shaving with bronner's
So I ran out of "real" shaving soap 2-3 weeks ago or so. I haven't had a day off in weeks, so I hadn't been able to go to my nearby (20 minutes away) shave & cigar shop to stock back up. I got online and ordered up a few pucks of Conk's Bay Rum and started considering my options.
I realized that I had a big bottle of Dr. Bronner's lavendar castille soap in the downstairs bath that we used generally for adding scent and cleaning power to an otherwise relaxation-oriented bath. I had, at one time or another, read all the crap written on the bottle, including the "18 uses" for the soap -- one of which was "shaving"...
I did a quick google (and B&B) search of shaving with Bronner's and I found more questions than answers. Lots of people were asking "what's it like to shave with castille /bronner's soap?" but nobody was really giving a straight-forward answer. So here I go.
I know the stuff is concentrated, and I took that into account. Here's my method:
1. Fill shallow (but thick-walled) 4" ceramic bowl with near-boiling water (to preheat the ceramic); let stand for a minute while I brush my teeth
2. Rinse brush and put into bowl to soak while I either shower or make tea (2 minutes or so)
3. Empty the bowl of water and give the brush a shake or two
4. Add 3 drops of Bronner's liquid lavendar castille soap and whisk with brush until quite frothy (approx 30 seconds)... I say "froth" because there's no real "lather"
5. Apply to face quickly and brush lightly to knock down excess "froth"
6. Shave WTG. Re-apply and shave XTG.
7. Rinse with cool water
I had some irritation the first day, but have always known that any major change in shaving technique will cause the face to rebel at first. So I kept with it for around 2 weeks. Today was the last time I will likely shave with Bronner's soap -- unless forced to again or on camping trips or the like.
The soap does not lend a very good consistency to the shave. The tiny bubbles tend to break into larger bubbles which slide down the face faster than a real lather. Bronner's also seems to strip all oils off the face -- not unlike some other shaving soaps, but it's something to be aware of. It leaves the face very very very dry! It also left my face prone to irritation -- though no more so than some other irritating shaving soaps. Exercising after shaving was never a good idea with this soap for some reason - it would always cause major redness to develop especially around the chin and upper lip areas.
Despite the lack of a real lather, the soap allowed the razor to slide across my face quite easily. There was never a stutter in the shave nor weepers or anything like that.
In summary, I would not use Bronner's as a daily shaving soap for extended periods. In a pinch, it works and might be "the soap" for someone out there. I'd suggest giving it a try and seeing if it agrees with your face.
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