How to Choose Your Shaving Bowl
The first thing to know is that there are two types of bowls: those meant for you to store the soap in an elegant way, and those that allow you to work up the lather. The latter are sometimes also called lathering bowls.
You can find shaving bowls in many different shapes, sizes, and materials. We prefer handmade pieces as they are not only beautiful to look at, but they also have value beyond function. The value given by the artisans that design them and make them.
Choosing the perfect shaving bowl is not complicated. First and foremost, look for a beautiful piece that you like and makes you look forward to using it. This for us, this truly the most important consideration. If you don’t like your tools you will end up not using them and will become clutter. On the practical side, there are two things to look at: material and size.
Material | Shaving bowls are usually made of ceramic, metal, plastic or wood. Each material has particular qualities that will help you decide which one is best for you.
Ceramic bowls are our preferred material at Fitjar Islands because they are easy to clean and retain no odour. Also, depending on the finish and the texture given to them, they will help to build up a luxurious lather by creating friction between the cream or soap and the brush. Additionally, ceramic retains heat very well, so if you like your lather to be pleasantly warm before applying it to your face, then a ceramic bowl is the best choice. The Fitjar Islands’ Shaving Bowls are made of porcelain, which is the strongest of all the ceramic materials. They will of course break if you accidentally miss them on the bathroom tiles. However, this probably will rarely happen. The size and finish of our bowls are thought to let you have a strong grip so you don’t lose them easily. Also, when you have a beautiful piece that you want to preserve, you will be naturally more careful.
If your main concern is breakage then plastic, metal, or wood are the materials you may want to look into.
Plastic is the cheapest option available; it is light and durable, so the bowls made in this material are perfect for traveling. But plastic does not retain heat well and unless it has been given a ridged texture, they do not offer enough friction to help build up the lather. Also, they are generally mass-produced, and not design pieces with unique added value.
Metal bowls can also be quite affordable and are widely available. Many traditional shaving soap brands will have one in their range because they are durable and better looking than plastic. However, this is not our material of choice because the smooth surface doesn’t add anything to the lathering process. Lathering up in a metal bowl feels as if the brush is gliding around it without any friction, which doubles the time it takes to build your lather up. As with plastic, they have poor heat retention so your lather will be cold halfway through the lathering process.
Wooden bowls are beautiful pieces that add a touch of luxury to any collection. Depending on the style of the bowl, the wood texture will aid the lathering process. Wood is also a heat-retaining material that feels warm and soft to the touch, adding to the overall experience. Yet, wood absorbs moisture, and regardless of the finishing lacquer applied to protect them, if they are not let to dry properly, the woold will look different and can develop a smell that interferes with the smell of the soap over time. Some users find this wood smell very appealing as it brings them back in time when traditional shaving soap was used in every household, but if you prefer the fragrance of your soap to remain as it should be, a wooden bowl may not be the option to go for.
Size | Size is also important when choosing your shaving bowl. You want to look for a piece that is small enough to sit comfortably in your hand so you have a good grip that feels natural when you vigorously work up the lather, but big enough to allow for the circular motions to of the brush to be smooth and efficient and to you to let you build up enough lather inside it. A smaller bowl that is not too heavy is also better if you are bringing your bowl with you when traveling.
You also may want to choose the perfect shaving bowl depending on the brush you use. If your preferred brush is low and with a short handle, then a bowl with lower walls will be better suited as the brush handle will not crash with the sides. If your preferred brush is big and tall then a bigger bowl may be a better option. If you want to test the height before buying find a bowl from the cupboard with a similar height and do a test. if you feel that the brush is crashing on the sides, then go for a lower option.
Fitjar Islands has two lathering bowls to choose from. The Sarah Reed Lathering Bowl is a palm-sized bowl with high walls that allow you to build a large amount of lather without running over the sides. This is a bowl with a smooth semi-matte glaze on the inside that is not abrasive to the brush. The Rita Lysebo Egren Lathering Bowl is also a palm-sized bowl, which is slightly lower that allows you to move the brush freely and vigorously inside it. It has a more textured finish on the inside and a ridged pattern that will help to build up the lather. This is a sturdier and smaller bowl that will be better for traveling.