Getting the best shave of your life starts before you pick up your razor. After you’ve soaked your brush and prepared your face, you’re ready to build and apply lather to your face and neck.
Water, Water, Water
Building great lather is really all about water. It’s about having enough water on the brush to build a hydrated lather, but not so much that your lather ends up soupy.
Shake Your Brush
If you’re following along, right now your brush should be soaking in a bowl of warm water. Take the brush out of the bowl, and give it 1 or two shakes to get rid of the excess water. A good badger hair brush will retain enough water in the knot to get you started building your lather.
Load Your Brush
Shave Soap – If you’re shaving with a shave soap, you’ll want to swirl your brush onto the top of the puck of soap until the tips of your brush are thickly coated in soap.
Shave Cream – If you’re using a proper shave cream that doesn’t come from a spray can, you’ll need to load about an almond sized dallop of cream onto your brush.
Create a Lather
Creating your lather is an art, and it will take practice. To start, your bowl should not have any standing water, but it can be damp. Your brush should be loaded as described above. As you begin to swirl your brush in the bowl, the soap should start to build a lather. Keep swirling your brush until your lather covers the bristles of your brush completely when you take it out and look at it.
Here’s what to look for in a nice lather that is ready for shaving:
- Barely visible bubbles – If your bubbles are visible or large, you need to keep swirling
- A rich, wet appearance – Your lather should look very moist and rich. If it appears dull or dry, add a few drops of water
- Cover the brush – when you pull the brush out and look at the bristles, it should be completely saturated in lather. There shouldn’t be any gaps or spaces between the bristles
- A sturdy consistency – the lather should form soft peaks when you pull it out of the bowl
Here are a couple of pitfalls to avoid:
- No Mashing do not press down on your brush like it’s a butter churn. This will force excess water out of the brush, and it will quickly ruin the bristles
- Don’t use too much water I know earlier I said this was all about water, and it is, but you can always add more water, but you can’t take it out. Add your water slowly to avoid turning your soft peaks into soup.
This is probably the easiest, and most fun part of wet shaving!
Apply The Lather
Now that you’ve got your lather built, you’ll need to apply it to your face. Use the brush to apply the lather to the areas of your face that you want to shave. Here are some tips:
Don’t paint the lather onto your face, use small circular motions.
Use the ends of the brush to stimulate your face, this will help the hairs stand up, and the lather will hold them ready to be cut.
Should I use a Bowl?
You can create lather on your face, but to start we recommend using a heavy ceramic bowl. Even after years of wet shaving, I prefer to create my lather in a bowl. Cheap shave kits often come with a small tin bowl… throw it away, it’s pretty useless. A good shave bowl is thick enough to retain some heat to keep your lather nice and warm. It should also have some texture to the surface to assist in the creation of lather. To keep it warm, you can put the bowl in your sink soaking in hot water.
But there’s a better way…
Fill the shave scuttle with hot water from your tap, and the hot water radiates the heat into the shaving bowl, keeping your lather warm.
A scuttle is also designed with ridges on the inside to stimulate lather build-up!