The BAUME.BE log

The quest for the greatest shave

Horizontal or vertical print on handles

I need to ask you something. In intend to come up with a new brush with black horse hairs. But before I can show the final result and tell you more about it, the producer of the brushes drops me an e-mail with a simple question: “What do you prefer?”.  And frankly, I have no idea.

So your help would be appreciated. Could you kindly indicate on the poll below what do you prefer. Just your personal intuition. The left example, with the logo horizontal print on the handle? Or the right example, with the razor beneath the BAUME.BE letters. Thank you!

Shaving and skin condition

26BD61BF00000578-2999247-When_hydrated_skin_is_also_tighter_an_image_of_the_skin_is_shown-a-62_1426616120335After years of struggling with skin irritation, I eventually experienced better results  shaving with an open razor or safety razor in combination with selected cosmetics. That was after years of experimenting. I remember using expensive creams that I found in my wife’s sponge bag. These creams were such a relief. The rash disappeared. The itching stopped. But my wife started to complain 😉

But there is now scientific proof to support that wet shaving has a positive effect on the skin condition. It seems that the condition of the skin also impacts the quality of the shave.  This phenomenon is explained in a Gillette White Paper The “multi-step process of skin prepping” shows to be the best regimen. If you prepare your skin, pay attention to the lathering and treat yourself with a moisturizing after shave you will improve the overall shave experience. The research of P&G Grooming showed that this combination results in a homogenous stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin). These findings support my own experience. Except for the fact that I can’t use P&G products for obvious reasons. They irritate my skin and I developed my own. But as far as my skin is concerned, I can only agree with the regimen of wet shaving, which is:

  • Take your time!
  • Make sure your skin is clean and ready before you start shaving. Most men shave immediately after showering.
  •  Use a pre shave to prepare your skin. BAUME.BE has a pre shave gel because I found it easier to use than creams or oils.
  • Take care of the lather. You need a watery foam so the beard hairs can easily absorb the water which makes the shave comfortable and minimizes the impact on the skin.
  • Use a moisturizing after shave that does not irritate your skin.

But there still are issues. Like trapped hairs. Especially in the neck are. In this article Insights into shaving and its impact on skin published in the British Journal of Dermatology researchers studied the physiology of the male beard. There is a difference in skin roughness between cheeks and the neck which might cause “trapped” hairs. Personally, I have never experienced this problem. But I do recognize having difficulties in the neck area. I don’t seem to get the same smoothness as on the cheeks without damaging the skin.

All this knowledge makes this quest such an interesting journey. Many men have neglected the shaving ritual and tried to minimize the time spending on what they considered the necessary evil of removing beard hair. The revival of the classic shaving ritual is not merely nostalgia. There is scientific proof that it is better for the condition of your skin and…your wallet. And, as the research shows, in the areas with rougher skin like the neck, there is still room for improvement.

Skin irritation or allergy?

irritation-clipart-11949848691935743785irritant_yves_guillou_01.svg.hiSome weeks ago I received an e-mail from someone inquiring whether the fragrances used in BAUME.BE contained ingredients from the fragrance mix. The fragrance mix is a mixture of individual ingredients that is used to screen for fragrance allergy.

In 1999 the E.U. identified, a set of 26 fragrance allergens. These allergens are substances that have a well-recognised potential to cause allergy. And these allergens should be mentioned on the labels of the products containing them to consumers when their concentration exceeds 0,001 %. You will find more on the subject on this page of the European Commission. In all honesty, I had to admit to the unfortunate man that the Aftershave Balm could be considered a risk. But, wait a minute! How do I explain this?  Didn’t I develop a product to help me overcome my own skin condition? The fragrance of the aftershave does contain an allergen?

There is a difference between an irritation and an allergy. Skin irritation or contact irritant dermatitis results from contact with a substance or surface known as the irritant. It is recognized by causing a rash on the skin. A good example is aftershave with alcohol. It would irritate my skin for sure, but not necessarily yours.

An allergy however is an abnormal reaction by the immune system of an individual to a substance. This is less common than irritation but it is also essentially different. From studies performed on sectors of the population it can be estimated that the frequency of contact allergy to fragrance ingredients in the general population in Europe is 1-3%(Source: EU).

And that explains why I have satisfied customers with skin transplantations, psoriasis, contact dermatitis and normal and healthy skins. And why in some cases I can’t help people with specific allergies. And I need to be brutally honest about that. But it might help you to discover what works for you. I will elaborate more on skin issues in future blogs. Take care!

Brushes other than badger & boar?

Synthetic hairs

Synthetic hairs

A while back I spoke to a French reseller of shaving products on brushes. If men talk about shaving brushes, they end up comparing badger and boar brushes. The boar brush is certainly not inferior. But the smoother hair doesn’t retain water as well as the badger brush. The shaving experience is different. Badger hair is much more pleasant to touch the face and to lather. Anyway, my French customer heard of an owner of a reputable brand who would only use a brush with synthetic hairs!

Really? How is that even possible? I give classes on a monthly basis on the subject. So far, I made fun of the synthetic brush. It is plastic material to begin with. And they are dyed in badger colours to make them look like badger brushes. Wouldn’t that be something for vegetarians and tree huggers?

Vie-Long

Vie-Long

But I was wrong. My first experience with synthetic brushes was an Omega Hi Brush. Now this product didn’t help me to get rid of my prejudices. The hairs are too rigid, too smooth and it’s no fun to use. My hand was all wet while lathering. And mind you. Water is essential in the lathering process. The brush needs to transfer the water, soap and foam to moisture and saturate the facial hair. A second experience with a Silvertip Fiber Muhle was completely different. It proofed to be an excellent substitute for a badger brush. What a surpise!
But there is also another fantastic subsitute. A brush made of horsehair. I believe there is only one brand actually producing these: Vie-Long from Spain. In combination with glycerin soap it produces a superbe lather.

So, there is more than just badger or boar I realize now.

Shaving Soap DIY

20150721_173255This year our holiday brought us to Greek Islands. Sea and sunny beaches. Not my cup of tea exactly. But, I am a family man and sometimes just follow what the wife and daughter come up with. In Crete I discovered this very sympathetic soap workshop called Fisika.  They also have a shaving soap. The basic ingredient there is Cretan olive oil. So I wondered whether that would make a good lather. To my surprise, it does. The texture is similar to a glycerine soap. More importantly, it is a good treat for your skin.

Back home I wondered if I couldn’t make a similar soap myself. There is functional difference between ordinary toilet soap and shaving soap. Toilet soap is used to degrease and clean your skin. Shaving soap needs to oversaturate your facial hear and is a lubricant to help the razor glide smoothly over your skin. Olive oil is excellent as a lubricant, but won’t give you a nice lather. You need coconut oil to get a foam rich of water.
Making your own soap is not too difficult. You can buy the ingredients online and find instructions (Check soap making resource). Just make sure you won’t be disturbed by any pets or children in the process. Caustic Soda (Sodium Hydroxide or NaOH) mixed with water might cause serious burn injuries . But the result, after some weeks of saponification, is always rewarding.

So, here is my recipe for this experiment:

Olive oil, 338 gr
Coconut oil, 150 gr
Castor Oil, 150 gr
Palmbutter, 60 gr
Avocado Oil, 20 gr
Carrot Oil, 20 gr
Caustic Soda, 113 gr
Water, 306 gr
Bentonite clay, 1 spoon
Lemongrass Essential oil for the scent

20150815_131114Rich lather self-made shaving soap

Rewarding result of selfmade shaving soap

Look and feel awesome

Earlier this year I started to have a interesting conversation with Greg from MenEssentials USA. The concept of the store sounded familiar to my own experience back home in Antwerp (Messenwinkel). Offering products is not so difficult nor differentiating. The internet is full of it. But if you can offer experiences, information, service and workshops you can make a difference. It is a belief and insight I got from my own B2B services background.

So, when Greg, the owner, explained he was planning to open such a store where a man could have look, ask information and even chill for a while I  wanted to see that for myself. All reasons to go to California are good. And being a continental European I knew already that Americans were crazy. And now, I know now for sure that they are. In a good way. The enthusiasm of the Men Essentials team was contagious. And I discovered some American shaving brands that I can appreciate and recommend.

The interior is clean, modern but not to fashionable and a place where a man can kill some time. The collection of products is impressive and I can only be proud that BAUME.BE is part of it. I also had some marketing lessons. They have a youtube channel consisting of already over 40 video clips. When I was there they took the time to interview me. I felt like a Hollywood Movie Star.

MenEssentials. Thank you for making me look and feel awesome.

Razors in the luggage?

TSA checkTwo weeks ago I was returning from a trip to the US and had a connecting flight in London Heathrow. And so I had to pass the security once more before waiting for my final connecting flight to Brussels. An American passenger was carrying a Swiss Army knife. The security officer checked the knife but didn’t know what to do with it. Confiscate or ask a colleague for help? I started laughing with disbelief. But the passenger said he had no trouble to take it with him when he checked in in Newark.  The supervising security colleague solved the issue by just nodding. The traveler was allowed to carry on… with his knife. Really? A couple of years ago a pair of nail scissors were confiscated from me in the States. And in all these years I became very careful with shaving items and liquids in the hand baggage.

Time to check the regulations on this matter on the TSA-website (Transportation Security Administration from the U.S. department Homeland Security). You will find an easy tool where you can question if your item will pass or not. A straight razor is allowed in checked baggage only, not in hand luggage. A safety razor on the other hand is allowed in both checked and carry-on baggage. But other countries can be even more strict. Sometimes not even the safety razor is allowed because you can remove the blade. In that case you need to use… a disposable razor. Poor devil!

My advice? Better put all your shaving gear in the checked baggage, to be on the safe side. If you want to travel only with carry-on baggage, know that a safety razor might be a risk if you can read these experiences on Tripadvisor. But then liquids are a problem. How do you divide 100 ml liquids between tooth paste, shaving cream and aftershave?

Enjoy your holiday!

 

The BAUME.BE fragrances

BAUME.BE fragrance Aftershave Balm“How would you describe the fragrance?”. This is question I sometimes receive from webshop dealers.  That is probably the most difficult question to answer because we all make different associations when it comes to describing flavors. Professional perfumists use a kind of code language. They categorize scents in families and speak about top, middle and base notes. A top note is your very first impression in your nose. A middle note is the scent you notice after the first impression is gone. A base note is what remains after a couple of minutes. So, take for instance a typical British scent for shaving products like roses. Your first impression would be flowers and roses obviously (the top note). After that you might recognize other plants like fern or tobacco (middle). And eventually the scent has a woody impression, the base note.

The scent for shaving

So, what about BAUME.BE? The scent of the pre shave gel, shaving cream and shaving soap are the same. But the fragrance occurs to be different. The interaction of the scent with the ingredients and the quantity used is indeed different. Soaps require more perfume in order to keep up with the strength of the cream. If I would need to describe the smell of this scent, it is a flower and wood mix. Top notes are fresh, citrusy and spicy. Middle notes floral and woody. Base notes musky, amber and oak moss.

The scent after you are done shaving

As far as the aftershave is concerned, there is a resemblance. The scent is from the fougère fresh family. Top notes are grapefruit, lavender, mint and tea-like. Middle notes flowery, marine and tobacco leaves. Base notes woody (cedar, vetiver), tobacco, vanilla, tonka and musk.

Perfume: the ingredient

NeusI always try to combine business with pleasure. So a couple of weeks ago my wife and I followed a perfume workshop. Our teacher was a retired perfume trainer who worked for several perfume houses. She is so passionate about the world of fragrances that she even teaches children how to make their personal perfume with scents like “cucumber”, “newly cut grass” or even “roasted bread”. But, what we learnt was that perfume is in general an interesting and also intriguing domain of knowledge, because we all have certain preferences for specific scents, right? At least, I like to think that in judging a cosmetic product the smell is an important element.

That is why perfume is not only the base for eau de cologne, eau de parfum, etc. (which are basically variations on the quantity of perfume essence and alcohol). Perfume is also an ingrediënt used in cosmetics where it is added to convince the buyer… or to turn you off. It was a surprise for me to learn that most of the fragrances we know, consist of synthetic substances. Flowers usually are natural, but fruit or vegetables are not. Cucumber for example is definitely a synthetic perfume. Anyhow, during the development of my products I chose to use different scents for the Aftershave Balm and Shaving Cream. Some people don’t like that. They want the exact same scents in the complete line, like Tabac or Penhaligon’s. I do agree there has to be consistency between the scents, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be the same. And that is exactly what I tried to accomplish with BAUME.BE by using different perfumes. The scent is just part of the shaving experience. Since there is no alcohol being used, the scent vanishes fast. So you can still use a cologne if you would like. But don’t pore that on your fresh shaved skin to avoid irritation caused by the alcohol. In the next post I will try to describe the two BAUME.BE fragrances.

How and how much to use of the Pre Shave Gel?

You need to use more ;-)

You need to use more 😉

After the after shave and the shaving cream, I thought it was time for a pre shave! A grooming line with only two products, isn’t much of line, isn’t it?  Besides, some merchants told me that it would be a wise idea to launch the pre shave.
I like to experiment so I mixed a couple of oils together like castor oil, olive oil and almond oil with an essential oil of lavender. Easy to make and the result is an effective protection for the skin.  But, if you like to shave with a straight razor the skin stays greasy. And that is a problem because it is difficult to stretch the skin. So, I am not really a fan of oil based pre shaves.
The world famous pre shave cream of Proraso is, on the other hand, not really effective if you have a sensitive skin. If you would use a shaving cream based on shea butter and jojoba oil, I don’t see any reason to use it. However, if you have a sensitive skin and you would use a shaving soap, the skin tends to contract. The Pre Shave gives you an extra layer of protection to recover from your shaving ritual. Brilliant stuff, especially in the winter time when your skin is dryer.
The question than is. How much do you use of that stuff? You should use just a fingertip. Or, no no, to increase my business, you should use a fist full of Pre Shave Gel. No, only kidding. With 50 ml you should be fine for a complete season. It is after all just an extra layer of protection. So, go easy on the Pre Shave. Unless, you like to use a lot. In that case I reckon you also fill your complete tooth brush with paste. No, seriously. Fingertips only and apply it on the facial shaving zone. Nothing more, nothing less!

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