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Soap, Cream and everything

I finally became a member after several years of reading the forums in badger and blade, so that I can share some of the things that I have learned in my 30 plus years of wet shaving.

I have shaved with a safety double edge razor for the better part of 30 years. I have also shaved with a straight razor and the multiple blade plastic cartridges. I use the safety double edge razor as my preferred daily shaving instrument. I have also made my own soaps.

I believe that half of the process of shaving is good lathering, therefore I will begin with this subject. There is a lot of dialogue in the forums about shaving soaps and creams, there is also mention of using only oil.

I believe that a good lather provides the slickness (friction reductions) of oils but it makes the experience less oily. It is easier to wash off lather than oil. Lather contains water, water hydrates the beard whiskers, the combination of water and oil soften the whiskers better than only water or only oil. Lather also allows you to keep track of the areas that you have already shaved, oil by itself makes it harder to keep track of these areas. A good lather also give you other benefits like cushion. Cushion is a very misunderstood concept. Cushion is the property of the lather that keeps the beard whisker in a position that makes the blade more effective in cutting them. Cushion is proportional to the amount of air trapped in the lather as micro-bubbles. Good quality natural oils in the lather keep the skin more hydrated counteracting the drying effect of the soap.

Understanding the basics of how soap works helps with producing the right lather for your shave. A good lather is important for a good shave. A good lather does not have to be expensive.

Lather is a colloidal of water, soap, oil(s) and air. Soap allows the oils to be emulsified into the water and the agitation with the brush introduces the air.

Having full control of the properties of the shaving lather (cream, not foam) is important. You can achieve this control by combining your preferred amounts of water, oils and soap to make the lather that is right for you. You can also add any scented oils to your individual preference.

Water, soap, oil(s) and a good brush is all you need. An unscented soap (or lightly scented) that contains either tallow or stearic fatty acid and lauric acid is sufficient (the best ratio of stearic to lauric is 80% to 20%). Soap is fatty acids and sodium hydroxide and/or potassium hydroxide.

Many commercially available commodity soaps meet this criteria, for example palmolive, irish spring, etc. Also hand made soaps that contain stearic and lauric fatty acids will work and all the more pricey specialty shaving soaps will also work.

Shaving creams that lather are premix soap, oils, water, scents and preservatives.

Many people use preshave oil(s) this improves the shaving soap or cream to make a better lather. You do not need to use a preshave oil(s).

There is no need to make things too complicated or mysterious.

You can start with this base proportions:

15 ml of water
3.5 ml olive oil
Commercial commodity soap (if you use specialty shaving soap reduce the amount of olive oil because they are super fatten, they contain extra oils in the formula to make the lather)

Optional

2 to 8 drops of scent oils like menthol, clove, agar, sandalwood, etc. This is optional.

Use a bowl. Place the water and the olive oil in the bowl, wet the brush with the water and oil. Charge the brush with soap and return to the bowl. Whisk the brush in the bowl. Repeat 2 to 3 time.

Continue to whisk the brush in the bowl until you have the consistency you prefer. Apply to your face.

Adjust the amounts of water, olive oil and the times you charge the brush with soap to your preference, this gives you full control of the properties of the lather.

Thank you for allowing me to share.
 
I'm also fairly new here. Thank you for your insightful post and welcome to the forum.

I was able to drastically improve my shaving experience through sheer luck. A while ago I was looking for glycerin as a brush cleaning agent and mistakenly bought a skincare product which contained glycerin but also had other ingredients. Namely olive oil and allantoin. Somehow I wasn't sure whether to use it on the brush so I decided I might just as well use it as a pre shave product.

I have since changed my routine from a simple to warm water splash to 1. face wash with exfoliating cleanser to remove skin debris and 2. a small dab of the glycerin, olive oil, allantoin product on the areas to be shaved. I let the product absorb for a couple of minutes. I then bowl lather and paint my face for the shave.

This has led to zero to very minimal post shave irritation, no nicks or weepers, and sufficiently hydrated skin post shave. No matter the blade I use. The glycerin skin care product is not liquid, it actually looks like a clear, watery gel. It is very lightly scented and has been the best pre shave routine for me.

I don't believe this particular product is available in the US, I bought it from Hong Kong, but I believe any Glycerin based product would be a good addition to a pre shave routine. Glycerin is generally very well tolerated and shouldn't cause any contact irritation.
 
I'm also fairly new here. Thank you for your insightful post and welcome to the forum.

I was able to drastically improve my shaving experience through sheer luck. A while ago I was looking for glycerin as a brush cleaning agent and mistakenly bought a skincare product which contained glycerin but also had other ingredients. Namely olive oil and allantoin. Somehow I wasn't sure whether to use it on the brush so I decided I might just as well use it as a pre shave product.

I have since changed my routine from a simple to warm water splash to 1. face wash with exfoliating cleanser to remove skin debris and 2. a small dab of the glycerin, olive oil, allantoin product on the areas to be shaved. I let the product absorb for a couple of minutes. I then bowl lather and paint my face for the shave.

This has led to zero to very minimal post shave irritation, no nicks or weepers, and sufficiently hydrated skin post shave. No matter the blade I use. The glycerin skin care product is not liquid, it actually looks like a clear, watery gel. It is very lightly scented and has been the best pre shave routine for me.

I don't believe this particular product is available in the US, I bought it from Hong Kong, but I believe any Glycerin based product would be a good addition to a pre shave routine. Glycerin is generally very well tolerated and shouldn't cause any contact irritation.
What is the product you refer to?
 
What is the product you refer to?
It’s called Yu Bo Nian - Glycerin Skin Care. I haven’t been able to find it on any international online stores. I don’t think this product is sold outside of Hong Kong. But I believe any good vegetable glycerin product would work just as well.
 

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I'm also fairly new here. Thank you for your insightful post and welcome to the forum.

I was able to drastically improve my shaving experience through sheer luck. A while ago I was looking for glycerin as a brush cleaning agent and mistakenly bought a skincare product which contained glycerin but also had other ingredients. Namely olive oil and allantoin. Somehow I wasn't sure whether to use it on the brush so I decided I might just as well use it as a pre shave product.

I have since changed my routine from a simple to warm water splash to 1. face wash with exfoliating cleanser to remove skin debris and 2. a small dab of the glycerin, olive oil, allantoin product on the areas to be shaved. I let the product absorb for a couple of minutes. I then bowl lather and paint my face for the shave.

This has led to zero to very minimal post shave irritation, no nicks or weepers, and sufficiently hydrated skin post shave. No matter the blade I use. The glycerin skin care product is not liquid, it actually looks like a clear, watery gel. It is very lightly scented and has been the best pre shave routine for me.

I don't believe this particular product is available in the US, I bought it from Hong Kong, but I believe any Glycerin based product would be a good addition to a pre shave routine. Glycerin is generally very well tolerated and shouldn't cause any contact irritation.
Thanks for sharing.

Using oil(s) in the pre shave or as part of the lather gives a lubrication level that can not be obtained by only using soap or cream. Soaps and creams saponify the oils in their formulation into soap, over time the extra oil(s) in shaving soaps and creams will turn into soap and not provide the same lubrication effect; that is why using oil(s) just before shaving makes a great difference in lubrication and moisture retention.

All triglycerides contain glycerin. All eatable oils and fats are a combinations of triglycerides, they are fatty acids held together by a glycerin backbone molecule. When the triglycerides are combined with sodium hydroxide and/or potassium hydroxide they form soaps, this process frees the glycerin molecule and replace it with a sodium of potassium hydroxide making a salt that we call soap, the glycerin remains in the "soap matrix" unless the manufacturer removes it. Lathering shaving creams are a combinations of soaps, water, oil(s), fragrance and preservatives. The soap is necessary to form a lather because the soap is the emulsifier, allowing water and oils to merge into an emulsion. The emulsion can be whisked to incorporate air and form lather. Lather or cream is a colloid of an oil in water emulsion, think milk fat (cream) that can be whisked into fluffy whipped cream.

Using good quality oil(s) just before shaving makes the whole experience more placen. You are also in control of the proportions of oil to soap and water as well as the scent of your lather. Uncomplicated wholesome ingredients make a great difference in a lather and they tend to be less expensive that highly processes products.

If you cannot get the pre shave product you shown us in your local area, you can use a good quality extra virgin oil. I believe it will have a similar effect.

Thank you for allowing to share.
 
Thanks for sharing.

Using oil(s) in the pre shave or as part of the lather gives a lubrication level that can not be obtained by only using soap or cream. Soaps and creams saponify the oils in their formulation into soap, over time the extra oil(s) in shaving soaps and creams will turn into soap and not provide the same lubrication effect; that is why using oil(s) just before shaving makes a great difference in lubrication and moisture retention.

All triglycerides contain glycerin. All eatable oils and fats are a combinations of triglycerides, they are fatty acids held together by a glycerin backbone molecule. When the triglycerides are combined with sodium hydroxide and/or potassium hydroxide they form soaps, this process frees the glycerin molecule and replace it with a sodium of potassium hydroxide making a salt that we call soap, the glycerin remains in the "soap matrix" unless the manufacturer removes it. Lathering shaving creams are a combinations of soaps, water, oil(s), fragrance and preservatives. The soap is necessary to form a lather because the soap is the emulsifier, allowing water and oils to merge into an emulsion. The emulsion can be whisked to incorporate air and form lather. Lather or cream is a colloid of an oil in water emulsion, think milk fat (cream) that can be whisked into fluffy whipped cream.

Using good quality oil(s) just before shaving makes the whole experience more placen. You are also in control of the proportions of oil to soap and water as well as the scent of your lather. Uncomplicated wholesome ingredients make a great difference in a lather and they tend to be less expensive that highly processes products.

If you cannot get the pre shave product you shown us in your local area, you can use a good quality extra virgin oil. I believe it will have a similar effect.

Thank you for allowing to share.
Thank you for your elaborate explanation regarding the science. I think it is extremely useful knowledge to many, enabling a deeper understanding of the intricate processes involved. Lathering just became a "Lesson in Chemistry". Insights like yours are invaluable and just make this hobby an even more interesting and rewarding endeavor.

I have been recently playing around with some Large Language Models (colloquially dubbed "Artificial Intelligence, which it isn't) and have posed some questions of interest to an openGPT 4 model. One of the questions I 've asked has been whether Glycerin would be a good pre-shave routine addition. Note that pre-shave oils are also a recommendation by the LLM. Here's the reply of the LLM:

"Glycerin can be a useful ingredient in a pre-shave routine, as it helps to hydrate and soften the skin and hair, making it easier to shave. Glycerin is a humectant, which means that it attracts and holds moisture in the skin, helping to prevent dryness and irritation. It also has emollient properties, which means that it can help to smooth and soothe the skin.

To use glycerin as a pre-shave product, you can apply it directly to your skin or mix it with water to create a light mist. Allow the glycerin to absorb into your skin for a few minutes before shaving, to help hydrate and soften the hair and reduce friction between the razor and your skin.

While glycerin can be a useful pre-shave product, it is important to note that it may not be suitable for everyone. Some people may find that glycerin causes irritation or dryness, particularly if they have sensitive or acne-prone skin. If you are unsure about using glycerin as a pre-shave product, you can always test it on a small area of skin before using it on your entire face.

In addition to glycerin, there are many other pre-shave products that can help to prepare the skin and hair for shaving, including pre-shave oils, balms, and creams. Look for products that are made with high-quality ingredients and are suitable for your skin type, and always remember to test new products on a small area of skin before using them on your entire face."
 
Thank you for your elaborate explanation regarding the science. I think it is extremely useful knowledge to many, enabling a deeper understanding of the intricate processes involved. Lathering just became a "Lesson in Chemistry". Insights like yours are invaluable and just make this hobby an even more interesting and rewarding endeavor.

I have been recently playing around with some Large Language Models (colloquially dubbed "Artificial Intelligence, which it isn't) and have posed some questions of interest to an openGPT 4 model. One of the questions I 've asked has been whether Glycerin would be a good pre-shave routine addition. Note that pre-shave oils are also a recommendation by the LLM. Here's the reply of the LLM:

"Glycerin can be a useful ingredient in a pre-shave routine, as it helps to hydrate and soften the skin and hair, making it easier to shave. Glycerin is a humectant, which means that it attracts and holds moisture in the skin, helping to prevent dryness and irritation. It also has emollient properties, which means that it can help to smooth and soothe the skin.

To use glycerin as a pre-shave product, you can apply it directly to your skin or mix it with water to create a light mist. Allow the glycerin to absorb into your skin for a few minutes before shaving, to help hydrate and soften the hair and reduce friction between the razor and your skin.

While glycerin can be a useful pre-shave product, it is important to note that it may not be suitable for everyone. Some people may find that glycerin causes irritation or dryness, particularly if they have sensitive or acne-prone skin. If you are unsure about using glycerin as a pre-shave product, you can always test it on a small area of skin before using it on your entire face.

In addition to glycerin, there are many other pre-shave products that can help to prepare the skin and hair for shaving, including pre-shave oils, balms, and creams. Look for products that are made with high-quality ingredients and are suitable for your skin type, and always remember to test new products on a small area of skin before using them on your entire face."
Thank you for sharing and your appreciation of the information I have posted.

I hope, I am not turning our mutual hobby, which is a Zen activity to many, into only lessons in chemistry. My hope is to elucidate the principals of why some things work so that we, as a collective, can learn and apply the principles to experiment and improve our Zen experience. I hope to learn from the collective (B&B) about our mutual hobby and to contribute as best as I can.

I wish someone would have explained to me some of the basic principles when I started with wet shaving. Not that the basic principles are necessary to enjoy our hobby, but the principles help in separating usefulness from marketing hype.

I agree with you that artificial intelligence is more artificial and less intelligence ;), but it can be useful for somethings like gathering and summarizing information. Prudent judgement has to be applied to the summaries to make sense of the information and there is where we can all help each other in the community.

You are correct glycerin is an humectant (attract and retains water) and is also miscible in water, but is not as slick as oils. But glycerin can increase the slickness of soap and creams as a pre shave or as a component of the lather. Oils by themselves are clogging to the pores for most people and that is why lather which is a combination of oils, water, soap and air works best. Lather provides the oils in emulsion (oil microspheres suspended in water) and is easily to rinsed. Lather is an amazing structure that has been used for hundreds of years for shaving for this reason.

Glycerin is the backbone of all triglyceride oils:

1709353203741.png


Glycerin is also know as Glycerol.

Soap is a salt made from triglycerides and/or sodium (Na) hydroxide and/or potassium (K) hydroxide. The sodium and/or potassium replaces the glycerin in the reaction to make soap:

1709354544474.png


In this example of a soap molecule, Sodium Na has replaced the glycerin (glycerol) backbone. Is a matter of fact this is how glycerin is manufactured. After the sodium or potassium replaces the glycerin, the glycerin is available to be collected.

Soap is a salt with the peculiar property of attaching to oils and water at the same time on opposite ends of the molecule, and it is this property that makes it useful in our hobby to make lather.

1709354275509.png


You can see an animation at:


My simple point after a long winded presentation is:

Lather is an amazing structure that is very useful in our hobby and using extra oil(s) (triglycerides) with water and soap just before shaving in the preparation of the lather makes the lather better for shaving.

You can use glycerin as a pre shave or incorporate it to the lather to improve the slickness, but oil(s) will work a little better.
 
Thanks for sharing.

Using oil(s) in the pre shave or as part of the lather gives a lubrication level that can not be obtained by only using soap or cream. Soaps and creams saponify the oils in their formulation into soap, over time the extra oil(s) in shaving soaps and creams will turn into soap and not provide the same lubrication effect; that is why using oil(s) just before shaving makes a great difference in lubrication and moisture retention.

All triglycerides contain glycerin. All eatable oils and fats are a combinations of triglycerides, they are fatty acids held together by a glycerin backbone molecule. When the triglycerides are combined with sodium hydroxide and/or potassium hydroxide they form soaps, this process frees the glycerin molecule and replace it with a sodium of potassium hydroxide making a salt that we call soap, the glycerin remains in the "soap matrix" unless the manufacturer removes it. Lathering shaving creams are a combinations of soaps, water, oil(s), fragrance and preservatives. The soap is necessary to form a lather because the soap is the emulsifier, allowing water and oils to merge into an emulsion. The emulsion can be whisked to incorporate air and form lather. Lather or cream is a colloid of an oil in water emulsion, think milk fat (cream) that can be whisked into fluffy whipped cream.

Using good quality oil(s) just before shaving makes the whole experience more placen. You are also in control of the proportions of oil to soap and water as well as the scent of your lather. Uncomplicated wholesome ingredients make a great difference in a lather and they tend to be less expensive that highly processes products.

If you cannot get the pre shave product you shown us in your local area, you can use a good quality extra virgin oil. I believe it will have a similar effect.

Thank you for allowing to share.
Hi and Welcome to B&B! There is actually a lot of controversy here regarding the effectiveness of pre-shave oils and how they work with shaving soap lather. Recall a multiple fairly long thread on the topic with a lot of mixed views (link to one below).

Many of us don't understand exactly how a pre-shave oil and shaving soap lather will play well together to enhance a shave. Typically when soap and oils mix the hydophobic (repels water) end of the soap molecules will surround the fat/oil molecules leaving the hydrophilic (attracted to water) end available for easy rinsing away of the oils and fat. In fact most of us typically wash our faces prior to shaving to remove excess dirt and grease for a better shave.

Given this won't the presence of additional oil actually "use up" some of your shaving soap lather making it less effectiv? Lots of reports that use of too much pre-shave oil killed the lather. Lots of warnings about just using 2-3 drops of oil to avoid this that to me are saying in low quantities the lather degradation won't be that noticeable.

Also, for anyone who face lathers, as I do, I don't see how the act of building lather with a shaving soap isn't going to quickly remove any pre-shave oil from your skin as the soap molecules are mixed with and surround the oil during the face lathering process.

 
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