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!

Mineral Oil Is Different

Thinking to recapture the low-angle shaving experience with a mainstream DE, I picked the most occlusive hydrocarbon in the arsenal, and it kinda stole the show. Following witch hazel "solution," the poor man's alternative to castor oil did a cracking job at cleansing, even when wiped off with a cold, wrung microfiber cloth.

It left the skin so surprisingly empty, in fact, that when I followed it with Italian Barber Sandalwood, it set up a dynamic of absorption, which I have come to suspect is the essence of "slickness." So, starting from a well-compacted, high tension-bearing state, the skin steadily gained moisture as the blade angle lifted, throughout the shave, which was kind of perfect.

Alum highlighted only some delayed tingle, down toward the sides of my neck. With the skin so intact, I felt safe in replenishing the moisture immediately, with Dollar Tree moisturizer. But steep pitch was underpowered, and the hair not especially soft, leaving light stubble around the jawline. Only to be felt when stroked the wrong way: a close, comfortable, and even enough shave. In practice, that result relied on discretion -- I could have dug for it, and broken skin. But I think it illustrates the low-angle bias of the Tech, and provides an especially stark characterization of the kind of prep that an open blade user would appreciate.

So rare, that things actually go as planned!

Don't Ever Trust The Razor

"Operation: Mindcrime" stands up so well, after all these years; only my headphones weren't good enough to blast it clearly, in the middle of the night. "The Needle Lies" stuck out as the best shaving metaphor, though "Eyes of a Stranger" is hilarious with a few, equally obvious, word substitutions.

How many times must I live this tragedy?

I had relied on the false security of a comfortable setting when I got burned. Today I cranked the Slim to "default" setting 9, and followed my advice for beginners: just change direction enough to re-engage the beard, on second pass.

I also went extra-gentle with prep, if not extremely simple. If I've learned anything from glycerin shaving soap, it is that putting concentrated soap on your face is dumb. You really want the water mixed in, at least, because osmotic or Marangoni effects will drive it inward, or the fluid in your face outward. It may not rise to the level of pain, in the case of a classic soap like Palmolive (which is why only low-glycerin soaps come in sticks, I reckon) but I only want the best for my epidermis. So I rubbed the stick against my wet palm, stroked it with the wet brush, and repeated until I had enough soap, only enough for two passes.

Problem with this approach was, my hair was not softened at all, despite a good, long smear-and-soak treatment. Leverage was required to keep the edge out of my skin. The result was a tight-skinned SAS, which reminded me of the overall skin condition after the shavettes. That's when it hit me: the reactionaries and revolutionaires of shaving could be united, under DE!

Spreading The Cure

Instead of selecting a "mild" DE or adjustable setting that reliably zips the hair off my face, with little regard for the stratum corneum (foreshadow of cartridges); instead of giving up entirely on a traction-balanced, effortlessly close shave and using a dangerous, open blade razor (tradition of barbers); I will avoid the deceit of marketing factions entirely, and extract the truth.

Cutting power can only be safely wielded through a range of operability, defined by two shaving characteristics that I will henceforth be examining separately. Hair removing efficiency will be limited by the skin planing hazard, on one end. Leverage will be limited by exfoliation and risk of nicks, at the low end. The best razor should be the one that offers the greatest spread, without exceeding the limits.

I Remember Now

I remember how it started
I can't remember yesterday
I just remember doing what they told me...

"Progressive metal" (Queensryche) might be a better reflection of the Slim attitude than some old sixties song of freedom. I do remember clearly why so many people have retreated to more ancient tools, because I peeled myself a nice burn yesterday. I was thinking of Racer as "pre-dulled," but that's definitely not correct.

Nothing for it but to keep it from being irritated by emerging hair! I opened the Slim up to 7-8-9 today, and let the edge slip more carefully into the follicles, this time. I tried a novel prep of coconut oil under Humphreys, then Stirling. Coconut oil smells so nice, and matched the soap... I still felt the burn of penetrating, glycerin-heavy lather, but in a way, that was a good thing, reminding me to be gentle. Hair was pretty soft, but my low and slow attack did leave some missed stubs.

I think this was my deceptive autumn skin hardening experience for the year. The shavettes got some pieces of me, but overall, my skin was rather numb and shell-like going into yesterday's shave. All the better to split open microscopically.

Back To School

I tried one more shavette shave, with my "Jifonli-cut" hair shaper blades. I don't know why; striking while the iron was hot, I guess. It felt a bit flimsy and ineffective compared to the Personna, stamped with ridges behind the edge, but at least it didn't bite. I'll never use those ten blades.

Maybe not even the remaining Personnas. With renewed appreciation for the range of pitch, leverage, and fine control that DE shaving offers, I selected Racer and Slim for my triumphant return. Ahhhh... night and DAY!

What is wrong with you, straight shavers? I'm doing the responsible thing, pitching my DEvettes in the garbage (well, I can always use a spare Tech top cap, I guess), and regarding the shavettes as purely retrospective, educational tools. Why do so many of you insist on living in the bronze age? Yes, even if I had to shave another person, I would choose DE... or one of those Daune DE folders, maybe. To be perfectly clear: DE is superior to every other method of shaving.

Pop Quiz

1. How often can you shave?

2. How many shaves before you have to sharpen or change the blade?

3. Is your shave smooth to the touch? Longer than three hours?

4. Does shaving hurt you in ANY way? Including financially?

Extra credit: Did you miss a spot?

1. Every day; 2. 10 - 40; 3. Yes; 4. No.

Devette Regrets

I took the absolute worst blade I have, a Chinese number that came with some fake Rimei or something, and put it in my Baili DEvette, a tech clone with no safety bars. Except two corners on one side, which make it milder toward the corners and allow it to rest on a countertop. Then I broke the blade in half and shaved with the Sedef. Both crappy shaves, with choppy strokes and lots of stubble remaining, but only the DEvette was dangerous.

Since I never previously recognized the low pitch restriction on straight razors, I now realize that I always mistakenly employed shavettes and devettes similarly: that is, always too steep with the shavette. Or at least, always scraping inappropriately at the upper limit of a low angle, pushing toward a cut.

I'd like to blame the message boards for that, with "30 degree" bullshit having become pretty much universal, at this point. I thought I was at a lower angle, and assumed it was the lowest angle, but it was not. This is where I was most contributory to the endemic stupidity. Lol -- try again. The truth is, I'm the one who invested in the DEvette concept. I'm the idiot. The idiot is me.

At Least My Sideburns Are Even

I can't help but try my DE stuff whenever I use the Sedef shavette, and it always ends poorly. As soon as I'm on a roll, and start thinking it's okay to slide... *&@! the thing whips me. Good thing I've got the boo-boo juice now.

My conceptual framework continues to grow, even if my skills do not. I would describe the experience as no-lift shaving. One pulls the skin to try and erect the hair to the correct angle, rather than deviate from the safest cutting pitch. XTG and stretching skin actually make sense here, because you still have to extend the hair, no matter which direction you shave. I can hardly get a close shave, but if I discipline myself to those restrictions, I can tolerate shaving twice a day. By the fifth shave (third morning, today) I finally had an acceptable result. And I can still do a bit of sliding.

Suddenly I see that I have underestimated the influence of open blades on the neotraditional shaving culture. From this perspective, you could say blade choice is critical, and go with the one that is least harsh to your skin, so that some tiny quantum of leverage may be applied; alternatively, you may insist that the hair must be so soft that it is cut by the force of its own flexion. These technical concerns just happen to coincide with the limitations of modern razors, which don't physically allow pitch deviation. The two otherwise isolated wet-shaving constituencies thus form a political axis -- a Pivot of Evil.

Feather's rounded-shoulder blade holders, then, must be considered our DE allies.

Astra SS: Too Harsh Still

I'm feeling pretty decent, my cold now at the stage where I'm coughing up chewy stuff, so I thought I was due for a luxurious shave. My wife recently cleaned the shower with something that smelled like lemon Pledge, so this morning I was primed for Arko and Duru. The test variable was supposed to be Humphreys, followed by pumpkin juice, jojoba, boo-boo juice, then the luxurious palm lather, picking up from the most successful shave in "Close To Perfect."

But what I thought was an Astra SP blade was actually an Astra SS, foiling my whole plan. "Why the hell am I getting weepers again?" I thought, having attributed it to bad prep the first time. The stubble today was "hairy-kari" soft, I had lather enough for five shaves in my brush, oil up the ying-yang. The only thing wrong was that blade, unable to differentiate between my skin and my hair.

Another way of describing my problem, though, might be that Ruby's range of effective cutting angles is too steep for that edge. I don't know if you realize this, but some straight razor users believe that DE shaving, as a whole, is fundamentally wrong that way. Same as how some of us look down upon cartridges.

The history given in that particular account ("Personal Observations") is most credible for the argument that marketing had already screwed up shaving, in both product quality and education, before the safety razor had even appeared.

I personally perceive a distinct mechanical advantage in the non-blade contact surfaces of my safety razors, and have no love for the drudgery of blade maintenance. But, neither do I wish to suffer weepers for the life of this awfully harsh blade.So I'll be breaking it in half for a couple shavette shaves. (Which is why I kept it in the first place.)

Project Pancakes Wrap-Up

Subject #2

A young Betta in my son's classroom was listing at the bottom of his aquarium. Maybe that's just how they sleep, but it didn't look right to me, when we were there for Open House. I told the teacher of my spinach juice, and surprisingly (nobody listens to me) she gave it a try, since she was already considering bottled water. She says the little fish approached the drops with interest, just as my fish had. I speculate that if spinach is high in iron as well as oxalate, they might be thinking it's the blood of their prey! At any rate, he was much livelier when I looked in on him again. It surprised me to see one swimming above the bottom, with a functional air bladder.

Poor Pancakes apparently won't recover that kind of mobility, but he does glide more easily, put on displays for me and stand on his fins more often. Luckily, the air ballast is under voluntary control, so what he did recover doesn't leave him in an awkward, head-up position all the time.

I give him the "jungle rain," spinach juice treatment at water changes and when it rains outside, and an occasional pumpkin juice soak of his floaty pellets.

Sensitive Skin Is Acidosis

Whoa, whoa, whoa -- Acidic fruits and vegetables are "alkalizing"?

I love that article: no chemistry. The naysayer's review, by virtue of being an honest investigation, shed enough light on my sensitive-skin experience to ironically bring me to the opposite conclusion. According to this account, when I craved fruit and salad (and maybe the  onion, though the deep fry treatment is questionable), I was still "alkalizing." I've experienced something like that before, with vitamin supplements: you hit the right one, it brings natural incentive back into play. How easily they are muted! I also noticed my skin fired up the oil excretion again when, just as a matter of convenience, we got KFC last night. 

I finally found a decent summary at the reading level I'm accustomed to:

But when I was just screwing around, completely cognitively, with baking soda, it was relatively dumb luck that bicarbonate is the dead center of the acid-alkaline homeostatic mechanism. With all due respect to actual scientists, I think that is why bathroom researchers can sometimes intuit faster than the hard work and perilous biases of statistics-based research.

Not that I'm really gifted, but remember, my brain may have been altered by oxalic acid at a key stage of development!

Speaking of supplements, I wanted to share a link suggesting potassium bicarbonate in place of baking soda, but I've lost it, so I guess I'll just leave it to google. It was a smart review of a large assortment of dietary minerals. In short, I was already thinking toward increasing potassium and magnesium when I fell into this thread, and I know the extra sodium probably wouldn't be good for my wife, so that's the direction I'm probably going.

I can also drink vegetable juice like its going out of style. I got a new blender to play with, with some of my birthday money, and a bottle of aloe juice. I think I'm finally getting the upper hand on this hard-water living.


Baking soda had an interesting effect on my cold this morning, perceptibly drying up the mucus. I can't remember precisely, because I went right back to bed, but I think it dried up my eyes and ears at the same time, making the former less raw and the latter itchy. It seems I am at the perfect age (47) to appreciate how influenza killed mostly young, strong people. Those people were oily. Explode one cell with virus, they easily reorganized and built more: a perfect engine of destruction. Dry people, whether old or partially saponified, contained the inflammation in ovens of cellular brick. I'm about to find out how that relates to lung tissue, which one would think is already full of surfactant and relatively free of oil, because I'm tasting my bronchial secretions now. I would speculate that minimizing the virus buildup in other tissues makes the immune climax less Armageddon and more Six Day War.

I didn't have much oil in my face at the mirror when I finally got there to shave, but I cleansed with witch hazel "solution" to bring up what little there was. Then I went straight to Stirling, but after smearing some into my skin and rinsing, softened with pumpkin juice, then boo-boo juice. My lather went to crap, melting to crema on second pass, but I was too lazy to do anything about it. Instead, I kept breaking the rules, and pulled my skin the wrong way for a third pass on water. And, to my great surprise, I got away with it! My dull edge was chudding pretty hard on skin, but Ruby's low exposure and traction control handled it.

More significantly, perhaps, my skin handled it. I diluted my Duru splash, turning it milky with oil, and still felt the burn, so I think my skin is still thin. But maybe I've finally done it. Maybe I'm no longer sensitive.

The Smell of Blood

Next day. No Witch Hazel. PdP, palm lathered, provided the preshave smear and soak treatment. I already knew pumpkin juice wouldn't work, with that much glycerin around, but I did it anyway. Nope, that wasn't really cutting it, but it scraped enough hair off to count as a first pass. I went super-old school, and shaved up from my neck to my chin, because it wasn't catching enough to dig in. Since it was convenient, I reached for a splash of boo-boo juice before lathering a second time. That gained me some cutting power, but the distinct metallic odor of hemoglobin gave me pause.

I felt nothing; I saw nothing. Was my epidermis so finely split into vertical columns by my harsh treatment that it could not be perceived as injury? What the hell -- I figured I might as well pull my skin the wrong way again to finish. Dilute Lime Sec burned no more than expected. Post-shave skin texture is grainy, but not distressed (as in exfoliation).

The strange thing is, I jumped off the alkalization bandwagon pretty hard at the steak house last night: salad and dessert bar, most of a blooming onion. I trust my cravings, like that person who drank lard and recovered from the Plague. Perhaps there is a cumulative effect of baking soda use that simulates the constitution of an old man. I've dry-aged myself!

Baking Soda Decoded

I spiked a little fever after "alkalizing" with baking soda, and my throat was quite raw. The alternative medicine explanation of things seemed a bit misleading, to say the least, but of course one never knows what it would have been like without. Medicine, like shaving, is an art. One could also argue that I didn't follow instruction feeling fully salinated after three or four doses on the first day; essentially joining the old Arm & Hammer program on its second day. I took aspirin, being well out of the age where Reye's Syndrome is a risk. If I had scooped a little citric acid from the bucket I have set aside for my plumbing, I could have had homemade Alka-seltzer! But why, I reasoned, would I wish to counteract the base with acid? Might as well eat sea salt or something, as far as alkalizing is concerned. Or, maybe I'm still not getting something. (I'll never live down that "C" in Chemistry.)

But in terms of my own, grand theory -- the one where the carboxyl functional group is responsible for tissue plasticity and structural homeostasis, which I called "lamellar reorganization" -- baking soda makes a WHOLE LOT of sense. For example, why it makes the hair cuticle open like a pinecone. Imagine one layer of tissue contracting, due to its oil being saponified, but remaining adherent to an underlying layer of equal area. It would curve dramatically, like the spring in an old thermostat. Apply fruit acid, though, and the layers would again slide flat against one another, like roof shingles.

Baking soda in vivo is best understood as 1) saponifying of paracellular oil barriers, and 2) pro-carboxylic hydrogen bonding between cadherins. Since this tends to reveal some aspect of underlying tissue, or disease, and also clears signal pathways, I would term it "lamellar patefaction." My throat may have hurt like hell, but I believe it may have been because there wasn't any room in that tissue for the virus anymore. Baking soda showed it the door, so to speak, thwarting local inflammation, but coincidentally making my symptoms worse.

Vs. Witch Hazel

The two kinds of artificial stasis, one against lamellar reorganization, and one against transcellular osmosis, work together in remarkable ways. I got some sun today at the local fair, where it was free, agricultural day for kids. To soothe my red skin afterward, I used boo-boo juice, followed by witch hazel. I had really small flakes then, but the redness was mostly gone.  It was a bit like fracking for oil, BUT only superficially, not letting anything in to explode the through to the dermis, like glycerin soap would have done.

Then I made a steak doing almost the same, using baking soda as a light dry rub (having some sense of its mild flavor, at this point), and a splash of Witch Hazel. Talk about sizzle! Oh, and tender: hardly lost a drop of juice until I oiled and salted it, after the turn. This combo essentially said to the steak: I'm going to thermally expand the water in you, now, but you can't change volume, except by sending oily flavor precursors to your surface. Very close to optimizing the caramel, now.

But I Love Acid

My gosh, lemonade accounts for most of my fluid intake! Onion extract in my scar gel is obviously the part that facilitates stem cell migration. Pumpkin juice is the key to maximal hair hydration and shaving perfection. Meanwhile, to make way for the boo-boo juice experiments, Ruby has been doing very nice work with a dull Personna Platinum Chrome, and juice-less preparations. Nothing I'd call "perfect," or BBS. I'm still really digging the Italian Barber after a cured Witch Hazel oil cleanse, using the extra glycerin to indulge in aftershave whims.

This morning's lazy, but classic (cured) Witch Hazel, Barbasol, (dilute) Skin Bracer. My cold may have been killing me, but I think I saw some of the work horses giving me a nod as they lined up for their pulls. "Nice aftershave, man." Who needs drugs?

Talks Like A Quack

It seems that historically, baking soda use started going south when DE shaving was just hitting its stride. All these stories of capitalism ruining our health are starting to run together in my mind...

I happen to have a nascent cold, since all the germs in our community have recently been reunited at the elementary school, so today I actually drank the boo-boo juice. Well, not my original boo-boo juice, which I think was contaminated with old rose-scented liquid soap from the pump bottle, and probably even more dilute. (This time I used a measuring spoon, and half a teaspoon seemed like more material than I expected.) The flavor, I recognized: same as when I got intravenous fluid in the emergency room, that time when they thought I had a heart attack. (I didn't; my clinic just didn't have a real doctor to read the EKG).

The only thing missing (besides the oxygen high, because I was on that, too) was a plastic-y taste, presumably from the vinyl bag it came in. You know how, when you make a pizza for the first time, you realize "cardboard box" isn't a natural pizza flavoring? That's how I felt in that moment. Do you know what blood and the ocean have in common? Relative salt concentrations, for one, because we evolved there -- but also bicarbonate buffering. So in the name of Marxism, I hereby reclaim fluid support!

It also occurred to me that dilution is the basis of homeopathy, that quack profession where they put tiny bit of poison in a pill and call it medicine. They sometimes, reportedly, dilute things to such a degree that there probably isn't even a single molecule of the substance in the dose, but those concoctions are considered the most potent. I'm not saying it isn't nuts. But what if the general idea were based on observations of something like baking soda? Maybe people in olden days were making poorly conceived poultices, like people today make exfoliating paste out of baking soda.

I think the point of the linked site is that baking soda cures cancer. It's all very interesting and plausible, to me. What I feel in my skin is metabolic shutdown, like shaving with Ivory, but relaxed health, like oil cleansing. I think baking soda is shutting down ester signals, like a hard reset on a malfunctioning computer, just as the lady blogger I linked yesterday was trying to suggest. "Detox," use oil if you need to, but let the skin figure out what it wants based on a clean reading. If there were cancer in a tissue, presumably it would then become the squeaky wheel for repair systems.

Already, I've had success squirting boo-boo juice on my scalp, before shampooing and conditioning normally. Two minutes, no more oil or flakes. For my cosmetic flaws, I hope it can draw stem cells to fill in atrophic scars. I'm just not sure whether I should be using it over the general area, or right on the spot. I'm thinking right on the spot, for now, since I have defined spots, and my skin is no longer very oily. This might be like feigning injury, if blood plasma does the same thing chemically. No blood supply to the epidermis, remember?

Further reading (for me, too):

I Want To Know What Dry Is

I gotta take a little time
A little time to think things over
I better read between the lines
In case I need it when I'm older
-- Foreigner
I bet half of you are at this moment thinking, "I thought that was Air Supply." For sure, the album "4" was quite difficult to take at the time, after the visceral gratification of songs like "Seventeen" -- which would have been a couple years older than this "Dirty White Boy," listening to his dad's records. I had already stopped listening by the time Foreigner's "biggest hit" had become unavoidable noise.
Now that my lawnmowing money isn't on the line, I know I'm going to have to program Pandora for deliberate malfunction someday, and tune it to "Foreigner Radio." And now that my skin isn't on the line, I've found a surefire way for curious greasers to somewhat safely experience the dry skin approach to shaving.
  1. Wash with water only
  2. Humphrey's toner as quasi oil-cleanse (absorbs rather too quickly)
  3. Jojoba oil (don't wipe off)
  4. Boo-boo juice (now wipe)
  5. PALM LATHER a high-glycerin shaving soap, and apply what sticks to hand
  6. Wet cloth to hydrate
  7. Apply lather with brush, and shave
  8. I went with Witch Hazel (U.S.P.) to splash, thinking to rehydrate...
But I was still dry, very dry, and sometimes, red. All metabolism in the epidermis was shut down, much like when I shaved with Ivory, but here it was loose and wrinkly over an even more greatly compressed dermis. I could clearly see a particular abrasion scar that doesn't usually catch my eye, late in the morning. I looked -- and I hate to say it -- a bit older.
Yet the shave was technically sound. With aloe in the Humphreys theoretically taking the place of pumpkin juice, the hair was soft enough. Strokes with the Tech weren't super long and easy, but neither were they as choppy as Mark Herro's were, last week, with that god-awful One Blade. With my skin deeply saturated with glycerin and less deeply with water, there was no osmotic gradient for the soap to follow.
The shave was just a little... rough. I think this old Personna Platinum Chrome will have to live out the rest of its days in the Slim, but I'm not going to make any final judgement. I guess I'd be tempted to call it dull if I didn't know better.

Boo-Boo Juice

My para-shaving science technological breakthrough today is one for the whole family: baking soda and water, for minor scrapes. Why the hell haven't I heard of this? I was a nursing assistant!

The internet is ALL OVER THE PLACE on baking soda, and the commercial bias is almost as evident as with glycerin, but in the other direction. It's a horrible, caustic base that will destroy your acid mantle! Bathroom researchers may be partly responsible for that -- mostly gung-ho, exfoliating idiots, mixing the dry powder with this or that, using grit and hydrolysis together to try to remove the stratum corneum.

Probably the only good thing about having every third shaver online involved in soap manufacture is that we actually know what baking soda does: saponify oil. We don't have to use vague terms like "dry," "absorb," or "dissolve," because we know it's a base, closely related chemically to the soda ash used instead of lye in Aleppo soap, and actually a component of the natron used by ancient Egyptians instead of soap.  For once -- finally -- we're ahead of the curve!

If there's enough oil present, the basic solution will make soap of your sebum in a relatively gentle way, washing away as water soluble carboxylic acids and fatty alcohols, along with the dirt in your boo-boo. It's only about 10 times more basic than seawater at maximum concentration, and we know that's pretty good for wounds, right? I only put half a teaspoon in about a cup of tap water, and my son winced more from the tap water, when he fell off his scooter. The bleeding stopped, it looked dry... he didn't fuss for a band-aid, and that's usually a fight.

Sure beats the reverse, hyperpigmentation and scarring I've experienced when putting pumpkin juice on my scabs, probably due to esterification, opposite of saponification, confusing the healing process hormonally.

This ancient wisdom seems even more hopelessly lost, in today's corporate-consumer culture, than classic shaving. You can't even put this shit in a bottle and sell it for $1, that's why. I got my red plastic pump dispenser at 2/$1, and of course there are free alternatives. I was just going to play with it in shaving, because I didn't like how the dry baking soda was shaking into my palm; but could it replace even soap, eventually? Provided you're not too dirty, some people think water alone is the ideal cleanser.

Makes sense: we already know it's the best exfoliator and moisturizer.

Close To Perfect

The Merkur 1904 helped me to un-mummify, as I began to think about changing the application order of the Egyptian shave to refocus on the hair. "Rubefacient" was the word rattling around my head, near the drain of archaic obsolescence, to describe the skin's response to internal saponification. Instead of glycerin, jojoba oil releases jojoba alcohol, which is thought to have even anti-viral powers. I'm sure it's a good thing, in moderation, and leaps and bounds ahead of glycerin, but I've been more comfortable.

The Super Speed came back for another stunningly efficient shave with the following, more shallow prep.

1. Witch Hazel oil cleanse (not cured, but somewhat diluted with rose extract in this case)
2. Pumpkin Juice
3. Jojoba oil, 3 drops
4. baking soda and water to emulsify, then wiped off (second oil cleanse)
5. Williams as usual
6. Witch Hazel splash

Now that was perfectly comfortable. It's just a question of optimizing the juice, in my mind. It seems a bit lost under the jojoba. I'm sure it's defending the skin from baking soda, but is it contributing anything to hair softening? Maybe it doesn't need to, when fatty acids are released from jojoba. Or, maybe it's under the jojoba on the hair, too.

Next day

Moved #2 to (follow) #4, and cured the rose-WH. Result: very soft hair, great skin condition, but not as slick during the shave, which had a negative impact on efficiency. Basically, Williams felt like Williams does when it's used solo. So, that would seem to be a neutral, or self-contained kind of skin prep, with the benefit of hair softening. It may be an equalizer for soaps with more glycerin, but that's not what I'm after.

Or... is it?

The hair softening seemed to be where high-glycerin Pre de Provence let me down; and although I said it rather lightly at the time, the Italian Barber "for sensitive skin" really might be my #1 lather. It may be time for me to finally get over my oily skin bias, and invite the blade deeper into my skin. Why should beginners get all the breaks?

1. Cured witch hazel oil cleanse
2. Jojoba oil, 3 (large) drops
3. baking soda and water to emulsify, then wipe (2nd oil cleanse), but don't rinse
4. Pumpkin juice
5. Italian Barber "for sensitive skin," face lathered
6. dilute aftershave splash
7. Cured witch hazel (to moisturize)

The reversal in 6-7 is my innovation of the day. I've grown unaccustomed to man-handling my skin with aftershave, but with the glycerin content of this soap, it was clearly called for. Then, with the water displaced, I looked pallid and dehydrated. It occurred to me that Witch Hazel could bring the natural kind of moisture back, from within. Especially since I had evaporated the alcohol. Great success! I still smell just-like Brut, not the herbal (mildly unpleasant, to me) WH.

As for the shave, it was everything a beginner would hope for, and not too shabby for this expert, either. The lather was being sucked in too fast for my liking, but not deeply enough to be injurious. My blade was decidedly tired, and has been giving me signs for awhile, but hair was still initiating the cut on its own flexion. I got the edge down to what felt like the root, and shaved to blade silence. I can still see some shade and rub for stubble, though, which I attribute to the worn blade.

If I un-streamline the face lathering, and do my usual pre-soak of the lather that sticks to my hand, I can defeat the skin's sponging, but will have to sacrifice the direct interaction of pumpkin juice with baking soda. Will that diminish the hair softening?

F--ing Aleppo

What is "Aleppo"? The historical origin of soap as we know it, made from laurel and olive oils, soda ash.

I can't believe I fell for glycerin's deceit, again! The irritation was all too familiar last night. I fished my "dull" blade out of the tin this morning. But I was still curious what could be achieved with the Italian Barber soap, and stuck with the plan.

Hey, whaddya know? Nearly as good as the prior, very efficient shaves. Filling the epidermis with water, instead of "moisture," completely defused the counterproductive hydrodynamic aspects of modern shaving soap. And since the formula of this one is relatively safe, I expect no maladaptations tomorrow.

The hair softening did seem a bit diminished on third pass, however, where I really had to lighten up. Specifically, the moustache could have benefitted from a more prolonged exposure to pumpkin juice, I think. I used moisturizer to wash away residue and get pickups, to good effect.


I don't think shaving has ever been technically perfect. From the beginning, there were issues with glide, and slickness would only have come at the expense of hair softening or skin condition. Our best hope is to segregate the principles, rather than incorporating them. That means the oil and alcohol should be in the skin pre-shave, pure soap in the lather, and the hair softening in between.

Shave Like An Egyptian

I haven't documented here all of my experiments regarding palm and plantar skin, but sometime around when I got the fancy Humphreys witch hazel (toner), I combined it with baking soda and jojoba oil in my hand. It was a bit of a scary moment as I immediately felt I had saponified my own skin, but I also felt that it was bringing instant death to deeply embedded microbes. Like hydrogen peroxide does to an open wound, but from within, leaving little vacuoles in my hand. The appearance of that was immediately reminiscent of athlete's foot, so I assumed the microbes in question were dermatophytes. This reaction is the main prong of my final assault on the yellow calluses that I believe are their stronghold. I can see the blood rushing to join the attack from below, flushing the skin with natural moisture. Then I use soaking and pumpkin juice to declamate the overly thick tissue and restore the acid mantle.

But these tactics may be counterproductive, because now that my skin is mostly free of fungus, saponification leaves the skin extremely hard. And that is when I remembered the Egyptians, their obsession with shaving, and their skin cleansing with natron and oil. What if the two were integrated? It isn't at all difficult for me to believe, at this point, that shavers thousands, or even tens of thousands of years ago, were way ahead of us.

1. Apply jojoba oil to shaving area, without wiping off, about a dime-sized pool for the beard area.

2. In palm, combine similar sized portions of baking soda and Witch Hazel (U.S.P), and spread over the oil.

3. Rub that in with wet palms, then wipe it all off with a cloth. Consider that the "pre-shave," then lather up and shave as usual.

I was using a Super Speed and a broken-in Personna Platinum Chrome, and I couldn't believe the efficiency. I thought about stopping after one pass, but of course had to test its resilience to the blade, which was excellent -- not one weeper. It might be the new "perfect shave," but there may be a bit of a problem with pH imbalance in the post-shave for those of you that don't have a pumpkin juice popsicle handy.

Grandpa Justice

I took some "me" time to tinker with Ruby on my birthday, while the family went to soccer practice. That curvature of the blade toward the safety bar, while perhaps making the corners safe, still gave me an unpleasant, "back of the blade" feeling.

I guess it was like four little slants opposing each other, driving the center to higher traction. Because when I used a mini square file to sharpen up the door corners, and took a punch and mallet to the downturned edges of the baseplate, where it meets the blade, the razor became much more Weishi-like. I couldn't get the edge true up to Gillette standards, but within normal tolerances, which made a big, big difference.

Not necessarily in a good way. Without the traction, I actually wonder if Ruby will remain #1. But today, I was looking for a break, anyway, after a pretty severe b-day shave (for Mom) that used both Ruby and the slant. The Stanhome mixed bristle brush confirmed the lesson of the Ever-Ready: old American brushes supported one pass only. But this one was soft and floppy enough to be usable, at least. I could imagine someone whipping it around in a mug, even though that was clearly just an old marketing gimmick. So narrow that there was a baleen effect, water coming off the side of the brush. We definitely have it better nowadays.

I used a not-so-fancy prep of Witch Hazel infused with rose petals, an easy experiment for the last of my $1 bottle. And Williams, of course. One pass WTG, light ATG on a mere soapy solution squeezed from the brush. I cheated a little, using moisturizer as a cleanse before splashing again with the Witch Hazel, but that seemed more comfort-oriented than Vaseline.

"Velvety!" And I am well-prepared for the annual skin hardening, except that I should probably move the slant to the closet, and bring in the 41C.

47th Birthday No Sweat

Tuesday, I went on a jungle rescue mission to give light to some pitiful carrots and beets, and recover some seedy green beans (or maybe they were always supposed to be the hulled kind, I don't know), and laid waste to as many weed seedheads as I could. After a shower using mainly Asquith & Somerset Lavender ("moisturizing") soap, I applied a handy ammonium alum deodorant crystal to my pits. But then I remembered my success with putting Humphreys under potassium (shaving) alum, so I used those, too. Did I use the moisturizer? Oh, God, I can't remember!

I didn't do jack on Wednesday, but it was stressful enough, as I turned 47. WELL beyond the midpoint of my life, there's no denying it now. The family picked up that brush that was like Gramps' for me; rather pricey, and not pristine by any means, but a new/old experience, and possibly a viable replacement knot for the nub, so that someday my son can use his great-grandfather's brush.

Anyway, I had to post to tell you: armpit sterilization IS REAL. At bedtime on Tuesday I woke my wife and made her sniff my pit to confirm. "It smells like nothing, right? Usually there's something." Like perfume, at least. Humphreys itself smells quite strongly at first, a soapy smell. Confirmed: nothing. Still good in the morning, too, so I rode with it under a somewhat musty T-shirt. Bedtime? Again, nothing. Maybe a faint hint of some Mrs. Dash from yesterday's beans and rice... way beyond the threshold of what one could call an odor. Just the meat that I'm made of.

Did I wash my pits again, and forget? No: I'm totally paranoid about cross-contamination, and only Wednesday night did I fetch the body cloth from the second bathroom, where I took that shower, so I could soak my feet. THINK, man, THINK! What was the finishing layer?!?!?

Recently, I know, I tried a shot of cheap perfume in the pits, which may have left the biofilm vulnerable to extinction. If I had done that again on the given day, I would have gone with dilute Brut, hoping to get birthday sex.  Nah, I would have detected that easily. And I know I had some odor going into that shower. It was alive, and I was already sweating when I got out, motivating the bactericide.

Wait. There was something different about each pit. Maybe that's why I can't remember! Was it an experiment: left arm no moisturizer, right arm moisturizer? Why do you never write things down in advance, you fool! Maybe that's the "Mrs. Dash," just a rubbery petro residue of some sort, not the onion powder that dominates the spice blend. Oh, I know -- the alum itself is sulfuric. My right hand is dominant, so one would expect any bacterial odor to make its resurgence there.

As I lay awake, my eyes opened with a vision: a pea-sized gob of the Dollar Tree "Lubricating" moisturizer. Photographic memory, how I love thee! Shared between two pits, I believe the right got shorted a bit.

Well, now it's morning, and just the faintest hint of sweat seems to tinge the front corner of each pit, like I'm picking it up from the environment as I lay on my arm. So I guess I can wash again. Good news for my other body parts.