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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…

Review: Extrò Felce Biancospino

Sit back, and enjoy as this review has been a long time in the making, but what’s great is I have had an easy 6 months using the product. To start off this review we need to take a journey to a short ride from Turin, Italy to the Extrò shop to meet Donato. Donato Ciniello is the owner operator owner of Extròcosmesi, and easily one of the best men I’ve had the pleasure to know. Extrò makes everything from Shaving soaps to EDT, Refreshing eucalyptus splashes, as well as promoting other blade smiths, and artisans within his storefront. The great news is Donato will ship anywhere in the world for amazing rates, and very fast shipping. From Italy to me here in New York, USA takes about a week to 10 days. That’s huge ! Great prices and fast shipping 👍🏽👍🏽 that’s a win. Hopefully that is a good back ground on Donato and Extrò so let’s get onto the product

Felce Biancospino

Fragrance– for those of us that are blessed enough to speak Italian this translates into Fern Hawthorn. I find that it has an equal amount of each fragrance, nothing overpowering the other. They work symbiotically together to produce a beautiful bouquet of what I would call an aged forest, full of greens as well as fragrant trees and bushes. Their is zero flaw in the fragrance. Over the past 6+ months it has been stable and consistent with no unexpected spots.

Lather– Years ago we were confined by tallow shave soaps in the Wet Shaving community. Donato has been ahead of the pack for years using different vegan oils and bases. This particular Crema da Barba uses Shea Butter which is known for the post shave smoothness associated with Shea. This would be considered the quintessential Italian softer Croap or, somewhere between a cream, and a hard soap. I found an easy 30-45 second loading led to ample lather for equal more than 3 passes. This will be factored by your water being hard or, soft. If it’s any indicator I have hard water which in theory should be a negative, gives me zero problems. I will say though this soap does prefer colder to warm water. I’ve used my scuttle many times, but I temper the water to be enjoyable, but still create ample thick and slick fragrant lather.

Post Shave– As I have said above the main factor in the post shave is the Shea Butter Donato uses. People have used Shea for as long as smooth skin has been preferred (a really long time). I use the matching aftershave as a layering, but the true softness comes from the soap !

Conclusion- Easily put this is one of my favorite soaps to use. I prefer the earthy Fern and Hawthorn fragrance. It’s very natural in scent, and very protective. Felce Biancospino has the added benefit of containing Shea which gives a natural soft post shave feel. When combined with the aftershave you have a beautifully layered shave that’s fragrance lasts for quite sometime depending on your skins individual properties. There are very few soaps or, brands that equal the mastery of Donato Ciniello so, when you get a moment check out his website, and you heard it here on WSR that this is a solid purchase from a great European Artisan.

https://www.extrocosmesi.it

Facebook:

https://m.facebook.com/pages/category/Shopping—Retail/Extrocosmesiit-1727013654268658/

Soap: Extrò Felce Biancospino

Brush: Alpha Brush & Shaving co. T-400 Silver tip badger

Razor: Vintage Gillette President

Blade: Personna Med Prep

Aftershave: Felce Biancospino

Scuttle & Scotch Porter beard balm

The First Shave Of 2019 (1/1/2019) and a more in depth review of the Augustini Kamisori

I hope that everyone has a prosperous and happy 2019 and a lot of great shaves too. I had my second shave on the Augustini Kamisori and I wanted to show some more photos and my observations about this razor.

First a health warning:

The Kamisori is a superb blade to master. It is at the pinnacle of Japanese razors and it takes some skill to use. It is NOT for the novice wet shaver and nor is it for the novice straight razor shaver. Wait until you are comfortable with a sharp blade and can almost shave blindfold before you try a Kamisori!!

However, if you do master  a Kamisori it will give a superb and comfortable shave – you will be well rewarded. The kami I am using is a blade I bought from Augustini Razors in Melbourne Australia. It has a traditional left handed asymmetrical grind as you will see from the photos below. It is beautiful in every way – a true masterpiece of the art. IF you want one like the one I am using then contact Augustini through Instagram HERE.

The line up:

Lets first look at what makes a Kamisori – traditionally the Kamisori is made of a soft iron ‘handle’ with a hard steel cutting edge with either three layers or 2 layers (san-mai or ni-mai) this was done in order to keep the price down and is in line with how swords are made – soft body/hard edge. In this case the complete kami is made up of the same hard steel. A Kamisori is ground to be ‘handed’ either left or right handed although some modern Kamisoris do have a ‘western grind’ more like a traditional straight razor. Kamisoris were originally meant truly ‘for barber use’ so I am guessing that the handedness was for the barbers preference not the shavers. I use my Kami in both hands – (lets wait for the thunderbolts from the traditionalists….). The Kamisori I show here is left handed grind. The side with more grinding is called the ‘Ura’ and the flatter side is called the ‘Omote’. The makers mark would usually be found on the Ura on a Japanese razor however Augustini has not marked the blade – I think he should as it is a superb razor and something to be proud of – mark it Luke!!

So here are my observation on what was a superb shave:-

  • The heel of the razor – the point at the front – is superb and slightly angled and therefore muted – it will not dig into my face flesh if I lose concentration.
  • The toe is at almost 90º and is super sharp – beware of this digging in – you CANNOT use the Kamisori like a pencil. The blade needs to be parallel to the face at all times.
  • The handle is super shiny, just the right weight and very highly polished – dry hands or alum is essential

The shave was superb with even the ATG pass a delight.

A tip for a Kamisori shave is to use a very slick soap like Man of Siam Cadwgawn or something like TOBS Avocado  – something that leaves a residual slickness on the face after the pass – why? because the angle at which you shave with the kamisori is very shallow and the Omote will slide against the skin – if there is no residual slickness then it can drag and skip a little. Nothing to worry about just one thing to watch out for.

If you are a serious straight razor user then mastering the Kamisori should be on your ‘to do’ list and you would be hard pressed to find a finer example than this Augustini Kamisori.

 

 

 

Gondolier by PAA

gondolierI managed to pick this up at a discounted price on black Friday and I’ve been using it quite a bit since then.  I love Phoenix Artisan Accouterments (PAA) soaps!  This is the second PAA shaving soap that I have used so I have gotten some good experience and familiarity with them.

The scent of Gondolier is a nice cologne type smell.  It reminds me a bit of rose water.  It is moderate in strength and not overpowering.  My wife acquired the AS for me as a Christmas gift.  The AS sent is identical with just a bit more strength.  I really like the scent, so much so that I’ve been using this soap almost daily.

Lather

The PAA soap base is one of the most thirsty soaps I have ever encountered.  There are some definite benefits to this.  For one, I can create enough lather in my bowl for 3 passes by loading the brush just once for 30 seconds.  The soap just seems to love water.  Even the bloom water, after applying to my face, creates lather enough to almost shave with.  What I have found is that initially, when I have lather in the bowl, it looks pretty much like any other soap.  But after about a minute, the soap seems to gain density.  Adding some water and whipping will create the most wonderful yogurt like lather.  The soap has a property which I call an anti-newtonian property of absorbing water without thinning.  You add water, whip it up and it just grows fuller.  It’s the strangest thing to lather your face and do a pass with the razor and then see that the remaining soap is a bit dry so you add water and the bowl is almost as full as before! Well I’m exaggerating a bit but the effect is there.

With the soap being on the more dense side, you might think that it does an excellent job of cushioning.  And you would be right.  This soap is as slick as any I’ve tried but it really excels at cushioning.  And with this it seems to cause the hairs of my beard to stand up well so they can be easily cut by the razor. This means a safer shave due to using a lighter touch with the razor. The soap just encourages you to use good technique.

Economy

Because of the properties I described above, I would say the economy of PAA soaps is quite good.  It may take you a while to figure out how to work with the great thirst of the soap and get the most out of it but once you do, I believe you can make the tin last quite a long time.

Post Shave and AS

The post shave feel of my face after using this soap is very good.  And this is not surprising when you look at the many ingredients of the soap, the various butters and other things really leave my face feeling good.  The AS also has a few ingredients not typical of the average AS (like aloe) and offers a very soothing finish along with a longer lasting scent.  And although it lists menthol as an ingredient, I did not feel hardly any sting when applied.

Conclusion

This soap goes to the top of my list.  There are other soaps out there that come close but none will surpass it, at least none that I have tried so far.  This particular scent is a good entry point for PAA.  I can’t imagine that anyone would not be instantly enamored of this beautiful rose like scent.

Details

Soap PAA Gondolier
Brush Semogue 2000
Razor Rockwell 6c, plate 4
Blade Racer Platinum Class
After Shave PAA Gondolier After Shave Cologne

 

SOTD and a Cry For Help – I stained my Razor!!

So guys,

I will post the SOTD below BUT I NEED HELP. I am on holiday in a very hard water area and I left my blade wet just a little too long and I stained the blade of my Drew Dick razor!! Can anyone help me on how to remove a water stain?

The Line Up:

  • Razor: Drew Dick 9/8″ Half-Hollow with Black Scales
  • Soap: Man of Siam Cadwgawn
  • Brush: The usual boar
  • Bowl: Van Yulay Blue resin

The Cadwgawn soap proved its worth again today as I used my Big Dick for the first time. A true super lather. Pics below.

The true November Shave – Extròcosmesi 2/11 Soap and Solid Perfume Review

(Featured Image courtesy of Alessandro Horvath, Italy)

I know, I know, this wasn’t announced and some of you may be wondering “Where are the Stirling reviews?”. You’re right, but in the meantime I spent a wonderful Sunday in Settimo Torinese, near Turin, Italy, with Donato Ciniello and many Extròcosmesi friends, and grabbed my 2/11 Soap and Solid Perfume combo (plus a limited-edition Pirates soap+as combo, which I’ll review in the next weeks). I guess I’m biased, here, since Donato is a true friend to me, and I literally love his products (with probably 1-2 exceptions, in a range of almost 30+ soaps), but as soon as I smelled the soap, I instantly knew that another masterpiece was added to my shaving den.

A bit of background here: 2/11 (sorry US people, European notation used here :P) is known as All Souls’ Day, hence the graveyard theme of the label. Moreover, the main scent note of the soap is Cypress, and we all know that cypress is, well… the graveyard tree by definition. For those who love cinema, and the spaghetti-western genre in particular, there’s another curious fact in the soap art. A grave with the name Arch Stanton (*). Does that ring a bell? 🙂

The product comes, at least in the first batch edition, in an elegant glass jar, and it can be considered like a croap, more on the hard side. It’s almost black colour is another plus, to me.

The product description reads (translated from Italian):

“First edition of the 2/11 shaving cream. enriched with neem oil, Q10, elastin, shea butter. The soft lather it produces has an intense cypress scent. This shaving cream does not contain essences; the fragrance is given by the essential oils of cypress, rosemary and lemon balm.”

Is the description spot on? Absolutely Yes. Is the product as good as it seems? Absolutely YES, YES, YES!!! Q10 and elastin had already been used in another favorite of mine, Extròcosmesi Bay Rum soap, which gave me some of the best shaves with my straight razors, leaving my face as soft as the bottom of a baby.

2-11 RM

Very easy to lather with the brush directly on the surface (even with my Simpson Duke 3, which from time to time gives me trouble), the scent literally explodes once the soap is lathered. The cypress is definitely there, as well as the lemon balm, which personally made me think of Captain’s Choice Lime AS, while the rosemary is more in the background. Slickness and cushion are great, as almost every Extrò soap, as well as the post-shave feel. It’s very difficult to find any con, with products of high level like this.

The matching Solid Perfume is, for now (AS to be expected soon), the logic pairing after the shave. The scent is very close to the soap, personally I find the lemon balm to be more present. Longevity is good, although I wish it was a bit longer. I have to be frank, I prefer the old good classic bottle of AS to this.

Overall, another winner by Donato Ciniello, who is one of the greatest Italian artisans in the Wet Shaving scene.

Price: 21€

Available at Extròcosmesi, Settimo Torinese, Italy.

Extròcosmesi Website

(*) The Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Sergio Leone, 1966.

 

 

Finding Cape Verde

SOTD with Mickey Lee Cape VerdeEarlier this year I ordered a tin of Mickey Lee Soap Works Cape Verde shaving soap. This was my first experience with a Mickey Lee shaving soap and I can tell you for sure it will not be my last.

First let’s talk about this interesting scent. The description mentions lavender, orange, and tangerine (among others).  So I was thinking lavender and citrus orange which are scents that I really enjoy.  But this is not the way I would describe what I actually discovered when I tried it.  Taken all together this concoction reminds me more of the Asian star anise spice.  If you’ve ever had a good Vietnamese Pho (a type of soup) in a Vietnamese restaurant, that’s kind of how it strikes me.  Chalk this up to my very novice olfactory sensor and maybe you who are more discerning would be able to relate the smell much better with the description than me. At any rate, I am not complaining in any way about the scent of this soap, I quite enjoy it.  To complement this scent I have been using Stirling’s Sandpiper AS.  Sandpiper is more of a versatile cologne for me and it seems to work well in this case.

Lather

This is a tallow based lather and I found that it is one of the more thirsty soaps. But I also found that with the right amount of water added, I was able to produce a very nice cool whip density lather without much effort at all.  In fact, I was easily able to create a sufficient amount of lather in my bowl with 2 or 3 loads of the brush.

I would rate this lather as providing a good cushion and nice post shave feel.  All in all, I really enjoy the lather and look forward to trying other scents in this line.

Economy

I would rate this soap as average in economy.  It loads and lathers up easily but seems to use a fair amount of soap in doing so.  But this is not a hard knock.  You will get very many good shaves out of the plastic tin.

Conclusion

Mickey Lee is an excellent shaving soap.  Cape Verde is a very unique scent.  You might prefer it more in summer but I am enjoying it now even in the winter as well as summer.  They do not have nearly as many scents as some of the other artisan soap makers but with a killer tallow based lather, it’s clear that Mickey Lee has a solid soap to expand upon.  But I’m definitely going to try anther one of their scents and I’ve got my sites set on The Kraken to try next!

Details

Soap Mickey Lee Soap Works, Cape Verde
Brush Semogue 2000
Razor Rockwell 6c, plate 4
Blade Supermax Super Platinum
After Shave Stirling Sandpiper

The Pro Proraso Brush

Today was a simple, but extremely enjoyable shave. I’ve used Trufitt & Hill products many times, but not with a very awesome, and super affordable brush; the Omega Pro Pros aka, the Omega Proraso Boar 🐗 which is the brother to the #48 professional, but with more backbone, and a lower loft. This brush happens to be part of Omega’s professional lineup. The handle whilst being thermo plastic has a great hand feel which is fairly large in circumference, as well as a nice loft, and damned if this brush isn’t filled to the brim with dense natural boar hair.

I always soak any brush for 3-5 minutes for the hair to absorb as much water as possible, and the follicle to expand as much as possible; making it softer, and more likely to splay, and really pick up and whip up a substantial lather.

The dimensions are IMO very nice coming in at,

Height : 133 mm 

Loft : 65 mm 

Base : 64 mm 

Knot : 28 mm

Making the Proraso Professional fairly balanced between loft and handle, though the handle is full in hand, and that fully stuffed 28mm knot is dense, and full of backbone. After about a dozen or, so shaves you’ll notice the break in and will load the hardest French tripple milled soaps with ease.

The rest of my shave went without a hitch. I appreciate you taking a moment to look at this short review of a top notch brush, at a $10-15 price point. Keep smooth my friends.

  • Pre: hot shower with Musgo oakmoss soap
  • Prep: Proraso White
  • Soap: Truefitt & Hill Trafalgar
  • Razor: Fatip Nero
  • Blade: Bolzano (1)
  • Brush: Omega Proraso Professional
  • Aftershave: Pinaud Gents Gin
  • Lotion: Trufitt & Hill Trafalgar Balm
  • Fragrance: Burberry Brit
  • Lightweight Travel Shave – SOTD 26th October 2018. Arko, Merkur and a Brush

    Hi – on the road again and trying to KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid…). This is about as light as I can go and still have a decent shave:

    Equipment:

    Razor: Merkur Futur c/w Feather Blade
    Brush: Alpha T-400 c/w 26mm HMW Knot
    Soap: Arko Stick
    Preshave: 3P

    No bowl with me this time so a pure face lather after a 10 minute prep with the 3P. I tell you what the 3P is a great pres-have and a nice menthol kick too. Get one now!!

    The Shave

    Two passes on #4 WTG and ATG and a final pass on #1 ATG. Face lathering is the way to go for a lightweight travel shave. I soaked the Arko stick at the same time as soaking my brush. Take the stick and expose a little of the soap and rub it on your face – like this to get a good coating. The take the brush, get rid of the excess water and work that lather. The Arko explodes into a nice slick lather easily. Just keep rubbing and adding water until you get what you want

    Arko stick rubbed on face – make a thin layer like the photo

    Now, I know many people have opinions on the smell of Arko, to me it is just soap and a nice hint of citrus. Don’t be put off by the opinions of a minority of Arko haters, Arko is one of the great and classic men’s shaving soaps and I urge everyone to try it out. If you don’t like it then bin it – it costs only about 2 bucks a stick so not much to lose eh? You will be surprised I am sure.

    After face lathering for 30 seconds