Soap, Shaving, and Other Non-Crochet Things

This has nothing to do with Xanadoodle or crochet but since this is the only blog I’m currently maintaining I decided to put it here.

Last fall I discovered a fabulous subreddit called /r/wicked_edge.  At the time I was looking for a birthday present for my husband and I’d gotten fixated on the idea of his daily shaving routine.  He’s a big guy with a tough beard and he also happens to shave his head.  That’s a lot of hair removal that he does fairly frequently.

I’ve stood in the grocery store shaving aisle with him as he grimaced at various multi-blade cartridge razors, and tried to help suggest products and ingredients for pre- and post-shave skin care.  What I gleaned from all of this was a sense that shaving wasn’t comfortable.  It was a laborious task that had to be done and more often than not left him feeling bumpy and raspy.  He wasn’t getting the results that the chore deserved.

Now, I’m a bit of a bath product junkie.  I’ve often said that if I won the lottery my first big purchase would be the entire contents of a Walgreen’s store, just so I could try out every product.  I’ve even made and sold my own hand-crafted artisan cold process soaps (proof: my old Etsy store).  I’m not a particularly appearance-focused gal, and in spite of how it sounds I’m actually extremely low maintenance.  I like hygiene products and processes but I don’t like over-engineered solutions.  And there’s nothing more over-engineered than a multi-blade cartridge razor.

Which is why I ended up at Wicked Edge.  What I found was a dedicated and intelligent community that recognized that engineering doesn’t solve every problem.  Strongly focused around double edge safety razors, but also supporting single edge and straight razors, the community provides guidance and expertise for people who want a superior shaving experience.

I spent a couple of months doing research before making my decision.  I bought a Merkur 180, since it seems to be the most commonly recommended model for first-timers.  I also bought a Van Der Hagen badger brush, ceramic bowl and shaving soap.  Fortunately my husband was thrilled with the gift and we were both immediately amazed with his results.  No cartridge shave came close to what he gets out of a traditional wet shave.  His skin tone is smooth and even and he says it’s the first time he’s ever had a comfortable shave in the mustache region.  In the 10 years I’ve known him, I’ve never felt his skin so smooth and soft.  We’re sold!

Merkur Razor

And frankly, I’ve been so impressed that I’m now in the process of switching my leg shaving over to the DE experience.  To experiment I shaved one leg with the Merkur and the other leg with a Gillette Venus.  The Merkur was simply a closer shave and left my skin smoother, shinier and more even in tone.  So my next purchase is an Edwin Jagger De89.  My husband and I will duke it out over who gets it when it arrives.

But anyway, back to the soap thing.  Because I have a history with soaps and skin care I started thinking about shaving soaps.  While any soap experience should be suited for your skin, a shaving soap is going to get even closer, just by the nature of wet-shaving.  Why does this matter?  The next blog entry will be all about soap, cleansers and detergents, and why you should give a damn.


3 responses to “Soap, Shaving, and Other Non-Crochet Things

  1. Really glad to see how traditional shaving is making a come-back and that you’re sharing the interest with your husband. If you start making your own shaving soap please let wicked_edge know! Speaking for myself, try to avoid using clay (like bendonite and its derivatives) if you can: many people (such as myself) are sensitive to it.

    • You are correct, sir, clays are potential allergy sources. As with anything, your mileage may vary. It’s always best to start with the simplest set of ingredients so if you do have a reaction you can more easily identify what caused it. Clay is a bit like fragrance (covered in another entry) where the exact makeup doesn’t have to be exactly proven or reported. Which means there could be impurities that aren’t accounted for. There has been little scientific study invested in the effect or potential benefits of clay on skin, which means most of what we know is based on years of aggregated anecdotal evidence with no scientific controls in place in a testing environment.

      I’ve had pretty good luck with clays, and I’m a sensitive-skinned rosacea type. You never can tell. My preference is kaolin clay, which is primarily made up of aluminum oxide and silica. It’s a commonly used clay, found commercially in everything from cleansers to acne treatments to toothpaste. Most likely you’ve been exposed to kaolin clay in lots of applications and while dermatological reaction is definitely possible, you shouldn’t rule out the possibility that other ingredients in the recipe that contained the clay was the source of the reaction. Look for fragrances and other mix-ins like menthol, which is commonly found in men’s products.

      For shaving soaps there should be relatively small amounts of clay included in the recipe. I’m talking a tablespoon per pound of soap. Sometimes artisan soapmakers increase the quantity of their add-ins in the hopes of getting a magnified effect or marketing it as a differentiator. When it comes to shaving soap the clay is really just a lather enhancer. You don’t want so much in there that it becomes like a mask treatment. You just want a bit of clay to get a creamier, denser lather with smaller bubbles.

      I did a bit of searching and found a blog to support some of this because I wouldn’t want to be the sole source of information that influences someone’s buying decision.

  2. Pingback: The Art of Leg Shaving « That Thing I Like

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