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Murphy and Mcneil Bull and Bell base and other "low structure" lathers

Ariana and Evans Kaisen/Kaisen 2
Declaration Grooming Milksteak
Grooming Dept Kairos, Lamb Tallow, Mallard, and Nai formulas
House of Mammoth Tusk
Oaken Lab V3
Wholly Kaw Siero
Zingari Man Sego

That's a pretty good list. I would also include
  • Murphy & McNeil - any soap base
  • 345 Soap
  • PAA CK-6
  • Shannon's Chupacabra Base
  • Lisa's Natural Herbal Creations
In addition, I've found quite a few soaps that can produce the same sort of lather if you go slowly and don't agitate them too quickly (which is what adds in all the air).
  • Stirling
  • Mystic Water
  • Central Texas Soaps
  • WSP Formula T
  • Wickham
If you watch any IAMCDB videos, you'll notice that he can generate good low structure lathers from just about any soap. There are quite a few that I haven't been able to figure out. They just produce volume from the get-go no matter what I do.
If you watch any IAMCDB videos, you'll notice that he can generate good low structure lathers from just about any soap.
Thank you for this! I don't go out of my way looking for videos. He has a video specifically about making a lather that I would bookmark as a reference especially for new wet shavers. Especially since he is using a floppy synthetic.

It's rather reassuring to see somebody take as long as I do(6 min.) to build his lather. I happen to do mine exactly the some as him so I might be biased, but I know a lot of people around here don't have the patience for that and are happy with the results they get. I got the sense that lathering gets faster with experience, but clearly shortcuts are being taken to achieve that.


The Lather Maestro
Wow. Cushion, density, high structure, low structure. The terms are so subjective, and can mean different things to different people. But I first became aware of the term watching the WCS video on B&M's Reserve base, which I absolutely love.

Slickness is something I think we can all understand and the word probably means exactly the same thing to 90% of us. The other words, not so much. And when I want the sharp edge of the razor to glide over my skin as close as possible, slickness is clearly desirable, but WTH is cushion, anyway? I'm guessing it is some folks' perception of density or structure, but does it actually do anything for the shave? I mean it's not likely to get between the blade edge and your face, is it? So confusing.

So, anyway, I've learned to love lathers that give me a great shave and they tend to be very slick. The high structure, low structure thing to me doesn't really matter, I don't look for it, it just happens to be a characteristic of the soap I am using. The B&M founder describes high structure as a later which has stiff peaks and you can stand your brush up in it in the bowl. Low structure lather does not have stiff peaks and will not support your brush upright.

Who cares? I can stand the brush in Tabac lather, but it is wonderfully slick. I canot stand the brush up in the B&M Reserve lather, but it is also wonderfully slick and both of these products give me superb shaves. I, for one, took a little while to learn to lather B&M Reserve because I was used to high structure lathers, I guess, and I know I wasn't the only one confused by it at first. But it's terrific stuff.

For me, slickness is attribute numero uno for a good lather. I could not care less whether I can stand my brush up in it or if it is photogenic lather. Are these low structure lathers we're talking about now a new thing or are there classic products that have been around a long time that lather this way? I don't know.
I have a question, what is cushion ?

To me, cushion is related to the viscosity of the lather. Is the lather thin like water, medium like maple syrup, or thick like corn syrup?

We also talk about viscosity when referencing lubricating oils. We might lubricate a clock or watch with very thin, low viscosity oils. A car motor uses medium viscosity oils. In contrast, gears and bearings subject to heavy loads are lubricated with heavy oils and greases. By the way, a grease is a mixture of oil and soap, normally saponified with lithium hydroxide rather than the sodium and potassium hydroxides typically used in shaving soaps.

Thus, to me, cushion is the ability of a lather to protect my face from the blade. The overall force of shaving is quite low (a few ounces). However, if you look at the contact point between the blade and your skin, it is less than 1 micron wide. Thus, the contact pressure calculated from the force divided by the contact area, is much higher than you might think. A lather that is thin will not hold up under that pressure. A thicker lather will provide greater protection from irritation.

Generally, adding more water to the lather will make the lather slicker, but it will have less viscosity and provide less protection. Adding less water will make the lather thicker and more protective, but the slickness will be somewhat less. The challenge in formulating a great soap and in producing a great lather is achieving exceptional slickness without sacrificing protection. There are many soaps that provide a very slick, protective lather.
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