Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba

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The most amazing thing happened to me the other day.

Back when I hit my teens, I graduated from comic books to hifi magazines, partly because DC and Marvel started simultaneously sucking in the 80s but mainly because I wanted to build a stereo so loud it would drown out my dad’s screaming at me to turn that @%#$ music DOWN for @%#$’s sake.

Most of the guys who wrote for hifi magazines in those days were, as they are now, pussies, but there was one guy who towered above them all and who wrote with such a powerful, stripped-down elegance that I became kind of a fanboy and actually went looking in libraries for old back-issues just so I could read more of his stuff. His name was J. Gordon Holt, the best and most important audio writer of them all.

Gordon not only invented subjective (i.e. opinionated) hifi reviewing, but birthed the high-end audio industry itself. Before Gordon launched Stereophile Magazine in 1962, there was no such thing as specialty audio, or audiophiles. The “audio hobbyist” magazines of the 1950s assured their readers that everything sounded pretty much the same, i.e. “just fine”.

Gordon was the first person to say, “Wait a minute — some of this gear sounds like crap, and some of it sounds like live music, and here’s what I’d buy if I were you”. It was a radical stance at the time, and it sparked an upheaval that changed the audio industry on not just the publishing side but the manufacturing side as well.

As high-end audio grew into a billion-dollar industry, Gordon continued to burnish his position as the only rock star audio journalism has ever produced. And years later when I found myself writing for Stereophile and barely believing we shared a masthead, Gordon couldn’t have been more kind, generous, and supportive despite the fact that he was a classical music buff on first-name basis with conductors while I eschewed underpants and judged speakers based on how pristinely they conveyed the harmonic delicacy of the Sonics.

So anyway I got an email out of the blue recently from a fine young gentleman named Charles who introduced himself by saying we’d actually met fifteen years ago in Santa Fe when he was a kid and I was writing for a magazine there which had been founded thirty years earlier by his father — Gordon Holt!

Charles had come upon Shaveblog without knowing of my connection to his father — just another guy looking for a better shave. So we e-yakked about shaving and he caught me up on what his dad’s been up to since he “retired”, and now miracle of miracles, Gordon and me are emailing each other on our Macs after over a decade since we last spoke. I’m thinking god, how “Circle Of Life” is this? I’m a kid who went looking for info and found Gordon, and now his kid’s gone looking for info and found me, which led me back to Gordon.

So then Charles says he has something to send me. A few days ago I get a large package in the mail, and it’s a framed, signed print of an old cartoon that Gordon drew back in the ’50s for the Saturday Evening Post back when he thought he wanted to be a cartoonist.

It’s a guy. Shaving. On TV.

I’m not even sure my parents had secondary hair when this ran.

Summer Shaving

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Ahh, summer. Though it’s only 6/6/6 and we’ve still got two weeks and a day till the official start of summer, we’ve had a few days of searing, wavy-lines-off-the-sidewalk kind of heat here on the Forgotten Coast. And that can only mean one thing to inveterate Shaveblog readers:

It’s shaving season again!

Yes, Planet Shavegeek rejoices once more, as cruel, cruel winter recedes to her Stygian depths, taking with her the dry skin and the merely adequate shaves I’ve been putting up with lo these many months of frigid darkness, wondering, in private moments of despair, if the season-long string of partly crappy shaves meant that I’d— dare I even think it? — lost my way.

But today’s shave put that light-starved jibber-jabber to rest, because I finally got my ass in gear and made it over to the YMCA after, christ, a month at least of shameful torpor. It felt good to sweat like a pig again, to put in the hour of cardio and weights and then sit for awhile in the sauna, letting the sweat stream down from the top of my head and marinate my whiskers (that’s right — I always save my shave for the Y). I sit there in the steam room and rub my face, working the sweat into my beard, accelerating the process of softening up the hair for the kill. The other guys stare, sure, but out of awe, not discomfort. Definitely awe.

And then Lady Shave and I, we dance. Today I packed my dopp kit with my usual rig — a 1940’s Gillette Super Speed DE safety razor, an Israeli “no-name” Personna blade, and a Simpson Wee Scot badger shaving brush. But to celebrate the first day back at the gym after so long, and to make the most of this unseasonably hot weather we’ve been having, a tube of Firenze’s own Proraso shaving cream.

Proraso may be my favorite hot weather shaving cream. Chock full of skin-friendly eucalyptus oil and menthol, Proraso shaves as well as any of the high-end English creams like Taylor and Trumper, but it’s got this wicked-excellent ice cold smack at the end of the shave when you rinse your puss with cold water. Really, there’s nothing else like it on the market.

Today’s shave was the best I’ve had in months. Unless I’m dicking around with a new razor or cream and the whole thing goes out the window, my shaves have been consistently good since I started sticking to the Super Speed razor and the Israeli blades. This mild-mannered DE and these mild-mannered safety blades stand in stark contrast to the pinhead escapades on the shavegeek forums, where urinal cake salesemen from Modesto do that barking thing they do during Tim Allen concerts and wield manly, skin-peeling rigs like Merkur Slant Bars loaded with Feather Platinum blades, or Merkur adjustables cranked up all the way so you’re not shaving with a razor anymore, you’re shaving with a blade on a stick.

Hey, I play around with razors, too. In the last week alone I’ve shaved with the Merkur HD (still the best razor Merkur ever made), an all-metal Schick Injector I yoinked on eBay, a stick-shift knobbed Injector from the same yoinked lot, and even a hundred year-old Gillette DE Beloved Wife got me, which was sweet beyond words but kind of like Ferdinand giving Imelda another pair of shoes.

Shavetention Deficit Disorder keeps me from settling down with one true rig, but god help me, it’s the 40’s Super Speed — The Little DE That Could — that gives me the best, most consistent shaves. And no matter what other blades I try, I keep coming back to the Israelis as the best combination of closeness and comfort. If I’d known about these blades as a newbie, lots less blood would’ve been shed, let me tell you.

That said, there have been shaves these past few months that weren’t all that great. Good, but not great. Close, but not super close. Little patches of micro-stubble around the base of the neck I could feel with my fingertips, even if nobody else except Harvey could see it. I blamed myself, and lived with the shame, forgetting it was the winter blues that were limiting my shaves to those of a commoner.

Well, today marked the return of wetshaving as usual. A good workout to get the blood flowing and the face swelling, a nice sit in the sauna to open the pores and soften the whiskers, and that time-tested, money-in-the-bank combo of a Gillette DE, a Simpson brush, and Proraso shaving cream.

When it’s hot outside, I’m more than willing to put up with Proraso’s not-terribly-shavegeek-swooning scent (think Vick’s Vapo-Rub pulling a train with Noxzema and Hall’s Mentho-Lyptus) just to get that spectacular shave and the bracing cooldown at the end that lasts for a nice long while. Used to be you could only find Proraso at Italian markets, or online from the usual suspects. Now Target (!) of all places stocks it, making it even easier to pick up a $10 tube of this insanely great Italian marvel.

Get Musgo Real

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Chasing the elusive 5-minute quickie shave lately, I’ve been revisiting some old favorite shaving creams that work especially well without a brush, just slathered on with your bare hands like a heathen. And it occurs to me that I’ve never really blogged about one of the very first high-quality shaving creams I tried back when I first picked up a Merkur safety razor to give this whole wetshaving trip a go: Musgo Real.

It was Lee Cantor of Lee’s Razors who first turned me onto Musgo. I’d put in an order for my first Merkur HD razor and a pack of blades, and Lee recommended I try a tube of Musgo — he said it was one of the best shaving creams in the world, and that it would leave my skin nice and moisturized. I figured it was worth a shot at only ten clams a tube, so I bit.

Musgo Real “Creme Para Barbear” has been around since the 1920s, and this Portuguese shaving cream has become so popular with old-school wetshavers around the world that pretty much every shop and online vendor that deals in shavegeekery sells it — I mean, you can get it here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and even here for god’s sake. I’ve had vendors tell me they wouldn’t dream of not carrying Musgo, because many of their longtime customers won’t shave with anything else.

The cream comes in a nice metal toothpaste-style tube, with a cap that’s got a recessed point to pierce the seal when you first crack open a tube. And when you do open one for the first time, that’s when Musgo’s heavenly, grassy scent makes you smile. It’s been described by more than one scentgeek as smelling like fresh-cut grass, and it’s one of my favorite scents in all of shavegeekdom.

Musgo’s secret ingredient is lanolin. It’s a glycerin-based cream like the English types and the new-school creams like Nancy Boy and Lush, but it’s also got a healthy dose of lanolin to keep your skin slick during the shave and moisturized afterward. And you can really feel the difference, both during a shave and after you rinse off, when you shave with Musgo. There’s an extra bit of lube and cushion there as compared to the English creams — in this respect, it’s more like Nancy Boy and Truefitt & Hill’s Ultimate Comfort than the classic Trumpers and Taylors.

Musgo works well with a brush, but I’ve found that the lanolin can gum up a badger brush’s bristles with extended use, so I don’t really recommend using it with a brush. The good news is I find Musgo works even better brushless, just using your hands. You don’t get quite as thick’n’puffy a bed of lather on your puss, but to me, the shave is better and a hell of a lot quicker to boot.

I’ve been catching some excellent haul-ass shaves with Musgo this past week, revisiting an old favorite to see how it fared as a quickie cream. I’d forgotten how much I like this cream, both for its shave and its scent — not every shaving cream works well as a quickie cream, but Musgo joins Nancy Boy on my short list of shaving creams that can haul ass when the chips are down yet sacrifice nothing when it comes to the quality of the shave and the sniffpleasure, however brief.

Musgo Real is one of those classic shavegeek creams every guy should have a tube of laying around. It’s cheap, easy to source, smells great, is good for your skin, and is particularly excellent when used brushless. Like Proraso, if you don’t have some already, go online and buy a tube, now.

Shaveblog is One

Thanks go to Beloved Wife for reminding me that it was exactly one year ago today that I launched Shaveblog, and to young Petrovich for helping me put the icing on the birthday cake that is this blog’s move from Blogger to WordPress (the move also means Shaveblog’s RSS feed has changed, so you need to reset your subscription if you’ve been Atomizing).

It’s been a strange and interesting trip doing this blog. I started it on a dare to myself, to see if I could keep up a blog about a subject that couldn’t be less important, and now I find myself with 60,000 readers, profiles in the New York Times and London’s Financial Times, and just last week Women’s Wear Daily BeautyBiz named Shaveblog as the site with the largest readership in its list of the most popular “beauty blogs”.

So now I’m a beauty blogger.

“Daddy, what did you do during the war?”

“Well son, I was a beauty blogger.”

(long silence)

So anyway, as befits a toddler who’s outgrown his onesies, I felt it was time to move Shaveblog over to WordPress. Got a blog and you’re still on Blogger? STAY THERE! What a pain in the ass this was. Sure, things are great now that I finally taught myself CSS and beat on a poor WP template with both my fists like some demented ape until it looked kinda sorta like my old Blogger site. So anyway I made the move and WordPress is really, really nice, seriously, I’m loving it. But I do apologize for taking the week off to get things moved over to the new platform.

Okay, so where were we? Ah yes, the quickie shave.

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I’m on a quickie shave kick lately.

It goes against everything formal shavegeekery stands for, I know. The whole point of ditching the Mach3 and canned goo and upgrading to a safety razor, shaving brush, and traditional English-type shaving cream is to slow your shave down. You get a much closer shave, it makes your skin look and feel great, and the whole experience just gets richer and more pleasant.

But the keyword is slow. Like the Europeans with their “slow food” campaign to return the act of eating a meal to a pleasurable, healthy pace from the current trans-fattened speedchow America exports to the rest of the world, wetshaving demands a more leisurely pace for the best results. Instead of haphazardly smearing goo on your puss and then hauling ass with a tri-blade, old-school shaving wants a man with a slow hand. It wants a lover with an easy touch. A man who will spend some time, not come and go in an easy rush.

So why am I obsessed with the quickie shave?

I’ll tell you why. Because I’m a dawdler. I wait until the last possible minute before I have to be somewhere, and then I go on eBay and check my auctions. I go to Nancy Boy and read Eric’s latest blog. I go to YouTube and watch great moments in rock history.

I dawdle till there’s no possible way I’m going to be on time, and then I go into full-on Lance Kerwin mode, when my boy starred in 1977’s “The Loneliest Runner”, a movie about a high school kid who grew up to be an Olympic marathoner because he wet his bed every night and his sadistic mom (a yeopersonlike DeAnn Mears) hung his sheets out of his bedroom window to dry so he had to run home every day after school to try to beat the school bus so he could rush upstairs and yank the sheets inside before the kids on the bus could see them (and let me just say this: I know this story was based on Michael Landon yes that Michael Landon’s real life, and I’m sorry his parents made him sleep in a crib till he was 15, but if a giant flaming meteor was screaming toward Earth and the only way to stop it was for my mom to hang urine-stained bedsheets out the front window of her HOME, well, sorry to break this to you but we’re all going to die).

This is my mindset when I’m behind the eightball but I need to shave. I become Lance Kerwin. If I don’t shave in under 5 mins, the car Beloved Wife and Treasured Offspring are driving home in is going to pull into our driveway and their eyes are going to slowly pan up to the sight of my pee-streaked bedsheets fluttering out the front window of our house, and that is when I run out the back door and keep running until I’m on a shrimp boat headed out to the Gulf with a new name (Wiley), a tweaker’s bony frame, and a dull roar between my ears.

That’s not going to happen, I tell myself. Not on this shave. Not today.

The first thing you have to do when you have to haul ass but still want a good shave is ditch the brush. Hey, it hurts me too — I love my shaving brush. Best part of the whole experience, bar none. But a shaving brush is the quickie shave’s worst enemy. So don’t even look at it. I don’t care if you just spent $65 on a Simpson Wee Scot or a Vulfix #2234. You’re in a whole other place right now. Your brush is dead to you.

And that means those delicious English old-school shaving creams like Trumper’s, Taylor’s, and Truefitt’s are dead to you as well. Because they don’t lather up nearly as well with just your fingers as they do with a brush. Since it’s fingers we’re dealing with when launching into a quickie shave, all those otherwise superb English creams are out (except for Truefitt’s new Ultimate Comfort shaving cream, which happens to lather really well without a brush and doesn’t really count as an English cream since it’s made in Canada).

The key to a really good quickie shave is the cream. It’s got to lather up quickly and thickly with just your hands smearing it all over your wet puss, and it also has to buffer your skin from the sped-up bladework you need to do if you’re going to get your two (okay, sigh, three) passes in under the 5-minute mark without some serious razor burn.

For awhile there, I always reached for Beloved Wife’s shower tube of Cremo Cream when I need to haul ass with a shave. She loves it for gam-shaving, and it’s excellent stuff for when you need to shave really quickly with a safety razor and still get that shavegeek-approved smoothness. I’m not crazy about Cremo’s Pina Colada scent, but ye gods does this stuff shave like a madman. With a brush or without, this is hands-down the slickest shaving cream I’ve ever tried. You forgive its fruity scent because it lets you haul ass and still look good.

Or at least you try to, anyway. I’m good with Cremo for a shave here and there, but I can’t use this stuff all the time. I just don’t care for that Pina Colada smell. Great product, wish the scent was different. So I’ve kind of taken Cremo off my quickie shave list. The older I get the more crotchety and picky I become. I need speed and good smell.

The Lush shaving creams are fantastic for quickie shaves, but I find they gunk up my razors quite a bit, and it takes longer than usual to rinse the blade clean after a shave. These wacky, tacky UK creams shave like nobody’s business, but since they take longer to clean off your blade, I don’t consider them quickie-approved.

I’ve gotten some amazing quickie shaves with the two budget-priced Euro creams I recommend every shavegeek own at least a tube each of — Proraso and Musgo Real. Italy’s Proraso, especially, just comes into its own when you squirt an inch into your palm and rub your hands all over your face — and its eucalyptus oil really wakes you up at the end of the shave when you rinse with cold water. I love Proraso to death and shave with it all the time, quickie shave or not.

Lately, though, I find myself wanting the best of both worlds. A quickie shave with the fewest compromises, scent-wise and otherwise. But mostly scent-wise. I love Proraso like a dog, but it smells more like something men used half a century ago when they weren’t supposed to enjoy the way their toiletries smelled.

It occured to me recently that Nancy Boy, currently my favorite shaving cream and the one I use most mornings, is one of those new-school, inherently wetter and creamier shaving creams that was meant to be used brushless, even though it lathers really nicely with a brush. Funnily enough, I’d never tried it with just my hands, because it worked so amazingly with a brush the first time I tried it that I just kept using it that way.

And so it was that on one fine morning not too long ago, I dipped my fingers into a tub of Nancy Boy for my first brushless quickie shave with this stuff. And let me tell you something, man and boy — it was awesome. Stupendous. Why haven’t I been using Nancy Boy for all my quickie shaves? It’s right there in the medicine cabinet, with my little Simpson Wee Scot brush and Gillette Super Speed sitting on top of it — my lean, mean, minimalist shavegeek rig.

I know it sounds stupid, but this is who I am — I consider it a major triumph that I finally grokked that Nancy Boy shaves just as well when you need to haul ass and just smear it on with your hands as it does when you take the time to fill your Moss Scuttle with hot water, let your badger brush soak in it, and then whip up the finest lather possible for a slow, languid, me-time wetshave.

Some days I don’t even need to rush my shave and I still like to ditch the brush, slap on some Nancy Boy, and Edward Scissorhands it. Perhaps, like Michael Landon, I will develop the kind of muscle memory that takes a humiliated bedwetter and turns him into a world-class beauty blogger.

Hedwig and the Optical Inch

Philips and Norelco aren’t brands known for edgy bathroom humor. The last time I attended the IFA show in Berlin, about the farthest out Philips was willing to go was dressing up several hundred German youth in orange lederhosen and matching Raggedy Ann and Andy wigs and making them all do Up With People style dance numbers — to introduce the company’s new line of DVD players.

Norelco, well — they make electric shavers. Is there anything more boring than an electric shaver? I’ve tried the best from Braun, Panasonic, and yes, Norelco, and got mediocre shaves that left my neck sore and red. My friend Mark swears by his electric, and damned if he doesn’t get a good shave from it. But I’ve had terrible luck with them.

That said, I admit I’m a total sucker for great advertising. And this viral video for Norelco’s new Bodygroom has me, inconceivably, teetering on the precipice of actually buying this @%#$ thing.

Click on everything, especially the music video. I can’t believe Philips and Norelco went along with this, but kudos, gentlemen. Please give us more.

Lush Life


And now for something completely different: Lush.

This UK brand of unabashedly girlie soaps, bath bombs, and haircare products has been flying under my all-seeing, all-knowing radar since it launched in 1994, probably because I’m not so much into $5 lacrosse ball-sized Bromo Seltzers scented with jasmine and ylang-ylang you dump in the tub to make fizzy-fizzy. I guess I’m just old-fashioned that way.

Of course, like many girlie brands these days, Lush has a handful of men’s shaving products, I guess for girlies to buy their boyfriends in the spirit of Queer Eyetc. and so they’ll quit leaving Edge can rust rings on the bathroom counter. With names like “Razorantium”, “Ambrosia”, and (I swear I’m not making this up) “Prince Triple Orange Blossom”, though, I’m guessing a girlie had better be hot and I’m talking about center of the Sun hot for a guy to drink a tub of that bathwater. It’s like when I bought Journey’s “Evolution” because my junior prom date liked them and I felt sure I could choke back the bile if that record could get me some lovin’, touchin’, and/or squeezin’ (no dice, and later I wound up hucking that vinyl so hard against a tree in our backyard I think Steve Perry felt a disturbance in the Suck Force).

Anyway, my friend Andy in the UK told me I needed to check Lush out, that their shaving creams were amazing. Normally, I’ll try anything Andy tells me is amazing — he is, after all, the coolest guy in England, as well as the man who invented the almighty Featherjector. Whereas the forum geeks’ love for a new product is usually a reliable sign it actually sucks, Andy’s one of a handful of guys whose opinion on matters of shavegeekery I take seriously. So I perused Lush’s US web site and called in some of their products to try.

I’m pretty sure I’m not quite the right demographic for the company’s bath bombs and fast-dissolving $7 bath soaps — the former fizzed up a storm in the kids’ bath (“Daddy, there’s ants in the tub!” my daughter squealed as the Golden Slumbers bath bomb left a bunch of little lavender twigs in the bathwater and made the whole house smell like candy), while the latter (Gratuitous Violets) literally dissolved in my hands within the space of two showers, leaving behind a spoor the likes of which no other scented product has ever marked my bathroom’s territory. Hey, my bad — I’m 2o years too old and one Y-chromosome too many for this kind of trip.

But the shaving creams…

First off, these Lush creams are totally different than anything else I’ve ever tried. They’re more like an aftershave balm you shave with than a traditional glycerine-based shaving cream. Both the Razorantium and the (I can’t even type this with a straight face) Prince Triple Orange Blossom come in 8-ounce tubs for $17-and-change. Which is good, because you use a lot more of this stuff per shave than you would an English cream.

Both Lushes are brushless, and I do mean brushless. The creams don’t lather at all, and they just sank into my Simpson Wee Scot brush like it was a black hole. You just wet your puss with warm water after a shower and then slather these Lushes on with your fingers, covering your face and neck. Then you shave.

And when you do shave, you will find something very curious indeed. Because these Lush creams, unlike every other shaving lube on the planet, don’t lube. In fact, they leave kind of a sticky surface on your skin and stubble. At first I thought I did something wrong, so I rinsed off the Razorantium and applied some PTOB. Same deal.

So you figure what the hell, and you bring a 1940’s Gillette Super Speed loaded with a 15-cent Israeli “Super+” DE blade to face, and you make your first stroke. And that’s when everything you know about wetshaving flies out the window.

Because this stuff works. I mean, it works like a goddamn miracle. I shaved with this stuff for a week and got a perfect, effortless shave every time. Shaving with a brushless, non-lathering cream that leaves a clear, tacky coating on your face takes some getting used to, but these Lush creams are, as Andy said they were, freakin’ amazing.

In keeping with the overall Lush trip of skin-friendliness/essential oils/etc., the Lush shaving creams are loaded with good stuff like almond oil, rose water, glycerine, and shea butter. But their secret ingredient is linseed mucilage, which is also a, um, laxative. Beyond its stickiness, linseed mucilage is said to have the curious ability to swell when it comes into contact with water, which may have something to do with why it gives the Lush shaving creams their crazy-excellent shavability.

Because of its brushless nature and amazing shave, Lush has become my new favorite quickie shaving cream, for when I absolutely have to shave in a minute flat without hating my crappy shave for the rest of the day. This stuff shaves like you also applied pre-shave oil, so even a rushed shave doesn’t irritate my skin. It’s the best quickie shave I’ve been able to pull off, by a long shot.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really notice a difference in the shave between Razorantium and the Prince Triple Orange Blossom, and oddly enough, they smell so similarly that I don’t think I could tell them apart blindfolded. I prefer the Razorantium by sheer dint of its less asinine name, but you can’t go wrong with either of these Lush creams. They may be weird, wacky, and completely different from anything else you’ve ever shaved with, but they shave like nobody’s business, too, and serve notice that there’s more than one way to shave a puss.

Scuttlebutt

Part of the problem with shavegeeks is that most of the guys who’re into this trip don’t understand the difference between “classic” and “olde-timey”: Classic = using a hand-cranked churn and elbow grease to turn ice and rock salt into the kind of ice cream that makes you spit “feh!” the next time you taste store-bought. Olde-Timey = ordering the Pig’s Trough at Farrell’s and thinking that you’re somehow kickin’ your butterfat dollar old-school by patronizing a genuine turn-o’-the-century “Ice Cream Parlour” despite the fact that you’re eating Sysco instutional ice cream (same as inmates get) in a Japanese-owned chain restaurant that’s only been around since the mid-1960s.

Another straw—sorry, styrofoam boater-based example: Classic = King Oliver. Olde-Timey = every local “Dixieland” band, everywhere (extra points awarded for one or more members with round-rimmed glasses and if the banjo player’s got an electric pickup running into a Peavey Bandit and/or Roland Cube amp, and triple double bonus if (if?) the entire band also works at Farrell’s and in fact met there while running Pig’s Troughs out to the 8-tops while humming “Who Let The Dawgs Out?” on kazoos).

Which brings me to shaving mugs. Those cool-man Old Spice mugs from the ’50s aside, I’ve always felt icky about shaving mugs. They served a purpose and served it admirably back when lather meant whipping a wet brush over a cake of hard soap, but it’s 2006, and most men, even hardcore shavegeeks, use soft shaving cream. And if you shave with cream, you don’t need a mug.

What you do need is hot lather. Oh man do you need hot lather! Hot lather is why men fight wars, son. Not for democracy. Not for oil. We fight wars to decide who gets to shave with hot lather and who doesn’t. If you’ve never shaved with hot lather you won’t understand, and if you have, you do. Hot lather can only be had with a heater of some sort — no matter how hot the water is when you soak your brush, it cools off almost instantly the moment you start lathering cream on your face. Companies like Con-Air have been doing electric hot lather machines for use with canned foams and gels for ages now, but you know better than to shave out of a can, right?

The classic Lather King hot lather dispenser works with high quality shaving creams, but I hunted down one of these beasts to try and I have to say it’s not really worth the rigmarole. Yes, it makes hot lather, but the quality isn’t all it could be, plus you have to smear it on your face with your fingers, not a brush, and the heat disappears the moment the cream touches your skin. It’s there for a fraction of a second, and then it’s gone. You go to all that trouble and leave the @%#$ machine plugged in and running 24/7, and all you get is a few picoseconds of hot lather. Barbers use these things because they spew lather all day long on a tankful of cream, but for home use, they suck.

Recently, in an attempt to finally solve the problem of long-lasting hot lather, noted shavegeek Dr. Christopher Moss of Novia Scotia, Canada came up with a novel spin on the age-old “shaving scuttle” used with hard soaps:

A traditional shaving scuttle like the one pictured above has a shallow holder at the top for a cake of shaving soap, and a wide-mouth spout on the side for water and brush access. Men used to fill these scuttles with boiling water from a tea kettle, and then periodically dunk their shaving brush into the spout to heat it up before swirling it around on the soap resting in the receptacle on top. Works great with soap, not at all with shaving cream, because of the little drain holes beneath the soap that keep it dry between shaves. Use cream with a traditional scuttle and all the lather drips down into the hot water.

But what if there were no drain holes? And what if the front spout was done away with entirely, replaced with a mere slit of an opening for the hot water, to keep the cool air from cooling off the hot water inside the scuttle? Dr. Moss drew up some diagrams, faxed them to his friend the noted potter Sara Bonnyman, and the Moss Scuttle was born.

Now, I’m not a mug guy — I think I’ve made that abundantly clear at this point. But after using this thing for a week, I never want to shave without one again. It’s that simple. And here’s why you should buy one, too, immediately: warm lather. For the entire shave. Every time you raise brush to puss, the lather warms your skin and stays warm, and your last lathering is just as warm as the first. It feels so good I add an extra pass or two to my shave, which I don’t even need but who the hell cares — like Pia Zadora said in “Butterfly”, if it’s right, it’s good.

Here’s how you use the Moss Scuttle:

First you fill both the inner chamber (note the small spout) and the cup with hot tap water, as hot as your tap will get.

Then you let your brush sit in the water while you Q-tip your ears, slather your pits, splash warm water on your face, put your nipple rings back in, etc.

Dump the water out of the scuttle and refill only the inner chamber with hot water. The hot water inside the Moss Scuttle surrounds the cup and heats it for the entire shave.

Dap a small bit of shaving cream on the tips of your wet brush, and begin swirling it around in the Moss Scuttle — you should get an instant eruption of thick, rich lather that covers your brush.

That’s it. Lather your face and neck, and then return your brush to rest in the Moss Scuttle as shown, so the hot water inside the chamber keeps your brush and lather heated.

I love this thing — at $40 Canadian (about $35 USD), the Moss Scuttle’s a steal. Unlike the traditional scuttles which frankly look like a medieval precursor to the Pocket Pal, the Moss Scuttle is a beautiful piece of hand-crafted pottery (comes in brown or cobalt blue) that looks great on a bathroom counter. And once you try it, you won’t want to shave without it again.

In terms of keeping shaving cream lather heated (and when I say heated, I mean warm, not “hot” — the lather is noticeably warmer and feels much nicer on your face than room-temp lather, but it is not burning hot) for the entire shave, the Moss Scuttle works even better than I expected it would, albeit with a few adjustments I needed to make to get the best out of it.

For starters, my favored Simpson Wee Scot brush was just too small for the Moss Scuttle, even though Sara sent me the small Scuttle (she makes two sizes, small and large, same price) — the handle on the Wee is so wee I ended up with lather up to my wrist. Subbing a longer-handled brush like the Vulfix #2234 worked a lot better, and in fact this brush and the small Moss Scuttle are a match made in heaven.

I also found that certain shaving creams worked better with the Moss Scuttle than others. All of the old-school English creams from Taylor and Trumper worked fantastically well, better in fact than I’ve ever experienced with these creams. But the more modern-type shaving creams I like to use like Nancy Boy, Acqua di Parma, and Maine Shave didn’t lather as well in the Scuttle as they do when I lather up straight from the jar to my face. The English creams were a much better match with the Moss Scuttle, and the combination gave me a new appreciation for creams like Taylor’s Rose and Trumper’s Violet, which I thought I knew about as intimately as you can know a shaving cream. But the sustained heat raised these creams’ performance to new heights I didn’t know they were capable of.

Ever since I got into all this shavegeekery, I’ve read about guys who came up with all sorts of crazy kludges to get hot lather. Microwaving glass bowls. Floating metal dog dishes in a sink of hot water. There’s even a shavegeek subset that, sigh, actually keeps an electric kettle in the bathroom to pour scalding hot water onto the brush before lathering (is it right to call it “skewering” when the dumb beasts throw themselves onto your pointy stick?)

None of these schemes works. The Moss Scuttle, on the other hand, works like a charm, is easy to use, looks gorgeous, and is priced right. Who’d have thought someone could reinvent the shaving mug and actually make it better? If you shave with English creams, you need the Moss Scuttle. You can order the Moss Scuttle here.

Saving You Hours and Hours Throughout the Lifetime


The Internet has long been a place where the “You Must Be This Sane To Ride This Ride” sign is a mere ha’-proton above the floor. Only fools are forgiven for being shocked anymore that someone tetched enough to have a hankering deep inside for some good old-fashioned Photoshop conjoined porn has the Webwithal to actually quiet the shrieking voices inside his head or at least organize them into a tuneful choir long enough to register a domain, buy a hosting plan, BitTorrent Dreamweaver and throw his slab up on the counter alongside Amazon, eBay, and Taquitos. (Best. Use of bandwidth. Ever.)

Planet Shavegeek has its fair share of awe-inspiring depthplum, what with the door-to-door urinal cake salesmen from Modesto posing as landed gentry on the chat boards, but for the most part, the online wetshaving corn-munity is the same stupefyingly boring cookie cutter male hobbyist black hole of slo-mo entropy as any Ham radio chat room, audiophile usenet group, or Chrysler P.T. Cruiser “Krewzerz Korner” — it couldn’t be more typical of a genre that already had a fork in it back when Compuserve at 2400-baud was the shit.

But then there are those giants who suddenly appear, their genius fully-formed, to breathe new life into the shavegeek rock opera. Towering futuremen with eyes lit as from behind like Rasputin’s, who spelunk vast, uncharted caverns the rest of us can’t even see. King Gillette was one such dreamer, as were the Brothers Kampfe before him. And then, for a hundred years, the giants stopped coming.

But lo, it may be time to dust off the mantle and make room for a new face on Mt. Shavemore! Gentlemen, I give you Vivek Baptiwale.

The Good Doctor


I’m proud to report that the Ray Dupont Memorial shavegeek rig on eBay was taken with a whopping winning bid of $810! Congratulations “ForestFace”!

So the Simpson Chubby #3 Super Badger shaving brush donated by Lee’s Razors plus the Merkur Vision DE razor and the Classic Shaving hard shaving soaps I added to the kitty are currently banging around in the hold of a FedEx jet on the way to Houston, and a check for $810 is on its way to the Visiting Nurse Association of the Inland Counties Hospice.

Did I say $810? Even though that was the winning bid, ForestFace — a family and emergency medicine physician in Houston who would prefer to remain anonymous — explained in an email after the auction ended that he’d seen first-hand the difference hospice makes to the process we’ll all have to face someday, so instead of $810, he was sending a check to the VNA for $900!

Words don’t often fail me, but I just don’t know what else to say except jeez louise, wotta guy! Really, I don’t even know where to begin, so just read what the good doctor told me in his email:

“I only wish I had more to give to worthwhile causes such as hospice. Most individuals don’t really appreciate all that they have in this grand country and in their lives. I lived in Bolivia for a few years when I was younger, as an LDS (Mormon) missionary from 1986-88. What I found is that we indeed have much in our existence to be grateful for — but I was even more impressed with the lesson I learned from seeing just how happy individuals who were living in a two room adobe structure with a tin or thatched roof and 2 bare light bulb could be. They somehow seemed to usually have a smile on their faces. I was also impressed with their generous nature. I came to realize the relationship between giving and happiness, and I enjoy sharing what I have been given if it really will help others — hence my interest in really jumping in when you posted this auction.”

I’m blown away by this man’s generosity and spirit, and honored to know him. On behalf of the Dupont family, Lee Cantor of Lee’s Razors, and the VNA Hospice, I want to thank ForestFace for his extraordinarily generous donation, and the other bidders for their support of a worthy cause. Thank you!

Win a Simpson Chubby 3 Shaving Brush

Shaveblog has teamed with Lee Cantor of Lee’s Razors to auction off a brand new Simpson Chubby #3 Super Badger shaving brush to benefit the hospice which helped care for our friend Ray Dupont of Classic Shaving, who passed away on Saturday, April 8th.

Those wishing to bid on this brush may do so here, for eBay auction #6621529102. The winning bid will be donated to the Visiting Nurse Association of the Inland Counties in the name of the winner.

As all card-carrying shavegeeks know, Simpson is the most respected name in high-end shaving brushes, and the hand-made Chubby #3 in Super Badger is the largest and most expensive Simpson brush of them all. Retailing for $385, the CH3 Super is a true classic, considered by many experts and collectors to be the finest shaving brush ever created.

Aw hell, it’s late, I’ve been hitting the Chianti, and I’m in a misty-eyed mood — I’ll also throw in a Merkur Vision DE razor (retail value: $100) a 10-pack of Merkur Platinum DE blades, and two cakes of Classic Shaving shave soap! That brings the retail value of this state-of-the-art wetshaving rig to a whopping $500!

This is what they call a “win-win” — you get to own and enjoy Simpson’s biggest and most expensive brush, Merkur’s biggest and most expensive DE razor, plus a few month’s worth of blades and Ray’s own superior hard shaving soap, and the wonderful folks who gave our friend comfort and care get a generous donation in your name.

No PayPal on this one, kids, and no S/H fee either — I want every penny going to the hospice, and I’ll eat the shipping. The winning bidder must send a check made out to “VNA of the Inland Counties”, and they’ll receive an acknowledgement of their donation for tax purposes.

I miss you, Ray. We all do. Rest in peace, friend.