Thursday, January 4, 2018

RazoRock Alum Stick

January 04, 2018 0
I caught an interview with RazoRock Joe on the Moustache and Blade Podcast.  By the sounds of it, alum was the start of RazoRock.  As the story goes, Joe was tasked by his father-in-law to find alum blocks while on vacation in Italy with his uncle and business partner.  Eventually they found a little shop in Tuscany that had it and they purchased all they had left.  At dinner one night they had the idea to import these alum blocks and sell it.  They would call it RazoRock and the rest is wet shaving history.  Check out the podcast here: Moustache & Blade Podcast - Episode 2 : Feature Interview with Italian Barber

RazoRock Alum Stick
Admittedly, prior to getting into traditional wet shaving the only time I heard about alum was from Looney Tunes cartoons I watched as a kid.  I’d remember Sylvester the Cat getting this powder poured in his mouth and his lips would involuntarily unwilling pucker until he could only try to ingest Tweety Bird with a straw.  I remember that I asked my father what that Alum on the label was and he simply said that it was for shaving.  Fast forward a few years and I would find out from a cursory Google or Bing search that this was most likely Potassium Alum. 

"Birds Anonymous" - the toon that turned me onto alum (around 5:33 mark)

According to an article on ThoughtCo: “Potassium alum is a fine white powder that you can find sold with kitchen spices or pickling ingredients.”   Potassium Alum is also the most commonly used form of alum in wet shaving.  There are a lot of great sources and detailed information on the types, chemical make-up, and different uses for this compound.  But rather than get too deep into that; check out the article Shaving alum: what it is, why you shoulduse it on Why I Wet Shave, it's a good read.
If the alum in stick form isn't your preference, RazoRock also has it available in a block version 
In many of the forums I hear that an alum block is a great way to get “feedback” from your shave.  Basically, this means that you experience some stinging when applying the alum those are areas that have probably shaved too roughly.  It also helps to stop the bleeding from nicks and cuts. 

The stick and base weighed 72 gm on our scale.  The base alone was 5 gm.  So, got a little more alum than the 60 gm listed on the box 
Personally I like using alum (block or stick) as an aftershave.  It provides good feedback for my head shaves and is an indicator if I need to replace my DE Blade or HeadBlade cartridge.  Moreover, I like to use alum on the head because it soothes my scalp without having to apply a splash; which (depending on the aftershave) can make me feel as if I’ve bathed in it. 

The base is a soft plastic that could be cut away and free up about 22 gm of  alum used to secure the stick in place.
I also enjoy using it for my face shaves as well.  My face, particularly my upper lip, craves more of the astringent sting of an aftershave splash .  I’ll do a first post shave pass with the alum, but will follow it up with a splash and potentially an aftershave balm.  Then I’d complete the routine with a moisturizer, preferably one with some SPF protection. Specifically, I like the RazoRock alum stick for travel. The alum sits in a plastic holder and is protected by a plastic cover.   In its case The Alum Stick measures about 3 inches tall and 2.5 inches at the base. So it doesn’t take up a lot of space in my small dop kit. 
My small hoard of RazoRock Alum sticks

As far as the weight goes, the package notes 60g. But I wasn’t sure if the usable alum was 60 grams or if the entire stick was 60 grams. After weighing, it appeared as if the alum stick and the plastic base weighed 71 grams (on our scale), and the plastic base weighed 5 grams. So, the entire stick of alum weighed 66 grams. There is product in the plastic base to secure it in place. I’ve seen photos of people breaking it apart to get at the remaining alum, but I prefer cutting the base with a pair of small scissors. What was left was a 22 gram alum block that can be used for a few more shaves. I have a small hoard of RazoRock Alum Sticks because since discovering alum, I use it quite regularly in the routine. 

Overall, I really like it. The alum stick is a nice, compact, post shave that soothe my skin after a shave and it doesn’t leave any residual odor that could mix oddly with my aftershaves.  Are you a fan of Alum in your shave routine? Please leave a comment below and let us know.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Dr. Jon's Classic: The Barbershop Scent

November 26, 2017 0
The barbershop scent is one of those that I find hard precisely describe.  It’s like the word “dude;” it’s used a lot and could mean something different based on one’s interpretation.  Just  about every barbershop scent that I’ve had the pleasure of sampling smelled differently than the next. Fine Accoutrements American Blend smelled differently from Pinaud Clubman; Clubman smells differently than Sir Hare Classic; and Dr. Jon's Classic smells differently as well. 

Dr Jon's Classic Shave Soap and Aftershave Tonic
Dr. Jon’s Classic scent is described on their site as a “combined hints of herb, wood, flowers and citrus to create a crisp and fresh fragrance that will make you want to run straight to your local barber for a cut and a shave” and it is their take on the barbershop scent.  On the label Dr. Jon’s lists rosemary, bergamot, lavender, cedar, lime, and vetiver.   To my nose, the lavender and lime stand out more and to give Classic its unique scent.

Dr. Jon's Classic Shave Soap is a soft soap which could probably be described as a "croap"
The Classic Shave Soap is most likely considered by many to be a “croap” as it is of a soft consistency.  As with the other Dr. Jon’s Soaps that I’ve used, Classic performed like the others as it yielded a thick, protective and slick lather without much effort.  Scent-wise, I found that it isn’t overpowering when applied.  It doesn’t linger and it easily washes away when rinsing off.     
I get a good, slick, and protective lather with Classic Vol 1.  Interested in trying Vol 2.
To complement the soap, Dr. Jon’s Classic is also available as an aftershave tonic.  As I’ve written before, I like a nice sting of an aftershave splash; with the aftershave tonic I get a nice and satisfying burn that my skin craves after a shave.  The aftershave’s scent lasts longer than the soap.  But to my nose it doesn’t seem to linger around as much as, say, Black Label.   Granted, I’m not a huge fan of the Black Label, so it is possible that I may just get used to the Classic scent much quicker as I find it to be more pleasant of an aroma.

My 2oz tin (which I believe are no longer available) of Classic for one of my SOTD's
Overall, I’m a fan of the Dr Jon’s Shave Soaps.  Since I’ve purchased my Classic tin though, they have gone on to reformulate their soaps and this soap is now available as “Classic Vol. 2”.  It generally looks like it is being met with some good reviews.  I have yet to try Vol. 2, but look forward to giving it a shot one day.

Are you a fan of Dr. Jon’s Shave soaps and aftershave tonics?  Please leave us a comment below and let us know what you think. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Closer Look at the Dreadnought Spartan DE Razor

October 30, 2017 0
The Dreadnought shaving line launched in the United States in mid-2012.  That same year, the Dreadnought Spartan Double Edge Razor was the named winner of the 2012 Readers’ Choice Award for “best wet shaving razor.”   I got mine around the spring of 2013 and it's been in the rotation ever since.  Admittedly, since I've picked up some more razors over the years, my Spartan double edge hasn't been coming up to the top of the order as regularly as it once did.  

Dreadnought's Spartan Double Edge Razor
The Dreadnought Spartan is a three piece razor with a polished chrome plating finish and features the Dreadnought logo on the cap.   It measures roughly 3.75 inches from end to end and weighs approximately 2.6 oz (according to our scale).

The Edwin Jagger DE89 (left) and Dreadnought Spartan both measure about 3.75"  
There are some wet shaving forum threads and even some YouTube videos noting that this the Spartan DE razor is the same razor as the Edwin Jagger DE89, except that it has the Dreadnought logo printed on it.  While they are the same style, size, and weight I have not personally seen Edwin Jagger or Dreadnought state who manufacture’s the Spartan.  So, this is something that wet shavers will have to draw their own conclusions on. 

Edwin Jagger DE 89 weighs 2.6 oz, which was the same weight as the Dreadnought Spartan
Regardless of who makes it, I do like this Razor.  I personally find that it is not an aggressive razor.  As with most mild razors in my den, I find that I can use it with just about any razor blade.   So if I’m going to be trying out a new DE Blade, I won’t reach for my iKon Tech or Muhle R41.  Rather, I’d reach out for something like the Dreadnought Spartan.   

Have you tried the Dreadnought Spartan Double Edge Razor?  Please leave us a comment  below and let us know.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Body Shop Synthetic Shave Brush

September 24, 2017 0
On vacation I realized while en route that I had my shave soap, razor, blades, headblade, alum block, and aftershave.  However, absent from the list was a shave brush.   Fortunately, The Body Shop Store at the Philadelphia International Airport happened to have a nice, wood handled, synthetic shave brush at a decent price.  While I use a synthetic brush on occasion, I do tend to prefer a badger brush.  I was on the verge of putting this back on the shelf thinking the local Target would have Van der Hagen Badger Brush.   Because it was reasonably priced (I think I paid about $12.00), my girlfriend (now fiancée) insisted I get it just in case I couldn’t find a badger brush when we reached our destination.  Wouldn’t you know it … Target didn’t have it in stock.
The Body Shop Synthetic Shave Brush
One of the positives with a synthetic brush is that it didn’t stink when using it the first few times.  I was just able to wet it, load it, and off I went.  The bristles on this brush are rather soft and the wood handle, even though light, feels pretty solid.  It measures roughly 4.25 inches (approximately 108 mm) in height with the knot measuring about 20 mm.  The Body Shop Synthetic shave brush weighed about 1.5 oz according to our scale.   Dimension and weight-wise it was in the ballpark of my Vulfix 2006 brush; which measures about 97 mm in height with a knot of about 19mm and a total weight of about 1.6 oz.  
The Body Shop Brush is roughly the size and weight of my Vulfix 2006 Shave Brush
I tend to soak it or rinse a synthetic brush in hot water for about ten seconds or so to wet it.  It holds water differently than my badger or boar brushes; so I only gently shake out excess water.  For me, shaking a synthetic brush a little too rigorously doesn’t leave it with an adequate amount of water to build a workable lather.   The Body Shop’s Shave Brush doesn’t splay as easily as, for example, my Fine Accoutrements Badger Brush. So, I have to use a little more effort when loading the brush or face lathering.  And perhaps it’s my technique, but with this brush I find it easier to load and build a lather with a cream rather than a soap.   
Takes me a little more effort with a synthetic shave brush, but still able to build a nice lather 
For me, synthetics don’t seem to hold soap as well as other brushes.  It’s not a terrible thing, given the price.  But as with other synthetic brushes that I’ve used, I will tend to reload The Body Shop Shave Brush for my second pass on my head and face.
The only downside is that water seemed to get under the finish; leaving a ring at the base of the knot.
While I like the synthetic brushes that I’ve tried thus far, I don’t typically reach for them first.  If I’m pressed for time in the morning (which is often the case with me), I just reach for a badger brush due to ease and familiarity.
The Body Shop Shave Brush: an impulse buy since I forgot my shave brush while on vacation 
For the price, and considering the circumstances, I thought The Body Shop Synthetic Shave Brush was a good buy.  It was lightweight and kind of compact so it didn’t take up too much space in the dopp kit; it performed ok; and it was reasonably priced.  The only downside that I encountered is that it looks like water can seep into the finish near the base of the knot.  It doesn’t seem to be progressing further than what’s pictured, but this could change of the course of more uses.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Captain's Choice 45th Parallel Aftershave Splash

August 20, 2017 0
While the shaving soap and cream had been out for a while; Captain’s Choice recently released their 45th Parallel Aftershave Splash to round out the line.  On their website they noted: the 45th Parallel North is halfway between the Equator and the North Pole, while 45th Parallel South is halfway between the Equator and the South Pole.  Home to orchards in the north and oceans in the south, 45th Parallel captures perfectly the essence of this scent and the spirit of adventure embodied by Captain's Choice.

45th Parallel: Almond and Cherry scented 

To my nose the Bay Rum, Cat O’ Nine Tails, Lime, North, and Sandalwood have, what I could only describe, as a similar “base”.  Each one seems to have a spiciness to it that seems to characterize a Captain’s Choice Aftershave.  I find that the 45th Parallel is a departure from their other aromas in the Captain’s Choice Aftershave catalog.

My Collection of Captain's Choice Aftershave Splashes

In a post on their Facebook page, Captain Choice notes that their 45th Parallel is infused with scents of almonds and cherries.  Personally, I think would make a nice complementary pairing to RazoRock Classic or P.160, Cella, or Col Conk’s Almond Shave Soap.  Captain’s Choice also has a 45th Parallel Shave Soap, Shave Cream, and Aftershave Balm as well. 

Captain's Choice 45th Parallel Shaving Soap
With the 45th Parallel Aftershave, I experienced a brief sting along with a cooling and soothing burn to it.  The sting and burn is similar to that of the other Captain’s Aftershave Splashes - not including Cat O’Nine Tails of course.  As with the others, the 45th Parallel Aftershave is formulated with glycerin to help retain moisture.  Though, I personally still feel the need to use a facial lotion after using any aftershave splash (or even balm) to satisfy my skin.
45th Parallel paired nicely with RazoRock's P.160 (my opinion)

Scent-wise it seems to dissipate quickly after applying.  While some scents linger, the 45th Parallel is one that doesn’t last long for me.  Soon after applying, I find that it’s pretty much gone (or perhaps my nose just gets adjusted to it quicker).  I don’t find this to be a bad thing.  While I like the sweetness of it, I think I could get sick of it lingered around for too long.

45th Parallel is also available in an aftershave balm
Overall, I really like the 45th Parallel aftershave.  The sweet almond scent is very pleasant.  Even though the aroma doesn’t last long, I get a satisfying sting and burn that I often enjoy with an aftershave splash. 

Have you tried the 45th Parallel or any of the Captain’s Choice Aftershaves?  Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think.