Travel Buddies? It Depends on Your Technique!

I’m not much for shave sticks or for shave cream in a tube, but I recently got the opportunity to try out two that I haven’t seen before.  Thanks to a generous fellow wet shaver, I was given a couple of sample (read full size) products that came with a learning curve.

The products I received were a La Toja Jabón de Afeitar from Barcelona and a 1 ounce travel sized Institut Karite Moisturizing Shaving Cream from Paris.  I felt very Continental the mornings I tried these lathering lovelies. 

The first one I tried was the Institut Karite Moisturizing Shaving Cream. People have raved about their shaving soap, but this was not the same… it is in a tube and a cream instead. I thought I’d try an almond size amount and put it in my trusty shaving scuttle that never fails to deliver and work myself a lather. It made a nice looking lather, but when I put it on my face, I noticed it was mostly air and water. It felt thin and not very slick. I was severely disappointed with the feel of the blade across my cheek and by the time I finished one side of my face, the lather that was on the other side of my face had lost its bubbles and was just a white smear on my face.  I finished my shave, but it left me with sort of a rash because I was insistent on making it work for me. The next time I tried a different brush and more cream in the mix. It was not much better, but was a little more slick this time. The last time I used it was yesterday. I was out of town and realized I had forgotten to pack any shaving brushes. I thought, what the heck, maybe I’ll just try to smear some cream on my face and see if I can get a decent shave that way. Well, I have to say, I am sort of glad I forgot my brush because it forced me to rethink this cream. I had to use an almond size schmear on each side of my face (twice as much as my normal amount) but what I got wasn’t lather, per se, but a thick cushion that was easy to shave with. The glide was great! It had a great feel under my FatBoy set on 6 with a new Ladas blade. I finished my first pass and felt my face. It still needed that second pass, but the slickness was still very present on my face. I added just a tiny bit more cream on each side to get my second pass and came away with a BBS shave and no irritation! Serendipity! The only downsides were that it used more cream than I was expecting to use and it was hard to rinse all that slickness off my face. I can live with that if what I get out of it is a great shave not at home with all my equipment. This would be a perfect travel shave cream!

I had a similar learning curve on the La Toja Jabón de Afeitar in that I had to change the way I was used to working with soap to get good results. The first time I tried it out, I rubbed the handy travel sized stick onto the sharp ridges of my shaving scuttle to get some hard soap to sort of end up like grated cheese in my bowl. I made a decent lather with it and enjoyed the smell, which was clean but subdued, sort of like Arko.  It wasn’t as easy to lather as Arko, while we’re comparing the two. I had a similarly disappointing first few shaves with the La Toja until I changed the way I used it.  I never was into face lathering that much, so I didn’t have much experience in it. I thought it was time I started to develop that skill, so I rubbed the crap out of that stick all over my ample stubble and got a layer of dry but visibly white soap all over my cheeks and throat. I took my soaked brush and started making circular motions on my right cheek and throat. Pow! Instant thick lather! It just kept getting better with every additional square inch I added to the swirls I was putting on my face. The soap WANTED to be face lathered! How could I know? I don’t speak much Spanish!? It worked like a champ once I figured out what it wanted me to do! I got a great shave with the new method and my brush was still loaded enough for a second pass and could have given me enough for a third pass, but I didn’t need it. This soap also performs much better on slickness and cushion if used properly… so there was definitely a learning curve for this one too.

I know I haven’t gone into a lot of details on scent or quantified the amount of slickness or glide with these soaps, but my intent on this review is to provide encouragement to those who haven’t perfected their technique. Don’t throw away a soap or cream if you don’t get results the first time. Try a different method of achieving a lather. I left these two guys in a drawer for over a month before I revisited them and figured out what they were trying to tell me to get them to work. Diligence is something you also have to develop when working with wet shaving supplies. Sometimes you don’t get it right the first time, but if you try changing your technique, you might be surprised by the outcome… in this case, it was a positive outcome for me!

Happy shaving!