Comprehensive Guide to achieving delightfully hot, meringue like lather.
Please do not take anything in the following pictorial guide to be “set in stone.” The beauty of wet shaving is having fun, and keeping things enjoyable. If you choose to use this method of generating lather… please make sure you enjoy doing it! Wet shaving is about making a mundane daily chore, something fun, and enjoyable. When wet shaving is turned into a scientific method, it becomes drab, and mundane. Ok, enough of my jabbering, here goes…
Section 1 – Keep it hot!
The most important factor in successful lather is keeping it hot! Cold lather is like a warm popsicle… just does not work! I personally use a Rival water boiler I purchased at Target. It ran me somewhere around $10, and has been one of the most useful wet shaving tools I have bought. It takes around a minute or so to get the water to a rolling boil…. Defiantely faster and more convenient than a microwave, especially since you can turn the heat down whilst shaving and have nice hot water on hand at any time if you need a quick hot recharge!
Here are some pictures of the boiler in action
As you can see it immediately kicks in action and you can see little bubbles start to form at the bottom of the water near the heat element.
After 30 seconds you can see the water begins to get cloudy as the temp rapidly rises
At 1 min, you have boiling water at your disposal.
Once you have got boiling water, it is important to keep as much hot water as possible on the badger hair right up until you are ready to begin building lather. To do this, I insert the dry brush into a coffee mug then pour water into the mug until the hot water reaches the top of the bristles. I let it sit for about 30 seconds to a minute to warm up the brush and mug, then I dump the water out of the mug, and then repeat the process. This is important, as the first time the hot water is poured into the mug, a good portion of the heat is lost heating up the cold mug, hence the actual water temp inside the mug is not quite high enough for our intended purpose.
I then pour some of the hot water into the shaving bowl I aim to produce lather in, again, in order to keep it hot! It is surprising how much better of a lather is generated in a hot bowl VS a cold/room temp bowl or mug.
As the brush and bowl continue their heat bath, I use some of the remaining hot water to soak a towel and place the towel on my face whist I contemplate which cream I am going to choose. On this particular day I decided to go with a tub of Taylors Eton College.
At this point, I dump the water from the bowl and continue with section 2…
Section 2 – Keep it wet!
Now, the business portion of the lathering process. I grab my mug and pull the drenched, molten lava hot brush out of the mug and give it 2-3 good shakes into the sink to get the excess water out of the brush.
When finished shaking, there should be no dripping from the brush and it should not seem TOO burdened with water. This process is VERY forgiving in that you cannot shake TOO much water out of the brush, as you always have a rival water boiler full of hot water ready to replenish needed water at any point in the actual lathering process. Water ratios of cream to water are incredibly difficult to master, so I bypass it.
I then take the hot brush and place it in the tub of cream and lightly push down and twist my brush once to load it with cream. Please note in this picture I am using a Vulfix super badger brush, so the bristles are very soft. You can see how much they are flexed… unless you have a soft reference, do not use this as a reference, as with a stiffer brush, with that much flex you will have twisted out way too much shave cream.
Please note that there is NO water left in the cream, even though the wet brush was inserted into the cream. When using my method, with several good shakes to rid the brush of access water, and the quick twist method of getting cream out of the tub, no access water is left in the cream. Sorry for spending so much time on this subject, but many gents have had problems in this area, so please take note of the lack of water.
The quick twist loaded my brush with the optimal amount of cream. I tend to use much less cream when using this method, than when scooping it out with my finger, or squeezing it out of a tube. It is much less wasteful, and will still give you optimal lather!
Now it is time to start the “swirl” process.
Here is the brush after one clockwise swirl
Two clockwise swirls
Third clockwise swirl
At this point I decide I am not getting a prolific enough amount of lather. Notice above how the lather looks chalky and a bit dry? Look in the bowl, it is not soupy at ALL (not that you want it soupy) but it is quite clear there is not enough water in the brush and bowl to build the “optimal” lather… but hey, with my method, this is no big deal, just a splash of hot water from the rival water boiler into the bowl….
The splash of water added
Now here is a picture after another 10 or so clockwise swirls of varying pressure…. NOW we are getting somewhere!
After about another 10-15 swirls with a “pump” or two (pushing the brush downward into the bowl to squash the bristles out and force the cream upwards into the hair of the brush) some seriously dense, hydrated, lubricated, meringue like lather.
Take note of the “peaks” in the bowl and how they support themselves. The lather is so dense and thick that it is able to easily support its own weight.
Notice how DEEP the thick lather penetrates the brush! You will occasionally see pics of guys generating lather, always look at how deep and loaded the brush is, not just what is on ones hand. There are a good 8-9 passes in that sucker EASY, and I am using less cream than those who use a kidney bean sized portion…
One swipe across my hand (this is not to show a further build of lather, this is to show what ones face would look like after X amount of swipes)
10 Swipes (Again note the amount of lather still in the brush)
When lathering on your face, with circular motions etc, you will get a MUCH better result than me painting swipes of cream on my hand. If desired, you should be able to generate immense lofty gobs of lather on your face than will put shame to anything from a can.
This process should work with any cream and any brush. Since you start with less water, it is much easier, as it is very difficult to make to “wet” of a mixture. It is easy to add water from the boiler at anytime, where as with other methods, it is messy and a pain to add more cream in the middle of lathering.
As always if anyone has any questions or would like further clarification, feel free to speak up!