Common Shaving Problems: Hard Water and Insufficient Lather

A sharp straight razor, brush and soap

As a wet shaver, you consciously anticipate several variables – the type of razor, the sharpness of the blade, the type of shaving cream or soap, etc. All of these pieces add up to a wet shave that suits your tastes. But have you ever considered the hardness of your water? When it comes to traditional shaving, the quality of your water has everything to do with the shaving experience and outcome.

Read on to see how hard water affects your shave, how to test for hard water, and how to remedy the situation.

What is hard water, and why does it affect shaving?

Hard water is water with high mineral content, formed when water percolates through deposits of chalk-containing minerals such as calcium and magnesium. It’s what causes soap scum and buildup on your faucets and shower heads.

If you combine hard water with shaving soap, you’ll notice a distinct lack of lather because of the minerals in the water reacting with the soap. Insufficient lather, of course, causes the blade to pull and tug at your beard rather than giving you a crisp cut.

Hard water’s affect on shaving is not as obvious if you use a shaving cream, since shaving creams already contain some water.

The ideal water for wet shaving is distilled water, which contains lots of free water (i.e. water not keeping other things in solution). Only a small amount is required for a complete shave.

How do I know if I have hard water?

To test if your water is hard, simply purchase some distilled water and try shaving with it; if you get a much better lather, you probably have hard water at home. Also, you’ll know if you have hard water if you notice slimy soap scum that clings to your sink after you shave.

In addition to producing lackluster lather, hard water can actually ruin your shaving brush and razor because the minerals will cling and erode.

Tip: Make sure that you’re lathering correctly – press your brush firmly into the soap and stroke for 20-30 seconds until all the bubbles are gone and you end up with a thick lather.

What can I do if my house/apartment has hard water?

That depends on how much time and money you’re willing to invest. For a quick and cost-effective solution, you can purchase a gallon of distilled water for about $2. It only takes about ½ cup total to soak the brush, wet the bar, wash your beard, and rinse, so that gallon can last quite a few shaves.

If you want a long term solution, you can install a water softener.

Alternatively, if neither of the above solutions sounds that great, you can always use shaving cream, which is much easier to lather than hard soaps. Our customers have given high praises for Taylor of Old Bond Street Luxury Shaving Cream Bowl.

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Shaving Your Beard for Summer? Read This First

While your beard once seemed like a good idea when the leaves were falling and 70% of your wardrobe consisted of long-sleeved plaid shirts, we’re willing to bet it’s feeling a little more stuffy now. When it’s hot and humid outside, the last thing you want is an extra layer of insulation. So around this time of year, many men make the decision to do away with their winter coats.

But before you touch that razor, there are a few considerations you should take into account. Since you spent at least couple of months growing that thing, unfortunately you can’t just shave everything off and expect your face to look exactly as it did pre-beard.

To ensure a seamless transition into a smooth, clean-shaven summer, read on for tips on how to shave your beard off with minimal discomfort, with a few portions abridged from Mike Gilman, founder of Groominglounge.com, via Men’s Journal.

What to expect: Differently colored skin under the beard

Solution:

Should you get a fair amount of sun exposure pre-shave, there’s a chance that once your beard comes off, the skin underneath will look ghostly pale in comparison. The only short-term solution may be cosmetics – Gilman recommends borrowing your wife’s tinted moisturizer for a day to blend the two skin zones together.

If you’d rather not go near the vanity, we suggest you suck it up for a day or two – the lighter skin will pick up pigment once you spend some time in the sun.

What to expect: Having to trim before you shave

Solution:

You shouldn’t take off your beard in one go. In fact, if your beard is longer than half an inch, trying to do so could give you lots of nicks and cuts, because the razor will fill up with long hair and end up pulling on your skin and hair. To make things easier, first whittle your beard down with scissors or a trimmer. This will make your razor far more effective, and save you some collateral damage.

What to expect: Prep work for the smoothest shave possible

Solution:

The best time to shave is right after the shower, when the natural steam will open up your pores and make your hair softer. Always shave with the grain, and use a razor that won’t tug on skin – we recommend the Merkur 34C HD Chrome Plated Safety Razor or the Dovo Best Quality, Half Hollow Carbon Steel, 5/8”, both of which are top-rated razors on RoyalShave.

Gilman says to “choose a quality shaving oil to ensure a smoother razor glide and less friction.” Our recommendation? Proraso Pre-Shave Cream in Menthol and Eucalyptus never fails to soften your beard, and can actually be used after your shave as a moisturizer.

What to expect: Dry skin after your beard comes off

Solution:

For a while, the skin that was under your beard will be drier than the rest of your face. So the first couple of post-beard shaves can be tricky. To minimize irritation and inflammation once you put razor to face, use a thick, lather-rich shaving cream (like Taylor of Old Bond Street Luxury Shaving Cream Bowl) and finish with a hydrating post-shave product (like Piccadilly Shaving Co. Sandalwood Aftershave Cream).

Feel free to overcompensate with post-shave creams and lotions, since your dehydrated skin will drink them right up. Try to avoid aftershaves with alcohol as they’ll sting and dry out your skin even further.

And if you’re one to think ahead, when fall rolls around in a few months, apply beard oil to your beard daily. Beard oil is your most effective tool for moisturizing your beard and the skin underneath, so your entire facial hair region will be in good shape. Try Grave Before Shave Beard Oil, which moisturizes and prevents dandruff.

What to expect: Unwillingness to part with the beard

If you’re attached to your beard, there’s no need to completely do away with it. Gilman suggests going to a barber for a comely trim, so you can have your beard without breaking into a sweat constantly.

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And the Winner is…

RoyalShave

Congratulations to Egwin Loya, winner of our RoyalShave Father’s Day Giveaway!

Loya blew us away with his touching photo and caption about his service to our country and sharing the value of honor with his daughter. He will be receiving our extensive Father’s Day wet shaving prize!

Loya’s Caption:

This is my daughter and I at ground zero memorial in New York. I served and deployed in the Marine Corps for both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. It has been a privilege and an honor to serve my country. But, the greatest satisfaction comes from sharing with my daughter what it means to honor fallen hero’s and what it means to be an American. Unfortunately, I will not be teaching her how to wet shave in the future. I would not have it any other way.

We received an overwhelming number of great entries, so we decided to also select 3 runner ups, each of whom will receive a special prize pack!

Our Runner Ups:

Michael Torregiano (Facebook)

Josh White (Facebook)

Jon Hyrk (Instagram)

Thank you to everyone who entered – we appreciated all of your entries!

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The RoyalShave Giveaway: We’re Loving Your Father’s Day Photos!

It’s down to the wire, folks! Father’s Day is this Sunday – and so is the last day of our Father’s Day Giveaway, which is our biggest giveaway to date.

In case you’d like to get your shot at the prize, entering is easy – just post a photo to our Facebook or tag us on an Instagram photo that’s Father’s Day-related. See full details on our Father’s Day Giveaway post here.

The winner will receive a luxurious Old World shaving package filled with full-sized products – including Truefitt & Hill Cologne in Grafton and The Art of Shaving Pre-Shave Oil in Lemon – and deluxe samples from some of our bestselling brands.

We’ve been enjoying the submissions we’ve received so far via Instagram and Facebook, and wanted to share a few with you below! We are truly touched by these heartfelt moments.Matt Shutt

(Via Facebook user Matt Shut)

Caption: My first born son, Quentin Shutt. This was a proud moment in 1977. Now fast forward to 2015 and he has turned into one of the best fathers I know with 2 sons of his own.

Michael Torregiano

(Via Facebook user Michael Torregiano)

Caption: Love being this little girl’s daddy. She is fascinated with all of daddy’s shaving stuff, as she calls it. I enjoy when she joins me for a shave. Even if you have a little girl, you can still share this hobby with her. I may have accidentally posted this without finishing the first time. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads.

Jon Hyrk

(Via Instagram user @jonhyrk)

Caption: @royalshave, just yesterday my #father celebrated #50 years of marriage. I honestly can not imagine a world without him. He’s truly my #hero and #rolemodel. If I can be #half the man he is I’ll be a great man. #royalshavegiveaway. #beards #pipes

James Sparks

(Via Facebook user James Sparks)

Caption: This photo was taken exactly one month after the passing of my father. This silly dad breakfast at daycare was like eating with the President. These boys are my rock!

Jodee Ungs

(Via Facebook user Jodee Ungs)

Caption: This is where I get my goofiness! My Dad! Happy Father’s Day to him and all the Dads out there!

SBrouwers

(Via Instagram user @sbrouwers)

Caption: Teaching my daughter to fly fish. Just a couple casts and she caught her first (of many) Brook trout that day! Teaching her the things my dad taught me. #RoyalShaveGiveaway #brooktrout #flyfishing

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