Boys and Their B.L.A.D.E.S. (Part 3--Acronyms & Diversity)

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by Carrie

Darren and I were asked to give a talk on shaving at the recent Alabama Soap & Candle Meeting.  Our presentation was entitled, "Boys and Their B.L.A.D.E.S.: Gaining a Cutting Edge in the Wet Shaving Community" and this series of blog posts shares some of the highlights from our session.  Today's post is Part 3---Acronyms and Diversity. (Also check out Part 1 and Part 2.)

Since most people reading this are probably familiar with the next 2 sections of our presentation, I'm combining them in this post.

A few of the artisan shaving soaps that we currently have in our den

Acronyms of Traditional Wet Shaving

If you visit an online group or forum for most any topic or hobby, you're bound to run into some community-specific shorthand.  Shaving worlds have many acrynoms and we were able to share a few with our listeners, in an effort to give them a working knowledge of the language they would encounter:

  • SOTD - Shave of the Day
  • WTG - With the Grain
  • XTG - Across the Grain
  • ATG - Against the Grain
  • YMMV - Your Mileage May Vary
  • BBS - Baby Butt Smooth (this is the goal of shaving)
  • SWMBO - She Who Must Be Obeyed  (This, of course, if referring to the shaving spouse).  Darren expounded on this phrase a bit, explaining that some shavers have "less than supporting" spouses and so shaving can be a touchy subject.  It was priceless to see the looks on some of the faces when Darren told them that some men go to great lengths to hide their addiction to shaving supplies....even packing their gear in empty suitcases and stashing them under beds in an effort to keep their wife from discovering how many shaving products they actually own!


Diversity (Types of Shaving Soaps)

In the soapmaking world, discussions about what type of soap you make can get pretty heated.  Makers are defensive of "their" type of soap, often at the insult or injury of others.  So Darren's first point (for this section of the presentation) was an important one to a room full of soapmakers:  NO FIGHTING ALLOWED!!!

A few of the things he discussed included:

  • Melt and Pour (M&P).  One of the key ways to spot a M&P soap is if Sorbital is included on the ingredient list.  Some people automatically write off a M&P soap when they're looking for shaving products, but there are some well respected ones on the market.  For consumers who want to know, they can ask the artisan or become familiar with the ingredient list.
  • Vegan vs. Tallow.  This can be a huge platform for debate among shavers.  For some, it's a line in the sand:  one group is adamantly against using any product containing animal ingredients and one group will not even try a shaving soap unless it contains tallow.  They key for a soapmaker who is thinking about making shaving soap is to know their customer and formulate accordingly. 
  • Hot vs. Cold Process.  There are a number of different methods making shaving soap, but most approaches are built on the foundation of one of these two processes.  Neither one inherently makes a "better" end product, but the ingredients and formulation may influence which process the soapmaker needs to use in order to achieve the consistency they need for working with their soap batter. 
  • Forms.  Pucks, jars, tubs, tins....there are many different forms a shaving soap can take and a variety of packaging options that influence how the soap is protected, transferred, and used by the consumer.  Some important factors for the makers to are you getting the soap into the mold/container?  How will the shaver be using the soap (in the container?  transferring to a mug/bowl?)  How will the container be stored?  Is it rust-proof?  Waterproof?  Is it easy or difficult to handle?  What does it look like on a shelf?
  • Texture & Firmness.  Darren briefly touched on the differences between Italian (hard) and French (soft) style shaving soaps, and the wide variety between super firm triple-milled soaps and some super soft ones that you can stick a finger through without resistance.  (If you want to know more about the differences between soaps, creams, and croaps, check out this post by fellow soapmaker and friend, Amanda Stott.)

Once we had everyone speaking the same language, it was time to Explore!

There are so many other acronyms in the wetshaving world!  Comment below to add to the list.




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