Now We're Layering!

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

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

Perfumed shaving soap

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

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

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

Perfumed after shave balm/deodorant

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

Plus the intended use

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

Perfuming Soap: Negative

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

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

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

Trial #3

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

Something's Been Bugging Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alkalized At Last

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chinese 62mm Shavette Blade

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

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

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

Slim Misunderstanding

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

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

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

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

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

*Ding Ding Ding*

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

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

Step Aside, Soldier

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

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

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


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

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

Why? Who cares?