I Killed The Lather

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

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

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

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

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

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


  1. I still haven't tried some ideas I've had on face lathering Williams. I'm always in a rush at shaving time. Got it on my list of things to do. I have rolled the VDH deluxe soap back into the rotation. Having melted it into a stick, I have been getting some pretty good thick creamy lathers with it. It kind of confirms my thoughts on cushion vs. slickness to get a comfortable shave. Creams tend to be thinner and even though slicker, they don't seem to have the cushion that a well lathered, creamy soap does.

    Fat Chinese baby, huh..... :-)

  2. BTW. Just order a puck of Godrej. I work with a guy from India. He swears by their soaps.


    1. I like the sound of that. Even when only considering modest commercial soaps, one can build quite a diverse collection, it seems. I enjoyed the Palmolive Classic scent more when I palm lathered it. Toned down, it smelled fresher to me -- more countryside, less YMCA. So I'm definitely opening up some plastic cup real estate for that, and smashing both sticks into my shaving rainbow. Green, of course. Arko will forever be yellow...