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.

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