09-27-2012, 04:58 PM
#1
  • matthewS
  • Junior Member
  • sillycon valley
User Info
not trying to be a troll. i'm new to this, about a month now. AM using brush and shave cream and love it. however I'm curious what the actual point of lather is vs just shave oil or shave cream of the kind that don't actually lather.

OK, here is the thing, consider a nice lather extending 1/2 inch or more off the face. the blade is shaving down at the surface, or just barely above. so the foam that is 1/2 inch out is not really doing anything. it did occur to me, that perhaps it is to replace what has been moved as the blade passes by. snow falling into place. but, and I could be doing it wrong, it does not seem to do that. the blade clears the face as well as a snowplow. and then I add some more for the next pass.

so, is this a nice ritual or actually functional? could I just use shave cream without turning it into lather? or maybe I'm doing something wrong, in which case useful to know as well.

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 09-27-2012, 05:27 PM
#2
  • brian
  • I wear sandalwood sandles
  • THE SWAMP (Florida)
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You're not far off base at all!

Water softens hair. Lather holds water to the beard hair to help it soften for cutting.

In addition to holding moisture, the other main benefit is slickness, which as you mentioned is available through other means such as oil as well.

As far as the volume goes, I see the sheer mass of the lather being a side product of the agitation required to properly hydrate the soap.
Ideal lather should perform the same whether it's 1/8 or 1/2 an inch deep / thick Smile

And yes, the snowplow clean path is what you should be getting.

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 09-27-2012, 05:30 PM
#3
  • Arcadies
  • Senior Member
  • Greeneville, TN
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I dunno about anyone else but I never slather on 1/2" thick lather...maybe about 1/8" and it's mostly for slickness for me personally..it is also alkaline and helps damage the coating on your facial hair so they soak up water more efficiently to soften them for easier cutting, and then there is also skin conditioning. I supposed you can use it without turning it into lather, but adding water is usually where your slickness comes from as well as air to build volume with a brush..otherwise it will require much more product to shave with. For instance most creams require about 1-2 grams or an "almond" sized dollop to whip into gobs of lather for 2-4 passes, just slathering on raw, dry concentrated cream will probably require 5x that amount and might irritate your skin as it's not meant to be used that way and might be fragrance overload on sensitive skin. All of this is moot of course if you're using a brushless cream.

Edited: Spacing didn't look right.

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 09-27-2012, 05:49 PM
#4
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I also note it helped when I was trying an open comb razor for the first time. Someone told me if I was smearing lather, my angle was too small, and if it looked like I was raking a zen rock garden it was too wide. Protip maybe.

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 09-27-2012, 05:57 PM
#5
  • beartrap
  • Resident Цирюльник
  • Southern California
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Just to add to above statements... Lather just looks beautiful! Biggrin

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 09-27-2012, 06:59 PM
#6
  • MickToley
  • Hi, I'm Mike and I'm a shave soap addict
  • Brooklyn, NY
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(09-27-2012, 05:57 PM)beartrap Wrote: Just to add to above statements... Lather just looks beautiful! Biggrin

Smells nice, too!! BiggrinBiggrin

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 09-27-2012, 07:14 PM
#7
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(09-27-2012, 06:59 PM)MickToley Wrote:
(09-27-2012, 05:57 PM)beartrap Wrote: Just to add to above statements... Lather just looks beautiful! Biggrin

Smells nice, too!! BiggrinBiggrin

Tastes good too...wait...well with enough glycerin it does

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 09-27-2012, 07:36 PM
#8
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Not trolling at all. It's a reasonable question and one I don't see very often.

+1 what's already been written.

It also helps to carry away the cut offs through the razor head.

Lather more than a fraction of an inch thick is just wasted. I bet mine is no where near 1/8" thick. But it doesn't need to be to do its many jobs.

One thing not covered is what it ISN'T for... Lifting and separating the hairs... Pure bunk. A whisker is extremely stiff, no way will lather "lift" it for cutting off.

There are creams (Bigelow and KMF come to mind) that can be used by "finger lathering" but the film required for that really doesn't use any more product than if it was brush lathered. It's used mostly for lube and to carry cut-offs away. You gain super slickness and lose all of the cushioning effect.

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 09-27-2012, 07:41 PM
#9
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i just love face-lathering and making lather. i feel like a little kid! It is one of the best things about shaving! However, to each their own and enjoy whatever method suits you.

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 09-27-2012, 07:54 PM
#10
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My lather most certainly does not reach 1/8 of an inch thick. In fact, in most cases, it is transparent.

The purpose of lather is to hold the water to your face and make sure it doesn't evaporate. The soap & water combination is also slicker than water or soap alone.

The ancients probably shaved with olive oil instead of soap. Those few times they did shave.

So, of course you can. But why would you?

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 09-27-2012, 09:03 PM
#11
  • matthewS
  • Junior Member
  • sillycon valley
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(09-27-2012, 05:57 PM)beartrap Wrote: Just to add to above statements... Lather just looks beautiful! Biggrin

exactly, girlfriend calls it Hollywood lather, ( you know, when the guy is interrupted in middle of shaving, snowplow track through a 1 inch thick drift. romantic scene, or cops break in or, sump'n) been joking around seeing how thick can layer on. & that is what got me started in what is purpose and how thick.

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 09-27-2012, 09:48 PM
#12
  • Arcadies
  • Senior Member
  • Greeneville, TN
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Wow..no one else ever has 1/8" lather? That is roughly 3mm and not very thick at all.
Granted I only have lather that thick on the first pass, I face lather and the mixing process leaves a lot of lather unless I squeegee some off with a finger, which I don't bother with.
All following passes are a fraction of that and super slick.

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 09-28-2012, 08:07 AM
#13
  • bjorney
  • Senior Member
  • Los Angeles
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(09-27-2012, 09:48 PM)Arcadies Wrote: Wow..no one else ever has 1/8" lather? That is roughly 3mm and not very thick at all.
Granted I only have lather that thick on the first pass, I face lather and the mixing process leaves a lot of lather unless I squeegee some off with a finger, which I don't bother with.
All following passes are a fraction of that and super slick.

Like you, on the First pass I usually have at least 1/8 in. Less on subsequent passes...

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 09-28-2012, 08:20 AM
#14
  • brian
  • I wear sandalwood sandles
  • THE SWAMP (Florida)
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Oooh - I must be the odd bird out here. If I don't have 1/4" of thick heavy lather all over my face I find myself going back to the puck for more loading.

Am I that strange or does anybody else go for a thick coat too?

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 09-28-2012, 08:33 AM
#15
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My lather is probably more than 1/8" on first pass, but subsequent passes are thinner. As long as it's there and it's stable...

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 09-28-2012, 08:40 AM
#16
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(09-27-2012, 04:58 PM)matthewS Wrote: not trying to be a troll. i'm new to this, about a month now. AM using brush and shave cream and love it. however I'm curious what the actual point of lather is vs just shave oil or shave cream of the kind that don't actually lather.

OK, here is the thing, consider a nice lather extending 1/2 inch or more off the face. the blade is shaving down at the surface, or just barely above. so the foam that is 1/2 inch out is not really doing anything. it did occur to me, that perhaps it is to replace what has been moved as the blade passes by. snow falling into place. but, and I could be doing it wrong, it does not seem to do that. the blade clears the face as well as a snowplow. and then I add some more for the next pass.

so, is this a nice ritual or actually functional? could I just use shave cream without turning it into lather? or maybe I'm doing something wrong, in which case useful to know as well.

You can use latherless cream and get great shaves, but lathering is part of the fun for me. With most shaving soaps you probably need to have a little lather to get results but not a lot.

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 09-28-2012, 09:37 AM
#17
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Measured my lather thickness this morning to make sure I was relaying accurate information. Yup, not quite 1/8". First pass my face is obscured by white, but no more than just enough to make it opaque.

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 09-28-2012, 09:54 AM
#18
  • Howler
  • A calamophile and vintage razor lover
  • Fort Smith AR
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I enjoy making lather each day. Watching the brush make lather is magical. The feel of the brush applying the lather is such a luxurious feeling.

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 09-28-2012, 11:18 AM
#19
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It's relaxing for me. It also provides cushion for the blade and could be added slickness.

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 09-30-2012, 06:17 PM
#20
  • matloffm
  • Senior Member
  • Culver City, CA
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I think the above covers it. I use enough lather to cover my skin and that's it. Don't know how thick that is, but it's at least a couple of mms.

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