12-17-2014, 09:25 AM
#1
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Hey Guys,

I have a question for you, but let me preface this by a scenario/story:

I received a puck of Mickey Lee Soaps Italian Stallion (I thought the soap scent was OK, but I could detect nothing but a soapy scent; no citrus notes or anything, but I digress). I used my daily driving brush (TSS Nussbaumholz) and a twice used Astra Super Stainless (from the blue packaging, not green). The razor was a British rocket HD500 which has been a smooth and non-aggressive razor for me.

I've determined that my blade of choice is a Wilkinson Sword (German) but i'm sitting on a stockpile of Personna, Astras and Shark Chromes/Stainless which all work well enough for me. This is my first Astra Blue blade, though it's third use.

Now to the meat of the potato: I went about this shave as I normally do, the only variance being the MLS soap. I made the usual lather and shaved as I normally do. The resulting shave was exceptional - no nicks; only slight alum burn but the surprise was that I have a difficult area on the left side of my neck which I usually have to touch up several times and I never really get BBS. After this shave it was BBS, even when I purposely ran my fingers against the grain I couldn't find any roughness or missed spots which usually never happens.

Now my confusion about the shave: I had used this blade twice before and had gotten OK shaves; not really true BBSes, but better than DFS. I normally rotate through a few soaps and have typically found my favourite soaps to be LASSCo, CRSW and Caties Bubbles. The MLS I found that the first pass the lather was nice and thick, but by the second and third pass it had thinned somewhat; possibly broken down from the heat from my brush scuttle (I face lather 100% but recently started using a brush scuttle to keep the brush warm between passes; it's filled with hot water from the tap but is hot to the touch, not scalding hot though). I can't see the temperature being hot enough to break down lather though so I guess I just didn't load long enough or didn't add enough water on the second/third passes.

Is the soap really that good, resulting in a true BBS shave - so good infact that I was able to skip a second day to get enough growth to shave again or was it the blade/razor and technique. Does the soap/lather play a larger role in the shave or is there more variance from the blade?

Thanks!

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 12-17-2014, 10:40 AM
#2
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Hugh, this is a complex question, for me, as I have never used that soap, so I can't comment, but it could be a number of variables, really. Your technique could be improving! Biggrin
You will have to experiment with the other soaps to see if it truly is the new soap.
Also, the hot water in your brush scuttle is definitely contributing to the break-down of the lather as this is quite common to see with many soaps.

Good luck with the experimenting!

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 12-21-2014, 09:44 PM
#3
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If you are on a true vision quest with this, I would suggest changing only one part of your routine, then come back to this baseline. Then change another part and come back. Only then will you find the major component of your shave that changes drastically your results. I would say the major catagories for change/experimentation are
1. prep
2. soap
3. blade
4. razor

and maybe you ASL or balm. That can have an affect on your lasting memory of the previous shave.

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 12-22-2014, 06:42 AM
#4
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You mention in your OP nothing has changed except for the soap -- you used MLS rather than one of the other soaps in your rotation. As Celestino mentioned, there are still other variables that may have changed - particularly technique (could have been a small subconscious change) and the effect of scuttle on lather. Oldschoolsteel is also right in that additional focused testing is needed to determine what 'item' may have been the biggest contributor to the change. And, IF you are certain nothing about this shave was different other than the MLS, then soap is the one and only part of your routine to test/change right now...

While that razor blade has a few shaves left in it, for your next shave try to do everything exactly the same with a different soap.

If you get a solid BBS in that trouble spot again, the MLS wasn't the key variable that got you there.

If you don't get a solid BBS with the 'new' soap, switch back to MLS for shave after that. If BBS returns, it's a very strong likelihood the MLS was a key factor in achieving it. If it doesn't return, start testing a different variable from Oldschoolsteel's list.

As to your final question, I would say lather plays a much bigger role than the blade. Once you find a brand of blade you like, the consistency of modern manufacturing will ensure there is very, very little variation from blade to blade within that brand. However, lather -- whether it be from a soap or cream -- has many variables at play each and every time... including the brand you use that day, the amount of water, the temp of the water, how much you work it, etc., etc.

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