You Live in a Tube of Lies

I am still, at this late date, in the process of comprehending the paradigm shift in lathering, that was historically precipitated by the invention of shaving cream. As a Williams user and one whose skin isn't fond of glycerin in soap, the significance of natural moisturizing factor in creating lather entered my awarenees rather quietly. Barely an epiphany, hardly worthy of obsession. Cans, of course, were absolute evil... no, I could even be persuaded to use Barbasol, on occasion.

In the course of my liberal practice of the lathering arts, then did I come to realize the extreme relative ease of dissolving soap into water, versus adding water to a matrix of bubbles. I began to think of "loading" in terms of the starting quantity of water, and THAT was the fulcrum of the shift in my mind. It only gained momentum, from there. As I worked out the signals that predict whether a given soap solution has the potential to become lather, there was no need to "make lather" in the bowl at all, not even for proving purposes. The mechanics of using a brush to generate, then transfer non-aerated -- well, slightly foamy -- fluid from puck to bowl, and bowl to face became automatic, and I was finally at liberty to fill the bowl, not with airy foam, but enough wet mix of soap and water to shave four passes, including my scalp, and take a sponge bath afterward, if desired.

So you might think my soap pucks are in serious decline at this point, right? Not at all. Even though I bought a little soap cup specifically to help me finish off some nuggets of remnant soap I had been trying to use in my palm, it still took for goddamn ever. My autumn favorite, Italian Barber Sandalwood for Sensitive Skin, lasted well into winter. Simple enrichments seem very effective at prolonging soap life; so also, a glycerin puck that someone returned to me as an unused gift is putting up a tremendous fight as the winter continues, while Williams and Fine are most visibly diminished. The latter are also noticeably more concentrated in use, suggesting that I have some technical refinements to make, still.

It Depends What The Meaning of "Lather," Is

I do think the weight and bulk of principle is presently within my ability to communicate. First and foremost, the word "lather" has other, legitimate meanings, and historically may not have resembled anything that currently comes out of a can, or is "built" by hand. And I don't mean, wet lather or thin lather. I mean, large bubbles piling up on a fluid surface. That is the meaning used in the soap titration test for water hardness, which actually parallels the first step in my lathering process. By stirring gently until bubbles of some quantity and stability form, I know that I have overcome water hardness, at least.

I believe this meaning of "lather" further justifies the terrible Williams manufacturer instructions. I have documentary evidence of at least one elderly professional who is content to go to work with just suds. But for me, and probably most of us, a leap of faith is required, in the hope that this pitifully thin fluid will thicken when combined with the oil in skin. I look for bubbles of such firmness and quantity that they expand the brush, causing the fluid to climb up into it. It's not a direct assay, like titration.

The Problem

There, I believe, is precisely where tradition failed, eroded by a river of insipid observations and practices that everyone who knew no better could agree upon. Collectively known as, the internet forum. I've found this pattern copied in traditional fasting, popularized now as intermittent fasting (skipping meals) and ketogenic diet (bye-bye, gallbladder). And everyone brewing kombucha like it's beer: "Throw away the pellicle, it's just a byproduct." The government will be absolutely correct to regulate that shit soda out of existence. Loading soap paste into a brush is just plain wrong. There was never really supposed to be anything like shaving cream there; you expose a valuable tool to an unnecessary risk of losing bristles, and your skin to an unnecessary risk of chemical insult.

It's actually surprising, to me, how infrequently tradition falls on the wrong side of issues. Circumcision comes to mind, but religion is obviously at the root of that. Someone deliberately confounded tradition with authority, then represented it as popular. You can fool most of the people, some of the time, but lay education will probably sort that out yet; that is, time is on the foreskin's side. They may have mutilated me, and maybe I hadn't completely figured that out before seeing it on Netflix; but I still had enough sense (or sensation) not to let them get my son.

At the heart of authentic tradition is this kind of safeguard against the fake news, when you receive the information from someone you personally trust. The best assurance I can give you, unfortunately, is that whenever I tell people they're doing supposedly traditional activities incorrectly, using no reference but experience, the information is wildly unpopular. Thank goodness, you can try making lather my way without losing anything important!