Author: Alpha Brush & Shaving Co.

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Simple Saturday SOTD – a sharp blade, a nice brush and a super cream

Many of the reviews I have done over the time since I started wet shaving have been of high end soaps and creams. That’s just the way it tends to be – I mean why not show off your best right? A lot of us forget that out there in the wet shaving wild there are dozens if not hundreds of everyday soaps and creams that are priced from less than a dollar to the mid twenties and all points in between. One such soap I used today – Musgo Real.

Now Musgo Real is, in my opinion, worthy of a place in everyone’s shave chit. Mugso Real is a light very pale green cream soap from Portugal – you can find it HERE.

The fragrance is what I can only describe as manly, barbershop, masculine and just nice. Soapy – yes. The fragrance notes on their website simply says “Woody and Oriental” but to me it is much more complex than that – yes those notes are there and can be detected but that is behind the soapy smell – the soapy smell of a laundry day with your Mum, the scent of a freshly dried cotton bed sheet that has been washed by that same Mum and then dried in the glowing sunlight of a summers day – y’getting it?

From the website:

“Musgo Real was first launched in the 1930s, and it remains a classic, found in Portuguese houses over several generations.

The brand retains its masculine aesthetic, while the products, offered in four different fragrances, have kept their rich formula.

Each of its lines are blended with lanolin, glycerin, shea butter and walnut oil to ensure a moisturizing, yet close shave. The range includes soaps, shaving cream or soap, aftershave, pre-shave oil and colognes.”

Luxury masculine aesthetic products with vintage inspiration!!

The rest of my stuff for today was:

  • Merkur Futur
  • Feather Blade on shave #1
  • Van Yulay black resin bowl
  • Future Chubby Prototype in black with a 28mm silver tip badger

Musgo Performance

I squeezed out a teaspoon full of the cream into my bowl. The badger knot had been soaking for ten minutes whilst I showered so I started lathering up. Take a look at the results – click on a photo for a closer look! This is after less than 2 minutes twirling…

I completed a three pass with plenty of lather to spare.I cut my nose, just I was feeling smug the Feather cut me. Styptic.

What can I say, if you don’t have Musgo then you NEED to buy some. My tube has a darker green colour and the current tube colour is a lighter shade but it is the same great soap.

And for those that like photos – here are the rest of the photos from today’s shave

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Today it is all about the brush – SOTD 5/March/2019

Hi,

as you all know I am also a brush maker/vendor [Alpha Brush & Shaving Company]. I have been working on a new brush for a few weeks and now it is coming to fruition and I want to tell you all about it. More later but first the SOTD:

  • Brush – Alpha Future Chubby 3D Printed in black nylon
  • Knot – 28mm silver tip badger bulb
  • Razor – Drew Dick Damascus 1/4 hollow
  • Bowl – Van Yulay black resin
  • Soap – The Holy Black/Caswell-Massey Regents Soap

The shave was awesome, the Holy Black soap performed like a trooper and produced a nice thick, Neroli/barber [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neroli] shop scented, lather with plenty for 3 passes. The Drew Dick razor – what can I say – superb, this is my second time using this Damascus steel quarter hollow blade and boy is it sharp. I had prepped with 3P and waited ten minutes for the brush to soak, a small scoop of soap, about a teaspoon full, also blooming in my bowl.

The Razor in Detail

The razor is one I ordered from Drew Dick last year and finally got my hands on it in the summer (UK summer – JULY) as I get stuff mailed to my relatives home in the UK to save postage and pick it up when I go to visit – it is like Christmas every time… It is a Damascus 8/8″ blade with a very slight smile. It is quarter hollow and has black horn scales and as you can see it is a Damascus blade – did I mention DAMASCUS? I think it is something like 30 layers – anyway handsome or what? It is wicked sharp. I have Three Drew Dick razors now and I love them all.

The Bowl – 5″ Van Yulay Black Resin

Yes it is a distinctive Van Yulay bowl. I bought two Van Yulay bowls last year, one light blue and one black. I misplaced the black one and only found it a couple of weeks back so here it is on show for (maybe?) the first time. Anyway it looks great and works great too. I don’t know the manufacturing process but to me it seems it is pressed from some sort of resin and it pretty much renders it unbreakable although I have not done any specific drop testing, and I won’t. The texture is like honey comb and it helps whip up a great lather in no time. The “comb’ also retains a little water. One thing that it does that does not please me though is that the soap tends to get stuck down inside the pattern so I have to mash the brush to get it out and even when the shave is completed I still see some unused soap in those dimples. The bowl is big enough, grippy and I like it apart from I use too much soap. For creams it is a dream!!

The Soap – The Holy Black/Caswell-Massey Regents Soap

From THB site:

“This shaving soap is made in our classic hot-process formula and made with only the purest essential oils and absolutes that we could source. A Rosemary top note is surprisingly mild while adding a eucalyptic (sic) element to this otherwise strictly citrus fragrance. Heavy on the Neroli oil and Bitter Orange Absolute, the floral orange notes are the obvious stars of the show here. Lemon and Sweet Orange oils balance out the bitterness of the Neroli and Bergamot and lend a fresh but not cloying aspect to this simple yet elegant offering. Due to the low flash point of the essential oils used in this soap it had to be made in very small batches at low temperatures, although highly labor intensive, we think this soap is worth every minute of work that went into it.”

All those fancy words mean something to a perfumer – I just love this soap – it lathers well, is stable and slick and smells great. Nothing more to say!!

Now – THE BRUSH – Future Rubberset 400 Inspired Chubby

This brush is inspired by, among others, Rubberset 400, Merit 99-x series and the Charcoal Goods rendition of a Rubberset 400, I noticed he has done a nice rendering of a futuristic looking chubby and I wanted to make something similar. I did email him on the subject of that brush a while back and even asked for his drawings (hee hee, he did not give them..) but he did say that “You are certainly welcome to pursue a similar design as there is no way to get a design patent or anything like that on a clone of an existing product. Good luck and would like to see what you come up with.” So I fired up my CAD software (I use Autodesk Fusion360 if anyone is interested) and got to work. I made something that was not quite right looking and then lost interest after a few weeks as I was not getting the results I wanted, instead concentrating on my redesigns for the T-400 and the Chubberset and some other new brush projects. That was until two weeks ago when I was chatting on WhatsApp to a customer in Australia – no names, no pack drill. He was looking for a chubby design so I showed him a couple of designs I was working on including this one – he helped me over the course of two days make refinements to the shape, the degree of chubbiness and the curvature until it was in a place that I really liked – I mean the brush looked great on paper and the 3D renders looked superb too.

So – bottom line is I had a design that I liked and the got it 3D printed at a local professional print works. Here is the result, with a beautiful 28mm silver tipped knot fitted. It is a lather beast…

I am having a very limited number of these made, right now, in 3D nylon, Titanium and Bronze – this is not the place to sell stuff but you know where I am. I will also have an aluminium (Spelling of Aluminium), cost effective, version in the near future. The bore is 29mm, height 65mm and max width 43mm. I have the handle fully bored out to keep the weight down – in the 3D printed ones I weighted it with some coins and filled the void with hot glue – the metal versions will also be fully bored out to keep the weight down, especially with the bronze ones, and I can then weight the handles to suit and I intend to fill the void with resin.

Finally – here are some renders of my bronze version!! 10 are being made – 6 are sold already.

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My first ever synth shave – Crows nest Tortuga and Art Razor 8/8″ Capitaine. SOTD 12/Feb/2019

Shave of the Day 12/Feb/2019

Today’s shave is kind of grabbed between travel trips. I came to India thinking I was staying 3 days and I packed a straight just for the hell of it. When I got here the plans changed and I am only staying one day and then I am off to Korea tomorrow. So it is a quick shave and then pack up again ready for the flight. This is an unusual shave fro me in that I am using a synthetic knot – this is the FIRST time in two years of proper shaving that I have used a synthetic. So why not go big eh?

The Brush

This is called “The King” or the “King of Chub”. The brush is a doorstop, designed by my own good hands and machined to sheeny perfection. It stands about 50mm tall and is 47mm wide at the widest point. A true stubby chubby. The knot is a 30mm, yes you read that right, a 30mm synthetic set just deep enough to give is a whole lot of back bone. The brush feels as soft as a badger with the backbone of a nicely broken in boar – a little scritchy but nice!!! This was my first ever shave with a synthetic knot.

The Razor

Today’s razor of choice is a Capitaine from Art razor in Ukraine. This is a beast of a razor with a fantastic edge, Yuri over at Art Razor sure knows what he is doing – if you have not got an Art Razor then get one… This one is an 8/8” near wedge and again is is AWESOME. Swedish carbon steel, great scales and perfectly polished.

The soap

The second one in my stable from Crows Nest – Tortuga which means tortoise in Spanish apparently. The flavour notes for this soap are:

“Safe haven of dangerous, boisterous, drunken, and bawdy. Tortuga is pirate heaven, now make it yours.

The captains private blend of cuban tobacco, amber, spices, cherry, and clove”

It is the amber and the cherry that particularly appeal to me here and it is a rich cherry cake smell. I love it. It lather great after a short bloom, 40-60 seconds tip loading and 2-3 minutes whipping up.

Please please PLEASE Crows nest start making soap again – we need the Jack Daw!!

Other gear

Van Yulay blue resin bowl, Waterhouse knives wide strop and Proraso white preshave

Altogether and awesome three pass and clean up. Followed by my new favourite, St. John’s Bay Rum

Regards

Steve

SOTD 6/Feb/2019 – Drew Dick 9/8″ Quarter Hollow & Crows Nest Murky Waters

Today’s shave was long overdue although I have n excuse as I have been ill with Bronchitis and mostly lying on the sofa feeling sorry for myself and coughing hard. I had about 7 days growth so it is time AND a nice shave always makes you feel good no? So I set myself up as follows

Razor: Drew Dick 9/8” In Black Acrylic scales
Soap: Crows Nest Murky Waters
Bowl: Van Yulay blue resin
Pre-shape: Proraso White
Aftershave: Clinique Extreme moisturiser and St. Johns Bay Rum to follow

The shave was awesome – watch the video as it says more than I can ever write. Needless to say I ended up with a DFS and a great fragrance all round.

The one thing I do want to point out specifically is the soap: Crows Nest Murky Waters. This is a soap I picked up very luckily by being online and in a FB shave group at the very moment that the man that makes it started taking orders for a new batch. I think he said he had only 30 of each soap on hand and I snapped up two – Murky waters and Tortuga. That was more than a year ago and I have not seen a batch sold since – he does have a website – crowsnestshaving.com so you might try e-mailing the guy and urge him to start making again. The soap lather easily, is rich and stable. Just look at my pictures and in the video. The fragrance notes are:

“A situation or circumstance that is foreign, unclear, and unfamiliar and altogether dangerous as a result.

Swirling together in a dark pool are tones star anise, cinnamon, wood, and amber.”

It is a very simple combo but my oh my does it work. Spicy but not too much, woody, but not too much – it just works. I am after a Jack Daw soap too in order to complete my trio of Crows nest soaps and I emailed the guy yesterday – no answer yet!!!

Anyway dudes happy shaving – Steve.

 

Shave Of The Day 26/Jan/2018 – Jack Jarvis Thai Ginger Zest & Merkur Futur @ #6

Dudes – I find myself in India again and in need of a good scrape. I have a few days growth and I had the feeling as I was packing for this trip that the only beast capable of removing it apart from my straights and kamisoris is the Merkur Futur.

Let us take a look at the razor first. The thing about the Merkur Futur is that it is adjustable over a large range from mildly aggressive to insane aggressive level. Lets have a look at some photos and numbers. The Futur is adjustable over 6 settings (some claim a setting above #6 and below #1 but this is kind of splitting hairs. I cannot get my own Futur above #6 but I can certainly get it below #1 – for clarity sake I will call the settings 1 thru 6). According to my web searches, and I have not measured them myself, the blade gap settings are:

Setting # Blade Gap (mm)
1 1.12
2 1.19
3 1.35
4 1.47
5 1.60
6 1.65

Here are some photos – I can tell you that when you are first about to shave with a Futur that #6 looks more like a 1/4″ than under 2mm. Maybe it is the fear factor. Nevertheless the range of blade gaps put the Merkur Futur at the top of the range when it comes to aggressiveness. I have photographed the razor set at #1 and #6 loaded with a Feather blade. The Merkur Futur also won’t break the bank at around $60-70 for the version shown here in satin finish. The polished versions and gold plated versions are a little dearer.

P.S. Despite the big head on the Futur it is easy to shave under the nose – it is a myth that you cannot…

The shave

I decided to go full on kamikazi and set the razor at #6. Loaded with a brand new Feather blade with was sure to do the trick. You know what it is kind of scary… My soap of choice today was again the Thai Ginger Zest from Man Of Siam. This soap is growing to be one of my favorites and today did not disappoint, a gingery, zesty fragrance that gets better as the shave goes on. I soaked my brush and left the soap to bloom with a teeny bit of hot water on top. I loaded the tips – this is important guys – don;t over mash your brush into the soap. It will achieve two BAD THINGS 1. Overloading with soap and 2. Brush damage. Look at the photo below – load the tips only.

The tips duly loaded I lathered up. I forgot to bring a lather bowl this time so I hand lathered and then transferred to my face for a final whip. The lather is smooth, small bubbles and shiny slick. Pass #1 on setting #6 – unbelievable – using the Futur with a decent blade is like rolling a cool stone over your face. There is barely any feeling of cutting whiskers and yet they disappear like magic. Rinsing is a dream too with the large blade gap. 4 days growth almost gone in an instant. Pass #2 was again on #6 and ATG and pass #3 – I set the gap down to #3 and I tell you there was no hair left to cut. As I did the pass I realised that it was all gone anyway so all I was doing was removing lather. All in all a great shave and a super experience with the Futur. it remains my dearest DE razor and despite it’s scary reputation there is NOTHING to worry about. Treat it with respect and it will not bite you.

Now the obligatory gallery!

The Coup De Maitre – my first ever mustache all off shave!!

It says it like it is. When I first started wet shaving I had a mustache. One day it got filled with egg yolk and it was time to get it OFF. This is the first time I ever shaved a mustache – it went quite well I thought!!

 

Vlasta – My Journey To The Dark Side

Hi, I don’t think many of us have shared our full shaving journey so I thought it might be nice to share with you all my journey to the dark side. First of all a couple of observations/truisms:-

  • If you think that getting into wet shaving will save you money then my advice is “Don’t start”. It won’t. You will get sucked into a deep deep rabbit hole of razors, blades, the latest whizz bang soap, pre-shave oils, balms, creams, after shave, eau de cologne, brushes, knots – the list goes on and on. Unless you have a WILL OF IRON then you will spend more, a lot more. I write this from the back seat of my abandoned car using Starbucks WiFi…
  • If you think your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend or sugar mammy will understand why you are doing this – they won’t. You will end up hiding your purchases and rationalizing with them that you will sell some of your stuff to make way for more – you won’t. I write this sitting on a pile of soaps, creams and razors – at the last count more than a dozen brushes, twenty or so creams and soaps despite having had a give away for what I told myself was more than 50% of my den. Thirty or so straight razors from a simple Dovo to a custom Drew Dick – and I still want more… Snailforge, Ali’s Blade, an Iwasaki kamisori – oh yes I have a list a mile long. Not forgetting the DE’s. Way more shave stuff than I can use in a lifetime.
  • You will never, ever be satisfied that you got the perfect shave. So don’t chase it. Let the technique guide you. Not every day will be the perfect shave and most will be at DFS level. Don’t sweat it, you are the only one that knows.

So, words of wisdom over. Here is a blow by blow “diary’ of how I came to be a wet shaver. I have cut and pasted most of the stuff from another forum I am involved in and only my own and relevant replies. My journey from cartridge user to addict:

My forum name on most wet shave forums is ‘Vlasta’: –

16th February 2017

Hi Chaps and Chapettes,

OK – I am almost there…. except my razor is still on its way from Japan. I am all kitted up with:-

  • Edwin Jagger Best Badger Brush
  • Feather PG15 and Pro 20 blades
  • Geo. F Trumpers Lime Cream Soap
  • Alum Block
  • Proraso Repair Gel

My razor – a Feather SS Japanese Straight Razor in Lime is in the mail from Japan and due any time!!

Now – in the meantime I am using all the above good kit with a cartridge razor – a Gillette Mach 3 – you know it is OK for a nanny-razor and with my new gentle technique – no more razor burn!

My question is this: I have been trying to use my non-dominant hand for the left side of my face to prepare myself for the day my straight arrives, and the dominant hand for my right side, and I am finding it difficult to control the razor with the non-dominant hand. Tell me, is there any compelling reason why I should use my non-dominant hand?

A member wrote that a shavette was maybe not the best choice for a beginner. Especially not a Feather SS AC Kamisori style…

17th February 2017

I am a bit scared now by the comment above on my choice of razor for a first purchase….. should I also buy a proper str8 and start learning with that before trying my Japanese Feather? I went to a local shop today and they have a nice Dovo 5/8″ with Olive Wood handle for $310 – is that a good deal?

Advised by members that this is NOT a good deal…

18th February 2017

Right…. ordered a Dovo str8, strop, strop pastes, Dovo storage pouch from www.thesuperiorshave.com – all for about a hundred buck less than my local store charged for only the razor.

So – my ordered line up was:

  • Dovo #4580 Straight Razor
  • Dovo 185-35001 Strop
  • Dovo Yellow Paste
  • Dovo White Paste
  • Dovo 9022021 Burgundy Sheath

The guy at Superior Shave honed it to shave ready before sending it to me.

24th February 2017

Right guys – I have my swag – photos coming soon. Now I need to gird my loins for that first shave… feeling scared about it. I am going to start with the Dovo str8 not the Feather shavette. My 30-day setup will be:-

  • Jagger Best badger Brush
  • Dovo str8 “Silver Steel” Primo with black ebony handle – honed by @Jarrod from TSS
  • Geo. F Trumpers Lime Cream
  • Regular alum block

28th February 2017 – THE DAY!!

I am now officially on the dark side.

The BIG day arrived friends – first the equipment. Apologies about the Photobucket watermarks but this is the only record I still have of the fateful days line up.

  • Geo F. Trumpers Lime Cream
  • Dovo straight razor bought from and honed by @Jarrod
  • Razor storage pouch from The Superior Shave site too
  • Strop – Dovo – not had the need to use it yet
  • Jagger Best Badger brush
  • Shaving Bowl – kids cereal bowl – photos on request only….
  • Alum block – standard stuff

Time – 10:00 was my start time. I finished about 30 minutes later.

Prep: Run hot water, 60 degrees, soak shaving brush for 1 minute. Soak hot towel and apply to face for 30 seconds x 2.
Lather: – dabbed wet brush into cream to just cover tips. Whipped up a nice creamy foam in my cereal bowl then put the cereal bowl in another bowl of hot water to keep it warm – like a bain-marie.
Application: Applied lather to face as per all the videos!!

Time to shave and I am not kidding I was scared. Will it slice my face? Will I score a jugular hit on the first stroke and spout my life blood all over the bathroom?….. I pucker up. I loop left hand over my head to try and tighten skin on my right cheek and then I am off – very VERY gently at first I make my first pass on my right cheek. The razor sings. IT IS ACTUALLY CUTTING WHISKERS… and not flesh. It feels great… I am on a roll now. I finish my first stroke and I am alive. I feel ALIVE. I wipe the razor on my wet towel and think to myself “This isn’t too bad. Not too hard at all”. I rub my fingers on my alum block to get grip and go for stroke 2. Still alive. I go down to the jaw line and beyond onto my throat. I cannot believe it I am actually shaving with a wickedly sharp razor on my throat and it feels safe, it feels good and by jingos it IS good!!

Next I am confident – I go for the right hand side – the same. I live. No cuts yet. No nicks yet. I do the WTG pass on my left cheek and YES I used my left hand. I am now in the zone. I go for a WTG pass down the front of my neck – all good. Next – the chin. This is where I though I would slice myself for sure – noooooo. I did not. Not even a nick on my Adams apple

Thoughts – my first pass was a success in that I managed to do it ALL without cutting myself. It was not the closest shave in the world though and this did disappoint me so I put that down to nerves and being too gentle. My soap tended to dry out – how to fettle this?

Subsequent passes – another WTG and better result. Third pass XTG – getting better and better. Fourth pass – ATG on all surfaces. I came out of it alive with only two teeny-weeny nicks, one on my left cheek near the side-burn and one on the tip of my chin – I mean really teeny – a pin prick.

All in all I made four passes and got what I would call a reasonable level of shave and certainly better than with my Mach 3 thingos. Not baby bottom smooth yet but I am sure it will come with practice.

Warmdown – Rinse, alum blocked and then Khiels after shave balm. I washed all equipment. Put the brush to dry in the breeze and dried and oiled my razor ready for next time.

It takes me a couple of days to grow whiskers enough to go for round two but I am going to do it. More results soon

BTW – no top lip report – I am growing a moustache so won’t be shaving the top lip for a while, if ever…

SOTD 8th/Jan/2018 and Review of Martin De Candre Fougere

Hi – a revisit of a soap I have had for a while and only ever use on special occasions – the first working Monday after Christmas is pretty special no?

The line up:-

A couple of observation on what was a great shave – the Drew Dick did it’s work very well but there is a story there… I forgot to strop. So I started shaving, only the third time with this razor and it is tugging and painful – whoa!!! Then I realized I had forgotten to strop!! I normally strop 25/25 linen/leather before every shave and naively thought it was just part of the ritual… now I know differently. I stopped the shave and stropped – phew back to normal!!

The soap – essence of a nice forest clearing, ferns, green cut leaves and dew on the grass – that sort of smell you never get sick of. I love it. This is a hard soap and my technique is to scoop a bit out of the jar, it is a nice GLASS jar, and put it into my bow to bloom with some warm water. I add my brush to the mix and let them soak. The soap lathers easily but it is thirsty – a nice slick and fragrant shiny lather. Superb.

The Brush – a Shave Nation big Blue, and big it is weighing in at over 7oz. The knot is superb and yes those are gel tips. The handle is matt finished aluminium and anodised blue. It is grippy even when wet due to the sand blasted finish and the finger notch in just the right place.

Now back to the soap – it performed superbly and I was left with a nice hydrated skin and a great scent all day. I think MdC really nailed what is meant by fougere – better than B&M Reserve Fern in my opinion. Is it worth the money? In my opinion yes it is. The soap is hard aI mean HARD and will last a long long time. I use about a “almonds” worth for each shave so at this rate and given my rotation it will be years before the MdC wears out.

SOTD 6 November 2018 – Gillette Tech and TOBS Avocado – Van Yulay Bowl First Use

I know I am late posting this, but just did not have time to upload the photos to my Mac and so on. So here it is…

  • Lather – Taylor’s Of Old Bond Street [TOBS] Avocado
  • Prep – 3P
  • Razor – Gillette Tech
  • Blade – Feather
  • Brush – Alpha T-400 batch #1
  • Knot – 26mm HMW
  • Bowl – Van Yulay Honeycomb type

I prepared properly with a nice face wash, no special soap, and then applied a nice layer of 3P whilst I soaked my brush in tepid tap water (no really cold water here – I am in Thailand on business at the moment). I slapped in about a teaspoon of the TOBS soap into the Van Yulay Bowl and started lathering. I tell you this is going to become one of my regular bowls. I have had it a while, months in fact, and had not used it once. Today was THE day. The bowl not only has the ridges to help lathering but also a repeat of the same honeycomb on the rim at the bottom so there is NO chance you can drop this bowl even with wet hands. It is a resin material too so I am sure almost unbreakable. The honeycombs inside also retain a little water so you don’t have to dip so often and all in all it was a superb bowl and I lathered up with a super thick, teeny-weeny bubbled lather and started shaving. A simple 3-pass – the usual WTG, XTG and ATG.

The Gillette tech and feather blade combo just mashed through the growth – seriously this inexpensive razor just does what it says on the tin – it is superb, just heavy enough, grippy handle – all in all a very satisfying shave. The TOBS Avocado cream soap is one of my go to soaps too – I love the fresh, green, vegetable fragrance which to me smells like cucumber and not avocados although it does have the slickness of an avocado mash.

The story behind the Tech… – I bought a set of two Bakelite shaving stick tubes from a lady in Australia – she not only sent me the tubes but also a leather case to keep them in and nestling inside a little compartment was the Gillette tech, pictured here [I emailed her and told her and she said “good luck, no charge!!” – so this razor was FREE!!!]