Friday, April 12, 2013

Why an old-school shave is the hot new thing

It used to be that I knew absolutely nothing about shaving soap. I didn't understand the procedure. It seemed weird and unlikely that any form of shaving could require the use of a mug. And a brush made out of badger hair? I was pretty sure that somebody like Amy Sedaris made that up. Then my husband heard that a hot shave was easier on the skin. My poor guy has always had skin that looked red and rough after shaving, which was not only uncomfortable but didn't look very attractive, either. I didn't want him to have to show up at work with a scraped-up face.

So I checked it out; it didn't seem too difficult to make. I figured, I make soap; if he wants to try a particular kind of soap, why not make some for him? Worst-case scenario, it doesn't help and we're back where we started. So I got him a shaving brush and a vintage mug (why not?) and made a batch of my first and favorite shaving soap, bay rum. I had fun with it; I made plain Castile soap, then milled it up and remelted it, adding lots of moisturizing oils and a special mix of spices, essential oils and aged rum. And OMG, did it smell good! I kinda didn't care whether it helped his skin or not, he was going to have to keep using it. I wanted to pounce on him every time he walked past. However, it did wonders for his skin. His face isn't razorburned anymore, he enjoys his morning shave, and he likes the old-school feel of shaving with a mug and brush.

So I made more (unscented! black pepper! woodsmoke! yum!), and did some research. The vintage mugs were perfect- my soap fit into them exactly, plus I loved the variability: Old Spice shaving mugs are all made of milk glass (goes with everything) and they feature ships, but they're all a little different- different ships, different text, different degrees of fading. Now I hunt them up whenever I'm antiquing.

The brushes, now, that was a thing. It tuns out that there are two main kinds of brush: boar and badger. Boar is a lot cheaper, but also coarser. Many people consider them inferior, but if you have very coarse facial hair, they're actually preferable, because the badger hair won't lift coarser facial hair enough for a good shave. The badger hair brushes are pricier, but if you don't have particularly coarse facial hair, they're worth it. They hold water better and create a better lather, while not being too rough on your skin. So now I offer a free shaving brush (badger, unless they request boar) for people who purchase a shaving kit from my Etsy shop, and some local shops that carry Soapzilla products (Square Foot in downtown Decatur, in particular) sell soap-and-brush combos. 

What I didn't expect is how popular the soap would be. Who even shaves this way anymore? But I have a coworker who used to use shaving soap and was hesitant to use mine, but now swears by it. I frequently have to send shaving soap via priority mail for guys in the military who need to get it before they ship out overseas. It's far and away the most popular thing in my Etsy shop and has been featured many times in the "For Him" category on their mobile app. And it sells out constantly in the local shops.

So for those of you who are wondering how to use it, there are lots of resources online, but basically:
1. Put the shaving soap into the bottom of the shaving mug.
2. Wet a small towel or washcloth with some really hot water and put it on your face for a minute or two (an important but often-overlooked step).
3. Get your shaving brush wet in the really hot water and use it to work the soap into a lather.
4. Brush your face with the lather.
5. Shave! You can use a regular razor, too- no need to get old-school there, unless you really want to.
6. Wipe your face down with that hot-water towel from step two.

Try that for a week and you'll be shocked by the difference. As for the fragrance of the soap, it's mild but lingering- if you prefer something unscented try our "mildly-scented" varieties, which smell great while you're using it but don't leave a fragrance on you- mainly for guys who wear cologne and don't want anything to interfere with that scent. And if none of our fragrances seem appealing but you want some shaving soap anyway, message us- we can always do something custom for you!

1 comment:

  1. Soak your shaving brush in warm water for at least a couple minutes. While your brush is soaking, place a teaspoon or two of water on top of the soap to help soften it.

    Florida Barber Academy