It Smells Like Victory

My Micro-matic stubble was quite tolerable, if not perfect, and my skin really liked the low-angle treatment. So I gave it a go with my new method this morning, and was even more pleased, with a close, casual two-pass shave. I made sure to keep the angle low ATG and not push it this time.

The end of my little storage cup of old, store-brand Noxzema afforded me the perfect opportunity for some mixing experiments. I'm pretty sure the "urea" smell that I've been attributing to my own sweet self actually emanates from the cleanser, especially when it reacts with soap. Ammonium Hydroxide is in the middle toward the end of the ingredients on my replacement tub. Pure urea has no odor: it releases ammonia in the presence of water. DMDM Hydantoin, a little further down in the list, is also a carbamide, but it puts off formaldehyde.

So I think we can begin to move to some theories as to why the "'Murican Shave" is so effective on my thin skin and wiry beard. I think what I've done with this particular layering, of 1) Noxzema absorbed into skin, 2) shaving oil dabbed and rubbed in, and 3) juice and baking soda last, is to recreate an "acid mantle" one step removed from the usual location, in the NMF. Noxzema penetrates and raises the pH, and probably kills everything, too; oil takes the place of skin, as a crude, temporary barrier; and pumpkin takes the place of the acid-producing bacteria. Baking soda is a substitute for the salt in ocean water -- where I once noticed my stuble breaking off in my hand when I rubbed my face -- but with the benefit of not killing lather.

I don't think I was wrong about the value of my own substance, though. Recollecting those great summer shaves: Skin, made more permeable and oily by solar-generated vitamin D3. Urea percolating up through the tissue, deposited with salt on the surface as sweat. Bacteria flying everywhere and having a heyday on my face. 

Alcohol splash (I recommend the Veg for authentic sweat, Florida Water for the synthetic version) slaps it all back into natural alignment, displacing the watery layers back into the skin structure.

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