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What Was Your Cream Today?


Heretical, I know, and, hypothetically if everyone were to do this it would annihilate the shaving brush industry, leading to the downfall of shaving/civilization as we know it -- but, as an empiricist it had to be tried. And WOW, was that nice! I can actually use about half as much shaving cream as I would generating a lather to get a nice, thick, slick coverage.

I've found that for every day shaving, when I have perhaps 2mm of beard growth, the loft provided by lather doesn't seem to be nearly as key a factor in the quality of my shaves as slickness and skin-protection balanced just right for each razor and blade combination. On the other hand, if I have several days longer beard growth, then the first pass IS influenced by lather loft.

I first noticed when I picked up a bottle of Dr. Bronners Pure Castile liquid soap last week, that if I lathered it up with a brush, it wasn't as thick, slick and protective as when I simply smoothed it on with my palm (and I ended up enriching the lather with a few drops of glycerin, which is a whole other story -- works like a charm for almost every lather). Viola! Dr. Bronners liquid castile soap provides a better shave simply smoothed on in liquid form, rather than lathered. I have also recently been experimenting with shaving using Musgo real lime glyce, which barely lathers yet provides a deliciously slick and good shave, as well as shaving with other pre-shaves alone: Proraso, Noxzema, corn huskers lotion. If I got better performance simply by smoothing Dr. Bronners on, why not try that technique with EVERY OTHER shaving cream?! So, today I tried it with the Bigelow (Proraso Green), and my experience with Dr. Bronners was repeated! First, I applied Proraso PreShave Green. Then, using 1/6-1/4 the shaving cream than I would have to bowl-lather, I got a full, rich, thick cream coverage which provided what seemed a slicker, more protective beard/face cover for a better shave (with my Futur, set on 4.5 with an Astra blade). I reapplied the same amount of shaving cream smoothed on via palm for pass two (most days I do two passes, WTG and XTG). Wow, what a fantastic shave! Super smooth, and I felt my skin was better protected than having used the same prep except for lathering the Proraso cream. And, I got a deliciously bracing, double Proraso menthol blast (although I can't yet tell you whether my mentholization experience was any different between lathered and unlathered Proraso cream).

Now I need to try it with all my creams.

Clearly, applying traditional shaving creams simply by smoothing on by hand loses the joys, sensual delight, and control you get when you carefully construct a lather, and the heat which comes from the scuttle, as well as elevated scent distribution and sensation. Big losses, to be sure -- and, for those for whom loft is critical to shave quality, this whole discussion may be moot. (Hmm, I wonder what percentage of shavers this really refers to? There's also the matter of prep: I shave after showering and scrubbing my face with a scruffing cloth. When I don't do that, I notice how much better shave quality I get from the action of the brush on my face). BUT, you also save several minutes, and get what I think, at least in these two experiences, is increased performance in slickness and skin protection, using significantly less product.

Essentially, this information suggests traditional/real shaving creams have even more uses, features, and benefits to more users than previously recognized. Here's how I suggest traditional/artisanal shaving cream marketers use this information to sell more product:
  1. Another way real/traditional shaving creams can be used is by smoothing them on by hand.
  2. In a rush? Cost conscious? Travelling? Smoothing on shaving cream saves time and money, requiring a fraction of the product, neither brush, bowl, nor lathering, yet provides a great shaving experience -- preferred by some.
  3. Exploring traditional shaving products? Newbie? You can apply traditional shaving creams (just one would industrial shave-goops) by hand, and still get many of the benefits of real, high-quality shaving cream. Having discovered for themselves the advantages and pleasure of real shaving cream, most shavers go on to love it even more brush lathered and brushed on.
After scouring this site the last three months, I haven't seen discussions on this subject yet. Have there been? Has anyone else experimented with non-lathered application of shaving creams? Any results? USEFUL, THOUGHTFUL and CONSTRUCTIVE feedback is much appreciated.
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