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Shaving Prep


Well-Known Member
OK, we have discussions on hones, stropping already--now how about a (practical) discussion on shaving prep? :)

One of the things that I love about this forum is 1) we're not afraid to challenge orthodoxy, 2) we're not afraid to say that something highly lauded sometimes isn't worth the hype. Example Nakayama vs. coticule edges--they're a lot closer than most realize if the blade has maxed out.

I'd like to start a discussion on preshave routines/products for the same reason--to help cut through the hype & see what actually helps. Too often, as has been said here before, people will buy something expensive due to hype & write a good review to convince themselves that they didn't waste money! :D

For me, a hot shower is a good 1st step (WTG only shaves are served fine by this method), but I prefer doing more if I'm going ATG at all. I'll put up more info on the Lucky tiger lemon cleanser stuff soon; curious to know anyone's thoughts on CF (& other expensive preshaves) too.
My preshave prep is a shower and making sure I have a sharp razor... Works every time :w00t:
Ah. A cut-all-the-crap thread about shaving prep. Me likes.:D
It deserves a thorough reply. I'll write it as soon as I have time. (Just taking a quick midday sneak what's going on in the Cafeteria).

I watched a video over at B&B yesterday, made by Joel. He simply splashed some water on his face, put a little hot water on his brush, made a few swirls over the MWF, and off he went. This is very much not what I have been reading or learning from other videos, so I am glad this thread has been started and am hoping for some good ideas that can help me out.
I have tried loads and loads of different stuff and have ended up with the following 2 methods based on mood, time available etc.

This is my everyday beard prep:
Wash face, leave wet, apply Proraso preshave cream, strop, make lather, lather face, 1st pass, rinse face, relather, repeat for each pass, rinse, apply astringent, apply after shave balm, apply aftershave

I do often miss the Proraso and astringent so its just:
Wash face, lather face, strop, wet brush slightly, relather (leaving original lather on face) shave, each pass re lather as needed, rinse, apply aftershave, apply after shave balm.

Sometimes I go the whole hog and rinse and apply GFT skin food before the lather on each pass, does it help? a little I guess but I do like to pamper the face sometimes.

I soak my brush in the water as I wash, and if I am using a hard soap often add a few drops of water to the puck so it gets a little softer before I start.
I used to shower or bathe, then apply hair conditioner which works very well, and sometimes still do.

I think that a wash, and good lather, a properly honed and stropped razor and good shaving technique make far more difference to how the shave goes than buying loads of costly products, although as with most things in life, there is nothing wrong with buying and using the things we enjoy :thumbup:

I would like to mention bowl lathering and uberlather but thats more shave technique than prep, and I wouldnt want the soapy keyboard enema from Sir Bart for mentioning the dreaded "Uber" word hahahaha!!
I find the preparation for shaving more in line with the same preparation that perhaps a Shaman from the Hopi or Zuni tribe of the South West US from 1300 years ago would go through or maybe a current day medicine man from a modern day tribe like the Apache goes through before a ritual or ceremonial event.

This is nothing to be taken lightly and everything must be in its proper place. Lack of proper preparation would only disrupt the final ceremony and really piss off the Razor God. He would immediately take away your concentration and allow not so nice things to happen to ones face.

With that in mind, I enter the bathroom and try to clear my mind of everything trivial and focus on the preparation and execution of the most solemn ceremony of sacrificing my beard to the Razor God.

I first turn on the hot water and let it run as I gather my equipment and get it laid out properly for efficient usage. The location of each is critical while performing the actual ceremonial act. A small wash cloth laying on the right side of the sink, folded in half and the ceremonial razor opened with its scales in the correct position for transfer to the hand. When it is picked up, it will be ready for usage.

My scuttle and brush are lying ready for preparation for the hot water as soon as it arrives. Meanwhile I fold and lay a face towel on the front edge of the sink and a half towel is folded and draped on the door to the cabined underneath the sink and closed. Next, I remove my cloths in preparation for the ceremonial cleansing.

By this time the steaming hot water, from the hot spring (aka hot water heater) located some distance from the sink has finally arrived. I fill my scuttle with hot water and pull the sink stopper to start filling the sink. I then put my brush in the sink so the brush is facing down and stand it up. Then I immediately empty the scuttle and fill it again and place it in the hot water and let the sink fill until it is close to the top of the scuttle. Then the ceremonial face towel, used to prep the sacrifice is folded and placed over the top of the scuttle so the heat doesn't escape too fast.

Now I am ready for the ceremonial cleansing (aka shower). Nothing special here, no special soaps or ceremonial acts to the beard like using cream rinse. None of that stuff seems to help anyway.

After drying off I follow the ways of the modern day tribe now located in Utah and put on one half of my magical underware. I step up to the ceremonial sink, let the water out, empty the scuttle and squeeze the brush to unload it also. Then I run the water again until it is hot, which is usually only a few seconds. Fill the scuttle, pull the stopper, drop the face towel in the water and reheat the brush. Just put enough water in the sink to cover 1/4 of the scuttle. Squeeze the brush but make sure it has enough water to make the lather. Drop the face cloth into the sink and let it get totally soaked while making the lather. Once the lather is made, take the face cloth, squeeze it out leaving it just a little wet and wrap it around my face. Once my face is prepped, I apply the lather to it and dry my hands on the towel, hanging below the sink on the door. Then, with great reverence and attention to detail, I pick up the razor and begin the ceremony to the Razor God

Ray… I must say thanks for that post, reading that was like a breath of fresh air that really brought a smile to my face.
In fact, I am inspired to go to church tomorrow… (most likely after the ceremony of the sacrifice to the razor gods).:thumbup:
"Useth this, thy holy hand grenade, that with it thou mayest blow thine enemies to tiny bits in thy mercy...":lol:

Lucky Tiger lemon cleaners something-or-other I normally put on in the shower, rubbing in well after 1st getting my beard wet. I leave it on until the end, then towel & wash (more soap) off. I've found if I have too much residual on there , it causes the razor to slip over beard hairs when going ATG. I do notice a slight difference, but it's messy & tends to expedite drain clogging...

Curious to try CF preshave (since it's water-based, none of the mess), but some of those reviews sound more like advertisements to me!:rolleyes: Anyone used this & can give an (actual!) review?:)
:D :D :D :D
Thank you, my friend. I was in need of a good story.
Only, you're wrong about the Razor God. That is no razor god. There's only the Goddess of Hot Lather. She's married to the Coticule Demon. They have several children. I'll tell you all about it later.

My beard prep.

I mostly do not shower before a shave. Even when I'm taking a shower and need a shave, I'll normally shave before the shower.
I've compared both possibilities enough to know that the order makes no difference for me.
I wash my face with soap, before anything else. I use a bar of "The Body Shop" Tea Tree soap. I don't think it makes any distinction for the shave, but that's the soap I use.
I thoroughly rinse my face with the hottest water I can stand.
Next, it can go 2 ways. Most of the times, I lather with soap. I moisten the brush (a Semogue silvertip badger) with the hottest water from the tap. No pre-soaking required. I shake some water out of the brush, swirl it a couple of times over the puck of shaving soap (a 50/50 mixture of Palmolive and Tabac), and lather it on my face. If it's still a tad dry, I make a small pocket in the brush with my index finger and fill it with hot water. One swirl over the puck and I have the same hot lather on my face as what I can get from my lovely Georgetown Pottery shuttle.
Sometimes, I take the creams route: it's a matter of scent and luxury for me, but it does not shave better. It's more a treat for the skin, that doesn't make sense on an everyday basis for me, yet a nice indulgence when I can make time for it. In such event, I preheat the shuttle with boiling water out of a kettle, drain it and fill with boiling water. I moisten the brush with hot water from the tap, rub it gently over the cream, and whip up a nice lather in the shuttle. I currently prefer "Mr. Taylors Shaving Cream" of Taylors of Old Bond Street and Acca Kappa's "1869 Almond Shaving Cream".
After my beard it lathered, one way or the other, it's time to strop the razor(s).
After stropping, I rework the lather, making use of the aforementioned "finger pocket trick".
Then I shave North to South.
I immediately re-lather for a second pass ATG. For that I add hot water once more, making the second lather considerably thin. I find the beard to be fully hydrated at that point. All I need is a slippery underground for the blade. I never had a clue about what reviews about shaving cream/soap mean with "cushion". I can imagine that a safety razor, that has portion of the blade holder in contact with the skin, can make use of the density of a lather,, but I don't see how this could be happening with a straight razor, that just makes contact with the edge itself.
After the ATG pass, is usually make a third, partial pass to get whatever stubble remains at a few challenging parts of my beard area. I use the same runny lather for that.
Bit sure if it belongs to "prep", but I finish the shave with a cold water rinse, and a pass with the alum block.
That's basically it. Sometimes I use aftershave. Usually I apply that after the shower.

That's it. I think it's a rather basic, no frills approach. I have no experience with fancy pre-shave oils, or post-shave "skin food" stuff. I also think if a cream or soap could benefit for something simple and cheap like added glycerin, manufacturers would have added it to start with. So much for über-lather, or whatever it is called.

Kind regards,
I like that about this site... no need for elaborate preshave routines here (when using a razor honed on a Coticule :w00t: ). The only reason I shave after the shower is to eliminate the need for the hot water rinse that Bart just mentioned. Plus, I like the smell of aftershave straight after the shave. Makes me feel good too:blush:

Preshave stuff... I've tried a couple of them and found them useless in my shaves. Some guys like them, but I've never noticed the difference.
I am surprised you dont use a post shave Balm Sir Bart?

[sub][sub]If I was to take a moment to talk about Uberlather, would you promise not too send Gary Haywood round to try to anally insert a soapy Keyboard?[/sub][/sub]
richmondesi said:
I like that about this site... no need for elaborate preshave routines here (when using a razor honed on a Coticule :w00t: ). The only reason I shave after the shower is to eliminate the need for the hot water rinse that Bart just mentioned. Plus, I like the smell of aftershave straight after the shave. Makes me feel good too:blush:

Preshave stuff... I've tried a couple of them and found them useless in my shaves. Some guys like them, but I've never noticed the difference.

I have tried taylor preshave gel and oil plus prorasso pre post shave cream. they are a waste of time and money. You carn't beat a good lather followed by a hot flannel or towel then relather and shave. Finish with a good cold rinse. This is how we do it at the barbersd shop. lather with taylors shave cream or arko soap. Hot towel, lather , rub it in , add more lather, shave with the grain, relather , shave a cross the grain.Finish with a ice cold towel and some bay rum plus balm. This gives a close comfortable shave. We only shave against the grain if the skin can take it. I shave my self in this manner. Now and then against the grain.
tat2Ralfy said:
I am surprised you dont use a post shave Balm Sir Bart?

[sub][sub]If I was to take a moment to talk about Uberlather, would you promise not too send Gary Haywood round to try to anally insert a soapy Keyboard?[/sub][/sub]

I apply a post shave balm, when I like to smell good. "Carolina Herrera 212 for men" is my preferrence. Decent hydration and a fragrance that suites me well.

Yes you can talk about überlather. I'm sending the gloves to Gary as we speak.
Oh I have boxes and boxes of gloves hahaha

Ok I think the reason the Bartman system of prep works so well is that it only includes very good products, Tabac and Palmolive soaps are both outstanding, and the badger brush is spot on for holding soap and water, I use the same method my self a lot of the time.

Uberlather is not just soap and glycerine, or cream and glycerine its both soap and cream and glycerine, and if made correctly its always served hot, fresh from the scuttle or stacked bowls etc. So if your soap or cream is not the best, but maybe you like it anyway, mixing it with a good complimentary counterpart will work wonders.

Point in case: I have Burt Bees Bay Rum Soap, the smell is divine, it has a super duper slippery property that I really like, however the lather it makes is wank! now if I make it up with Lea cream (THE best cream ever made IMHO)I can get the best out of both, super duper slippy and a smell I love, it leaves my face as soft as silk.

Is it a vital component of a good shave? of course not, will it improve your shave? not if you already use top notch items as above. Is it nice to "pamper" yourself sometimes, with the ritual of making it, and using warm soft nice smelling lather when you take a slow sunday morning shave, as the coffee brews and the birds are singing? Ding Dong! of course it is.
My beard hairs are very wirey, I need something to help soften them as well as a hot shower/towel.

I noticed a lot of pre-shave products have castor oil, which I had read softens hairs. My wife also said it hydrates skin. So I decided to try it, just rubbing it on before a shower. I immediately noticed my shave quality went up a notch, I have used it daily for 3 weeks - I dare not use it in case I get a bad shave!

After the shave I use witch hazel (with 14% alcohol) only.

Soap lately is either Arko, Cade or Speick (cream and soap)

Natural, cheap, effective and pleasant to use! :thumbup:
I've heard the same thing about castor oil. I should give it a shot.

I generally just have a hot shower, strop, lather up and shave.

Post shave, I add some witch hazel, then an ASB or a splash.....nothing complicated.
I've tried it (mixed in w/ some others) & it seems to help, but it can be messy & again, makes the razor slip off the stubble when going ATG. I always rinse it off well 1st. Anyone tried the CF? Really curious (since it's not an oil), but would hate to spend that much on pure hype...