MWF/Williams - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - A guide to better lather!

Discussion in 'Shaving Soaps' started by Luc, Jun 5, 2010.

  1. Luc

    Luc Moderator Emeritus

    I will try to show what Good, Bad and Ugly lather looks like using MWF and Williams. This thread is not intended to be a tutorial on how to make lather. All the tutorials are currently available here:

    This thread should help you diagnose how to make better lather and recognize bad lather. Keep in mind that I'm no expert in the lather department but I usually get decent lather.

    I did 3 batches of lather with both soaps.

    The first batch is too much water: The Bad
    The second batch is too dry: The Ugly
    The last batch will be to good lather: The Good.

    Let's get started. Tools for today:
    • 1x Wilkinson Sword Bristle brush
    • 1x Lather bowl (1" deep x 3" diameter)
    • 1x MWF Soap (in the German army butter container / Center-bottom)
    • 1x Williams soap (in the mug / Middle-right)

    Everything was soaked in warm water for 3-5 minutes between each batch. I used the bristle brush as most newbie will use a boar/bristle brush. This is a very cheap brush, less than $5.

    MWF - The Bad
    Starting with a lot of water

    Right away, after a 20 seconds charge on the soap, you can see how big the bubbles are

    Even the soap has big bubbles!

    The end result after 3 minutes of mixing. The bubbles are still quite big!

    The lather won't provide much protection...

    MWF - The Ugly
    Dry lather is another common problem

    The soap and brush are very dry. I squeezed out all the water from the brush before I charged it. The soap was soaked in water and then turned upside down to get rid of the water.

    After 1 minute of mixing and it's not coming together...

    2 more minutes of mixing, still not good!

    The lather seems a bit better than the wet one, very small bubbles however, this is everything, included the lather squeezed out of the brush! Barely enough for 1 pass... It's a very very thick lather.

    MWF - The Good
    Good batch of MWF

    Here, I half squeezed my brush. I left a tiny bit of water in the bowl before I started (1/4 of a teaspoon). I had around 1 tablespoon of hot water poured on top of the soap. It still need to be mixed a bit!

    This lather is much better, more dense, more lather, small bubbles!

    If I blow some air between my fingers, that stalactite of lather will remain there, it won't break/fall/be blown away!

    Williams - The Bad
    Too much water again...

    Just like MWF, huge bubbles!

    As you can see, lot of lather but again, huge bubbles!

    Williams - The Ugly
    Dry lather

    Same than MWF, I made sure that my bowl was dry and I squeezed all the water out of the brush. I charged the brush on a wet soap (poured some water on it and turned it upside down)

    Compared to MWF, much more lather, very tiny bubbles but still, not enough lather!

    Williams - The Good
    Good Williams, good lather!

    Here, I tried to capture how much water I have in my bowl, around 1/4 teaspoon, maybe 1/2 teaspoon top.

    I still have some bubbles but I need to work it a bit

    That lather is better and now look a bit dry

    I added a bit more water (a few drops using my fingers) and here's the result!

    Again, close up of the lather, if I blow some air between my fingers, the lather doesn't fly away

    Tips and tricks!

    • Try to make a few bowls of lather when you have time, not when you need it.
    • If you can't get the lather right, try to do a batch by using less water and add water little by little. It's easier to fix lather when it's too dry than too wet
    • If it's runny or too dry, it might still work, we all have different taste in how we like the lather
    • Williams need less water than MWF...
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2010
  2. Luc, another excellent "tutorial"....having a side by side comparison of too much/little water really shows the differences.:thumbup:

    When I started with DE's and "real" shaving the other tutorials certainly helped but this would have speeded up the process of finding my water:soap ratios a bit.
  3. Good post and findings. I have found using Williams w/ room temp to cool water helps build the lather better.
  4. This is pretty awesome. I'm currently focusing on my lathering technique, so I'll probably refer to this a few times! Thanks Luc!
  5. Great post Jeremy. :thumbup1:
  6. Don


    Thanks Luc! :thumbup1:
  7. +1

    Thanks for putting this tutorial together Luc. :thumbup1::tongue_sm
  8. Nothing like Pictures!!!!:thumbup:
  9. Great post!
    BTW, nice lather bowl! Where did you get it, if I may ask?
  10. Luc

    Luc Moderator Emeritus

    Thanks gents!!

    It was one of those liquidation shelves... I bought it at a store named House in Melbourne CBD. I think I paid them $0.75 each, I bought the whole stock (5 bowls). Only 3 are still alive...
  11. It's not clearly visible with 'good' MWF lather, but it still has a fine bubbly structure. (Look closely at the length of the index finger.) And it is that structure which relegates it to levels of mediocrity with me. When rubbed between the fingers you feel the soap is actually nice and smooth, indicating a good amount of soap and inviting a good shave, but when applied to my stubble I liken what happens next to sticking hundreds of pins into as many balloons: all bubbles burst and/or coalesce. Within a minute or two the lather is a dry, crackling, scaly mass without any shaveworthy qualities whatsoever.

    I want lathers to be smooth solid masses of whipped cream-like appearance. I can coax such a lather from MWF, but then it's far too wet and cannot hold together well. If MWF were to change its recipe that such a lather would result with a modest amount of water I would probably hoard it like there was no tomorrow.
  12. Great post. I think a lot of new folks get fooled by "The Ugly" once they've been burned by "The Bad".

    Also, with some soaps, I notice I'll get better results if I tend towards lather that may not be picture perfect, but the resulting "flawed" lather shaves well. PC soaps shave better for me when they are slightly too dry to make photogenic lather.

    It's that old YMMV thing.
  13. I can achieve a bubble lather like that with the current production Williams as well. I have never considered such a lather to be anywhere near adequate for shaving.

    I always thought I must be doing something wrong, as I don't get the rich, creamy, dense lather I can get from most other products.

    Based upon this thread, it would appear that maybe that bubbly lather is as good as it gets for modern day Williams.
  14. Someone's been a busy boy :biggrin1:

    Fantastic tutorial Luc...well done ! :thumbup:

    ( Now get outside..... :lol: )
  15. Luc

    Luc Moderator Emeritus

    I could always try to make some more lather this week and take a closer picture but I don't think that MWF/Williams lather is bad at all.

    Unless I'm missing both points, let me know how it should look like as I don't see any problem with the two "good" lather. I use them both like that... Unless we have different tastes in lather...
  16. Fantastic comparisons there Luc.. Good work :thumbup:
  17. SliceOfLife

    SliceOfLife Contributor

    I can get better lather than that appears to be out of Williams if I put in the effort, but it is more effort than it is worth for me. My lather looks like "the ugly" but more voluminous, which makes me suspect the main difference is that I use more soap than you when I lather Williams.

    The MWF lather looks like what I'm used to from it. It maxes out for me in the same area as a quality clear soap. And Clear soaps win on the scent factor. Really the only soaps I still own and use are Clear soaps (Mama B, Kells O... the other good ones I've yet to try), Vintage Williams, Vintage Old Spice, Charismata, Tabac, and IM. Safari stays in the rotation just because I have so damn much of it. :lol:

    I may be forgetting a couple, but those are the ones that spring to mind.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2010
  18. That last line is in a manner of speaking the point, although it's not a matter of taste as we all know and use it on this forum. It's not like there should be a little more water, or a little less; no, the very structure of good MWF lather appears to be incompatible with my face (and that of others). I do not have an adequate physical explanation for it, but strongly believe that the answer lies in its bubbly texture, even if the bubbles are very small.

    A second point would be, given your offer to take more images, that if a more compatible structure were to be coaxed from MWF, namely a solid mass of firm white matter, without any bubbles visible, however tiny—say what you would get from Tabac, or Taylor cream, or basically 95% of all soaps and creams I've tried to date—then it still doesn't work with me because such a structure is too wet and cannot hold together if not stirred and agitated all the time.

    I very much appreciate you taking the time to make the images for it will help others realise that MWF lather looks a bit different than what they might be used to, and therefore I don't think taking other images is worthwhile because I don't think one can shave with the resulting lather.
  19. Luc, I think your photos are fine.

    I was always under the impression that I should be expecting a lather from modern Williams that looked similar to the creamy, thick, goodness of Tabac. When I instead got the lather with small bubbles in it, as shown in your photos, I assumed I was doing something wrong.

    I was always waiting for someone to post a photo of Williams lather that would wow me, and convince me I should work harder to make modern Williams work; mostly I saw photos of lather similar to yours.

    Apparently the lather from modern Williams doesn't get any better than your pictures show: and I have never personally considered that bubbly lather to be good enough to shave with, hence my intense hatred for the current version of Williams Mug Soap (made deeper by my understanding of how good the soap once was).

    If the bubbly lather works great for you, and others on the board, that's wonderful; but for me I don't consider it good enough. :tongue_sm
  20. Luc

    Luc Moderator Emeritus

    All good, thanks for the input!:thumbup1:

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