Now We're Layering!

Maybe you've received a scent for Xmas that you'd like to use up quickly? Or your own insuppressible instinct to acquire scents, probably based on malnutrition of some sort, has turned you into a scent addict, a hoarder? Even though you got them at a discount store, you know you can't just spray more on; that would be gauche.

The correct behavior is to "layer" the scent. The beauty is, you don't need to have the matching soap, balm, deodorant. Those can be improvised.

Perfumed shaving soap

For scenting Williams with eau de toilette, I didn't even consider using proper shaving oil, such as that offered by Black Tie Razor Company, though you probably could. I have a whole bottle of mineral oil just dying for something to do, and I don't expect this has to be particularly compatible with one's skin, washed off pretty much immediately. I do fine with Arko.

A small drip from the open bottle seemed about the same as two drops, enough to smear/partially coat the center of my scuttle bowl. Three sprays of "green adventure," I knew from previous experiments, would scent a small bowl of lather; I left it to evaporate alcohol while I fetched boiling water with the salsa section and loaded my brush. I only added a single drop of glycerin when I found that the lather was collapsing without it.

So I guess that's the secret, then: balance lather-killing carrier oil with glycerin. "Duh," says every artisanal soap maker. Yeah, well: you're fired. Who's laughing now? It's not just them, though: consider all the perfumed sticks out there. Williams, on the other hand, was always meant to be useful for cleansing skin also. I used leftover lather on my pits, washing Victorian style, and found it non-irritating and effective still.

Perfumed after shave balm/deodorant

Regular readers will already know the rest. Mixing a middle-sized gob (small almond?) of men's 3-in-1 moisturizer with a single spray of perfume coats both the shaving area and the two armpits. The latter being pretreated with ammonium alum, a stable film begins to form; rubbing potassium alum over the remaining slickness makes it near bulletproof. But on the face, I just use balm as a sort of cream rinse, lifting all irritating shaving residues with a damp cloth.

Plus the intended use

One spray each side of the neck, once on a wrist, shared with the other wrist. These three sprays would be the normal strength for this particular fragrance. Layering increased utilization 133% without making me smell too "adventurous." It improved the atmosphere of the bathroom, and left me feeling more that the scent was my own, not just applied in spots.

Perfuming Soap: Negative

I had originally hoped that the 2 drops of glycerin in my lather-scenting scheme would capture aromatics from EdT and counteract the destructive effects of its alcohols on lather. Earlier this year, I had heard of an outfit offering scents separately from their soap, and their drops were said to contain the lather-enriching glycerin.

In a further, nighttime experiment, I found it took three sprays (as much as I would wear on my person) to scent a small bowl of Williams lather. Even then, it wasn't strong, and the original citronella clearly shone through. Worse, results suggested that the additives had an unacceptable drying effect, as when I washed with the soap, the top layers of my skin looked dead. Previously untreated areas of the forehead were dry, and the my "razor burn" gained new life.

Williams is supposed to be a very good soap for washing, you will recall. Of course, I would have to repeat my experiments with just glycerin and Williams, without perfume, to determine how much of my irritation was directly attributable to the combination of glycerin with shaving soap. Alternatives might include mineral oil and propylene glycol. I will say that, with high-glycerin (incorporated in the puck) soaps, irritation hits relatively quickly, sometimes as soon as applied.

Trial #3

My third trial stuck with the glycerin, but adapted the "curing" method I had previously used for Witch Hazel, U.S.P. Two drops glycerin were smeared around the flat center of the bowl, and three sprays EdT applied to the slick. This rendered something with the viscosity of oil, so it seemed possible, at least, that I had reverse-engineered "fragrance oil," which is what soapmakers actually use in cologne scented soap, if not more natural "essential oils." I left this syrup to cure in the medicine cabinet, where it would hopefully off-gas the undesirable, presumably lower-molecular weight carrier-irritants.

Another thought then occurred to me: maybe the glycerin was so absorbent that the scent wouldn't be able to escape, even in soap solution. For having been sprayed three times, the little spot of syrup didn't smell very strongly. But hope was restored when I recalled I had clearly smelled fragrance in the previous experiments, when lathering was initiated.

I was not controlling for particular fragrance, cycling through the various "colors," and happening to use "black" in this case. I assume all shared the same carrier. (Preferred Scents, from Big Lots.)


By morning, the mixture seemed to have reverted to glycerin alone, two small blobs with little scent. Lather smelled primarily of citronella, with just an undertone of "black" whatever. CCS, at least, with a new, all-WTG pattern emerging, with just a couple ATG spots added. (Basically, small X's or asterisks on pass 1, big V's on pass 2.)


HUMBUG! After spending several minutes tentatively plucking at my chin with a Chinese Tondeo-style blade (second use), I finished the pass unsatisfied.

Then I picked up the Tech with it's "dull" Wilkinson Sword. There were only a few spots that the shavette actually shaved, where the DE didn't catch anything WTG. Then, the traditional XTG skim, just evening things out, for an all-around "velvety" shave. My grandfather's shave.

99% of the time, daily, I would rather shave ATG and get as close as possible, to the extent my skin can bear. But, knowing the condition of the blade, and having just struggled with the shavette, I appreciated SAS like never before. What a simple and effective tool is the DE razor! I'm as giddy as a schoolboy!

Something's Been Bugging Me

My recent focus on the tonic beverage kombucha helped me sort out one part of the "lamellar reorganization theory" that I used to characterize the chemical activity of various aftershaves. I don't think I burdened you guys with it, but there was an immunoflourescent micrograph of cadherins in one of the articles I searched, clearly showing them dispersed across the cell membrane in living cells, not concentrated in desmosomes, which hold the stratum corneum together by being anchored to keratin. Google yields many such images. Holding tension seems to be a somewhat specialized function of corneocytes and muscle cells. What about these others?

There are more microbes in our bodies than human cells, currently estimated in a ratio of 1.3:1. Most are in the digestive tract, and just passing through, but you know quite a lot reside on the skin. We are trained from early childhood to fear them all, but a lot of them are good for us. You've heard of the "acid mantle." Like the kombucha SCOBY, our resident microbes work together to exclude other, pathogenic organisms. And all of them produce organic acids. So, what I've come to believe is that the cadherins are less an organizing element, more an accommodation.

If you're not alkalizing, you're too accommodating; any carpetbagging ass germ can settle in you, whether it contributes to the acid mantle or not. So you can see how the modern perspectives in favor of sterilized, commercially processed food and perpetually sanitized kitchens depend very much on where you're coming from... culturally. ;) I encourage you to give Sandor Ellix Katz a listen on YouTube. As a wet shaver, you'll immediately recognize his enthusiasm and authenticity on the subject of fermentation. I think he's generalized even more into politics than I have!

All I want for X-mas is a ra-zor blade...

The Personna started folding over recently, so I finally pitched it from the TTO line. The Wilkinson Sword is also approaching the end of its useful life, I think. The other day, I did a full prep with Humphrey's, pumpkin juice and coconut oil (skipping the alkali, now), and grabbed the BBS ring, using the Slim. But that's not really me, day-to-day. This morning, the Tech easily gave a serviceable shave without preshave. But, I can see the shadow.

This might be a nice time to shave with an open blade, and groove on some real tradition. But I gave myself another nice midline cut with the shavette this week, making me skittish. I think I finally realized the technical problem, at least. I just don't tension the skin enough on my chin. Spoiled rotten by DE!

Alkalized At Last

You know how I can tell? The smell of ammonia when I put pumpkin juice on my face! That only happened when I combined it with bicarbonate, before. There have been other changes, but not as dramatic as I originally projected. It seems the initial lack of inflammation was an adjustment, because I feel kinda fat again. I've tested the water with high-glycerin soaps, and if anything, I am less tolerant. Even the Italian Barber Sandalwood was making me slightly uncomfortable, toward the end of one recent shave. That would be a terrible loss, if some pH factor was protecting me before, which now has been lost; but still worth it, I think.

Reading about kombucha leads to reading about beer, since many of the same, common microbes are involved, and there's a huge industrial concern behind the research there.

I think the key difference is "biogenic amines," because the general category includes histamine, dopamine, serotonin, adrenalin; my general inflammation, enthusiasm, and sleep patterns have all been in flux. Some of these chemicals are also involved in genetic mechanisms, which could be a concern...

Also on the potential negative side, I've suffered more back pain than usual, which I hope is from advancing age and shoveling snow, not my kidneys swelling with stones. (Oxalic acid is among the many acids in kombucha.) But basically, a lot of heat seems to have been taken off certain internal organs, which otherwise would have been working hard to produce those beneficial hormones. I could easily see kombucha obviating one's need to take monoamine oxidase inhibitors, which is a different strategy to maximize some of them, by preventing them from being metabolized.

Given these facts, I have to wonder if it's the dopamine talking, but the general improvement in my quality of life that came along with this microbial "pet" seems very real. I mean, the beverage is just perfect, to my palate. For the cost of tea and sugar, it's like having an endless supply of Rhine wine, or sparkling cider. But instead of ruining your life, it zaps you with caffeine? What more could I want! Think of all the rows of the market that I need never visit again: beer and wine (fake, in my case), soda and fruit juice (probably mostly corn syrup, anyway). I'm probably going to push my luck and not give up coffee, since it's acidifying, and I can thus afford to drink more of it. Also, an Xmas package arrived from Dad, marked "Keurig." :-)

In return, I peeled off the better part of my SCOBY and sent it to him, with a 2 gallon continuous brewing jar and a pint of starter.

Chinese 62mm Shavette Blade

I thought from the pictures that it might fit my Sedef, but it extends a bit beyond the holder, toward the grip. Also, the depth isn't right; you can sink the edge all the way in. But it was pinched good enough to stay; I've never run anything through the holder to loosen it up or anything.

Best shavette shave ever! I like how it combines DE cheapness/efficiency with the larger corner radius of the Personna long hair shaper blade. And it isn't too picky, which I presume is a strength of the notoriously "dull" Dovo long blade. (Draw strokes, idiots.) I still got away with digging pretty hard straight ATG, blade near flat against the skin. Just going three passes without a weeper is remarkable, for me.

Still shit compared to DE, IMO, but if you like straights, you need to know. I'm sure the usual channels will totally ignore this, because there's no ridiculous profit to con anyone out of. Not that I'm endorsing this product, but the razors do exist, FYI:

Slim Misunderstanding

With every other TTO in the arsenal having roundly shown up my slant's performance with a well-worn blade (see comments to preceding post), the spotlight turned back to the one that the slant actually did better than: the Gillette "Slim" Adjustable. Sticking with the now routine prep of scuttle lathering (palm when I'm lazy), followed by a smear of the soap as preshave (Italian Barber Sandalwood, in this case), I confirmed that even on a low setting of "3," the blade was tugging rather unpleasantly. I closed it down all the way to "1" for XTG, and accomplished little, but stopped the sensation at least. Then up to "5" for a decent finish. Not injurious -- I think I actually forgot about postshave, because of some family distraction -- but again, not pleasant.

When I load a blade into the 70's Super Speed and rest the protruding edges against one another, I can sort of eyeball the comparative geometries. There seems to be a slight blade angle difference, even though the gap looks pretty similar with the Slim on "9." Actually, everything looks almost exactly the same. The angular difference I'm seeing is of the order of the wave in the blade -- which is not very much at all, with Gillettes. Scientific procedure would probably demand that I shave with the Slim on "9" to check if my settings were just wrong, but I'm gonna pass. I'm very sure that would be a harsh dig, because I finished a shave that way when this blade was less dull.

I've previously done the same comparison with the 60's Travel Tech, with a slightly different conclusion: the profiles differed only with respect to the top cap, but the gap looked the same. I always felt that the Tech and the Slim on "9" are essentially the same. And, not surprisingly, I would never choose the Tech to finish a blade.

So, in a way, I already knew the solution to this mystery: the Slim shaves more like a Tech. That is, with a lower natural pitch. It cannot be adjusted in a manner that would simulate any of my growing collection of Super Speed type razors, which apply steeper pitch and balance the increased traction with greater contact areas and/or less exposure. It's more of an upgrade from the Tech, than from the Super Speed.

And yet, the top cap must have SOME, lesser impact on the shave. So my next move is to fish out the "dull" Wilkinson Sword and give the Slim and the Tech another whack at that. Sharper would seem to be their forte.

*Ding Ding Ding*

Setting to 9-5-7, with the Wilkie that had previously been deemed too harsh, if not dull, yielded a magnificent, Sunday-style shave, near BBS, albeit with a fair bit of non-injurious exfoliation. I had to ride the top cap with a firmer grip than usual. (I will try some different settings.) But the hair put up little resistance, under Williams lather: not hairy-kari soft, but close enough. Perhaps this was just the low-angle equivalent? Hard to say, when I know I was shaving with a less than ideal combination of pitch, exposure, and traction control. At any rate, there was no uncomfortable pulling. I just had to take it slow and light.

Sigh. More edits to the Disquisitions! I would have (and generally, always have) associated sharper blades with the Super-Speed type razors, and less acute blades with the Techy side. But that's only because the Techs hurt more, in the shadow of my ignorance, due to their greater exposure. Now that I've settled on a preference for the Super Speed, and re-experienced it in light of the relatively automatic but similar shave of the slant, I see the Tech and Slim relating analogously to the Old Types. And ultimately, straight razors. I guess that's the really counter-intuitive part. What DE looks further removed from straight than a Gillette Adjustable?

Step Aside, Soldier

Parker 87R "Ruby" heard what I said about the slant, and quietly noted her objection. Not based on any assumption regarding cast: the gentlelady once already bested the popular hero.

Nor would she insist on perfection herself. With the same prep of Williams and cold water, stubs were left barely palpable, stroking ATG. But clearly, the blade was not "finished." No, sir. Penetrating the follicles of only the stiffest hairs left less shadow and more comfort, serving more than adequately the needs of the territory.

After a delicate balm of mostly moisturizer tinged with blue splash, the skin even felt smoother, less insulted by this tact than it had been by the previous razor's tactical advantage.


1 Pack Personna blades
1 Razorock German 37 Torsionshobel
1 Synthetic shaving brush
1 Puck of Williams

Don't care to be a skilled expert, like me? Get just what you need, and still be smarter than 96% of everyone, with the "no pressure" setup above. (Maybe change Personna to Wilkies if you get your 5 o'clock shadow at noon, or are prone to ingrown hairs. Of course, if you already know a better blade for you, go with that.) When not getting overly intimate with evergreen trees, I've been shaving this way the past couple days, and it's finished that blade in a manner just as finely balanced, between light skin abrasion and shadow, as my years of discipline allow with Gillette types. Now I'm really thinking like Leisureguy: that's got to cover the most bases, or faces.

Why? Who cares?

Slant Misunderstanding

It's like the Razor of Babel. Italian Barber's Torsionshobel seemed, to me initially, a monument to cartridge-like, high-traction shaving. If someone liked what cartridges were doing to their face, and just wanted to avoid ridiculous refill prices, I'd send them right there. The large plane surface enforces a certain range of pitch, yet to a degree which is still useful; and with a single, adequately exposed blade, is not nearly as destructive to skin.

What I failed to perceive is just how well it could handle a completely worn blade. With the angle of the edge becoming less acute through wear, the slightly steeper pitch carries even less potential for excessive exfoliation. I'm still using the same Personna (even abusing it, on a hand callus last evening), whereas the slant wound up in the closet fairly soon after purchase. Its modest pairing with an old Merkur clone handle seems like less of an insult now, as my buyer's remorse about the stock handle diminished over time, allowing me to appreciate the perfect fit.

An amazingly even, easy shave. But again, not thoughtless: with pitch de-emphasized, you are free to focus on direction and skew, hydration and everything else. You're still using the rigid joint between the cutting head and the handle to maintain the pitch, but it's supernaturally easy. I'm not quite BBS under the jaw corners... but again, the blade is pretty near dull. It makes perfect mathematical sense to me, in retrospect. I think what really screwed me up is actually the consensus around this design, emphasized by Michael Ham (Leisureguy). That's usually a huge red flag, for me.

I think it is likely that the more popular author has similarly overlooked something: the great number of shaves that can be performed by a single blade, when said blade is particularly well suited to one's skin, as Personna is to me.

Gillette Slim All The Way

When my #1 blade, Personna (USA), nears the end of its life, it becomes capable of great closeness, but at the cost of increasing roughness to the skin. Now, it's not the nicking kind of roughness, but it can rise to the level of a kind of abrasion, which neither looks nor feels good. Narrower-gap razors give an opportunity to use greater force without violating the skin's limits.

The Slim is the narrowest I've got (not "overclocked," please note). I take it down to "5" for second pass, which seems to be when I need the riskiest, moderate pitch angles. That's a "reduction" pass for sure. WTG, "7" is a good start, bringing some grazing downforce to the skin, but to get the closest shave, I need the full "9" ATG.

Today I was coming off a light previous shave, and applied my extra skin to a fourth pass. Rigidly holding a low angle, great force brought the edge to the bottom of my follicles. Chaoying might have been able to get more off my neck, but I was practically epilated where it counted, on my face, including under the jaw.

For the local Thanksgiving parade, welcoming Santa, I mixed up some Aqua Velva Musk balm, which was still pretty penetrating. It found very little damage, in the acute angle of the neck, with no subsequent burn. That razor held the low angle as good as any straight bar, and I have to wonder if it didn't have something to do with the recent cleaning.

When the Slim is tightened, the extra half turn or so to lock it does not flick the edge up and down, like some other TTOs. I think that makes a particularly solid prow of a dull edge, and with the fine gap control, it doesn't have to bear as much stress. I always thought of its longer handle and mechanical weight, compared to the Super Speed, as less than ideal. But I've grown to accommodate more of both dimensions with my modern razors. Doug Hansford points out, it's only as long as a Weishi overall.

Today, the Slim seems just about perfect. I seriously doubt any of the new adjustables coming out this year will measure up, or rather, down. But I doubt I'll ever find the disposable income to find out. Hopefully the prices for Slims will improve as a result of the new alternatives. *<};-)

Existential Thanksgiving

One might think I were a normal shaver lately. Casually switching from canned foam, to fancy Italian Barber sandalwood, back to Williams... hot, cold... It hasn't been all irritation-free and BBS, but you know how it is. You try that extra-diggy pass, you know exactly what you did wrong. I'm totally content with my handling of hardware and software (though, similarly, I still sometimes forget to rinse something off). It's just my skin throwing the curves, at this point.

Now, I realize that that's largely a function of what I ate, since discovering the soluble fiber cure for wiry hair. As if this weren't enough of a miracle, I have transcended, actually become one with shaving: eating my balm, drinking my aftershave. And in this new quest for overall good health, the seed of which was shaving, I am succeeding. What I learned from pumpkin juice and oatmeal is already helping me understand fermented tea. The fat is melting off of me. My gut seems to have a thriving acid mantle of its own. It's like someone pulled a nipple marked "inflammation," and I'm deflating.

I'm pretty sure I had a systemic candida overgrowth. I might have believed that was the root of it, too, if I hadn't studied organic acids and emulsifiers, etc., in the context of shaving. How the pumpkin allowed sebum to escape the tissue, and stimulated regeneration; how the apple dissolved the goo itself, and alkalizing made the skin tougher. Now it's kombucha with chia seeds, coconut oil... this folk health and beauty craze could herald the (economic) decline of medicine as we know it, not to mention cosmetics!

As with shaving, what seems to be needed socially, once one catches that drift of authentic tradition through direct experience, is some unadulterated education. I'd like to take this opportunity to point out a G+ feed that's always interesting in this regard, with a recent, interesting post:

None of that shit's gonna get me, I know that now. Not dementia, cancer, heart disease... though all feature prominently in my family's health history. Alcoholism did get a good piece of me, years ago, but now I've got the best part of it. Soon, I'll be just as dweezily-looking as any ancient Appalachian, headed for centenarianism. And for that -- my health -- I am especially thankful. I recognize the presence of the great Unknown, and appreciate it as the source of these blessings; and, fully refreshed, will gladly welcome the coming cold and darkness.

Skin Too Soft

It wouldn't make a very good product name, but that's what coconut oil is turning out to be for me, in the long-term. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, as it was already suggested by one blogger, in the context of oil cleansing, to transition to plain water when the skin had reached "balance." Also, its acid nature was immediately evident to me. But I'm not willing to give it up so easily. For me, it has assumed the place that glycerin takes in most people's hearts. I know I should just be eating better, but it's so easy and convenient to just smear on this anti-fungal moisturizer...

Perhaps I could blame the splash I was mixing it with, for turning it into the marinade of my personal steak. So today I indulged in a warm, Williams lather, with pumpkin juice and Shave Secret for prep, a fairly fresh Personna blade in the black-handled Super Speed. A bowl of oatmeal and ten pushups to pump up the hair, no messing around with harsh serum. I still saw a weeper, but taking care turned around the recent trend of rough shaves.

Then, to get my "fix," I tried Humphreys, then coconut oil, then alum, to try trapping the substance at the surface. The splash sent a shock of Williams and chemicals into my face, I think, as my lips looked pale and sickly afterward. With judicious use of the wet towel, I was able to soak for a natural finish. Yet still, as soft as a (hairy) baby, I'm afraid.

The lather stole the show. I know not many people believe Williams to be capable of doing what I achieved, so note this carefully. Here is where a floppy badger or horse can shine, whipping around the inside of a scuttle or smallish lather bowl. I used a full brush load (not dripping) of water in the soap cup, and then, because the brush would not hold that much protolather, transferred the liquid protolather to the scuttle in two loads. Mixing took awhile longer than I'm used to, at least a full minute. But I was close enough to the ideal mix that heat "cured" the protolather, by evaporating excess water. Then, when the brush inflated, I knew the lather was done. But before that, I pre-treated my face with some unfinished foam, and backed it off with a wet towel when I was ready to put the finished lather on, preventing its tiny quantum of glycerin from fleeing into my face. Thus, my Williams could rival (hydrated) shaving cream in a can in superficial appearance, despite its lack of oily enrichment.

OCM For Razors

People have been using coconut oil for all kinds of stuff:

At first I thought it was only the unrefined, presumably more acidic oil that could remove the rust from scissors, but I took the above as encouragement enough to try the refined version, which is cheaper. Yep, it worked. Refined is also the only kind I can afford enough of to think about immersing something. Like... a vintage DE razor!

Recently, Fendrihan posted an article advising mineral oil soaking as a final step in restoration. The shine made me envious. I cleaned my TTOs with dish soap when I got them, and some nasty chemical spray, and boiling water. I can't remember what order, but I vaguely remember a bulletin board discussion that made oil sound like the cause of gunk, rather than the cure, which I guess is why I never did that, myself. Especially mineral oil... if that went wrong, I'd never get it off.

Having become more familiar with the qualities of coconut oil, and hopeful that the finish of my razors might actually be improved, I collected the GEM, NEW LC, Slim, Super Speed, Travel Tech and soaked them for half an hour, maybe an hour in an old pan on the stove, as I figured out how I wanted to drain them. A dense nylon brush for nose pores reached the finely engraved crud, and with paper towels, showed some metal polishing power in gray oxidation.

What I wasn't expecting was the immediate freeing of the Slim's mechanism, to where it could be closed with one hand... one twirl. I had seen a lot of rubbery, gummy stuff removed before, but just a little more eeked out now, melted just that little bit better, from under the adjustment dial. Poking around between the riser and baseplate with a Q-tip didn't get anything new, just oxidation. To remove excess oiliness, I immersed the razors in a tall coffee mug filled with microwave-boiled water. I do not expect what is left to gum up, but it could; it's not nothing.

The razors are quite shiny and bright, though. Envy satisfied. I think the correct question now is, what is there that coconut oil cannot do? I saw a little tub of the virgin cold-pressed at the CVS, about twice the diameter of the tiny storage cup that I'm using. I'm thinking, they're right.

As for the inch of oil in my old pan, it's going to the carport, to condition some rusty old tools.


Some of my pumpkin seeds were left in with the "guts" and small pieces, soaking in brackish (sea salted) water for a couple days this year, as we rebounded from the kids' Halloween party. I thought I detected some fermentation going on, when I finally got around to them. The seeds, slow-roasted (below 250F) were awesome, and I still have several pumpkins on for Thanksgiving pie and cosmetics experiments. But I reserved some of this fermented soak water/juice for analysis as well. It is a little harsh for shaving, very dehydrating with with salt, and I suppose "pumpkin peel" enzymes. Ever gotten enzymatic laundry stain remover on your hands? Like that.

So I turned the new weapon on my foot fungus, or yeast, or whatever: foot soaking, then (with a fresh quart) washing my stinky slippers and cheap sneakers. I figured the slippers would be no loss, already decomposing, and the sneakers were poorly-ventilated, super Wal-mart clearance items that I was already avoiding wearing because of the smell. A reasonable person would have just tossed them both, but I gave them an hour of mindful soaking and wringing, first with pumpkin, then boo-boo juice, in the same plastic tub I had my feet in; blotting and rinsing, with a microfiber cloth of the auto detailing type that I use for shaving and bathing; and drying, with a final spritz of Witch Hazel, then setting them upside down on the recently re-activated furnace vents. By noon, they were pretty much totally dry, and smelling wearable again, but hardly odorless. The best I could do was to coat my feet in coconut oil, then wipe my hands on the shoe tongue and ankle.

Now they smell like some kind of pumpkin bread, but I really have to put my nose right up to the mouth of the shoe to pick it up. And even if I don't succeed in salvaging the footwear in the long run, I've given my feet a rubefacient, exfoliating and deep cleansing treatment, that just might bring the fungus wars to an ultimate conclusion.

Truly Classic Shaving

Meanwhile, the Wilkinson Sword has made its way in middle age to the Travel Tech, where it delivers perfectly velvety smooth shaves with nothing but Barbasol, just whisking hair away off the face without getting the edge and skin involved with each other.

I don't know how the hell cartridges ever caught on, in a world containing Skin Bracer. It takes this kind of gear, a coat of alum, and a gob of moisturizer mixed in for me to get any less than an outright burning sensation -- which I still wipe off and soak with a cold cloth!

It's Mourning In America

I've only actually drank, like, four cups of kombucha in total, as I'm still ironing out a niche for the "mother" mushroom. My first brew failed of sluggishness, as I chose a less than ideal tea and sugar, and the new SCOBY grew mold because I didn't reserve enough starter fluid. I performed a kind of fungus surgery, then, with vinegar, white sugar, and black tea infusion. Luckily the original SCOBY had sunk, and was spared exposure to the mold.

Anyway, I continue to be amazed at the health impact, like a fog has been lifted from my mind, and a weight from my body. A sad realization is dawning on me, that basically every good nutritive instinct I've ever had, has been turned against me by corporate commercialism and Big Sugar. I was coaxed away from comforting fiber goodness by sugary cereal, very early in life. A hugely destructive detour away from fermented foods was engineered by soda, and then, as a young adult, beer. Even my constant companion chocolate looks like it's occupying a seat that rightfully belongs to coconut.

Coconut oil is the bomb, as it turns out, not Dollar Tree moisturizer. By nature combining the qualities of fruit acid with fatty acid, a natural antiseptic if not antibiotic... I don't see any reason not to go full crunchy with cosmetics, except that I still prefer perfumery to essential oils. (I guess that's like the sugar for your nose.)  Put the coconut oil on before your splash. That's it: balm. You could tone it down to jojoba or cocoa butter, if your skin becomes too lively and pops out some acne, but that's the basic recipe: medium-chain triglyceride, aqueous emulsifier. Witch Hazel, U.S.P. as the splash, for full crunch.

Bringing It All Back Home

Going back to the village where I grew up for my great-uncle's funeral was a stressful, but necessary observance, as I struggle to process the continuing disappearance of an admirable generation. (Who didn't park at a desk, send all the money to Wall Street or Madison Ave. and flush it down a coke-spattered toilet. At worst, they could be called lousy plumbers, who also took a huge dump when they jumped to Reagan. One can't just blame the child standing next to the mess.) This branch of the family are pretty serious Christians. Which, I'm sure, is partly why they were always so good to me. I offered my best jar of grape jelly to the church ladies who put out the sandwiches, but you can imagine why I might have overdone the coffee. Probably also due to recent Halloween treats, my dermatophytes were inspired to rise with a vengeance in the evening.

Well, I didn't turn the other cheek; I struck like Eisenhower! First, I searched the September archives for the Egyptian skin saponification recipe, and gave it a nuclear-powered update with fiber. This took the inflammation and itch down to a blood-infused soreness, in places, which I hope represents a more productive immune response.

1. Eat half a banana, with peel.
2. Oil cleanse affected areas with jojoba.
3. Dissolve potassium bicarbonate in Witch Hazel, USP and scrub with cotton pad.
4. Repeat 2&3 with coconut oil.
5. Dermasil to re-moisturize.

As deathly gray as my pinky toenail is, it seemed to be thoroughly cleansed, or as they say for hair, "clarified." But I woke to more itching, if not flakes, and used a slice of banana peel to enable sleeping in. When I actually got out of bed (feeling much less depressed, thank you Lord), I read online that coconut oil would have been a better choice than Dermasil, as it is naturally anti-fungal. So I put a coat of that on, this time including my scalp, with a couple drops of tea tree & E oil mixed in as an afterthought.  On the internal front, I made a simple aloe juice cocktail with lemonade, and ate oatmeal for breakfast.

Postponing the shower until after my final leaf-raking session of the year, I mixed up a fresh pump bottle of boo-boo juice with potassium bicarbonate, and wet the hair/smeared the skin with it just before getting in. Then again with the coconut oil upon emerging.

I got that organic, unrefined coconut oil awhile ago at Christmas Tree Shops, and I'm not going through it very fast in the kitchen. I see the price has really dropped on the other kind, if I did want to cook more, so there's no reason not to use the good stuff exclusively as a cosmetic commodity, except for some generic acne warnings. Since I had it out, I let it take the place of moisturizer on my armpits, and so far, it's working well. Nice thing about that is, that since there is no glycerin to balance out, I can stick to the cheap Witch Hazel in the "odorless" preparation, instead of Humphreys. So far, so good -- no smell. My hand calluses are now nearly invisible and my hair noticeably darker looking, having been clarified like my toenail. Impressive stuff.

My shave, not so much, as I wanted to see what Williams would do with nothing but sweat. It did well enough, but my skin announced that it was clearly the end of the Racer in Stella, as only high-velocity strokes didn't dig. That meant a two-pass, three-hour smooth shave. Which I think is fine, given the lack of effort. Damn fine, even, since it was already almost suppertime.

The Ocean Within

Rakis, formerly desert planet Arakkis, home of the Fremen. Do you think those guys enjoy yard work, if not specifically raking?

Today I realized that I left out a major piece of the story arc in my concluding Disquisition, that will have to be edited. Why sweating was my first clue on this quest of the past couple years. After eating my oatmeal, and returning to the microwave to heat my scuttle, I took advantage of the otherwise wasted minute to do ten push-ups. Because I hadn't felt the wave of emollient fiber welling to the surface, as I had the first time. (It still wasn't distinct, and I didn't break a sweat, but that definitely got my blood pressure up.)

I also chose an extra-sucky oil cleanse (in the sense of drawing internal fluid) of charcoal face cleanser that I picked up at the Dollar Tree. Two drops of Shave Secret were then just compensating for dryness, really, though some of that got wiped, off, too, with a smear of Williams.

The Wilkinson Sword got transferred to the Super Speed for his bad behavior with Chaoying yesterday, and I can now say with confidence that the blade is a bit too sharp for me. But this was a fantastically effortless shave -- all I mean is, I can't safely get that edge into my follicles for BBS. Others have described it as a sharper Personna, and I agree. Perfectly smooth, great blade; I mean no criticism.

With my hair completely softened, first pass was totally efficient; I just had to keep it light on second and third. I don't think there even was a whole third pass, because I didn't dig, only skimmed, ATG. That's actually the kind of shave most men advocate anyway, by virtue of their softer hair. (I felt so un-violated by the high-flying blade that I tried a straight splash -- nope, that still stung. Skin still thin as it always was!)

So, I think it's bye-bye, bicarbonate, and with it, the problem of ammonia. I can get enough follicle pineconing from soap and sweat, working together, with a little fluid dynamic leverage. My little acid-base depot in the medicine cabinet will only need to be called upon in times of perceived imbalance.

Pain: A Definitive Guide

Some of us have thinner skin than others, and as such can read the title of this post as both topic and conclusion. Shaving for me has been an object lesson in the folly of consumerism, reinforced by pain. On the other hand, shaving served as a gateway to general good health, as I picked up modern shaving's slack in mindfulness and concern. I mean, look around this blog. On the skin side of things, I've gone WAY beyond Method Shaving, yet somehow ended up in the same sort of wild Orient, by setting off in a globally opposite direction. No faith in producers, no commitment to technique, just grinding away, at the facts and my face, until nothing remained but the authentic elements of a good shave.

Come to think of it, wouldn't I be justified in stealing either of those would-be trademarks? Method shaving would then be akin to method acting, instead of some weird martial arts camp. I'd still be taking down hair like Raiden from Mortal Kombat, with the elemental power of mental electricity, along with other forces of nature. Oh, no, not "power" again! Yep, I'm stealing that, too; not for myself -- in the name of The People. I've already identified this blog as "Marxist" for search purposes, but really, we've got to get beyond the German Enlightenment if we want all of our faces to survive (the Merkur Futur). Okay, okay -- how about "Axiological Shaving"?

I guess there are some things a thesaurus cannot help, and only marketing will do. But I digress. Some of you are just congenitally numb. Thicker-skinned, softer-haired men truly, literally may not feel that losing the stratum corneum is a bad thing, and I have to respect that. I at least have to assume you're not numb and dumb. Hm... but I can be quite dumb when shaving, despite being sensitive and educated. I would expect the relatively fortunate to be even more so. My natural skepticism simply buys me the time required for stubborn persistence. "Existential Shaving?"

Yeah, I think that's probably it, and my roundabout reply to podcaster Rick DeWeese, who was feeling the purposelessness at the core of his podcast's being last week. Keep at it, man! Honest YouTuber Michael Freedberg (10:30) opined that everybody gets the sort of weeping irritation he displayed, on occasion, and I can't disagree, having overshaved my neck with Chaoying and Wilkinson Sword this morning. Of course, I would suggest changing blades and technique before going razor shopping, and argue that sliding strokes are magical. Where it rises to the level of moral hazard is a statement like Arief Wibowo's "Blades hurt your skin no matter how tender you use them." Innocently offered in the context of aftershaves and cologne, that would tend to be true, I imagine, as a casual statement of statistical fact.

But shaving need not hurt the skin. I believe it is within everyone's capability to avoid weepers and razor burn, even though I've had more of both than I care to think about. If you feel or even visually recognize harm in shaving, you can use your good sense to shave and even live better. Rage, rage against the dying of the statum corneum!

Tiny Bubbles

I did a little experiment with the last of my pumpkin pop, just tossed it in the scuttle cup on top of a good amount of the base potassium bicarbonate, more than I would use. No smell in the bowl, confirmed. Faint smell when applied to my forearm (no oil applied there), little smell when applied to dry moustache area, moderate smell when spread over cheeks. Results say "skin reacting" to me, and I don't think there's enough acid in pumpkin juice to balance out this apparently more powerful version of baking soda, at least not the quantities I've been putting in the cup.

On Halloween, I had a notable late night shave taking a different approach. Too lazy to fetch another pumpkin pop from the freezer in the basement, I took a sprinkle of a more powerful acid -- citric acid -- from a new jar recently installed in the medicine cabinet. Together, citric acid and potassium bicarbonate make something like Alka-Seltzer, only without the aspirin.

Having eaten a ripe banana, with the skin (can't really call it a "peel" anymore), and still feeling dry, I again skipped the Witch Hazel, reserving it for the end. I wanted as gentle a shave as possible. Just for comfort, my own personal pleasure. Shave Secret took the lead, followed by the seltzer serum. I didn't try to remove the oil until after that. Finally, Williams, in the fastest palm lathering ever, probably 30 seconds from picking up the soap cup to finished lather. Somehow I just nailed it; loving the new puck, but perhaps the oil and serum residues contributed something, too. The sensation of the brushtips receded, and I wrung it through once just to be sure, but that was the right amount of water, alright.

Cold water shave. Stella and Racer, on his last legs. Didn't matter. Less than perfect hair softening still allowed remarkable efficiency, and with the blade loosened I took the time to pull the skin for erect follicles in the critical areas from the jaw up. Second pass was focused on skin preservation and no pressure, at moderate pitch angles; then I opened her up again for a close finish, with some slow strokes and some fast.

Alum declared success, with only an isolated neck tingle, and held back whatever alcohol was in the splash of Witch Hazel. Another soak, then cocoa butter. Essentially, it was a shave without fragrance, or much substance penetrating the skin at all. Though, in the end, the cocoa butter and some smelly liquid hand soap we had out for the holiday combined for a fruit and nut bar effect, that I really dig. Nothing for the skin to work through. No moisturizer, no injury, just cleanliness. It was the shave I would choose if my wife asked me to shave before sex.

Welcome Bacteria

My skin yeast and fungi are really on their heels now. I casually wipe behind my ears when I shave, but that didn't cut it today, as an unusual smell of death was evident. I had to go back for that liquid handsoap to break the nasty film. But I took it as a good Halloween omen, because of what I've been reading about SCOBYs, symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeast used in brewing kombucha tea. The megadose of fiber I received from a bowl of beans yesterday undoubtedly had something to do with the newcomers. Just maybe a little sugar overdose, too, made a good growth medium. Taking a shower for our halloween party was thus like starting a new batch of booch. You want the bacteria to get a jump on the yeast, or it ends up too boozy and lacking in benficial acids and probiotic culture.

A more auspicious smell was found in my armpits, which didn't need any washing today, but tonight signal that they, too, are in transition, going more... well, let's just say, more like my wife. Since she's out of town for a few days, I'll be smelling myself and thinking of better times. Perhaps I'll transfer that particular bacterial film to my still evidently fungal pinky toenail. (Now THAT'S what sneakers ought to smell like!)

Seriously, though, I will stop and smell the roses, so to speak, celebrating the "coincidences" at the edge of mindfulness which continue to bless me. Fiber depletes B vitamins, and kombucha is loaded with B vitamins. I already loved oolong tea, and kombucha may have been brewed with oolong originally (at least 221 BC in China). My first real batch has a good looking bubbly film, with no mold. I can't wait for it to mature, so that I can build a SCOBY "hotel," and share with friends...

Ah, the familiar insanity of manic enthusiasm. This year's crazy project, next year's crazy flea market offering and crazy Xmas gift. It could circle back and be the third year's crazy shave serum, though. Try and stop me!

Eating and Drinking for a Better Shave

Though I am not rushing to publish a new "perfect shave" routine based on apple pectin, I have internalized enough minimalism from my closest blogging colleagues to recognize the potential for simplification. By eating a slowly digested soluble fiber snack before bed, one could hope to have softer stubble in the morning, and one less prep material to juggle, maybe more. So I'm going to hang out on this post for awhile, correlating things ingested at night to shaving results in the morning.

Aloe Juice

I bought this shelf-stable (preserved) jug from Wal-mart with a mind to make shaving pops, but there was so much of it that I just started drinking it occasionally, as part of my alkalization program. My stubble was very short and soft after drinking a cup before bed, and six hours of sleep. Skin was supple. I took the opportunity to prep with Humphreys, followed by pumpkin juice + potassium bicarbonate serum. The latter evoked a strong smell of carbamide on application, as if urea had permeated the skin along with any fiber. Of course, I had to follow that with Arko lather.

It should be noted that I had a late supper of a couple bologna Reuben sandwiches, which may have helped pollute my skin. Hair was softened, but the Super Speed wasn't quite as efficient -- expected from the skin rubberization effects of carbamide. Some tiny cracks in the stratum corneum were just visible, after balmng with moisturizer + Lilac Vegetal.

Oatmeal encourages eating the cereal at night, and apples, too. For better reasons than I, touting the digestive and metabolic impacts of fiber. I'm having trouble getting the habit going, though, still preferring Mounds et al., so I'll just have to report on shaving after breakfast. (Note to self: how many no-bake cookies does it take to soften one's beard?) It doesn't take long to feel the emollient effect hitting the skin, when you have dry, wiry stubble. I know the fiber has arrived before even putting the bowl down, so there is no doubt in my mind that the benefit is freely distributed through the body, and not restricted to the digestive tract. I wonder if having borderline hyperlipidemia draws it out, in the case of one who needs it, like myself.

I skipped WH entirely and used shaving oil, followed by pumpkin juice/KHCO3 serum. My new "scuttle" served a bonus comfort function by melting the pumpkin pop, when the bowls were reversed: footed plastic inside water-containing ceramic, fresh from the microwave.  There wasn't anything to wipe off my face, dry like a sponge, but I soaked it all in with cold water, then applied warm Arko, again inspired by a strong ammonia impression. (So, I guess it wasn't the Humphreys.)

Super Speed and worn Personna Platinum Chrome were more effective than in the preceding shave, though I had to lift the blade a little on WTG to correct against a little too much exfoliation. It seemed to me like there was a bias, where the breakfast-derived fiber seemed to soften skin more, without having time to really work the hair. But the shave was still right up there with the best: I have to press a little ATG to find a few stubs that weren't quite cut evenly. I conclude that the people who advise shaving immediately upon waking, without eating, are not oatmeal lovers.


A significant source of insoluble fiber only, I expected to be underwhelmed. My blade seemed to have reached the end of its life, gaining a bit too much traction on the skin. (Still enjoyably efficient, but lacking what slants have -- the large contact surface to balance that.) And missing some more of the flatter-lying stubs at the jaw corners, so seemingly, all attibutable to blade wear. On WTG, especially, the hair seemed to put up little resistance.

The carbamide smell remains a persistent clue. Today I put the pumpkin juice on separately, after the bicarbonate, keeping with the same shaving oil. Salt didn't raise the stink, it only rose with the juice. And the usual mixed serum doesn't stink until applied. So it's either the oil, or something in me (urea, most likely) releasing that ammonia. The serum is certainly not a gentle one to my skin, judging from the ocean sting. But I also found an effective soother for postshave: Witch Hazel, U.S.P., applied as splash.

Another fierce BBS shave... can't justify tossing the blade... will have to change the oil to learn more, I think.


The next bunch I bought finally ripened, so I had one for lunch, with the peel on, before an afternoon shave. I definitely felt the stubble, rolling out of bed for a halloween party at the local library, but I didn't look like a bum -- good mileage out of yesterday's close shave. Today's was even better feeling, but I can see it's a little more shallow. This is how a blade should behave, approaching the end of its life. Assuming I don't run out of apples, could be a couple more shaves in it. Prep was jojoba oil, then pumpkin juice/bicarb serum. The oil felt a little too thick for the purpose, but very protective.

This post seems to have struck a major chord: more views than ever! If you're waiting for a pumpkin gel recipe, forget it -- you'll have to come buy at at the flea market next year! But to replace "The Perfect Shave," I did write a Disquisition summarizing this chapter of the blog, and indeed, concluding the whole thing. While I may or may not have pointed out a valid space for product development, I honestly don't think shaving gets any better than this.

Health goals derived from this project are leading to new Marxist obsessions, too. I grew a SCOBY from store-bought kombucha, and have my own "booch" brewing on top of my furnace. New questions have been raised. Why do dermatophytes seem not to enjoy soluble fiber, while cellulose sustains fungi all over the world? How did the government record a case of acidosis caused by overingestion of an alkalizing substance? The rabbit hole has already got my ankle...

Oh, and the ammonia release was still strong, but less than yesterday, so changing the oil had some impact.

Eureka! (#3)

Ho-ly Shit. Holy SHIT!

1. no witch hazel -- skin felt too dry to take it
2. apple juice pectin -- frozen pop
3. Shave Secret (out of homemade at the moment)
4. potassium bicarbonate (pinch dissolved in water in palm)
5. Wet towel soak AND WIPE
6. Williams (no prelather, just whipped it up on face)

Happenstance avoidance of the WH led me down this path, to see what pectin and oil could do alone to defend the dermis. I figured it could give a sort of cushion against insult, if not a distinct chemical barrier. I also expected it to work with oils in the hair to erect stubble. It didn't give that feeling, though, when simply wet down with water. To help the hair softening, I tried the new version of baking soda in this way, as a serum, for the first time.

That was totally effective, and that's when the epiphany hit me, because I felt a little saline sting, like ocean water. Those magical swimming experiences that I hold as ideals of grooming -- stubble breaking off under a fingernail in the ocean, perfect hair condition at the lake.  It wasn't just the water, or the sunscreen. The missing ingredient... was APPLE! Yes, I'm sure of it. Those were picnics! I specifically remember my aunt asking, "What's that on your nose?" in a case of spontaneous sebaceous filament ejection at the lake, and enjoying an apple on the same occasion. Also wondering where to dispose of a core, without encouraging seagulls, on a stubble breakage occasion. Could have been some watermelon and potato salad involved, too, I guess... but the fiber. It came from within ME.

Since it's supposed to be poorly absorbed by the digestive tract (giving it its cancer-curing power in the lower intestine), I'm not sure how that happened. I think what the literature means is that, since there is always so much fat in our digestive tract, it tends to gel up and pass through. A confounding fact is the existence of roughage, water-insoluble fiber. But pectin is water soluble. And soaking for prolonged periods, as in swimming, would bring it through the final microns of the skin, to the hair cuticle at the surface, by osmosis. Mystery solved!

This shave was pretty near perfect. No experimental "perfect shave" program will be launched, just got to get pumpkin juice in there again, for a touch of flaking, and probably bring back the WH. Today, the skin was calm on drydown, even before I could get to the closet for balm, so all I did was finish with jojoba oil. Super Speed and the worn Personna Chrome just killed it, super efficient. It was nice to get back to the vintage shelf, I have to say. All of the modern razors have more blade exposure (taking into account the adjustments required to make them shave close) than my Gillettes.


The value wet shavers attribute to water has been largely misplaced. It's not just the fluid going in, but the substances coming out that matter, or make the desired effect of hair softening possible. Water soluble fiber is THE CURE FOR WIRY HAIR.

Gel: Pre or Post?

Continuing to examine what appears to be the essence of apple's health benefit, jelly-maker's homemade crabapple pectin, I tried the way of knowing that had previously revealed the nature of pumpkin juice: sebaceous filament extraction on the nose. The results were even more striking. Whereas pumpkin had made it easy for the follicles to stretch and release the nasty green goo, pectin changed the crud itself, into something that slipped more easily from the pore.

Much more easily. My little spoon extractor looked like it was filling with applesauce, evoking exactly the kind of disgusted satisfaction that nose squeezers crave. But I didn't even think my pores were that bad! It's not like they were wide open and dark. I've been on top of this for awhile. I only have to do the pumpkin juice and extraction once every month or two. Day to day, I take a skilled, shaving-like approach to cleaning the pores, with a slightly exfoliating microfiber cloth or a square of dry toilet paper, using skin tension behind the strokes.

This stripping was way beyond the standard of what a man would find necessary, more like that of women who wear makeup, perpetually dissatisfied with the natural look of a nose. And my first impression was that it was just not good for the skin, as abrasion-like intrafollicular damage was evident in places. But it told me that whatever malic acid may do as an AHA, apple does not have the lamellar reorganization ability of pumpkin. I gave the healing a jumpstart with a brief application of pumpkin juice, followed by "Psoriasis" salicylic acid creme (Dollar Tree).

This morning, not surprisingly, I decided that cured Witch Hazel would be enough of an oil cleanse! But I tested my tolerance by going straight to PdP No. 63. Ruby and a worn Personna Platinum Chrome gave a close shave that wasn't entirely comfortable, though not bloody. I cleaned it up with alum. Then, feeling I might suffer some burning, I made a balm of pectin, applied thin, followed by a couple drops of Vit. D shaving oil.

The same bulking up effect of the fiber, with the oil, made this very soothing and smoothing. I think this must be the operating principle behind "skin food" and post-shave gel balms. Which raises the question: is it only because that stuff costs $30 a jar that people don't use it as protection during the shave?

To me, post shave gel represents the same old, tired dynamics of cartridge marketing: the idea that shaving is supposed to be strongly exfoliating, and one should prioritize smoothness to the touch over burn avoidance. But I can imagine going with oil and bentonite pre, and possibly bulking it up with fiber after.

What's In YOUR Poop?

This "pectin" I've been using as a preshave is really just the heat-extracted juice of underripe crabapples. Some sources say you can use ripe Granny Smith, but I seriously doubt it would compare to this particular sample. There is usually another step to simmer down the juice, to concentrate it, but it was ridiculously thick this year, due to the quality of the fruit. I got a serious workout squeezing the bag, and probably should have just used more water in the first place. The apples were harvested after the usual time of ripeness, and had black blossom ends, but never wanted to ripen, suspended in development as little green knots.

Why document this? Shouldn't I be making a product and selling it to you? Well, I wouldn't rule it out, and I'd be glad to stimulate an artisan's mind in that direction. I don't want to pretend I know all the stuff that's in cooked apple juice, either. I am primarily concerned with the progress of shaving culture, though relying on jelly making tradition when I tell you that pectin, a kind of dietary fiber, is improving my thin, oily skin. If I had a heart attack tomorrow, and didn't write it down, this tenuous line of transmission, across four generations, could be lost.

Though that is unlikely, with all the fiber I've been eating. My guts are in as good a shape as my skin, judging by the smell of them. Oh, yeah, you get some quality flatulence, when you eat a banana with the peel on! That's mostly what I heard about fiber, growing up. Shredded wheat -- tried it, didn't like it. Then they figured out that it lowers cholesterol; but still, ads push it as awful things like Cheerios, whole grains, oatmeal. As if those are even valid choices, when Cap'n Crunch is available!

Once again, shaving has served as the gateway to health for me. What organ of the body, other than the skin, can you directly manipulate and play with experimentally? (Don't answer that.) I feel the water soluble fiber bulking up the oils in my skin, preventing them from exiting the corneocytes, making the stratum corneum more thick and spongy and capable of holding shaving media. But thanks to the malic acid in this particular gel, no flakes, either.

So I theorize. It's the direct experience that's important, that makes a Gen X-er believe. I may actually eat some oatmeal with my apples tomorrow -- with a healthy squirt of maple syrup.

Modern cereal bowl, left. Mid-century cereal bowl, right.

UPDATE. Hello, calcium, my old friend... see Figure 2 in this pdf for the science tip.

Hoarding Lite

I totally forgot to mention the new blade, Wilkinson Sword, in Chaoying earlier. No complaints, though I won't know how to characterize it for sure until I get it in a more familiar razor. I found them on a lovely fall outing to the state park where I was married, where we all took a mile hike, onward to Ocean State Job Lots, the magical place where all As Seen On TV things wind up. Maybe they're expanding to YouTube? Paul H. Films inspired me to snag Nivea Men creme, too. Other acquisitions worth mentioning...

TABAC! It comes in a jar, but you don't have to buy the jar to get a puck, a fact easily overlooked when figuring the net value, still under $10 for a puck that I would consider to be full-size. I don't know if it was somebody's link, or the stars aligned when I was poking around Amazon, but it finally occurred to me to get some, and I'm glad I did. It smells like a powdery old-school cologne, like English Leather or British Stirling, perfectly at home in my collection. Not nearly as nice as PdP No. 63, but I expect I'll actually be able to use this for shaving more often. Since I also had a puck of Williams waiting to be smashed into the shaving rainbow, I took some photos, so you can check out their dimensions side by side, and after kneading, independent of the shape they were marketed in:

Similar hardness, but the smaller puck was harder to spread (thin), ending with many loose pieces.

Sharpologist recently posted a glowing report from a man who received an expensive comb made of animal horn. I had been investigating wooden combs for myself, since, thanks to Italian Barber, I now know what sandalwood smells like. When I put in my order, however, it was for the cheapest version of the two materials -- wood not specified. Such cheapness is not usually rewarded, but this time, I was very pleased. Neither comb creates static, or scratches the scalp. The wood exfoliates gently and distributes oils, while the horn styles the hair as if by telekinesis. You can see the horn comb in my expanding collection of matchy-matchy grooming accessories:

L to R: Boo-boo juice, in pump bottle from a dollar store; Cup that once held a bamboo plant; Mini crock
(both from recycling facilities); Baili special offer badger brush; Great Gatherings bowl from Big Lots;
Spray bottle from a local discount store; Horn comb from Amazon.

With Williams ejected from the bowl, and my skin tolerating a fair quantity of glycerin on a regular basis, I think I'm going to try warm lather again. My plan is to microwave water, heating the bowl, carry it to the bathroom in a slightly larger plastic salsa bowl, into which I will pour the water on arrival. Make lather in the ceramic, then drop it into the salsa bowl atop the remaining hot water. It tests nicely for buoyancy vs. weight -- should be a fine little poor-boy scuttle, IF the plastic doesn't melt.

Should I have gotten a black salsa bowl instead of red? Red for "hot" makes sense. Red is one of my favorite colors. Red, white, black and chrome are fine matches, to my ink-and-paper way of thinking. The trouble comes when the rainbow soap cups come into the picture, clashing with the only other color present. It sounds stupid, but I bet I'll be drawn to PdP in the crock, just on aesthetics. I so wish I could be a one-soap guy!

The shaving rainbow, composed of Dollar Tree travel snack cups for toddlers.
Blue - Williams, Green - Palmolive Classic, Yellow - Arko, Orange - KMF-VDH croap, Red - Tabac. 

All The Way With Chaoying

Since my skin felt just about perfect yesterday, I thought today would be a nice time to reset my sights on shaving perfection. Cured Witch Hazel set the foundation, followed by crabapple pectin and Noxzema with bentonite. I wanted Williams, but not the dregs left in my cup -- guess it's time to chuck that puck -- so went with Palmolive Classic.

A truly luxurious gel layer adhered to my skin throughout the shave; Charles Roberts would have been proud. I think I'm going to take this year's jack-o-lantern pieces and guts and process them as I would green apples, and see if I can extract some similar biopolymer.

"Chaoying" is the name of the final razor in my pretty, modern razor collection, for the BD191 with Schmidt R10 handle. Chinese names are not like Western names, Google revealed. This one means "surpass England," based on a government manufacturing initiative from the late fifties; "England" standing for Western manufacturing. I doubt Baili had anything to do with that, but with tongue in cheek, I proclaim: "mission accomplished."

I used Chaoying's blade loosening ability for greater exposure at the lowest and steepest angles of pitch, the first and final passes. But in the critical moderate angles of the second pass, which I shave skewed ATG/XTG to minimize traction, the blade was tight to the safety bar. Oh, and loose for skimming on the "hydroplastic envelope" (water pass), which is how I did the touch-ups for BBS. I saw one weeper right under my nose, where my attack was obviously interfered with by an enormous obstacle. Otherwise, perfect.

Streamlined Balm Deodorant

I did a heap of leaf raking this afternoon, with the kids compacting them. My skin was crawling when I woke up this morning, so I was unfortunately clean from a shower before all that sweating. Actually, I don't care anymore. I've gotten so good at targeted skin care, the bath schedule doesn't matter much to me.

It gave me a good opportunity to try altering my underarm antiperspirant formula, anyway. Since I've switched to balm instead of splash, I thought I would try giving the pits a pleasant smell. After balming my face with a pea-sized dab of Dollar Tree Men's 3-in-1 Lubricating moisturizer mixed with a splash of Dollar Tree blue aftershave, which I also wiped off and soaked with a wet cloth, to save my thin skin from dehydration, I reloaded with the same for my pits, wiping again. Then ammonium alum, with a spray of water to keep it sliding/dissolving on the skin, and fan drying with the cloth.

I've tried incorporating splash in other ways, and it's generally proven counterproductive, not a viable substitute for the witch hazel toner in the "odorless" method. It seems as though alcohol primes the skin and hair for bacterial colonization, and additionally opens up the floodgates for nutrient-rich sweat. But for little more time investment than smearing oneself with a commercial product, this formula gives about the same smelly result. The benefit is, you can make it out of any splash or cologne, and "reduce" ecologically.

Don't take my word for it, though. During a family pig pile on the master bed, my wife prompted my six-year-old son to smell my armpit, thinking I was still committed to the odorless antiperspirant. To her surprise, he reported: "Smells nice!"

Racer and "Stella"

Baili razor BD177 got a name today, after pairing up with my cheapest, smoothest blade. I was like, "duh," shoulda thought of this a long time ago. I forgot to tighten the blade down, having planned to play with the TTO's version of angle adjustment, and still didn't get burnt. It was like having a three-week old blade in the Super Speed. ME LIKEY! It's fast and cheap, and I don't expect the blade to last more than a week, but that could easily be my daily shave.

I did play with loosening the blade slightly, and found it very effective, flicking the edge up and down like in the BD191, and very secure, though controlled by a much smaller turn of the knob. So now I consider Stella's metallic odor in the same light as I look upon the chrome rubbing off the BD191 baseplate -- if that's what makes it work so well, from bare metal-metal contact inside, I'm all for it. I still hold some hope that the copper odor is just a misplaced layer of cosmetic finish.

Knowledge Of Fruit

Poring over lists of things that are alkalizing, I saw apples were in the "moderately" category, and started my day with one, plus 4,000 IU Vitamin D3. The wife and kids picked a bushel of 'em recently, so I've been eating them two at a time, and liking how I feel. Given how slimy the crabapple pectin popsicle was, it occurred to me that I could rub the core on my skin for preshave, as I once had with a cucumber slice.

Some pulp was rubbed off by the stubble, but a little rinsing still left a nice, slimy film. As I was doing this, my mind again connected with memories of Gramps. I actually think he might have shown me the same thing, only it was so difficult for a 4-year old non-shaver to encode a memory of what would have appeared to be nonsense. The probabilities are so incredible that I myself don't trust the recollection, so take this one with a grain of salt -- or a whole pinch, which tastes pretty good on an apple.

But do try it, because it is an excellent preshave! I got effective hair softening AND a nice skin softening post shave effect.

My Williams just isn't lathering up right anymore, and I think it's because all the sodium salt has been dissolved over time, leaving the less soluble potassium fatty acid-ates, and the scum of other metal ions from my hard water. So for once  I am actually using it like a mug soap, lathering right in the cup, because there's no way to get too much soap in the brush anymore.

Speaking of brushes, that Baili bargain brush is so insubstantial that I'm almost sorry I recommended it. It reminds me of what I've read of Parker brushes, so I think the bar was set too low on a corporate basis. I should also report that my beautiful rose gold TTO is smelling like a cheap hoe, as an oxidized copper odor is emanating from the knob. But Ruby's quality shone brightly today, giving me a nice, close shave for a change.

I'm still totally enamored with the BD191 cutting head, at least. There is a slight chip mark in my swapped handle which shows that the play in blade loosening is about 1/3 turn, a huge difference from the 1/8 to 1/4 range cited for most razors of the type. Tightened down, I finished off its blade by using the razor to exfoliate my feet, which I've been neglecting a bit lately. When you take a Tech or a GEM to calluses, you can get a ribbon shaving of cornified skin. This razor just takes it off gradually, with a much more natural-looking, declamation-like effect.

I once said that women interested in dermaplaning might still find some use in modern cartridges, but I retract that position. This is the way to go for that, and it gives some insight into why the razor is so darn good for my skin.

General Disappointment

Story of my life! Poking around Leisureguy's blog (say what you will about his shaving instructions, the man is a voracious reader in liberal politics), I found my way to an interesting report about men not participating in the labor force. That is, men like myself.

As it happens, I've been struggling with committing to a job application this week, a work at home opportunity for medical data processing. My wife's stepmother is a higher-up in medical office work, so I have a pretty good sense of the prospects and job security. I happen to be supremely qualified for this particular one, basically cataloging cancers. Indeed, the first career aptitude test I ever took, back in prep school, said I should be in data processing. (And we didn't even have the internet, in those days!)

I'll tell you the problem. Progressive though I am, the powers that be are hell bent on leading us back to the Clinton 1990's. I was there as a journeyman typesetter, another kind of skilled worker, enjoying pretty near the same kind of pay progression. And it sucked. Classifying workers as specified cogs in the corporate machine makes them appear to be replacable. They used to send some typesetting to outside help -- probably working at home -- and picking up that shitty work was our #1 daily source of stress. It ground the gears until the whole outfit flew apart in a labor dispute and subsequent sale of the company. Just another capital transaction, to economists. Total life disruption for working folk, as the presses went idle. My job ended up in India.

Hospitals apparently are a stronger anchor for jobs. But from the information before me, despite some insight from Obama's leadership (they are absolutely right, I'm not doing housework all day) they still don't get it. Their unpaid training ("free education") is aimed at young adults with no kids: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., plus four hours homework, for ten weeks. But really that's just grooming for the subsequent abuse, as you're expected to keep the same schedule at work, confined to a room in your own house. (Though hopefully, professional development/continuing education doesn't take 4 hours a night.) Really makes you glad you sold your soul to the bank to "own" the whole property...

Now, I'm with the late Gore Vidal, on the Republican Party being "as dead as the Whigs in 1846." I was an independent before the wars, and still am, in my own mind; I just vowed never to vote for that one party, ever again. But, f--, Democrats: YOU'VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT ECONOMIC INJUSTICE. Or it won't work -- I won't work. Skilled workers won't ever eat shit and poop money, no matter how deep the collusion between government and corporations.

So when I hear some fascist spout off about gays or women, I do know where they're coming from. In many ways, liberation has ruined the workplace. Nor will I let black voters off the hook, for poo-poohing Bernie (at least as CNN told it). Not helping the cause, my equals! For every sucker willing to get in line for this stale, old, capitalist American dream roller coaster ride, we'll all be waiting that much longer. (For JUSTICE.)


Was I going to say anything at all about shaving? Let's see... my face is certainly geting dry and flaky with all the glycerin I've been giving it, in toner and balm. I gave up on the heavy BD191 handle and switched to my favorite, Schmidt R10. I had to be sure, because the handle nut is of larger diameter, and will scrape a circle of brass into the baseplate. It looks alright, I think.

I've also been playing with a new shaving popsicle made of crabapple pectin, just some cloudy dregs I saved, leaving it to settle in the back of the fridge. I didn't get much this year, from just some knotty accidents of pollination on a few branches, but it was almost as thick as the commercial stuff. Pectin is an emulsifier that can form a natural polymer, and so an interesting material in all areas of bathroom research. With a prep of Vit. D oil, cured witch hazel, pumpkin juice, and the pectin, it seemed to make an alcohol-free shaving gel! But I chickened out and put Williams on top, for a gentle CCS. That damn razor fooled me into overshaving again the last time, so I continue to struggle with myself in relation to the low angle.

Iffy Stiffies And Williams

I moved the challenging Personna Platinum Chrome from BD177 to Ruby and confirmed that the Parker TTO is just all around better for me, with an easy BBS. But today the BD191 called me back, for a shave that left the skin essentially untouched. Something about the contrast of these three razors is especially instructive, teasing apart three distinct angles of pitch without overly limiting exposure. I don't know that I'll ever decide on one, though, since my skin is far from constant.

Today, coming off a pretty rough week, I was motivated to preserve skin, and focused on limiting the blade's traction: by gradual direction changes, by tightening the blade down on second pass, and by only taking two passes. I was rewarded with a perfectly even, velvety smooth shave. That is, stroking upward anywhere on my face would catch stubble, but stroking downward anywhere would feel smooth. More importantly, my skin's healing continued, barely interrupted by some improvised Lilac Vegetal balm.

Will I be able to live with the stubble, later tonight? Well, if not, I will certainly be free to shave again. But I'd like to start building some epithelial thickness for the cold season ahead. To that end, I used Humphreys as preshave, which gave me a clue as to the etiology of a possible Williams Collapse Syndrome, or better, "emulsion dissatisfaction." Putting a splash of Humphreys directly on the puck, you will recall, makes Williams lather spectacularly rich. Today, putting it in my skin seemed to do the opposite, by reversing the mass transfer of liquid via the Marangoni effect. I had also used baby oil as a cleanse, so there is another suspect. My lather was already struggling in my palm, and failed on my face.

Once again, the cure was readily accessible: reload and face lather. Making lather isn't like making jelly, thankfully. I tried making wild grape for the first time this weekend. Nothing clear about that jelly -- BLACK. But yummy. I made a small mistake, and the first batch didn't try to set right up in the pan, like my crabapple does, which gave me a scare -- it took me all weekend to pick enough for two batches, using the last of my own pectin, from a special crabapple tree I have in my yard. But a little less than a gallon bucket full of blueberry-sized grapes yielded more than a gallon of tart jelly, in the end.

The annual tradition always reminds me of soap making, because it's about the same level of craftsmanship. I traded two jars of crabapple jelly for my first puck of artisan soap -- Petal Pushers Fancies. One for one would have been a fairer trade... and I'd ask two pucks for a pint nowadays, because I notice everyone's using "stearic acid" as an ingredient. That's worse than using store-bought pectin to make jelly. At least the pectin reacts with sugar to make a gel; stearic acid is only a salt molecule away from being soap itself. Someone else actually made soap, then distilled it to produce this "ingredient."

That is, there is no such thing as "saponified stearic acid," an attempt at deception seen in some of the lists. Saponification is the separation of an ester into alcohol and fatty acid, and stearic acid is the latter type of product.

I don't know any equivalent kind of cooking, that is analogous to saying "I made soap... using soap as an ingredient." I guess Shake-N-Bake... since we don't actually "make" chickens. It does taste great.

Need For Speed

Considering the chatter every new $200 razor gets, don't you think someone -- anyone? -- would notice a new TTO that rivals the classic Super Speed in quality AND price? The Baili BD177 (179 in chrome) is big news, in my book. Maybe it's because I once used an inflation calculator to assess the real original cost of the classics. Guangzhou Weidi Commodity Co., Ltd. isn't a small machine shop, or a kickstarter project. The Chinese are actually in a position to fill the gigantic shoes of Gillette. The only question now is, how the products are received.

BD177 is nowhere near as gentle as my black-handled SS. I'd guess it's more like a red-tip, though I've never encountered one personally. Again Baili has wisely chosen a revered, not so easy to find design upon which to build. Beginners will fare somewhat better here, though I certainly don't think they are being catered to. (BT171 is still in the catalog.) It's technically easier to burn myself with a steep pitch bias, and no protection to adjust compared to the BD191. But I am not so easily fooled into doing so.

So far, Ruby's seat on the "modern" shelf is secure, because she never burns me. And I find the BD191 more intellectually stimulating. But this one's too pretty to go in the bucket.

Not For Beginners

So it's been a week, and I've gradually worked the BD191 down to the hair roots. Given its mild first impression, the journey was surprisingly perilous. A quarter turn on the handle brought my Personna Platinum Chrome to the right depth, but it was a decidedly low-angle shave, digging hard at the roots. But then the blade was very selective in which hairs it would cut, inviting over-shaving. I think that because dormant and immature follicles have less deeply rooted hair, and there's no extraction factor in play, they, along with the many oddly-angled hairs, cannot brace for the cut and just get plowed over.

Still, my skin loves this approach. It's like a shavette with just the bare minimum of safety, or presumably, a Gillette Brownie. And I just had a flashback to when I was 4 -- that's how my grandfather knew the Old Type, but since I didn't know anything about Scouting, either, I had no idea what the hell he was talking about. Or Gram, for that matter. Oh, yes, I'm sure they were both conversant in the entire Gillette product line, talking over my head between the bathroom and adjoined livingroom.

I love that connection with the past. I just don't have the old-timey discipline. There's so much going on with the blade side of things, I don't have the attention to give to hair softening, either. The natural pairing, given the effort I'm willing to put in, is the Italian Barber, alone. Both are about physical skin protection. Finally, a balm can be improvised by combining Dollar Tree 3-in-1 Lubricating moisturizer with a little splash.

And maybe that's just where most shavers are coming from, on a day-to-day basis.

I Killed The Lather

Williams is an extremely simple soap, but that doesn't mean it isn't still beyond scientific understanding. One of the common complaints about its lather is that it "disappears." I thought I had it dicked, but damned if it didn't do it again today.

This weekend, while out and about touring (foliage season) I passed on some fakey shaving soaps at an expensive market, because I could read the ingredients well enough to know that they used the wrong kind of lye. That generally leads to a similar phenomenon, of a "shaving" soap that just lathers like a bath bar. You can try that for free with Ivory and some oil, a pinch of baking soda... not good.

Playing with Ivory taught me the old trick, featured in old Ivory advertising, of pre-lathering, which is smearing what sticks to my hand in palm lathering on the beard, for the purpose of pre-saturating the skin. Williams and other low-glycerin soaps respond very well to this technique. Theoretically, the lather I put on after wiping that off and hydrating with a wet cloth doesn't have to deal with water migrating to the skin, because it's already been done.

Today there seemed to be a substance migrating the other way, though, destroying the lather after precautions were already taken. I went back to the bowl, and still couldn't whip it back up. I think it could have been alum from a prior shave, trapped in my skin somehow. Strange that I wouldn't have encountered this before, though. I also used pumpkin juice and boo-boo juice, but I thought that was a good thing. Actually, I haven't been mixing baking soda and pumpkin juice lately, and I guess can see how those might have unlocked the skin more than the soap.

Very weird. It was like, one minute lather, then pffft -- it was gone. Luckily there's never a shortage of Williams. I just rinsed and face lathered, for a fantastic lather, no further problem.

I added an instructional note to my post about the BD191, based on today's shave. That thing is growing on me way too fast, for a razor that has yet to deliver BBS. I just want to celebrate its existence... like the Merkur and the Tech had a fat Chinese baby, and it's irresistibly adorable! I welcome the opportunity to develop my technique further, and meet the challenge presented by its beauty. Probably just breaking in a single blade will help... but it's too late, I'm a goner.

BD177 Plenty Of Blade

I wouldn't call either of my new Baili razors a "game-changer" in the milieu of my bathroom, but I have no doubt they're going to take America by storm, in the marketing sense. I couldn't bear to wait for the stubble to come back on my upper cheeks tonight, and had an evening shave, just to see how the TTO measured up. It seemed a little more biased toward going deep and steep, but it's hard to say, since the starting stubble was so light, and it WAS reaching it at fairly low pitch. I didn't choose a very efficient skin prep, yet this razor allowed me to dig repeatedly under my jaw AND do some dry shaving, despite already being a little irritated when glycerin soap was applied.

Not surprisingly, this razor was much more my speed, and a real competitor to my #1, Parker 87R. The Baili has similar heft and flash, but again, is obviously the result of a completely different kind of production. On one hand, every polished surface of the Baili razors, inside and out, is a mirror. I don't think the shaving world has ever seen anything like that! But as previously mentioned, the trade off in mass production seems to be a lack of machine work. A little squeak when the knob is tightened could be perceived as the factory's robot signature. Sounds to me like the same factory as the Weishi, and I think a reference in the early marketing suggested as much.

It doesn't add up to "luxury" quite as convincingly as the heavier Baili 3-piece; but, neither does Parker's TTO formula. And at $20 less, it's a clear winner, unless some other style "speaks" to you. Personally, I'm loving the rose gold finish, something I once suggested for my wedding rings. (Vetoed.)

BD191 Crazy Mild

I love it! The new BD191 heavy ZAMAK razor from Baili isn't a "clone" at all, but a clear continuation of Tech evolution. It gives me hope for humanity that the blade exhibits no flex at all, and seemed incapable of injury at any pitch, more like the Merkur 41C Old Type clone. Perhaps this razor could be unscrewed a fraction of a turn, same as the open comb, for greater first-pass efficiency. Unlike the Merkur, the effect continues through a wide range of operability, making it equally Weishi-like. It can even bear some pressure modulation, like the anchor style that this razor essentially makes obsolete.

My concern for the beginner then becomes, that with little immediate consequence for shaving at a moderate pitch, it might be difficult to learn how to shave correctly. It also seems unlikely that this new flagship, despite its visual cues, will ultimately alter the direction of current trends. It should serve to effectively relieve Merkur of that responsibility, for the mainstream. I wish this had been my first step toward luxury, instead of that screwed-up Maggard razor.

The metaphor I like to use for razors like this, is learning to drive with the family Buick. It may be a great all-around car, but you need a compact car to really figure out the physics of driving.

Driver's Ed

So, what you're going to do, here, is put the razor in gear with a slight unscrewing of the handle, about a quarter turn. (Much more secure than the 41C screw, looks like half a turn would be no problem.) Use your lateral blade guards, arcing vertically from the bar guard at the corners of the blade, as a visual gauge of blade exposure.

Now pretend you're shaving with a shavette, and pull your skin up at the sideburn, before pulling out with a low-angle, skewed stroke. Continue at a low angle, and maintain skin tension, through the first lathering, then tighten the handle down to shave against the grain, at least for now. (You can shave however you like when your skin gives you a license.)

Skipping To The End

If the Tech displayed an affinity for the belt-transmission, low angle approach, I would expect the Super Speed to respond better to a shallow prep with better-softened hair, aimed more at minimizing the drag of a steeper pitch.

In either case, I want anti-osmotic witch hazel to put the dermis beyond risk of penetration. I selected "solution" again, instead of the Humphreys toner, to balance a low-glycerin soap. (And because I keep forgetting to cure some of the U.S.P. version.) Then boo-boo juice, just to see what it could do alone, and Williams on top. No smear, but to start a face lather in dilute fashion, I diverted some soapy water from the bowl to my face before loading the brush properly.

First pass was predictably the weakest part of the shaving experience. I could just manage to keep the edge safely levered off my skin when it felt necessary, this time needing to discipline myself early. And I did feel the blade clearly, in all its simplicity, requiring slow strokes. I didn't actually allow any skipping along my skin.

There seemed no reason to hold back, digging for stubs, but in the end, I got the same caliber of performance from the Racer as yesterday. Instead of moisturizing, I needed to put some cocoa butter on, to mollify my roughed-up stratum corneum.  Alum felt a bit raw, without oil in the way, but not painful. I expect no late-onset burn, but I am faceturbating alot. One might be tempted to stretch the truth and call this result BBS, because of a powdery touch and exfoliated sensitivity. But I still missed at the jaw corners, and it really looks no closer than yesterday.

Can't Decide

I like the way my skin was treated by the low-angle approach, represented by the Tech, shaving oil, and moderately (re-) moisturizing soap; but prefer the easy closeness of the moderate angle approach, represented by the Super Speed, boo-boo juice, and Williams. It might come down to which is compatible with pumpkin juice, or otherwise can deliver the hairy-kari effect.

Plus, there are still my other razors to try in this light, including the new BD191 coming on a slow boat. Yeah, I know... I said I was done buying razors. But I can't ignore this major Chinese initiative, only $13 on Amazon (under $10 elsewhere). Baili seems to have seriously embraced classic razors, and is now attempting to reunite them with the bullshit Western market, using "improved" features and added weight. They've always seemed like a good outfit to me. I like how they're handling the unscrupulous middlemen (who ruined the Rimei for everyone). It seems like there would actually be room for a flea marketer to profit, this Xmas... if only I had two cents left to invest!

Lol, let's just see how it shaves first. (And I ain't talking about video.)

Bitch and ye shall receive

Wouldn't you know, the package from China came in today! Way less than the projected shipping time, which makes me feel special, indeed. Damn, not nearly enough stubble to shave yet... (If I stroke WTG and it's smooth, I don't shave.)

Okay, quick impressions, then:

1. These guys are way ahead of the curve in head design. In preternatural accord with the theme of this post, I'm looking at a three-piece with significant gap, and a TTO with much less. Both have extra wide heads with buttresses rising from the guard bar to shield blade corners. For the first time in thirty years, the classic design lineage has advanced! 

2. Photos are not doing these razors justice. You might think the TTO handle resembles an RM2003, with its crudely cast, or formed, pineapple grenade-like grip. But although this handle is also formed (a seam can be found in the recesses), the lines of the grip are crisp, the facets reflective in an organized way. There is even a subtle barrel shape to the handle (which is where it goes wrong in pictures, I think). At least in dry hands, I find this to be a totally acceptable alternative to machine knurling, as costume jewellery would be acceptable to someone who cannot afford a 5-carat diamond. And those pins under the TTO baseplate, that look so horrible in pictures, are what stop the doors opening too far. They have matching notches in the baseplate; it isn't just some half-assed compromise, and they aren't as visually jarring as they appear in photos.

3. The BD191 handle is going to be very interesting, to say the least. It sure is heavy. I think the natural grip might be something like what is used with a gravy ladle. "The weight of the razor" might finally do some work! When fingertips are used as a fulcrum and you shave ATG. (No, not really; but it might contribute some productive force.)

4. Get the bonus brush in the aliexpress offer. It has a crap wooden handle, but some actual fine hair tips. Looks legit!