Perfect Shave Trial #10: Eureka!

"But I smell-a nice!" I apologize to any Italian readers for that joke. Actually, an Italian gentleman, posting some time ago on G+, contributed to today's discovery by introducing me to the concept of applying rose water toner before shaving. He said it cleansed and prepared the face for the shave, but I incorrectly filed that information under "loose skin"... for future use.

In the last few "perfect shave" experiments, you will have noticed, I've been trying to work baking soda back into my routine. I didn't list it as one of the suspected keys to perfection at the outset, but I'd like to sneak back and edit that. I used to make an emulsion of oil, water, and baking soda as preshave. It very much erected the hair, and when followed by a higher-end soap (Stirling, KMF-VDH), wasn't too harsh.

Come to find out, that's an ancient, African trick, predating soap, for general skin cleansing. Desperate to solve the riddle of unlocking my cuticles to water, I read some blogs written by modern black women, regarding hydration of scalp hair. And by Jesus, wouldn't you know, they, too, have their mad scientists? The Egyptians, you may be aware, were some of the most obsessive shavers known to archeology; and I can certainly understand why, if their hair was as wiry as mine.

My contribution to these proud lines of heritage adds good ol' American pumpkin juice, to produce a gentler treatment that also enriches lower-grade soap lather.


Into a small vessel, but one you can reach the bottom of with your fingertips (such as an empty shaving mug or bowl), deposit a small pinch of baking soda. Holding the palm of your non-dominant hand vertically over this, melt a slightly less than splash-sized aliquot of pumpkin juice. This should dissolve the baking soda quite easily.

Dispense the solution back to your cupped palm. Then, to recapture any of the precious fluid left in the mug, drip a tiny amount of water into the vessel, swish it around, and add this to your palm as well. Apply to the shaving area. It adsorbs and dries quickly, so distribute vigorously.


You will immediately notice the skin tightening and hair erecting. It's like an alcohol-free, oil-free sort of 'Lectric Shave!

But the real magic happens when you add soap. I chose to bowl lather Arko, but I think face lathering would work just as well. Unlike alum or saline, baking soda contributes to lather, rather than destroying it. But it's the fruit acid gel, I think, that elevates this preparation to the level of pure magic. Humble Arko suddenly takes on the super thick, impenetrable to brush-tips quality of Kiss My Face or canned lather.

Friends, let me confide, I once again paused to consider whether I should try to bottle this stuff up and make my millions. There's already been a prickly-pear liquid soap released in the U.K. which, to me, viewing users on YouTube, was obviously equivalent to KMF. They charge up the wazoo, though, compared to our domestic friends in upstate NY. I'm almost sorry that my discovery subverts the glory of KMF economically... but it will always be more convenient to just squirt it out of a pump, I guess.

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