(This post was last modified: 03-08-2016, 10:35 PM by Len.)
I'm pretty new to soaps and creams of any kind, and still don't use them that often (water+razor/blade suffice), but I do enjoy the slickness, cushioning, skin benefits, and scents of a good soap.

And, I'd thought to post here to get some experienced technique advice on lathering. To preface, I 100% bowl lather for now (not yet interested in face lathering), with a Plisson synthetic. I have no problems whipping up a large amount of lather with any soap I've tried, but I do run into a general problem I'd like to correct.

I seem to get much more tiny air bubbles in my lather than I like. I try to gently swirl them away in the bowl, and this seems to help a little, but not nearly enough compared to the ultra smooth cream like consistency of most lather shots I see. I'd really like my lather creamier, but I don't see how. More or less water doesn't seem to help. I do splay the brush pretty heavily in the bowl while lathering, but this is what also seems to build lather most efficiently.

So, what can I do to improve my lather, technique wise? Or, are there certain soaps that resist air better?

Soaps I currently have:

AdP (new formula)
SV 70th
PC Nuavia Rossa
Castle Forbes
Mystic Water

SdM (on order)
Sweet Comb Chicago (on order)

Best soaps for reducing air? Best technique for reducing air? Any and all advice appreciated.

Austin, TX
Hey Len - who would have thought that building lather could be so complicated, right? I know that you mentioned you have adjusted the amount of water used but from my experience I would imagine that it is too much too soon causing the airy lather. Note: it could also be from over agitation as you also wrote that you really splay the brush; I face lather but rarely splay more than ~1/3 of the loft.

After ensuring that you have a great load [relatively dry brush, load more than you think necessary, etc.] very gradually add water to build. I don't recall the last time I bowl lathered but when I do I literally dip my fingers in the basin and flick water into the bowl. Agitate. Repeat. Build.

You have some good soaps to choose from, many that I also have, and although I have very hard water I have no issues generating a rich, lubricating lather with them using the gradual approach of hydration. I would check out Merkur Man 's videos too as they are a great reference piece.

Good luck and I am sure that you will get there in no time!

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Posting Freak
(This post was last modified: 03-09-2016, 12:57 AM by celestino.)
Len, I have always found bowl-lathering contributes to more of an 'airy' lather than face-lathering as I find you have to splay or work you brushes for a longer time and with more pressure/force when employing this method.
I might, also, suggest being more gentle with the whole process as it may eliminate the air while you bowl-lather.

I find I have much more control of the complete process of generating lather with face-lathering as I really don't need to splay the brush as much and I can do much more paint-brush strokes which seem to generate a thicker lather the more I do this without allowing so much air to enter the brush.

This is from my limited time bowl-lathering in my five years of 'wet-shaving', though and  your question has initiated my curiosity to see if I can produce a similar lather to my usual one via bowl-lathering. Thus, I plan on experimenting to see if I can replicate my usual lather while bowl-lathering.  Shy

I would like to see what Nathan's (Merkur Man) perspective is on this as he generates some lovely lather and he knows how to capture this on video! Big Grin

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Love, Laughter & Shaving  Heart
Completely agree with what the two gents above said.

Dry load, add water little by little (even less so with a synth), face lather. Enjoy.

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>>> Brian <<<
Happy beeps, buddy! Happy beeps!

Work your brush around the walls of the bowl. The heavier (creamier) lather will gather in the bottom as a result.

NeoXerxes and Len like this post
Hmmm. Your soaps are great quality and represent a wide range of lather types, so I highly doubt that those are the issue. As others have said, bubbles are often the result of bowl lathering and hasty water incorporation.

Len likes this post
Hey Len,

For what it's worth, face lathering to me seems to be quicker, but the real benefit is that I can "feel" when the lather is right. The tightness of my skin can translate into whether the lather is too dry, and conversely, if the lather is to moist I'll feel it not wanting to stick.

Your soap collection, as already mentioned, is pretty diverse. Do keep in mind that ymmv. My two scents, though (haha, get it?) skip the bowl and face lather. I only use my bowl when using soft creams like EJ or TOBS anyhow.

If it works for you, cool, but using water only is very damaging to the skin, and can be a factor in irritation, ingrown hairs, and my dermatologist even tells me acne issues. Even if it's from a can, I'd recommend something over nothing.


Len and SharpSpine like this post

I know you said you have no interest in trying face lathering at the moment but I think you'd be surprised at the results. Particularly if you try to incorporate some of the great advice mentioned above. The few elements that will make a difference are:
1- Starting with a nearly dry brush loading heavily. I might add on this note, try to get away from loading for a set amount of time and just learn to load until things look right. How much soap you pick up while loading is greatly influenced by soap consistency, so it is important to learn to recognize when you've got it right.
2- Make small water additions while loading. This will help build the lather but avoid the problem that too many people experience of getting the soap to water ratio wrong resulting in thin, dissipating, airy lather.
3- if you insist upon bowl lathering, remember that there is no need to really whip the lather. Just like beating eggs, you can incorporate a lot of air if you use a higher speed and work it for an extended time period. The primary reason I almost never bowl lather is honestly so that I can avoid the incorporation of air. As I see it, air is not a feature I like in lather and I therefore do all I can to minimize its presence. Therefore it follows that I am a face latherer.
Give face lathering a go and see if you don't get the lather you're looking for. Then if you'd like to bowl lather again, try to incorporate what you have learned into bowl lathering.
Good luck!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

NeoXerxes, SharpSpine, WindsorCitrus and 2 others like this post
Some great advice going on. I used to bowl lather and when I switched to face lathering I found my lather improved, no idea why this happened. Nathan's method above works really well.

Good luck Smile
Oli AKA Windsor Citrus
Surrey, UK.
(This post was last modified: 03-10-2016, 05:07 AM by CrowneAndCrane.)
0. Soak the bristles of the brush for about a minute in warm water. Then gently shake out most of the water.
1. Load the moist (not dripping) brush with a good amount of product. For MdC, for example swirl the brush tips around for about 30 seconds until the brush has a good load.
2. Start building lather in the bowl like a chef whipping eggs. If your lather is too thick and pasty add a few drops of water and continue. If it's too runny then add more product or continue whipping until it isn't.
3. Continue until you have a good amount of thick creamy lather that will hold it's shape when loaded onto the brush.
4. Using a circular motion apply the lather too your face so that all sides of the whiskers get coated with lather.
5. Finish with paint brush strokes to create a thick smooth layer of lather on the face.
6. Shave and repeat from step 4 for additional passes or step 1 if you run out of lather.

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