12-21-2014, 02:40 PM
#1
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Many people have issues getting a thick, hydrating, stable lather using hard soaps - soaps like MWF (most famously). This is usually (and correctly) put down to not loading the brush enough prior to starting building the lather.

Here's another tip: when loading the puck, add some water to the puck.

So, why might this work?

First, let's make the assumption that the issue you're having with building a proper shaving lather is related to not getting enough soap on the brush. You're trying to make a 'cream' using soap and water, and you need to make enough of that to build sufficient lather for your shave.

1) If you soak and then shake dry the brush, you may be shaking off too much water. Hard soaps need more water (than softer soaps) to get a proper cream build-up.
2) If you soak the puck, and then drain it, be aware that some soaps do not hydrate significantly in water, they need some mechanical help.
3) Just working the soap for a long time with a dry(ish) brush will not really result in adding more 'cream' to the brush. You need water to aid this.

So, how do you fix this?

If you notice that you're not getting any cream buildup on the puck, add a few drops of water to the puck and continue lathering. You'll notice an airy lather forming that should get dense and cream-like pretty soon. You need at least the first half inch of the brush head to be loaded with this dense cream to ensure enough lather for your shave.

What if you add too much water?

This is not necessarily (all) bad. If you add too much water, you'll get airy lather that's useless to shave with, but you can discard some of this into the sink, or wait for your loading motion to push some of it off your soap container. This is messy, but not too bad.

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I know this is a very basic concept, but I thought it was worth mentioning, as the usual advice of 'load longer' will not work if you don't have enough water.

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 12-21-2014, 04:01 PM
#2
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With hard soaps I find putting warm water just to cover the soap and let it sit for 5 or 10 minutes then pouring the now slightly soapy water into a container (espresso cup) to add little by little when the lather needs more water, helps enrich my lather.
I try to to build a rather dry lather to start. Adding the soapy water works better than adding fresh tap water.

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 12-21-2014, 06:06 PM
#3
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Great suggestions, gentlemen!
I am extremely grateful for our supremely soft water, here, in Vancouver where we can lather any soap! Biggrin

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 12-21-2014, 06:49 PM
#4
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Thanks! This is very helpful.

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 12-21-2014, 06:52 PM
#5
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Good tip. I think when some guys first start trying hard soaps they're told to start with a dry brush, maybe not realizing that there is such a thing as too dry of a brush.

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 12-21-2014, 07:27 PM
#6
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(12-21-2014, 06:52 PM)ryno2292 Wrote: Good tip. I think when some guys first start trying hard soaps they're told to start with a dry brush, maybe not realizing that there is such a thing as too dry of a brush.

Yep, this is what I think may be a factor in getting bad lathers from hard soaps.

The fact that they're harder than usual means that some adjustments are necessary, and not everyone takes that into consideration.

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 12-21-2014, 07:38 PM
#7
  • joedy
  • Member
  • Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
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Mickey is correct, adding some water to cover and soak the hard soap is the easiest way to lather the more challenging ones.

Some warm water will help to break down the soap "skin" and let your brush start to form lather.

Another trick is to lather the outer sides of your brush and not just the inner bristles. With challenging soaps, I will oftentimes rotate the brush in hand to ensure that that I'm getting soap on all of the outside bristles.

Once you've got a later going, don't kill it with the application of too much water at one time. Just a drop or two added will get your lather to the perfect consistency.

-joedy

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 12-22-2014, 05:10 AM
#8
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I usually start with a lot of water in the brush and load until there is enough soap on the brush to get a good dense lather going, always works for me

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 12-22-2014, 08:32 AM
#9
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(12-22-2014, 05:10 AM)shoulderpet Wrote: I usually start with a lot of water in the brush and load until there is enough soap on the brush to get a good dense lather going, always works for me

Yep, this is a technique I use sometimes too. Never fails to work, but can result in a bit of a mess in the sink. Smile

There was a guy called Zach who made a bunch of videos showing how to do this, but that was years ago, and the videos have disappeared. Teiste may remember this.

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 01-02-2015, 01:11 PM
#10
  • KRpdx
  • Member
  • Portland, OR
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(12-21-2014, 07:38 PM)joedy Wrote: Mickey is correct, adding some water to cover and soak the hard soap is the easiest way to lather the more challenging ones.

Some warm water will help to break down the soap "skin" and let your brush start to form lather.

Another trick is to lather the outer sides of your brush and not just the inner bristles. With challenging soaps, I will oftentimes rotate the brush in hand to ensure that that I'm getting soap on all of the outside bristles.

Once you've got a later going, don't kill it with the application of too much water at one time. Just a drop or two added will get your lather to the perfect consistency.

-joedy

Yes...making sure soap is distributed through the brush seems to make a difference for me.

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 01-03-2015, 05:15 AM
#11
  • JAYDEE
  • Israeli Ambassador
  • Montreal, Canada
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MWF lathered very well and easily for me, but I had trouble lathering Pre de Provence.

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 01-03-2015, 07:09 AM
#12
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Used the Mitchell's Wool Fat soap today, I initially tried to lather with a relatively damp brush but it just didn't work. I then decided to use the wet brush technique with the soap and brush turned upside down. That worked, got a great lather but it's really messy - especially when you don't have a bowl.

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 01-03-2015, 09:13 PM
#13
  • Andrew
  • Senior Member
  • Austin, TX
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Load it like you hate it.

With hard soaps, I soak the top of the puck with a thin layer of water for a few minutes while I shower. Before loading, I pour some or most of this off. I take a damp brush that I have shaken a few good times to the puck and go at it. I load the brush like I'm trying to finish off the puck. I'll add a few drops of water to the puck 2 or 3 times while loading to accomplish what Yohann has mentioned above - this really works to get the most soap onto the brush.

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 01-04-2015, 08:13 AM
#14
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All good info,thanks gents!

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 01-06-2015, 03:36 AM
#15
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Great Tips!!!
The gorgeous post learned a great deal Thanks greatly!

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 01-06-2015, 04:04 AM
#16
  • Deuce
  • Just a guy
  • Cave Creek
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Great tip Yohann. Here in Chicago we have very hard water, so when I started wet shaving, it was a challenge. Practiced a lot too, with my wife just smiling and shaking her head. This is a great technique

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