I Don't Always Shave with Luxury Products, But When I Do...

There are only two options.

Kiss My Face moisture shave

Wait a minute, isn't that just $5, from the supermarket? Lol, maybe. I like how, when I had dreams of being a big-time flea marketer, and it was only available at the co-op, I went to the trouble of setting up a wholesale account -- only to find the stuff cheaper online. And now this! Regardless of my sore feelings, I don't think this liquid cream has ever irritated my face.

Water itself wouldn't correct the dreaded hyperosmotic effect of glycerin, so I'll attribute it to an absence of sodium. Or botanical witchcraft. (Could it be... fiber?) The laziness of not having to load my brush with anything but water, combined with the super-smelliness, are what make it luxurious, in my mind.

Italian Barber Shaving Soap for Sensitive Skin

Still making the other artisans look ridiculous. Ultimately, the truth is economic, and simple: shaving soap doesn't cost sixty dollars... twenty dollars... or even ten dollars. $3.75 at the time of writing for Sandalwood... the Italians have not only solved that problem, but additionally figured out that my face didn't need a suppository.

Compare Pre de Provence No. 63, a factory soap trying to compete with the artisanal model by souping up. It doesn't work: irritating as hell, makes a DE shave feel like a cartridge. I tried again this morning -- wish it didn't smell so nice!

What would a constipated face look like? Dry and full of shit... don't expect the market to change any time soon!

Flaxseed Extract

This has to be the easiest source of soluble fiber for DIY cosmetic purposes:
I got the idea from one of my kombucha comrades on G+, and a link to the technique from livestrong.com. I've tried substituting this fluid for water in the beverage, by mixing it with sweetened tea concentrate at bottling, but the result was unsatisfactory. Same as with chia seeds: the drink goes flat, but the fiber picks up an acidic zing, in this case manifesting as a sort of aftertaste. As a cocktail with commercial bottled juice and water, the vegetal taste is growing on me, though -- sort of a liquid form of cucumber.

Frozen into a cosmetic popsicle for experiments, it seems to accrue to "cushion" when applied as preshave, as might be expected from the interaction with an oily face like mine. It didn't do much for the lather itself, at least with Williams. If anything, it's in the vein of a Tabac or "BLACK extreme" (as Williams additive) feel, but the lather still wants to fade.

As I was incorporating this material into "My Best Tricks," the new disquisition, I saw an opportunity to take a stab at hair tonic: 10 ml Witch Hazel, 90 ml flaxseed extract, 20 ml pumpkin juice, IIRC. And then I thought: you know, all of those things ought to be good for sebaceous filaments on the nose as well. And it was! I see emulsification power with a sticky feel, but sufficiently slick for tool use. I'm giving it a shot as mouthwash (liquid toothpaste), too.

Maybe it's too late for my hair, which still looks wiry, though it is in fact fairly soft. Results at least as good as Eau de Quinine. I get the impression that if I had gotten on the tonic beverage and fiber bandwagon a few years ago, I might have slowed the aging process, and the hole in my fro-zone wouldn't be there at all. There is no hair in my comb lately, and I've noticed the darkening that is frequently reported with kombucha consumption. Not like the hair got younger, but like it's coloring itself -- an auto-Grecian effect? I'm all for it, whatever it is.

WTH, Erasmic?

Although the soap disappointed me severely at first, the sheer plainness of it assured it a place in the "rainbow of low-glycerin soaps," the colored travel snack cups for toddlers in which I store my favorite soaps. Its smell is just "soap," but in a different way than Williams -- those other (non Ivory) soaps you find in places like... I don't know... summer camp? They've been driven nearly extinct by pump dispensers nowadays. Not as stinky as hotel soaps, trying to impress you with various enrichments.

I gave it another chance this week, though, and it was on par with the other former sticks. I reached for it again today, when I had just taken a shower, and wanted a fragrance-free facial finish. And this time, I was really, really impressed. I had thought it might have been something residual in my boar brush, but this was two in a row greatness. I went back before this writing to try my synthetic.

UN-F-ING BELIEVABLE! That lather could absolutely pass for canned cream. This sells for sub-Williams prices in England? What the hell, Erasmic!? Put 12 of them in a box, and get that shit on Amazon! Why are we fucking around with Arko?! Are politicians screwing with you? Let me know. I'll write them a letter that will burn their ears off!

Date Night

My wife is taking the little man out for a show tonight. Accordingly, I expanded the shaving area to my neck and shoulders, even though this Baili platinum plus blade isn't dead yet. Actually, it delivered a DFS in the Tech, which kind of surprised me. No special prep -- though I gave Palmolive Classic the extra water and attention that I've been giving all my soaps lately, in the makeshift scuttle, nothing was added to face or lather.

The aggressive approach: Gillette slide all the way to start, except for the lowest neck, straight down; with extra diagonals from center out before the slickness dried in each region, thus determined. Second pass, light skewing and skimming ATG/XTG, skirting a threshold of traction. Third, let the razor off its leash with square ATG strokes and stiff leverage.

It's all about the traction threshold. I guess not having to worry about that is what makes slant and "hawk" style razors so impressive generally. And preferred blades, for that matter. At this point, though, I don't think my game can be changed.

I really enjoyed the "Classic" scent. My taste can hardly be trusted nowadays, though. I had to laugh the other day when I lathered Arko in my palm, and for a thoughtless second, actually appreciated the odor! Adding scents on top of Williams seems to have broken my olfactory sense: I was smelling something beyond the lemon Pledge, as I had sniffed around Williams' bug candle. The illusion did not hold long enough to break my identification of Duru Limon as KFC wet wipes, unfortunately.

Tech vs. Electric

No, this isn't a head-to-head comparison. More of a coming to grips with that pivotal moment in history, when Gramps gave up the DE and picked up the electric.

I didn't like the look of my face after my recent close shaves. I've been using a Baili platinum plus blade in various TTOs, because lower-angle razors pushed to the same closeness tended to bite, with this particular edge.

But there was always another play available: just keep the edge off the skin, don't allow it to gain traction. I softened the hair with pumpkin juice and apple pectin, and didn't worry about the skin. Switched to the Tech, and palm-lathered Williams. First pass did most of the job, visually; second evened it out XTG. Crema squeezed from the brush was applied to high-velocity ATG strokes, all well above the skin surface, but digging deep enough to remove shadows.

That approach yields a completely comfortable shave. The "velvety" shave my grandparents advocated. When you stroke downward, it's smooth; when you stroke against the grain, it catches, if not scratches, on an evenly-shorn carpet of whiskers. And for now, with this blade, I agree. I wonder if modern shavers get it. It's more than "socially acceptable," yet not exactly "close." Just close enough. I don't know... I guess "CCS" is a broad enough categorization to include what I'm saying.

But it's more than the result. Fast, safe, and effective. Efficient, though... having let the beard grow that far, it would have been awfully tempting just to skip the soap and water entirely, wouldn't it? Then, it was just a matter of the money. Or so it would seem. I myself can't shave successfully with an electric razor, because it plucks my neck and leaves sore bumps.

Williams Morning Goo

There's more to the mixing bowl than warm lather. Like recursion in the range of skin interactions that happen when I take the perfect blade down to complete dullness, there seems to be a spectrum of potential lathers hidden in the perfect soap.

"BLACK extreme" eau de toilette was up to bat, seeming to mock my rainbow metaphor, as well as its own extremely clean scent. Catching it in the bottom of the shaving scuttle-bowl was a minimal amount of mineral oil, two drops that didn't even coat the flat center when I tried to smear it around.

On the soap-and-water side, I just eyeballed it with a dip of the tip of my synthetic brush, and it turned out to be quite a lot more water than usual. I surmised the brush would not hold that much of the resulting liquid soap solution, so I just dumped it into the bowl when I thought it was soapy enough, and set to work lathering.

That took quite some time, starting from frothy soup, but it got there, to what I recognized as good ol' good-enough, Williams lather. A little foamier than most soaps, I can tolerate a few large bubbles in the bowl. The extra liquid made this a little more dense, but it looked normal enough going on. When I rubbed it in, though, it changed -- and I've noticed this before, a couple times since my inclusion of mineral oil/EdT. It was quite thick and sticky. Arko-ey?

Rinsing that preshave and lathering again "for real," it was clear that nothing would be contacting my skin, this shave. I shaved the hell out of it. I might have thought the mineral oil was cumulative, but changes were happening in the bowl as well. A long string formed between the bowl and brush as I withdrew it, as if the synthetic had somehow lost a bristle. And the lather on my face looked more like Italian Barber soap, visually.

There wasn't really any point to a third pass, but I found a few more hairs. Now great sheets of film were evident when the lather was stretched apart. I tried blowing bubbles with it, through my thumb and forefinger; it looked like bubble solution. No dice. I added water to the bowl, and could see the goo adhering to the bottom.

A fifth lather was applied as postshave while I cleaned up, which could have passed for Tabac, visually. Not that I had any visible injury to soothe, but I was sure I had shaved very closely, and didn't feel like washing any other body parts. Then there was more to squeeze out of the brush, with the "crema" consistency of Stirling. Nothing to do with it but wash my cloth.

Was it the proportions, or the scent oils? The fact of starting with too much water, then evaporating from the hot scuttle? For whatever reason, things really emulsified thoroughly and effectively. Maybe I need to put a little more time and attention into my lather, is what I'm thinking. It seems Williams has the potential to be anything I could possibly want.

Brut Lovers Rejoice

My scent preference is fruity, and I think I have a devastating presence when layering my discount store eau de toilette in the newly discovered fashion. My wife likes classics, though. Old Spice isn't me at all, and English Leather and British Stirling aren't enough of a stretch for her. Brut and Skin Bracer are the common ground, and Brut is the farthest reach for me. I'm sure she'd rather I do some laundry, but this Sunday, in a feeble attempt to please her, I selected my Dollar General knock-off for the next stage in layering experiments: aftershaves and colognes.

When scenting my lather, not all EdTs have required the final addition of glycerin, luckily including my favorite for daily wear. But with this "Classic Splash After Shave," and the preceding blob of mineral oil, I saw my Williams lather very much enriched, an effect I was not expecting. No tendency to dry up and flake off if left too long, which even Tabac is known to exhibit, though this lather did not nearly approach that soap's remarkable cushioning. A quick reexamination of ingredients pointed to my old ally in the war on glycerin, propylene glycol.

I don't think Brut has made shaving soap since before I was born, though cream can still be found.

Worst Shave Of The Year

You know I'm not one to complain - (snorts) - but I probably could have done better with a Norelco today. No, I take that back. But the Wilkinson Sword finally fell, with my Slim set on seven, in a one-pass SAS. I wouldn't consider those parameters a deal-breaker, but I could see my skin reacting in spots to the harshness, and feel the skin moving too much under the blade as well, even as I tried to hold it in place. Stroking WTG afterwards, there were spots where the beard was still palpable. And I'd really have to call it a "half-SAS" shave, because for the last few days, I've been shaving twice a day.

I wanted to know if Erasmic could be helped by oil, but Shave Secret applied as preshave collapsed it almost entirely. On the bright side, it probably isn't too much glycerin hampering its performance.

The only way I could have made this shave worse would have been to use "Chaoying," as I did earlier this week. With the edge suspended too far above the skin, she wouldn't cut, requiring all sorts of extra, high-velocity touchups. The Slim and the Tech felt harsher, but proved to have better range.

Ominous 2017

On New Year's Eve (day) I went looking for materials to make a guinea pig enclosure, and found a pewter shaving mug, presumably issued by Williams in times gone by -- two, in fact, but I left the larger for another lucky recycler, and took the smaller one, which features the Liberty Bell. An auspicious conclusion to 2016, at least.

But nobody else in the house was awake at midnight (well, not until I shook them) and my pizza dough didn't rise today. I guess it's okay. I'm probably the only one who would have appreciated Mariah Carey's performance; we can save the fireworks for another occasion. And we already had a fully cooked ham in the fridge.

I only recently found out that baker's yeast isn't really the authentic way to make bread. (Are you f-ing kidding me?! That's IT! Honey, pack the bags; we're moving to Papua New Guinea.) I'll be ready to cook the smooth, fragrant sourdough whenever it decides to come around, as I start yet again to learn something from the beginning, doggedly trodding another intuitive path back to auld lang syne.