Although he didn’t do it all that often, I used to be intrigued watching my Dad produce a nice rich lather in his shaving bowl. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to step into manhood, and celebrate my lather-filled rite of passage.
Many years have passed, and I now enjoy the process of creating the perfect creamy lather in my own shaving bowl.
Right from the outset, I want to say that if you don’t want to use a shaving bowl…you don’t have to! Although it’s my preferred method, there are plenty of blokes that are happy to lather into their palm, or alternatively, lather directly onto the their face. There is no right or wrong here, it’s just your personal preference.
On the whole, most shaving soaps and creams lather well in a bowl. Some may take a bit more work than others. That of course is just a matter of trial and error.
You have three main options when it comes to getting your lather ready in anticipation of the first stroke of your razor.
- Lathering in your Palm
- Lathering on you Face
- Lathering in a Bowl
Lathering In Your Palm
Palm lathering is a great option if you don’t have a bowl handy. You load your desired shaving brush with soap or cream, add moisture as required and swirl away.
If you don’t have a bowl handy or if you’re travelling, palm lathering is a simple alternative.
You will get a general sense of the lather feel and density before applying it to your face.
Due to the design of your hand, it’s difficult to control the amount moisture added to your lather.
The enemy of wet shaving is having slippery hands and fingers. With this method there is no getting away from the fact that your hands will get very soapy and slick. Of course if you are using a straight or safety razor, even more caution is definitely warranted.
If you are using this method, it’s important to make sure you wash all soap off your hands before shaving.
Lather can in some instances build up very quickly. This in turn can result in lather overflowing the edges of your hand leading to unnecessary waste.
Although some soaps and creams will lather well, the restricted area your palm offers can make it difficult for some soaps and particularly creams to create a decent lather.
You need to build your lather all over again for each subsequent pass.
Lathering On Your Face
One of the huge positives of lathering on your face is that it cuts out the middle man. You load your shaving brush with soap or cream and apply it straight to your handsome visage.
As in palm lathering, the lack of shaving bowl doesn’t impact on your choice of lathering technique.
Unlike lathering into your hand, with no soap or cream pooling in your palm, there is no (or very little) mess to deal with.
Even more so than lathering in your palm, you really need to have the correct water ratio for that perfect lather. Unlike a bowl where you have far greater moisture control.
Like palm lathering, you need to build your lather all over again for each subsequent pass.
Although many men use this technique successfully, it takes practice and patience to have just the right amount of water captured in your brush. And as you’re perfecting this, you may find yourself with less than adequate lather on your face in preparation to your shave.
Lathering In A Bowl
At the beginning of this article, I said that I preferred using a shaving bowl. I like to be able to have greater control over the formation of my lather and a bowl allows me to do that.
The secret to a creamy lather is the amount of moisture added. A bowl will give you a lot of control over your lathers richness due to its captive environment.
Lathering in a bowl keeps your area cleaner, and soap off your hands
A bowl gives you somewhere to rest your brush in between passes
Not only does a bowl enable you to build the perfect lather, you don’t have to repeat the process in between passes. Once your lather is created, it’s there and ready to rock and roll whenever you need it.
It’s super easy to give your bowl a quick rinse along with you brush after shaving.
Although you can pick up a bowl for a few bucks at your local discount store, it needs to be noted that if you can’t find anything suitable in your kitchen cupboards, you’ll need to buy one.
How To Use A Shaving Bowl
I’d love to be able to tell you I got it right from day one…but that would be far from the truth. I think my first attempt resulted in bigger soap bubbles than you’d see at a five year old’s birthday party. 😉
In time I got better though, and now my lather is usually bang on each and every time.
Most bowls are suitable to use as a shaving bowl. As long as it’s a decent size and you can maintain a firm grip on the base.
Wet your shaving brush thoroughly with warm (or cold) water and gently flick off any excess.
Place an almond sized amount of cream onto the end of your shaving brush. If you’re using soap, add a little water to the puck and swirl your brush on the puck until soap had loaded into the bristles
Holding your shaving bowl at an angle, swirl your brush on the bottom of the bowl until your lather starts to build.
If your lather seems too dry, just drip water from your fingertips a bit at a time until your lather has a thick, rich consistency. If you see larger bubbles, it means you’ve added too much water, but in a bowl this is easily corrected. Just continue to whip your lather until the bubbles disappear.
That’s it, your lather is ready to go. Ready for it’s contribution to a close and comfortable shave. By following these simple steps, you will have a great lather every time.
A great shaving experience is a combination of good quality razors, brushes and creams. But it’s the little things like your technique and the quality of your lather that make it exceptional.
I’d love to hear about your lathering successes (and fails) in the comments below.
Time to get your shave on! 😉