathers in Florida's water well and it rinses clean... but the shaving quality is nothing special... about the same as buying the regular Barbasol. It's just a cheap soap lather, just like Barbasol (I really wish Williams still made their luxury shave soap that was rose scented, it sounds very nice)

I have a puck of Arko but I haven't used it yet. I might have to ask around about Cella, I have heard good things about it and I love almond scented shaves soaps (I used to use C&E's almond which was a good soap but now it's gone).

How does Col. Conk's soaps compare to VDH's Deluxe soaps? My guess is that because VDH has no water softening ingredients, the hardness is going to limit the lather. It does have a little synthetic detergent but it honestly resembles a glycerin bath soap, which tends not to lather so great here, and leave a lot of soap scum, I have noticed (I like using body washes as they seem to work better).

I actually have tried a few budget creams and they all tend to work better than the soaps I have tried. Derby, Kiss My Face, Proraso... all very good, better than canned shaving cream. KMF doesn't rinse clean on a razor but I consider that a secondary matter- it makes my face feel great. I'm really looking for a luxury type shaving experience. I suppose smell is a factor too. Derby, for instance, is hardly luxury, even though it performs well. My guess is that if I want luxury I go for a cream- soap is for a different kind of shaver?

I might want to get a shaving scuttle and fill it with distilled water. Can shave scuttles be microwaved?
VDH was my first soap that came with the brush kit. It lathers easily for me with hard well water, but I do find it difficult to get any slickness out of it unless a lot of water is used. Consequently, this makes the lather very thin. I've found it to have a fine line between decently slick and junk when adding water. When too little water is used, it forms a great looking lather, but I found it to be very "sticky."
Brita/Pur and other water filteres like that don't soften water to my knowledge. They remove stuff from water but don't soften it.

A quick amazon search for "filter shower head" picked this up, it's the first one that appeared. Looks like the filter is $12 too.

I use VDH Deluxe and it's the only soap I have ever used and I picked up the VDH Premium kit and have just been buying replacement soap. The soap is a little tricky to get the best results but I find that you can't go by the looks of it to get good results. You have to lather it and try it to find out where you need it to be and fine tune it from there. I personally face lather now and getting it there is a lot easier now than when I tried bowl lathering which was more difficult. Either way what you need is a lot of water and product, and usually squeeze out the brush and relather with that lather from my experience.

Typically I soak the brush than flick it out and than wet just the tips and load it up. From there I face lather on a wet face, this results in a very wet lather which isn't ideal for shaving but I go back to the bowl which I have my soap melted in and wipe the brush on the side squeezing out the lather from the brush by doing so into the bowl. Than I load up the brush very quickly putting that lather back in with some more soap too. Than it's typically loaded up perfectly for me, so I usually relather and let that sit as part of my prep before rinsing and relathering to shave. Weird process but for me I can get consistently good results. Experiment and try to find out what works for you.
I had an awful time using VDH Deluxe (my first attempt with a soap and badger brush). So bad in fact I started buying creams. Once my technique got better I revisited the soap and now I like it. It's certainly not the best one I have in the den, but it is perfectly adequate. One thing I considered doing was adding a drop or 2 glycerin to the puck (or lather bowl, I never decided) but before trying either method I discovered those were not necessary.
I tried VDH deluxe and the other VDH luxury (white soap),because it smelt better than the deluxe IMO. For me I don't like the smell of the deluxe but it lathers better than the white soap,I was browsing on amazon and picked up some proraso green (7 dollars as of last night) and it's night and day. The proraso cream lathers more quickly,smells better and is slicker so I get a better shave with it. When I saw it went down to 7 bucks and change on amazon I stocked up,its good stuff with a menthol scent and nice cooling effect. I've been using proraso green for over a year now and it's the only thing in my lineup that I have no desire to change.
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