Old Tricks, New Bumps

Yesterday's shave seems to have had some consequences. An infected follicle on my neck, plus a couple more red ones, around the crease. And, though I didn't notice them until after today's shave, two whitish spots of edema (deep swelling), one on each side of my face, about the size of a zit. I'm guessing that is related to the itching I got after applying pumpkin juice, two days ago. Scarring is not the kind of "collagen" I had in mind when I put the rosewater on! Pray it goes away... oh, what the hell. For science!

Today I brought back Arko and the salty serum for a "perfect" shave. The skin surface looked better to me, but not milky, like when it is thick, by any means. Still very thin and translucent, revealing the aforementioned defects. I kind of wanted to get the Arko off of me with alum anyway, and the lack ot sting (except for that infected follicle) confirmed intact SC. I then implemented the "die-down" strategy with a splash of AV.

What's new: I worked out that it would be best to finish the shave with the Vit. D shaving oil, a single drop. Not that my skin was perfectly hydrated and plump, but I fear the glycerine could have a pumpkin juice-like inflammatory effect if applied immediately. I waited for the dry down, ten or twenty minutes later, and as with any product, the oil drop further protected me from the potential harm. One dab was quickly absorbed, not requiring any back-off.

Refining Simplicity

I saw the opposite of the Marco method today, bowl lathering Williams. After two passes, the rinsewater in my basin looked like it could become drinkable again, if I treated it with a little alum. (No, thanks.)

And I still had enough lather left to use it as a "toilet soap" of sorts. Old advertisements claimed that Williams was "antiseptic," which I believe simply means capable of cleansing germs away. That might be expected of any soap, and I'm not sure how shaving vs. non-shaving soaps would sort on that, since germs might adhere well to oily additives. I wonder if the old timers were attempting to comment on Williams' cornifying effect. They claim a healing effect on chapped hands, dandruff, and other flaky lesions, which all seems very plausible to me now.

"Creamy" lather, overflowing from mugs, not so much. But I'm starting to think my gravitation to Williams, which occupies a primary seat in my only ceramic soap bowl, is no accident. Even when I know that Arko is second to none when inserted in my "perfect shave" method. I now cast a suspicious look at my pumpkin and baking soda hair-softening serum, which enriches lather, but may also be responsible for overly degrading my skin texture.

I skipped it again today, and although hair cutting was not especially easy, it was neither especially difficult. The sum impact of that compromise again seems to be a "chipped" skin surface. But I can't get enough of the Aqua Velva Musk, now, so I hit it straight, and backed it off with a wet cloth.

My first preference would be to maintain an ideal mantle of stratum corneum, which will not interfere with tactile shaving results, but also yield a fine-grained and unbroken skin surface. Until then, I may be alternating between "perfect" and "die-down" strategies.

Stratum Corneum: "I'm Not Dead"

"Just a flesh wound!"

After farting in the general direction of my favorite YouTubers on the subject of exfoliation, and my own skin-hardening experience with Williams, I was lucky enough to stumble on a 2011 medical article that goes right to the heart of the matter. That non-innervated layer of skin that we're always messing with, the stratum corneum, should not actually be considered "dead" skin. It is vital to the organ at large, not only as a barrier, but as a signal transducer.
I haven't read the whole thing, but I'm totally down with the theme, and it's nice to read a history of progress in modern times, for a change.

Bring out your exfoliators...

My face was feeling great this morning, but still flaky as hell. I went with my boar brush and Stirling to clean it up, after a Noxzema preshave. Back to the Merkur. Smooth and beautiful! I hit it with pumpkin juice before the moisturizer, because it's still thin (and that feels really nice). Then it started to itch, so I went back and dabbed on some rosewater, which was effective. I hope to lay down some new layers of collagen and corneocytes before things get irritated again. [UPDATE: WARNING - this treatment seemed to raise small scars on my cheeks, actually worsening my skin texture. Don't do it!]

Dry Is Not Always Bad

My skin has undergone a second, rather dramatic, winter succession in response to the recent plain soap and alcohol treatment. My face went numb after that Rimei shave, like it does when I shave with Ivory. This, despite using Noxzema as preshave. I think I know what that means, now: the spongy layer dies down to the level of nerve roots, thickening the horny layer at its expense.

And -- I almost can't believe what an idiot I am -- my first instinct was, again, to amputate, moving my Personna Platinum Chrome blade to the Long Feng DF-813 (Chinese Yuma). Thankfully, I know what I'm doing with overexposed edges at this point, and did not do any serious damage. My nerve endings were resuscitated, whether by the exfoliation, or the moisturizing of KMF-VDH croap and less intense Dollar Tree cold cream.

The shaves during this interval were abysmal. I am definitely not holding anything against the Merkur, because the Rimei and Dragonfeng couldn't hit under my jaw, either. Another possibility was that the Isreali Personna might be too sharp for me, after all. But today, normalcy was restored with the same blade installed in my Super Speed, Noxzema preshave, and Dove Expert Shave cream. The buildup of NMF is evidenced as light chapping all over, requiring 3x more moisturizer than normal to conceal/heal. Still no burn, though.

Actually, I think the die-off was a good thing. Not when I was numb, certainly, but now I'm looking at a smoother skin texture. As an oily-skinned, daily-shaving (and recently, twice-daily shaving) dude, I'm terribly jealous of men who look like milk maids after their once-a-week Sunday shave, probably done with an electric. I got a little taste of that. My scars don't look so bad today.

For a second, I thought, (#$%&!) maybe Roberts was right after all, your hair can grow a different direction if you get into a certain habit. But I'm pretty sure it's all about the NMF. More up the "skin therapist" alley. Instead of doing all these harsh peels, exposing the living tissue to air, they ought to be using Williams and Aqua Velva Musk!

There might have been some pumpkin juice in there between shaves, but I haven't been all about the hair softening serum lately. Don't know how that might interact with the (theoretical) process below.

A two-stage process for skin resurfacing

  1. Shave with Williams, or, if female who will not shave, wash with Ivory and exfoliate some other way.
  2. Splash Aqua Velva Musk all over the area that needs improvement.
  3. Repeat 1 and 2 daily or twice daily until the skin goes numb and feels hard. Don't worry about shaving close, which may become difficult. Just lightly smooth the skin.
  4. Shave with the most moisturizing prep and lather you can normally tolerate, and resist the temptation to exfoliate severely.
  5. Resume normal shaving/cleansing routine, maintaining a high level of mindfulness regarding the stratum corneum.

Third Time, Not Charmed

The Merkur's campaign from Grandpa-land to the #1 spot in my routine came to a grinding halt this morning. Using my best prep, but tightening the blade down for all three passes, my skin was finaly able to breathe a sigh of relief, a perceptible feeling of "Ah..." after dry-down. I can still see chipping on the surface, but it's definitely on the mend, from the inside out.

The beard, however, was cut too sharp, and not "velvety." I don't think it's just the coarser hair of the goatee area, where I've been finishing WTG. All along the jawline is problematic, even up into the cheeks. The cleanest spot is, oddly, right in that starting area of the sideburn. I don't mind the CCS, that's not what I'm talking about. I almost shaved a second time last night, I so detest going to bed with stubble catching on the pillowcase. I think I definitely will shave tonight, now that my skin is good.

And the razor I'll be using for that, is the Rimei. When it comes to new, sharp blades, I need the extra reach. My hair's too bendy and flat-lying to try lopping it off at the top -- gotta chop it at the trunk.

Even less surprising news: with a little bit less water in the brush, I still couldn't get a 4-inch bowl to work like a mug with Williams. But I dumped the slosh (just like yesterday's) into another bowl, worked up what was in the brush on my face, and had extra lather to clean my pits with. Not super clean, but with the AV mixing with my own musk, definitely super sexy!

Modernized Mug Mess

My chipped stratum corneum dried down to a mild-to-moderate burn yesterday, and my skin looked like crap without any moisturizer. My sense of manhood was deeply offended by this, and so I employed the same products with all different techniques today, to redeem myself. Plus alum and, yes, "Men's" moisturizer. 8(

First the soap. My modern synthetic brush immediately mopped up what I estimated to be the right amount of water. I could have thoughtfully brushed it back onto the puck a few times and face lathered, but I still wanted the mug experience. So I pretty near fully immersed the knot and dumped all that water into the small bowl, and whisked it like I wanted to.

In so doing, I basically re-invented the idiotic, wasteful "Marco Method," sloshing suds out of the bowl until I had my lather. Enough was lost to cloud the entire basin of rinsewater. Partial credit is hereby awarded to the many who have written that Williams responds well to extra water and/or that method. I say it simply marks the death of mug lathering. You can get just as good a lather out of Williams by measuring the right amount of water in your brush. It's the even more idiotic "load for n seconds" method that makes wasting soap seem relatively okay.

Tightening the razor. I still went loose for pass 1. On final pass, I tried increasing velocity to compensate for more limited blade exposure. But I noticed I could still cut hair in the buttresses by using pressure WTG. This is normally true only for the concavities beside my chin. Now I applied it to the entire goatee region.

Just a close, comfortable shave. NMF still looked chipped.  I'm not going to push this razor for more, at least not with a bog-standard lather prep. (Oh yeah, I used my first lather as the pre-shave, and hydrated fully with a wet cloth.)

To ensure all the soap was gone, I used potassium alum, and got a little sting up where I start shaving, on the cheek contralateral to my dominant hand. Odd place for it; guess I was slow to adapt my stroking to the substrate today. After rinsing that, I applied Aqua Velva Musk directly, and backed it off with a wet cloth. Finally, two dabs of moisturizer (emollient equivalent to 1 drop of shaving oil) were quickly absorbed, so I let them sit.

Appearance is a little blotchy, but hey, I wasn't asking for perfection -- just freedom from injury. I think I succeeded. Williams' greatest strength, I think, is that it feels great on my face during the shave. Lacking any moisturizer, it just goes about its business gliding the razor along, softening hair and stratum corneum in a moderately well-balanced way. If you want to especially protect or nurture your skin, well, that's all up to you.

Combe and Open Comb Combo

Combe, Inc. makes Aqua Velva and Williams, but I've had BBQ with Combes right here in Williamstown. Our kids are great friends. Small world! (But no, there is no shaving tycoon here in Vermont.)

With the Ever-Ready 250D, I was not able to whip up more than protolather with the historical method given in the previous post -- or as close as I could get, using a bowl with an inch of vertical wall. I rotated the bowl/cup slowly to accommodate the larger bottom area, slapping the liquid against the side. The smart play would have been to dump that in my palm or a bowl, but I ended up just face lathering. I guess that's really what the 250D is about, despite its suggestive narrow profile. There's nothing whisk-like in its character.

The best I can suggest to show what I was talking about, from the modern selection of video, features the wrong soap and a modern-ish knot.

The keeping it loose experiment with the Merkur 1904 OC didn't go too well. I didn't get cut, but it felt risky around my mouth, and it came unscrewed a couple times on the flats. To achieve the fine adjustment I was going for, it might be necessary to place a rubber O-ring between the handle and the baseplate. But I probably won't bother, as yesterday's shave turned out to be another solid, 12-hour shave, despite the missed hairs. And today, I'm looking at chipped NMF.

Aqua Velva Musk and a drop of shaving oil on top kept things super-simple.

Don't Soak Soap

Williams "mug" shaving soap had its profile raised a bit last year, when it was rumored on shaving fora to be departing the market. I just found out yesterday, and also that it wasn't true. But Google will keep that misinformation circulating on page 1 of its search results for a good, long time. I like the stuff, but Arko is better: I say buy it, but don't stockpile it. I think I paid double what it's worth ($1) the last time I saw it at a local drugstore, and that's as much support as I'm willing to give to an apparent artificial demand scheme.

Penetrating the skin of Williams hype further, I would suggest that you also disregard any reference to soaking this soap, in a mug or otherwise. Remember, people today simply don't know how to lather soap with a brush, much less in a mug.

Skip the history

I entered the shaving scene just as this knowledge was being lost, unfortunately prior to the internet boom, in the 1990s. People in real life could still describe methods, but materials were not available. I thought any such speaker was nuts at the time (I was using electric, and mainly interested in foam and cartridges), but I received instruction from an actual ward of the mental hospital I was working in. He wasn't old or anything; authentic traditional shavers are definitely still alive. I think the demographic phenomenon of the "tweeners" makes them relatively rare, and then there is the usual attrition.

Anyway, as I recall: you could soak if you wanted to. Your brush might like it. Mainly, it would make things hot. When it came time to lather, just a little bit of water would be in there, enough to make the lather with. Brushes were long and tight then, so it would mostly lie on the puck in a thin pool, rather than in the canopy. Perhaps the indent on the Williams puck face could be taken as a serving suggestion. (I've mushed mine into a bowl, and cannot test that theory.)

Slow stirring in a counter-clockwise direction (for a right-handed person) with the brushtip square to the surface dissolved the soap, and when the solution reached the right consistency, you would whip it around quickly, clockwise, to add the air and create foam, barely contacting the soap surface at all, sort of an oscillating painters stroke on the mug wall. The mug would be tilted to make that motion as rapid as possible, the one point where the old way seems to me very elegant, compared to the fussy, precious scuttles of today. But if you wanted to keep your lather sort of warm, you could set the mug in the (shallow) water of your basin when you were done.

This isn't chemistry

You can't make a soak water cloudy, then dump the "bad" part of the soap down the drain. The liquid crystal on the puck surface and the dissolved soap in the water are the same substance, only in different states of hydration. It's not supposed to chemically react with anything; it doesn't break down. When you soak soap, you're pretty much just wasting it.

Soapy water would, however, be better for brush soaking than pure, if you're using a brush with absorbent fibers, and have disregarded my prior suggestion not to rinse it out after shaving. Water hardness will have already been minimized then, rather than attacking the lather from a reservoir in the brush.

The War of 1904

I bought some Israeli Personna cheap on Amazon, because I'm curious, one, and two, the American 100 pack complicates distribution to other shavers. They didn't seem any different to me, though. Not at first shave, anyway.

There were signs that could have been interpreted as more bitey: a pinprick under my lip, blotches nigh bumps near my Adam's apple. But I remembered, I was coming off a solid 12-hour shave, the BBS with slight irritation that the GEM delivered yesterday. When you shave every day, consequences can extend to the next shave.

The determining skin examination for me, since recently, is a close approach to the mirror to assess the condition of the stratum corneum. And today, it was flawless, without chip or chap.

I don't know if I'll get 12 hours of smooth out of this, since my fingertips are picking up a few hairs under my jaw, but it's a damn fine shave. Maybe I won't screw the blade down tight after pass 1 tomorrow.

After that, it will be a battle for hearts and minds between the Rimei and the Merkur.

GEM Micromatic Clog-Pruf Approved

SEs were prominent in YouTube's serving of shaving videos today, and I've been watching a couple ingrowns on my jaw; so it seemed like a good day to roll out the Micromatic. Its low-angle bias would surely keep the edge out of my follicles.

What I wasn't expecting was a BBS shave. I doctored my Noxzema with bentonite again for the preshave, and this time no ammonia was released, at least not enough to rise above the other strong vapors of Noxzema.  I think I used a little less today. I then went directly to Dove Expert Shave.

Putting blade to face, suddenly, new life was breathed into the early DE-SE rivalry; or at least, loud echoes could be heard. First pass was a little tuggy, in a good way, and safe, like loosening a Merkur 1904 Classic a little bit. Second pass ATG was more dicey than the DE, with nothing to tighten down. And third pass had me going after pickups with quite a lot of pressure relative to any DE, struggling to get the edge to reach under that super-defensive guard.

I did get a little irritation for that maneuver, but it was the slightest of burns: the one that appears soon after dry-down, and is completely addressed by pumpkin juice. The GEM may not be the ideal razor for me, but the shave proved to me, finally, that SE is fully capable. I will now have to approach a new blade in the Merkur with increased skepticism.

The Prize

Farewell to history. Begone, politics. Onward! To the bathroom, where freedom and justice reign. Eyes on... the mirror. ;-)

Today I shook my kabuki over my palm, depositing a solid blanket of bentonite, which I then mixed with a snurdle of Noxzema, estimated for a thin coat over the beard area. It occurred to me as I was doing this that bentonite might be expected to attract ions pretty extremely, and would this melt my face off? But it actually made it milder. Not as tacky to the NMF, it seemed as I applied oil, whereas hair seemed more eager to erect in the presence of the salts that were exchanged. I think the carbamide odor made an early appearance, too.

I kept with my pumpkin serum anyway, as that was the first thing I prepared, and indeed, the hair spruced up even further. With a fully-worn blade, it was a close shave all the way, with pleasant traction holding the edge to the skin, but cutting like butter. Touch testing revealed that I'm starting to miss just a bit at the jaw corners, but the clay persisted to a powdery finish.

There is absolutely no question that cold cream is the correct phase for its addition, but it's probably time to change blades. I screwed around too much with other razors this time to make an exact calculation, but looks like the Astra SS made it into the 20's, anyway.

I Don't Have a Dream

I love this holiday, Martin Luther King Day. One time they gave me a parking ticket, where the meter said "free on holidays." Come to find out, they were referring to the privately negotiated holidays of city employees! Still plenty of stupid presiding at City Hall -- let no one forget that.

But I'm kind of sad today, for the public service effort that this blog represents. I should be jubilant: up to 1500 views, which is some kind of geometric growth since the first milestone. I finally got a comment yesterday! Thankful, I am. Also fairly content, after updating all the Disquisitions. Literally rewriting disagreements in the past tense felt like getting it behind me.

Is it the greener grasses I see in a more lateral direction? Google just keeps aggregating views to the same sources of (what I would view as being) bad information. Paul H. was acknowledged by YouTube for his shaving channel, eliciting a somewhat pissy comment from me -- and I LIKE him! (Who doesn't like Paul?)

Perhaps my antisocial nature is the issue, then. I don't know how I got onto this track (sometimes I type "shaving blogs" hopefully in the search box), but I was reading an article about successful blogs recently, which said you have to really like your audience. Not you, reader -- the larger group of potential readers.

That was the toughest question, but I also became more acutely aware of my failure to monetize. Kids have grown, and I will eventually need to provide some other value than my (so-so) cooking ability. I've tried flea marketing, which kind of ties into the preceding as engendering a sense of hopelessness.

Could the Disquisitions become a book, with just some pictures? The story elements ruin that idea. Not that it's a bad story, the triumph over evil powers -- in my bathroom. Outside of that, it's been nothing but a humiliating struggle, all the way. There is no recognized authority at this address.

Alright, that's it! From now on, we're not the Academy. We are... the Shaving Panthers!

Less Drama Please

Going to the hospital to visit some old friends today, whose son Willie, while visiting the same swimming pool I go to, had a seizure and aspirated vomit. In other news, my father-in-law just had a successful double bypass -- blockage caught by testing, but still. All this happening in the dead of winter. Everyone needs to take a Vitamin D pill, and just cut it out, right now! Maybe I can pitch my bentonite clay remedy to Willie's dad while I'm there. He's one of those gluten-free people.

For a mundane, eventless shave, I chose my Dove cream, and actually gained some NMF, now only partially chipped. A heavy splash of Florida Water should keep the bad voodoo (and hospital germs) off of me. In return for their consideration, I actually took a shower before shaving, and skipped all other prep. Super Speed and a well-worn Astra SS: doesn't get any simpler than this.


Young William looked well enough... for a teenager on a respirator. I admire his parents for holding together as well as they are, their faith placed securely in modern medicine, and doctors' assurance that he will be able to breathe independently in the end. You could see his eyes focus intermittently. He has gripped his grandfather's hand tightly, in order to keep him in the room. With me, he was just like, "who are you again?" and back to sleep -- if he was actually awakened at all.

Rushing to my son's basketball practice this morning, Dove Expert Shave and the Super Speed came through again, finally solidifying my stratum corneum. Best of all, it was a totally clean shave, BBS. I've become completely at ease with the cream's lack of cushion, like I used to be finishing on Stirling's clay-and-oil feuled slickness. This is even thinner. I wouldn't even call it a "residue" on the third pass; just slick water. I rinsed, moisturized, and was out the door -- no splash required.

I guess this is how actually knowing what the chemicals of the NMF are, and applying them directly to the formula of the shaving cream, pays off. The thinner that shaving medium is, when you finally get down to direct ATG, the closer the result. It's a crying shame they couldn't see a way to continue marketing this. You can still pick it up on Amazon, I see, though not at the larcenous price I found at Big Lots.

Oil And Alum

Huh! Go figure. Four drops of shaving oil, applied as a half-assed oil cleanse using a cold damp microfiber cloth, turned out to be the most effective complement to my lavender KMF. I had to work hard for a close shave, though, touching up over and over --- no near-perfection here. Tomorrow I'll be moving my well-worn Astra SS to the late-model Super Speed, which is how most of my blades end their useful lives.

I've been thinking about the congested skin feel I get from KMF, and conclude that it must be due to perfectly balanced, intense hydration. KMF has a lot of glycerin, and it penetrates my spongy layer. Instead of exploding me, though, it employs aloe and other plant extracts to soup up the horny layer, and allantoin (a carbamide) to hydrate deeply.

Laying down the oil barrier just sort of scales it down to size, as far as my personal skin type is concerned. Unfortunately, its hair softening is also apparently diminished by oil. The first pass was doable, but unusually harsh, by recent standards. Only after the first cut did the hair seem to hydrate fully, sucking lather in like a straw.

One might consider KMF a shaving lotion, which, coincidentally, lathers extremely well. But I personally  just can't stand sustained use. I'm neither thick-skinned nor dry enough. Once again, I find myself breaking up with a long-time favorite, the perfect ladies' soap; our autumn romance has ended. We'll always have the croap.

To extricate myself, I employed potassium alum post shave, at which point it occurred to me that really, KMF was the closest I can get to a neo-traditional, three medium setup: oil, glycerine soap, and alum.

1 Weird Trick for a Comfortable Face

Throw in the towel! I moved on to Noxzema as a prospective match for my lavender KMF, and the 1904 Classic delivered its perfectly even, velvety CCS. NMF is holding at a thin, chipped condition; good enough for a shot of Skin Bracer. I immediately reached for the wet cloth to stop its penetration, of course, a maneuver I refer to as "backing off" the aftershave.

Moisturizer went on very thick, another good sign for my stratum corneum. But I remembered the oily feel of my skin yesterday (and I actually had put a drop of oil on as moisturizer, so that really isn't too remarkable of itself), and thought, why not back off the moisturizer, too? And that turned out to be perfect. My skin is dry to the touch, but not dry on the inside. Sufficiently replenished, but no tacky surface residue, as of oil or glycerin.

It's a kind of rinsing, that allows the skin to retain what it needs from the product you have applied, but without exceeding the bounds of usefulness. If you don't find this technique useful, your skin might be cheese, and good for you. I think the extent of most products usefulness is roughly the depth of the NMF.

Rocking Botanicals

My little viral reset had me using various creams, even Barbasol, but the one that's sticking, as I get back into my close shaving game, is lavender Kiss My Face moisture shave. That would be my cold-season (i.e., winter, not disease-ridden) KMF, while pomegranate-grapefruit is the ideal summer refresher.

Or it would be, if it weren't so stuffy-feeling. Recently I realized that a light oil layer is the way to prevent the congestion in my skin. I basically just need to figure out the right skin prep, rather than laying all  the responsibility on the formula of the soap, and I'll have an abbreviated version of my perfect shave. A nearly-perfect shave, that doesn't involve mixing serum or melting ice in my palm, appeals to me greatly.

Today I tried rose water. Hard to apply sparingly, being aqueous, but I worked as fast as I could with a narrow-mouth bottle (oil squeeze bottle with no dropper insert) and two fingertips. Rubbed it in, then wiped it off. That wasn't necessary, probably, for the lather's sake, but I wanted the oil cleansing effect.

I bowl lathered a whole squirt of KMF, though I know half a squirt will do, because I wanted to share some of that lavender goodness with my stinky pits. I don't like to shower every day, and espeically avoid washing my hair. I made it as wet as I could without collapsing it entirely.

For a while I've been putting off switching my blade out of the Rimei, though I know the Astra SS is getting up into the middle angles of pitch. I just love the surgical control I have with that cutting head on the Schmidt R10 handle. Though lately, I've noticed the blade not coming up even, which makes me suspect that the thread aren't 100% compatible. The classic Merkur-clone handle I was previously using popped off some months ago, and is now serving with my travel Tech.

The 1904 Classic handle might have to do full-time duty, in the end. The entire razor will take over tomorrow, as the Rimei today left me a little too shiny. There was a strange spot of edema on my upper lip, like a mosquito bite, and a similar chuff mark on my chin. Just a good, close shave. Should've done the right thing in the first place, and used a less aggressive razor. Then I might have been able to do more.

Florida Water makes a good splash all over one's body. After moisturizing, I still felt tight, which just gave me an excuse to add a drop of Shave Secret's spiciness. Up until that point, it would have been a perfectly non-sexist or trans-gendered shave. Actually, I wouldn't be offended if a chick smelled like pumpkin pie, either. I guess it's still good.

From Shaving to Overall Health and Economic Revitalization

My first cold of the year is finally relinquishing its seat on my face. Vitamin D is apparently no match for the germ pools in which I swim. I stockpile the night/day liquicap packs from Dollar Tree, but this time, I also used my bentonite for sinus irrigation, oral hygeine, and improved digestion. I'm starting to realize that, when it comes to applications of my shaving knowledge, my face is NOT the final frontier.

The most useful preparation I've found is to shake a kabuki brush over a cup of water, then swirl by moving the cup in a circular motion. It looks much thinner than the old Kaopectate, but it's the same idea. Kaolin is another kind of clay. People have been consuming clays in response to illness probably since they were more primitive animals.

But Kaopectate changed its formula to something more like Pepto-bismol, after I became an adult. You can almost hear the gears of the economy grinding, when you buy something as common as dirt. Isn't that kinda like switching to DE, though? I think this kind of mindful simplicity will turn out to be good for everyone, in the end. Even those who can't handle it, since demand for cartridges and Pepto-bismol will diminish.

There was an immediate reduction of inflammation in my gut, since I started drinking this deliberately dirty water. (What other animal drinks filtered water? Think about it.) I have to conclude that I was one of those with a "leaky gut," just as I was a person with "sensitive skin." The only other way you can feel like you've lost so much weight, so fast, is to take a giant dump. But better, because it lasts.

When your abdominal muscles are stretched thin over a mass of bloat, it's hard to think about doing sit-ups. But as sick as I've been recently, I find myself doing crunches in bed, just because I can. Hell, I might even wander into the meathead section of the gym, someday.

Think Smaller

Limestone is largely made of seashells, calcium carbonate. Diatomaceous earth is the stuff made of diatoms' silica. I had heard of this as a budgie enthusiast, among whom it is used for killing mites. Fossil shell flour is also used to cut calories in bread.

Freshwater-derived food grade diatomaceous earth is the type used in United States agriculture for grain storage, as feed supplement, and as an insecticide.

This form is safe enough, though breathing it in could kill somebody, the article says. It removes oil from insects' exoskeletons, causing them to dry up. That does sound rather like bentonite, doesn't it?

And if there are diatoms in freshwater, perhaps they are what improve my skin and hair when swimming at the lake. Whoomp! there it is -- fourth paragraph: "biogenic silica." Point of confusion: the White Cliffs of Dover, formed of algae remnants called coccoliths, made of calcium carbonate. Elementary school, my dear: I'm pretty sure they mistakenly called those "diatoms," when I was a kid. "Diatom-like," perhaps.

My bentonite clay is, as I understand it, mostly composed of a phyllosilicate called Montmorillonite. Other phyllosilicates include micas; "phyllo-" means "leaf" or sheet-forming. I sometimes think the lakes where I swim are filled with little flecks of mica. I'm guessing those are actually diatoms...

...and that the late Mr. Roberts and I were indeed thinking in the same vein. One source is a mix of both minerals, and looks about the right color.

Words Without Friends





What's New

"Biotic Silica" is the term used by Charles Roberts to describe the most notable ingredient in Hydrolast shaving paste. God knows what he meant by that. Limestone? I did not know he recently died. I sure hope it wasn't from being kind of a nut about shaving... he was only fifteen years older than me. I grabbed some downloads from his "Enchanté Online" site to remember him by. There is a certain familiarity in the tone of his ravings. I'll attribute it to his influence, and join the shaving world, for just a moment, to acknowledge a significant loss. I wish I could be the kind of educator he believed he was.


I got away scot-free with my little indiscretion with Stirling and bentonite. So, rather than turning immediately to restoring the NMF, I tested my new, perfect shave method with modern disposable razors. Two face planers that have the right balance of traction and blade exposure, for me, are the BiC 1 and Dollar Tree's 6-bladed monstrosity. I haven't tried them all, by any means. I still have a reserve of twin blades and generic "sensitive" disposables, which I found, respectively, too gouging, and incapable of reaching the skin.

Even with my best hair softening, the six-blade skipped and choked under too much drag WTG. This is just a guess, but I'd say there was about six times too much downforce, causing short, jerky strokes. It only took a tiny piece of my neck, that didn't even really bleed, but I let the Bic 1 take over for second pass, sliding ATG, and only gave it another chance on direct ATG, where it acquitted itself nicely, giving me a (bit shady) BBS. And the leathery skin texture which that entails.

The Bic 1 was a literal hoot on WTG, making a train-whistle noise as the cutting sound resonated in its hollow, white handle. I thoroughly enjoyed the ease of use, as I have a terrible cold. But I was disappointed to see my old friend, the seborrheic keratosis on my right cheek, and all the collagenous defects of my face, exposed for nothing better than a CCS. The feel, rubbing ATG, is sharp and not "velvety" at all.

UPDATE: I don't remember the BiC 1 being that bad a shaver. I must have simply missed some spots. So I gave it a second chance with a more aggressive, region-oriented approach, and a less oily prep with gel as the top layer. This restored the NMF to "chipped" condition, at least, and only a few hairs were missed on a DFS. If I were going modern, I'd definitely choose the BiC 1 white handle.

My opinion of modern razors is unchanged.

Frack Me Gently

Frack me slowly...take it easy, don't you know
That I have never been shaved like this before

My apologies, Andy Kim: I always thought you were Neil Diamond. But that pun is AM gold! Better than "On the blog again... shaving places that I've never been..." I almost went with that, because I am shaving out of the box again. "Curiosity shaved the--"?

No, I've just been curious whether bentonite could be applied to make a shave like with the charcoal mask, where the hair seems to withdraw and give the shave a clear conclusion. I found that it can, but doing so carries the usual risk for my stratum corneum. That charcoal mask was in a cold cream base, and with an extra layer of oil on top, that was more like a variation on the perfect shave with Noxzema.

What I tried was to dust the beard with bentonite, apply oil sparingly, then my special serum, and finally lather. Yesterday I additionally wet the clay down with a spray bottle and backed it off with a cloth. Using (low-glycerin) Williams soap and the Merkur OC, I got a good, 10-hour shave. It wasn't too special-looking, but it was easy and comfortable. Today I went neo-traditional, with no spray bottle, Stirling for lather, and back to the Rimei razor. With the oil directly on mineral, I was thinking of Hydrolast shaving paste, though I don't have any idea what's in that; probably not bentonite, as the color is different.

Today's sensations were certainly more interesting. Man, was I feeling the burn -- not after the shave, but during! The clay seemed to hold the glycerin right on my nerve endings. Rinsing soothed it dramatically, as the corneocytes locked rank to suck hard at the moisture on the other side of the paste barrier. Dollar General's version of Brut made a great pairing with coconut, highlighting a sweet note. It's a splash I fear for irritation, but after the concentrated glycerin, it couldn't touch me.

Sans the pain, this must be what it's like for people with dry skin. I can see my NMF is shredded, despite moisturizing immediately. I dread the long term consequences of that, but for now, it only contributes to an ashen look that totally camoflages the stubble. Wait a minute... what stubble? I could feel a uniform coat of hairs that ATG missed, but now they have largely submerged into my skin texture, making for an unequivocal (but very shallow) BBS feel.

You know, thinking back to my grandparents' shaving lesson recently, I remember that they actually had tried to explain "comfortable" further, by comparing the beard to a velvet fabric... they had a hobnail chair with velvet upholstery, and Gram fetched me a small pillow to stroke. The term "velvety" comes up alot in the old advertising, too.

I think that in today's high-glycerin world, explaining "BBS," you'd have to fetch a four-year-old some distressed leather.

Sorry, Gramps

My memory is a little sketchy, from when I was four years old and spending days with my paternal grandparents. A severe critic of shaves even then, I would wince at Dad's goodnight kiss if there was any hint of a moustache. One time I gave Gramps the business, too, and rousted him out of his chair to get his shave together. Gram might have had a part in putting me up to it.

I wish I could remember exactly what he did in the bathroom that day, but I think it involved 'Lectric Shave and the stubby remnant of his mixed badger-boar brush. I was always sniffing at his bottle of green Skin Bracer. My Dad, who worked in a department store, had given him a Norelco like his own, I think. At any rate, I was still critical when he was done, at which point he told me very clearly that it was more important to be "comfortable." I was not satisfied with that, because it was obviously not "comfortable" to rub it backward. Ah, the timeless point of confusion! But I learned to stop bugging him about it.

Ever-Ready 250D and my grandfather's StanHome Badger and Bristle.
With the old, narrow brushes, a load of soap doesn't go for much more than one pass.

The "Shave Like Grandad" blog is a reasonable substitute for the sad facts of my own family history. While I've been layering this and that and going for the four-year-old's standard, Doug Hansford has been whittling down techniques that require nothing more than a lump of soap and five minutes, built around a gentle Merkur open comb razor. Today was a great day for me to insist on comfort, with little stubble and a dry face, so I switched my blade over to my Christmas razor, the Merkur 1904.

I adapted Doug's "region-oriented uni-shave" to my "perfect shave" preparation, and got a very, very fine shave. Not the closest, but way closer than my Gramps'. I think most people would disregard the three hairs catching on a fingerprint and call it BBS; even the four year old me would approve. Or, maybe not: I asked my son's opinion, and though he said "good" at first, I made him stroke my cheek upward. "It's horrible!"

Though Gramps was a mechanic in the War and doubtless had used a Tech, I would confabulate that he donated it to Gram in favor of the original Gillette, in the years before going electric, and merely borrowed it back, on the day I bugged him, to touch up the region around his mouth and chin. I can almost recollect a regretful story in which one of the NEWs and a male relative was mentioned, but his preference is lost to history. He was actually a "machinist," by the way; they just didn't have a checkbox for that when he was inducted to the Army. I think he respected the Germans, despite his love of service, which extended into the Conservation Corps. I know the first time I heard the word "Solingen," it was from him. He would have loved this razor.

Chlorine Challenge

From early swimming lessons, to high-school swim meets, to middle-age gym membership, one constant has been the smell of Fritos emanating from my balls after swimming in chlorine. I was fooled for years by the orange peels and actual snacks being consumed on the bus. Worse, the pools that I thought were safe, due to my eyes burning, were actually not. A lot of little tadpoles out there this winter, too, are at risk of asthma; the treatment of which, ironically, could deplete vitamin D to levels that cause rickets.

I'm thankful that my gym membership was renewed for Christmas, but I've got to worry about my little helmet-heads, too. A good start (after vitamin D supplementation) would be to take what I've learned about my skin from shaving, and apply it to keeping my pool free of potentially hazardous ball-Fritos. So for my first swim of the year, I brought along the harshest oil-remover and skin pre-hydrator I know, a bar of dark orange, glycerin soap, and washed myself with it, head-to-toe. I hypothesized that, since I could tolerate glycerin shaving soap especially well after swimming, perhaps it would protect me from the chlorine when used in advance.

I didn't test that specifically, since I also used it after swimming, but I have to say, my nuts right now have a more natural, acetic aroma, having used the harsh detergent. As far as drying out the skin, well, at least it didn't make things worse. While there was no protective oil to prevent damage, there was also very little chemical residue to prolong the damage. I could see the usual light chapping in my T-zone, and gave it the usual treatment: a light dusting of bentonite powder, wet down with a cloth. I followed this with a generous application of 3-in-1 moisturizer to the exposed skin of my head and forearms. Maybe I'll throw a bottle of sunflower oil in the bag next time, and grease up after the cleansing.

My shave was performed late today, after the outing. The hair was harder, whether because I tried using rose water and baking soda instead of the usual, or because of the chlorine's effect on my hair. But I was undeterred, with my old glycerin frankensoap, and still got very good angles ATG, for a near BBS. Pretty lucky, I have to say: it usually doesn't go down that way, when the hair isn't super soft. This was with the Rimei and a broken-in Astra SS, both very capable of scraping me silly. I conclude that the hair was rendered brittle, and the perfect shave method accommodates swimmers.

The Coward's Way

A couple times since stratifying my prep, I've unintentionally omitted the oil, and been displeased with the immediate release of ammonia, as well as the dicey shave. The method itself suggests that my prior skin prep axiom, "preshave = oil cleanse," is a bit misleading. Oil is an effective chemical barrier, too. When I put it on prior to splash, I get a less-stinging, improvised lotion. When I put it on prior to Stirling, the artisan's glycerin is tolerable.

Last night I browsed once again a search I had bookmarked, "unconventional shaving preparations," which usually just leads to a bunch of women shaving with peanut butter and whatnot. But one hit I had forgotten about, from a para-medical group, reads pretty close to my own findings. Perhaps it is coincidental, as I regularly mine medical sources for ideas. I found the article generally too chemically focused, as all cosmetic producers are (the "Dermalogica" line, in this case), but this one tip was completely jarring: "After the initial shave with the grain ... the client must re-apply all necessary shaving mediums before shaving against the grain." I can only imagine how much their shaving system costs, eh?

While I consider my skin to be chemically fixed by a single application of Noxzema, and a thin layer at that, perhaps I have been too stingy with the oil. So today I applied another three drops after the first pass. With my old boar brush not making the most prodigious lather, I just squeezed out the Arko and smeared it on top. That seemed very skin-safe, reducing the blade feel... though the hair was not especially soft anymore.

After rinsing, a slick residue, thicker than any I've previously shaved upon, remained, and it seemed obvious that I should take a pass on it, since it basically felt like shaving gel. I skimmed lightly, and was encouraged to go directly ATG, though again, the hair was more burnt-toasty than crunchy.

Blue aftershave probably didn't remove half of the residue left by rinsing, but it felt good and done, after backing off with a wet towel. Only then did I see the amateurish swath of red, irritated skin on one side of my jawline. And I felt nothing. That one spot was hairless; the rest, nothing special, a DFS with some individual hairs missed. I was a little sticky and shiny, too, so I powdered, thinking to come back later to tone and moisturize. Yeah, and "later" is when the acute burn suddenly became perceptible.

The skin therapist craze probably isn't going to take off in my part of the country, but it occurs to me that a lot of barbers simply prevent clients from feeling the damage, with heavy oil prep.