Cowboy got me hooked on The Art of Shaving products after I voiced great displeasure seeing the mass quantities of disposable razors I use in a year. Cowboy introduced me to the safety razor which use small disposable dual sided safety blades (I use Merkur double edge SS blades). They are more economical and less wasteful than those flimsy molded plastic razors. You can find a pack of safety blades cheap at your local grocery store. They are packaged in a compact container that allows you to deposit a used blade in one side, then flip it over, and pull out a fresh razor from the other side.Very convenient, especially for traveling, and the blades can be used multiple times before discarding.
Using the safety razor for the first time was a bit scary for me when trying to manipulate this sturdy metal razor around delicate areas and bony prominences. Many years ago, I carved out a piece of flesh along my shin. **shudder** twice. I did nick myself a few minor times, mostly on the knee and ankle area, but it got easier the more I used it. The weight of the razor proved to be beneficial by not requiring much pressure against the skin to remove the hair.
I really enjoy using the AOS shaving cream with my badger hair brush. The lather is creamy with a very delicate scent. When using a brush, you need just a tiny dollop of cream about the size of a dime per leg versus the huge handful needed of foam or gel you buy in the can. Honestly, I can't stand the texture or smell of those aerosol creams and they tend to leave me with severely dry skin.
Eventually, I started buying The Art of Shaving's shaving cream in "unscented" and adding my own essential oils to it. Last week I finished off my tub of shaving cream and started dipping into Cowboy's man-scented tub in an emergency. With our busy schedule I haven't had time to run down to the mall to pick up more. I began to ruminate: could I make my own? Off to do some deep searching through my books for a recipe...
Sure enough, in one of my favorite DIY books: Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond I found just what I was looking for! There were a couple of recipes for homemade shaving cream so I picked two and pulled out the ingredients. The first one was a basic creamy recipe. I am still up in the air about this one as it didn't set very well and when I shaved with it (using a plastic disposable for a trial), it gunked up my razor something fierce. I did like the initial feel of the cream though. It was light, fluffy, and made my legs feel nice. I am going to attempt to make it once more and adjust the recipe with less beeswax to see if that makes a significant difference.
The second recipe was for Mug Shaving Cream. It lacked beeswax, but had very simple ingredients: grated castille soap, water, cocoa butter, glycerin, and essential oils. The result?
Oh I am very excited about this one. It turned out incredibly silky and creamy.
Homemade Shaving Cream
8 oz. grated castille soap (I used Dr. Bronner's. I finely grated a bar of baby soap and a little bit of a lavender bar)
8 oz. distilled water (the original recipe calls for rose water, but I felt that a bit too lady like for Cowboy)
2 oz. cocoa butter (I used wafers)
4 oz. vegetable glycerin
Place soap and water in a container, cover and let rest overnight. The next day, melt cocoa butter and glycerin in a double boiler. As soon as they are melted, add to soap and blend with a hand mixer until creamy. Mix in essential oils and transfer shaving cream to a lidded container or mug/bowl of choice. For me, this made enough for two glass jars.
Changes: Although I love the smell of cocoa butter, it tends to overpower any essential oils. If you use cocoa butter, I would suggest choosing an oil that marries well with cocoa such as orange and/or vanilla. Next time I am going to experiment using coconut oil, Illipe butter, Kokom butter, or Mango butter. I might try Shea also, however Shea tends to be a much softer butter and might not set as well. The other four butters are harder and easily interchanged with Cocoa butter with less scent. I get my butters, herbs, and essential oils either from Mountain Rose Herbs online or Rebecca's Apothecary in Boulder.
I used the shaving cream tonight and was very impressed (more impressed than with the first recipe by far). Instead of using a disposable razor for a trial I went straight for my safety razor and brush. With AOS cream you dip your finger into the shaving cream and just put a little dollop on your moistened brush then lather. With this homemade recipe, the cream is a bit firmer and therefore kind of chunks/crumbles if you try to pull out a "dollop". True to its name, you have to moisten your brush and swirl it on the surface of the cream. This creates a nice lather on your brush which is easily transferred to your skin.
- mug shaving cream lathered up super nice and stayed lathered. I divided my leg up into "parts" and lathered only that part until I finished shaving it then moved on to the next part. This worked well and the lather didn't dry out.
-with the AOS cream I found that if I lathered, put down the brush, then went to lather again a bit later I had to add more cream to it or else it wouldn't lather properly. With the mug shaving cream, this wasn't so. My brush stayed perfectly lathered and ready to use without having to dip into the container again.
-legs felt great after shaving. Nice close shave, very little cream needed for effect, no nicks. I can't say much about dryness since I tend to slather on the lotion like crazy. Of course, living in dry Colorado you kind of have to. However, I didn't feel I needed to reapply the lotion an hour later (have to do this if I use the nasty aerosol crap).
I will update the blog with a price comparison, but right off the bat I can tell you that this recipe (making two containers) is significantly cheaper than the one 5oz tub of AOS that I buy for $22 a pop. No more buying shaving cream for us...