Sometimes it is difficult to get a good, usable lather from a shaving soap or shaving cream, depending on the hardness of the water, floppiness of the brush, and properties of the product. Shaving 101 has published two articles that break down the building process step by step for two beloved, but challenging, products. Both Tabula Rasa and Mitchell's Wool Fat Shaving Soap are fantastic products that everyone should try at least once -- if not regularly. This article reiterates the "Load/Hydrate Technique" and offers instructions on building the perfect cushioning lather.
For difficult-to-lather soaps and creams, break the process down to two steps: (1) load brush then (2) add water. First soak the brush thoroughly and shake out most of the water. This leaves the brush damp, but not loaded with water. Work the brush on the soap to get it loaded with product, even though you won't start to see creamy lather yet. At this point it will be a bit dry looking and sticky on the end of the bristles, but this allows the soap to break down into the brush. Once you've gotten a good bit of soap loaded up, dip the end of the brush tips in hot water to hydrate it more, then proceed to try to create a lather. Depending on your brush grade and the hardness of your water you may have to experiment by lightly dipping the brush into the water a few more times. However, you'll notice that the soap will quickly build into the creamy lather that you are looking for.
Tabula Rasa: Building Lather in the Hand
Mike's article, Best-Kept Secret: Tabula Rasa, created a resurgence of interest in this unique shaving product. Tabula Rasa is very dense, so many people have a difficult time creating a usable lather with it. Mike found that using the palm of his hand is a great way to lather creams, especially those that are very dense in texture. For those who try to lather Tabula Rasa in a bowl, they may find that the product swirls around the perimeter of the bowl and never loads into the brush to form a usable lather. In the hand, however, you can really load the brush with product, then dip the tips of the shaving brush in the water to build the incredibly rich lather for which Tabula Rasa is revered.
Tabula Rasa Lather
Mitchell's Wool Fat: Building Lather on the Face
In his article, Mitchell's Wool Fat Shaving Soap, Russell explains that MWF reacts best to face lathering. Although he's tried building lather in a bowl and on his hand, the best method for getting consistent usable lather with MWF is on the face. Like Tabula Rasa, it's best to load the brush, then dip the tips of the brush into the water while working the brush against the skin. By dipping the brush into the water, you can create nice shiny, bubble-free lather that peaks nicely. For MWF, it usually only takes 2-3 dips in the water to really get a good lather going, and you will have enough lather for 3 passes, depending on the brush.
Mitchell's Wool Fat Lather
By using the "Load/Hydrate Technique" both of these products easily whip into rich, creamy lather to give close and comfortable shaves. Tabula Rasa really excels with straight-razor shaving as the lather is very cushioning and moisturizing on the skin throughout the shave. Similarly, the high lanolin content combined with the fact that it is a tallow-based soap make Mitchell's Wool Fat really moisturizing as well. Both products are great for those with sensitive skin due to the natural ingredients and non-intrusive scents. With the Load/Hydrate Technique, anyone can create rich lather and experience what these great products have to offer.
In addition, this technique is useful for all types of shaving soaps and shaving creams, not just the difficult-to-lather ones. If you have a shaving soap or cream that you have achieved only mediocre results in the past, try the Load/Hydrate Technique to unlock hidden potential in your products. It's a simple change that can really improve the quality of your shaves.