Shave Brush Mechanics & Lather

Shave Brush Mechanics & Lather

Postby dappershaves » Sat Dec 12, 2020 9:56 am

Shave Brush Mechanics & Lather

The shaving brush is a “machine” that creates lather from shaving soap. Its that simple, but how does it work and how do I control the end result in a consistent manner?

First let’s understand the brush or bristle options and their differences. Fundamentally you get natural bristles harvested from badger and boar or cut from horses. We also get synthetic bristles that mimic either boar, badger and horse behaviours. Synthetic bristles are the easiest to use as the bristles are designed to optimise lathering and will outperform all natural bristles products. They are generally also cheaper, but that does not mean inferior. Choosing a brush and understanding the differences between them is for another discussion.

How do the brushes work?
The brush is soaked in water to saturate the bristles, synthetic’s are saturated in seconds while the natural products require a couple of minutes soaking. Soap is then loaded into the bristles by swirling the damp/wet brush on the soap. Soap hardness, brush (knot) size and type will determine loading speed. I typically load a 24mm boar knot for about 20 seconds and add 5 seconds for every 1mm increase in knot size and is my guide only.

Once the soap is loaded lather is create by agitating the water and soap between the brush bristles. Folks typically do this in a bowl (bowl lathering) or directly on the face (face lathering). As the soap mixes and become lather it migrates through the brush to the outside of the bristles. This is called flow-through. The flow is determined by the density of the bristles. The denser they are packed together the less the flow. If you have different brushes you will know that they all create and release lather differently. Water is added when needed to get to correct lather consistency to ensure a slick but wet lather.

Loading Methods
You can use any method you prefer but fundamentally you have 2 options. Load with a very wet brush until you get the consistency and volume you need, or load with a damp brush and add water until you get the consistency you want. I personally load with a damp brush and add water as I face lather until I get what I need.

Most shavers typically make thick yogurt like lather that looks like canned goo with not enough water content. Those shaving with DE’s can get away with dryer lather in general. Don't settle for borderline lather...

My Tips & Recommendation
If you bowl lather try loading with a damp brush and keep adding water every now and again until the lather breaks down totally. This test will quickly teach how much water good quality soap can hold. Use one soap and brush until you understand their full potential Once you arrive here you will know what wet lather should look like and how its performs during shavng.

I also believe most folks bowl lather as they find it difficult to manage large volume of lather on the face, or its very messy loading wet. Once you start mixing the lather flows to the outside of the brush in huge volumes. Work this back into the core of the brush, add a bit of water and repeat. This process helps dealing with lather on the outside and stop it from flying all over the place, especially when it becomes wetter. Use you finger to scoop the outside lather up putting it back onto the bristle end, working through the brush, again and again.

Cushion is a term I personally hate. Cushion refers to protection and protection comes from hydration and slickness, nothing else. Dry lather will draw any hydration you have in your skin, but also your whiskers making them harder to cut!

Make your lather wetter and less like yogurt and learn to face lather. There’s no benefit for you skin or whiskers bowl lathering!

Those who have changed there ways wrt wetter lather and face lathering methods will know the benefits of what I have describe above.
happy shave, dappershaves
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