I received an email the other day asking whether I felt that face lathering is more effective than using a bowl to build lather. The answer of course is, if it feels better and is effective for you than yes, but in the end everyone is different and what one prefers another may detest. Personally, unless I am using my Arko Shave Stick, I like to use a bowl for making my lather. But there are positives and negatives to using the face lathering technique.
Taking a look at the positives:
Face lathering is practical. All one needs is a brush, some soap, a razor, a sink full of water and you are good to go. It is arguably quicker and leaves you with less to clean up once you have finished your shave.
The feel of face lathering. If you face lather you probably need to be a bit more vigorous with your brush to help build the lather. Generally, I use my boar or horse hair brush with face lathering and the stiffer hair feels good while providing some exfoliation.
Building lather using the face lathering method isn’t always the easiest to get right. Especially if you are just starting out with a brush and soap, using a bowl will prove somewhat easier in building a quality lather. The bowl is a bit more forgiving than your face, you can add water or product as needed with greater ease when using a bowl. Some people, when face lathering, experience lather that is a bit too wet (or too dry – slightly easier to correct). It is also easier to achieve consistent results using a shaving bowl.
I find that using creams like Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood, which I tend to use, is much simpler to build quality lather using a bowl versus using your face. Part of the reason is that I prefer to use my badger brush when using my cream, and partly due to the greater control I have using a bowl.
Finally I find that when I use a bowl to make my lather I am able to produce enough lather to last me three passes, which is not always the case when I face lather.
So, do I find face lathering more effective? Not really. When I do find it most effective is if I am in a rush, or perhaps on the road or vacation and I don’t want to bring along all of my gear.