View Full Version : Oddball lather problems
07-11-2011, 06:47 PM
I just recently picked up straight razor shaving, starting with a shavette (bad call) and the usual VDH set from walgreens (better call) and just recently moving up to the VDH Luxury kit that came out.
Now it's not the actual whipping up lather that's the issue, given that central florida water is hard enough that you could hone a razor with a faucet I do expect the extra effort it takes. The problem is that to get pretty much anything I need to load my brush until it's basically pasted together at the end which is a bit much even for hard water, and that no matter what I do with my bowl I always wind up making tons of lather in the bowl and barely any on the very end of the brush let alone IN it.
The lather I get eventually is really nice, but I need to basically use the brush like a spoon and paintbrush to get it on my face since under normal circumstances I only ever get a very bubble-bathish froth inside the brush itself and trying to use it like every video (matic's included) does this (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/3/img20110623031542.jpg/[/url). The exception seems to be if I actually work to whip up a lather in the apothecary mug itself on top of the soap puck, which uses WAY too much of the soap and tends to get me a lather that's too rich (closer to soap paste) and doesn't shave as well.
The fact that I do eventually get a really nice lather, just in the bowl and only on the ends of the brush (where it promptly gets forced onto the outside and down to the handle) is what throws me off. I'm wondering both if it's the brush itself in which case I'm looking to step up to a nicer one anyway, or if it's the fact that the bowl is wide but practical a hemispherical gentle curve inside that prevents the brush from shoving lather into itself like the much sharper angles of other lathering vessels.
My advice would be practice. From the picture, it looks like you are not using enough product and water...
I would suggest to visit the tutorials and maybe check the water page in Wiki.
07-11-2011, 07:11 PM
I can personally attest to the challenges faced when lathering in the Orlando area, I really feel for you. The water is hard and very sulfury, yuck!!! I tried several high end products with mixed results. You are going to have to try different things like Luc says (soap:water ratios) and even some minor water treatment like heating the water to remove temporary hardness, etc.. If you can, try using some distilled bottle water what lathering would be like in a different place. With practice, you will get it to work in the end.
07-11-2011, 07:19 PM
What Luc said!
I think it is a combination of brush, water, soap, lathering container, and experience. It sounds like your brush has too much water in it. Have you tried face lathering? Let us know how you start to solve this problem. I use a rather shallow lathering bowl, so there is no problem in getting the brush to smoosh into the lather at the bottom of the bowl.
Go West Young Man
07-11-2011, 08:39 PM
I would just grab some bottled water to lather with - you can still prep and rinse with tap water, just use the good stuff to make your lather with.
07-11-2011, 08:49 PM
I don't have the problem, but if I'd do the distilled water thing too if I had the problem. A gallon is only a few dollars and it'll last a very long time if only used for lathering. Pretty much any pharmacy should have DW.
07-11-2011, 10:52 PM
Yep, sounds like the hard water is playing its toll. Your brush may need a cleaning, though, if it's not retaining that much lather internally. You can either use a diluted borax or white vinegar solution with hot water and see if that helps. Just soak it for a couple minutes, agitating frequently. If that doesn't help, try what these guys are mentioning or just upgrade the brush.
Btw, do you get the same results when you hand or face lather?
Have you done the 'mantic progression' if I may coin the term? Where he took a mug and went from pure soap, adding water a little at a time until he ended up swishing soapy water around with the brush? I have hard water from a well here and the way I finally found the right ballpark for water to soap ratio was to do just that. Now that I've got an idea of how much water is appropriate, I use less product to get the same amount of lather. And when I do get it wrong and don't load enough/use too much water (hey it's not an exact science!) I'll just go back to the puck for a few swirls mid-shave. Better than wasting it by loading too much the first time.
07-12-2011, 12:25 AM
Personally I find that pushing down my brush while lather loads it very nicely.
I'm not the best latherer or the most experienced shaver, but with a minimal amount of water and some time put aside for lathering, you should be fine if you just follow Mantic59's instructions. That's how I learned!
07-12-2011, 12:35 AM
What kind of soap are you using? Do soak your brush before using? If your brush is too dry you can load forever and get very little soap. Also, if the brush is too dry, it won't hold lather as well either. I soak my badger and boar brushes in hot tap water for at least 15 minutes...I'm sure less time is needed, but I soak as I shower.
There are very few problems more product won't fix...
07-13-2011, 01:44 AM
That's the reason I called it an oddball problem... my issue isn't with making lather itself, the stuff I can whip up is slicker than a senator in an election year and lasts practically forever. The problem is the lather I make either stays in the bowl or on the end of the brush, and when I try to apply it to my face what lather is inside the brush winds up on the "outside" of the brush as it's pressed against my face. That's what's going on in that picture I linked to, there was plenty of lather... it just all worked it's way to the outside of the brush and back up the bristles towards the handle instead of getting spread on my face.
That's why I wondered if maybe my bowl having such a slight slope could be the issue, the bristles just spread out and run up the sides when I stir instead of being pushed inwards like with a mug or more sharply angled bowl, or just the VDH brush being as much a quality item as their boar brush. I'd figure if it was my lather itself then I wouldn't get just mountains of the stuff lasting long and shaving great, but at the same time if the lather's coming out that good why do I need to use my brush more as a spoon than how it ought it work...
07-13-2011, 01:53 AM
I couldn't get the VDH to do any good with lathering.
Get the Truefitt & Hill sampler, it has shaving cream not soap, it is VERY easy to get lathered. Once you get to know what you are looking for get a puck of Col Conk and make it happen. That is exactly what I did.
Also, I do a hybrid between bowl lather and face lather. I work up some lather in a bowl, but face lather, supplementing from the bowl when it starts getting thin.
07-13-2011, 08:27 AM
Try using a lighter touch while lathering. I think you are wringing the brush out into the bowl.
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