I had an outstanding shave last night, and other than my brush (Rooney 3/1 Super), blade (Gillette 7 O'Clock SharpEdge), and razor (I rotate, but have been sticking with the Bull Mastiff/NEW combo lately), EVERYTHING was different from my normal routine. So much so, that I may just RETHINK said routine, because my previously held conceptions were WAY off. Below are my regular steps on the left, and last night's on the right:
Shower - No shower
Proraso Sul Filo del Rasoio glycerin soap - Musgo Real Lime Glyce soap
Proraso Pre cream (left on) - sample of Razorantium goop (some weird brushless shave cream...)
(nothing in this step) - Hot wet towel left on face for five minutes with Razorantium
CREAM (TOBS, Musgo, Proraso, etc.) - SOAP (Austin Blend, from Saint Charles Shave)
bowl lather - face lather
Four+ passes (including touch-up) W/X/ATG(x2) - Three passes plus touch-up
cold rinse/alum/cold rinse - cold rinse/alum/cold rinse (ok, that was the same)
Kiehl's Blue astringent - Thayer's Rose witch hazel
Proraso or Musgo Real splash and/or balm - Aqua Friggin' Velva
decent, sometimes BBS shave, often with irritation - amazingly close and comfortable shave with NO irritation
I tell ya, it was night and day...I didn't have to obsess over getting all the little trouble spots and do post-shave touch up...the shave was DFS+ (not quite BBS, but I wasn't even TRYING). The soap built the best lather I've gotten, soap or cream, and was thick, had the right amount of cushion and WAY more glide than usual. The face lathering felt great, and I got way more "brush time" than usual. I had no razor burn, no nicks or weepers (I usually don't anyway, but I always have an irritated neck). The cleanup was fast and minimal compared to all the rigamarole with showering, cleaning up all the "stuff" I leave about, rinsing the bowl, etc. I got more done quicker, and with better results. I also loved every second of the new experiences.
I just may convert to soaps and face lathering eventually, but I was most definitely a "cream and bowl" guy. Now, I will be looking into adding soaps to my rotation for sure. The SCS soap performed so well and was so easy to use that once I'm in the need, Sue will be my first stop. I was always put off of using soaps because I thought they'd take a lot more work (the one I had, from a local hipster soap place, performed miserably every time I had used it).
My advice to anyone on the fence one way or the other...definitely give it a shot and mix up your routine sometime...you just may find new aspects to shaving that you didn't think you'd like and you just might find you regular routine lacks something you never knew was "off".
Austin, thanks for turning me on to a whole new world!