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How To Lather With The Kit

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My friend Antonio Centeno at Real Men Real Style is doing a class on manual shaving and I would like to offer a little help on making a good lather with the shave kit that the class is using.

The Kit – Before You Start

The shaving soap included with the kit is actually pretty good, although the soap puck itself is a little small.  The shaving brush is a synthetic hair model that is basic but functional.  Here are some suggestions on how to get the best performance out of them.
The first thing I would do is take the shaving soap puck out of the little tin it comes in and instead use a large latte cup, soup mug, or even a plastic storage dish like the one I’m using here.  If you moisten the soap then leave it to dry in the bowl overnight the soap will stick to the bottom of the bowl securely.  The will make it easier to load the brush later.


When you’re ready to start lathering, soak the soap in warm water for a few minutes to help hydrate and loosen the outer skin of the soap.  That will help transfer some of the soap from the puck to the brush.
Wet the brush thoroughly then give it a shake or two to remove excess water.  As you learn how to use the brush you will find the right amount of water to use, but to begin with it is better to start out with not enough water, adding as you go, rather than start with too much water and end up with a foamy mess.
Rub the brush onto the soap so you get a thick coating on the tips of the brush’s bristles.  You need more than just a soapy foam here, so make sure there’s a relatively thick coating.  Depending on the mineral content of your water this could take a minute or so.
After you have loaded the brush, wet your face then start massaging the soap onto the skin.  Using circular motions to start with will help mix water with soap, gently remove tiny bits of debris from the skin, and surround each hair with lathery goodness.  After the first 30 seconds or so take a pause and look at the lather.  If it looks flat, dry, or pasty add a little water to the tips of the brush and continue massaging with the brush.  Repeat the process every 30 seconds or so until you have a creamy lather built up, looking shiny and more like yogurt or pie meringue.  Then use a painting motion to even out the lather across the skin.  Lathering properly could take several minutes but can be one of those zen-like moments in the shaving process.  Take this time to enjoy the feeling of warm, fragrant lather on your face and a quiet moment for yourself.


If you continue to have trouble lathering there are a few shortcuts that you might try.  If you have water with a high mineral content (“hard” water) try heating up some distilled water to use for the shave.  This can often noticeably improve the quality of lather.
Another shortcut is to add some products in the lather.  One common additive is pure glycerin: you can find it in many large grocery stores, megamarts, or drug stores.  You can usually find it in the either the skin care section or with the first aid products.  Add a few drops of glycerin to a loaded brush before massaging into the skin and you should see an improvement in the lubrication and cushioning of the lather.  You may have to experiment with how much to add but be aware that if you add too much glycerin it will have a rebound effect, actually drying out the skin and making shaving more difficult.
Or you can try using a small amount of shaving cream along with the shaving soap.  Like using glycerin, shaving cream can help stabilize the lather, keeping it wetter, longer, and improving performance.
 Enjoy your lather, and your shave!
Related Post: 30 Days To A More Enjoyable Shave – Lather (included in Sharpologist’s free ebook)


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

1 thought on “How To Lather With The Kit”

  1. I was watching a professional Turkish barber on YouTube lathering up using a Shave Stick. He held the soap stick parallel over a huge sink, with the brush parallel and loaded the brush, he went to town on it. As he loaded the brush it started to create a huge amount of lather, he had to go down under the sides to catch some of the over built, surplus lather, this stick was foaming thick lather, of course he was using one of those huge Turkish Pro number 6 brushes that you could paint a house with. Moving to the guy in the chair the lather was already there, it went on thick, easy, like painting.
    I tried this methid with a number 2 brush, aka average size brush, got OK results, brush loaded with soap, some lather started, decent lather created on face. I turned the shave stick str8 down and loaded it with the brush pointing up, this seemed to load the brush deep down in the center, the soap lathered greatly, easily, on the face.
    So, I tried it on some soap in a bowl, basically hydrating it with warm water, turned it over dumping any water, and loaded the brush from below. This had the same results as the shave stick, soap loaded well into the brush, good lather.
    Not sure if this will help others, but it help me get better, get the hang of it aka I am much better at the normal method.

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