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Learning curve for SMF brush

I thought I would post a few notes on my experiences with the SMF brush. I have to say, it has been a learning curve for me, since it behaves quite differently than my old Savile Row. After a week and a half of use, I am thrilled with the performance of the brush. Going back and using my SR really feels inferior now. I think my experience really emphasizes that shaving is a learned skill that takes time. This may be contributing to some people's frustration with the brush - it is not plug-and-play (at least for me).

What has worked for me:

1. Soak this bad boy good. You definitely cannot get by giving it a quick run under the tap. This brush (especially when brand new) takes some time to absorb water. I have been soaking it in a mug while I shower - makes a big difference.

2. Don't be skimpy with product. This brush needs more cream/soap than I am used to. This, combined with its water retention capabilities, can lead very easily to thin lather. I believe that many of us use too little cream in general; a brush can whip up a very minimal amount of cream into what looks like good lather, but with very little lubrication properties, leading to an inferior shave. Try adding more cream next time and build up a thick mass of lather - you won't believe the difference.

3. Shake out that water. This brush holds so much water that you really have to shake it out. I mean really shake it out. Don't be shy - there will be plenty of water left. I also find that I need to start with a thicker lather (see #2), since as the brush sits between passes, the water in the brush will seep into the lather, thinning it out. I had this problem for a while before I figured it out. Err on the side of too thick, and it will thin out over the time of your shave.

I hope this helps folks out.
i find that the brush works really well with creams. i have yet to build a significant lather from soap with the brush. back to the drawing board!

Getting soaps to work (with any brush) took me quite a bit of trial and error to work out. I am still not Luke Skywalker :a45: , but I can make a darn good lather out of soap (especially QED) now. Part of it is technique, part of it is zen...

Try this:

1. Follow advice in my original post.
2. Apply hot brush to soap, i.e. straight from soaking in hot water.
3. Apply downward force on bristles while swirling brush around on soap. You need to pick up enough product to make a good lather. For my New York water, it takes maybe 15-20 swirls like this to pick up enough soap. Believe it or not, I rely on sound here. At first, you won't hear much of anything as the brush slides over the soap. As you get enough into the bristles, you will hear a smooshing/frothing sound of bubbles beginning to form, and start to see some bubbles pushing out around the outside of the brush.
4. At this point, move to a bowl and swirl that sucker around, adding a few up and down pumps for good measure. You should be rewarded with gobs of lather.

Don't be deceived by Joel's pictorials of getting good lather after 5 or 6 swirls - he is some sort of Jedi master. With the water around here and different conditions, it is going to take at least 15 or 20 as described above.

Good luck,
Something that has made a big difference for me is grabbing the brush by the base of the bristles:

I picked up this tip from CAR; he was "measuring" me for the proper brush handle (after which he recommended a Simpson PJ3 in silvertip. I think the "Da Brush" brush compares admirably). Maybe Adam or one of the other Method shavers can jump in to explain it better, but from what I understand its to concentrate the lather in the brush's innerds without as much water loss. Anyway, I can't deny the results: after I pump the brush a few times in hot water, I grab it by the bristle base and give it a shake. Then I start stirring in my lather, pumping occassionally. It comes together very quickly and very luxuriously! I keep holding it this way as I lather my face. I've lathered in both the Method fashion (pumping and swirling) and the more traditional fashion (scrubbing and painting); either way works fine for me. I've also discovered I don't need nearly as much cream as I had been using to get a good lather going.

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