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Using bar soap instead of shaving cream for face shaving

bar soap

It's time for another Middle Aged Man Thing.

I don't remember when I started shaving my face, but it was probably when I was 17 or 18 years old.

I've gone through the various shaving options available over the years. There was a time I was all about the electric shaver and my preference was the Norelco design because the circular blades they used worked better on my face. I did try a Remington foil style foil shaver for a short spell. Some guys really like that one but my face didn't like it.

Side note: It is interesting Remington offers a "Hertiage Series" shaver with a retro-ish design to it. It does look cool, gotta admit.

After that spell with the electric stuff, I went back to cartridge razors and shaving cream and have used it ever since. My current razor of choice is Gillette Sensor 5 or Gillette Fusion 5. Which I get depends on whatever is on sale when I need them.

What's changed recently is the shaving lubrication I use, and it's all because after decades of shaving a certain way, I switched to something different.

I'll get to the bar soap thing in a minute, but what I changed was how I shave with a razor.

Nobody ever taught me how to shave my face. I just figured it out by myself. Up until very recently, I always used medium to long strokes...

...which is wrong.

Somewhere on the internet I read a forum thread where somebody asked whether it's better to use long or short strokes. The overwhelming number of replies said short stroke always works better.

I said to myself okay, let's try this. I did so, and yes, that forum thread was correct. Short stroke does in fact work better. Way better. How short of a stroke do I use? About a half to three quarters of an inch. Somewhere around there. And oh yeah, it works.

This worked so well that it brought into question how much lubrication I need to apply to my face for shaving.

Medium to long stroke shaving requires a generous amount of shaving cream or gel. Short stroke shaving hardly requires any lubrication at all (assuming you're shaving with the grain and not against it).

I wanted to see how little lubrication was necessary to get a decent shave now that I was using short strokes with the razor. And that's when I broke out the bar soap and tried it out.

Bar soap doesn't lather up anywhere near as much as shaving cream/gel does, but that was the whole point. I wanted less lather to see how little I could get away with...

...and it actually worked. How well? Well enough to where I've not used shaving cream since.

However, I did have to make a change. If I soap up ear to ear, by the time I'm done shaving half my face, the other half has already started to dry. I get around this by wetting the face, soap up one half, shave, wet the face again, soap up the other half, shave that, done.

Yeah, I was shaving the wrong way ever since I started shaving

I'm actually shaving CORRECTLY now. Short stroke is the way to go if using a razor such as I do.

Why did I use long strokes to begin with for so long? Because that's what television commercials were showing:

I know exactly why they did this.

A "long smooth glide" simply looks better on camera compared to a short stroke.

Think about it.

If you saw a razor commercial of somebody shaving using short strokes, it doesn't sell the product very well because it makes the razor being promoted look inferior - even though short stroke shaving absolutely works better.

So yeah. TV showed bad shaving technique on purpose because it looked better on camera, I totally fell for it, and shaved that way for decades not knowing any better.

I know better now. And because of that, I can comfortably use bar soap for a lubricant instead of shaving cream/gel.

Published 2023 Dec 7

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