Soaps Under $10.00

Monday, February 22, 2016

Brushes, Creams, and Soaps

Grain direction shaving

By now you have gotten a good start on mapping the direction of your beard growth and should be seeing improvements in the finish product. It's really not all that difficult but once learned, you will find that shaving is more enjoyable and conquering "the beast" a victory every time you shave. Keep at it. Once you learn the general direction of your growth, you will begin to find the little areas that seem to go against the norm. It takes a lot of practice and attention while you are shaving, but it is worth it every time you get a little better shave!

You don't have to spend much

If you have taken the time to start exploring items on various websites, you can see that prices range to just a few dollars to over $200 or even $300 dollars! In all actuality you do not need to spend that much to get started, For what you currently spend just buying a package of the cartridge razors, you can get set up with an inexpensive razor, blades, soap, and brush. You just have to know where to shop, what to expect and what you are willing to call acceptable.  I really is subjective. Acceptability is not having the best money can buy, but rather what can give you a good, comfortable shave. In the end, that's what it is all about.

Purchasing Starter sets

There are several pros and cons with buying starter sets. These sets and generally put together with the intent of helping the new wet shaver to get started without getting stressed out over what to buy. There are a lot of products out there and user reviews are just a diverse. All of this just leaves the prospective buyer at a loss of what to get. Purchasing individual items can take time to research and the temptation to buy a starter set is tempting.

When I first got started, I purchased the Van der Hagen Premium shave set. This came with a small bowl, a 2.5oz puck of their deluxe soap, and a 22mm knot boar brush. All of this for around ten dollars at my local grocery store. It really wasn't a bad deal. I like the small bowl as it fits my hand nicely as I build up the lather, and their deluxe soap is easy to lather and stays thick during the shave. not quite as slick as I like my soaps and creams, but I have a remedy for that. I'll share that in another post.

Van Der Hagen Premium Shave Set
The brush however is not quite as nice as some that cost a little bit more. It is a boar hair brush that required a good cleaning before use, and it took it about a week to get rid of the smell. Probably the thing that bothered me the most was that it shed bristles like a shaggy dog. I was constantly having to pluck them from the cream on my face and from the soap puck for about four months. It did eventually settle down and became a nice soft brush. After about six months of daily use it became a pleasure to use. Not very stiff, but soft. So if you are willing to put up with loose bristles for a while, I would recommend spending the ten dollars.

Keeping it simple

Semogue 1305
There are other options if you decide not to go with one of those pre-packaged starter sets. You can do very good by spending a little extra on the brush and skimp by purchasing a small pudding dish at Wal-Mart or other type of store and then pick up a puck of VDH Deluxe soap or a tube of Derby shave cream. Here would be my recommendations:

For a nice brush that has a good backbone, bristles with very low animal smell, and becomes a sheer pleasure to use once it is broke in (about 15 to 20 shaves,) is the Semogue 1305. It is an 18mm knot brush that lathers pucks, soap sticks and creams wonderfully. It builds a great lather and holds it until you are ready for it. This was my third brush and my favorite. I think I have only lost 4 or 5 bristles out of mine since I have started using it. To me, choosing a good brush is of more value than an all in one kit!

Nordic Ware Prep Bowl
I went cheap on a lather bowl! For the most part I just face lather because it saves time and is less messy. However I do soak my brush for a couple of minutes before use and sometime I do bowl lather. The bowl I chose was the Nordic Ware Mini Prep bowl I found at Wal-Mart. It is about as small as I would like to go with a bowl, and it doesn't take up a lot of room in the drawer. But then for $1.00 I couldn't pass it up. Besides if it didn't work out It would wind up in the kitchen! One nice thing about this bowl is that if you do purchase the VDH Premium set above, this bowl provides a nice cover over the top of the ceramic one in the VDH set.
Soufflé Dish

And then finally I bought a ceramic dish for my soap puck. It is a simple 9oz.  SoufflĂ© Dish that I picked up at Wal-Mart for $1.50. It is ceramic and looks similar to this one.  It holds a 2.5oz soap puck without any problem and has plenty of room to load a brush. It didn't come with a lid, but I found that a lid from a can of peanuts worked just fine!

Soap or Cream?

Van Der Hagen
You don't really need to make a decision on this. I use both and rotate them around to change up my shave. Soaps can run you less than $2.00 for Van der Hagen Deluxe and around $3.00 for a 100ml tube of Derby cream. These are the cheap ones and do an excellent job of giving you a good close shave. I will say that starting out with a cream may be easier than the puck. Getting the water to soap ratio can sometimes be difficult when starting out. The creams just seem to lather easier and have a good slickness to them. And, if you don't want to purchase a bowl, you can just load the brush and go straight to a face lather. Most days, I just leave my bowl in the drawer!
Derby Lavender Shave Cream

So as you can see it doesn't take much to get started (at least with the soaps.) The brush being the most important and expensive piece of hardware we've talked about today. A simple investment of $10 to $25 dollars can get you set up nicely with the soap side of the equipment that will last you for many, many years.


  1. You still got those Derby and VDH? I'd try mixing them in the black dish (melt the bar, mix in equal volume cream). I think it's the balance of different moisturizers that make it work better, at least when I do it with Kiss My Face cream (liquid, really).

    But for efficiency, too -- doing the mixing of water and soap in the brush/cup is easier and faster than on your face. So long as you don't try to get the air into the mix at that time, too. Save that for for face!

    1. I got a comment! Somebody must be bored to death for something to do or got rained in today! :-)

      I haven't done a melt and mix with the VDH and Derby creams, but I did do a mix and melt wit VDH and Cremo Cream. I blogged about that several months ago over on Pleonast.

      I could do 10 to 15 swirls on the puck and have enough lather to paint the walls. The Cremo Cream added a nice amount of slickness to the puck. Only got a bout 40 -45 shave off it though. Seems to have softened it up quite a bit. After I used up the bowl I went to the shaving stick I made with it. I've gotten to where I prefer sticks and creams to bowls. I don't have a lot of time when I shave and sticks and creams tend to go faster. Besides, I don't have a lot of dwar space for bowl and pucks.

      One thing I plan on doing is getting some smaller twist up containers and making a few half puck melts with VDH and several of my creams to see what happens.