Taking Blooming Back [Well, kinda] | How To Really Bloom A Shave Soap
Oddly enough, I have never really blogged about this wet shaving phenomenon...but the timing seems right now. "Blooming" is a term I gave the concept of a process I had been exploring way back in the early summer months of 2014. I made a video shortly after on Wet Blooming and then did a follow up vid the next year on Dry Blooming. The term quickly made its way into wet shaving vernacular thanks to youtubers like Nick Shaves and others around at that time.
My goal behind it was only ever to share a tip, a tip like the many others I had done and still do on youtube, this one just seemed to really catch attention and create controversy! A lot of this is due to the confusion around it and people just seeming to ignore my constant attempts to set the record straight. Again, it really ever was just a simple tip to consider if you enjoy fragrances and wanted to boost the scent on your favorite soap puck. A simple tip, for the simple act of a daily shave. But somewhere along the way, and it didn't take long, it got lost in the weeds it seems.
When I first came up with Blooming, it really was me just giving a name to the conscious act of boosting the fragrance of a soap with heat. Hot water is the easiest and obvious first choice to achieve this...but blooming doesn't end there. There are dry methods too that are often overlooked or ignored when the topic comes up. People, more often than not, confuse Blooming for "Soaking". While sometimes these two methods overlap each other they are not the same. Soaking is an old school barber technique used to soften hard pucks. That's it. You would half fill the shave mug with hot water or cold water in order to soften the puck, then dump it out after a few minutes. This is done for performance reasons first, not as a scent boost. What scent bloom was achieved by soaking in hot water, was purely a by-product, and a welcomed by-product no doubt.
When most folks freak out when they hear the word Blooming, they are most likely thinking of Hard Puck Soaking. For example, while you can both "Bloom" and "Soak" a hard puck, you cannot "Soak" a tube of shave cream. However, you can Bloom a tube of shave cream by sticking the tube in a tall glass of hot water for 5 minutes. You can also bloom a tub of soap with the lid on by floating it in a sink or bowl of hot water. These are some dry blooming methods I came up with for folks who fear or were confused by the wet method. Remember, Blooming is really just about Boosting the scent,(I can't stress that enough) that is the motivation behind it. [Whatever added benefits come with it are welcomed too in regards to performance.]
There is only one way to Soak a shave soap, but MANY ways to Bloom a shave soap. Heat boosts and lifts the volatile fragrance notes into the air like burning a candle, lighting incense or warming potpourri. That is Blooming in a nutshell.
Bloom Water Preshave?
Though I did coin the term Blooming to define a concept I was exploring, Bloom Water as a Preshave I did not. A lot of Blooming history has been like the telephone game to the point that now when I hear it described on a blog or in someones youtube video it really sounds nothing like what I was trying to convey so many years back. Bloom water is part of this and also part of what creates confusion and sometimes anger in folks. (yup)
I understand the waste not want not mentality behind the "use every part of the animal" treatment of the water used in "Wet Blooming" but, to claim it serves as a preshave? It really is not. What it is, is a diluted version of the soap you are about to put on your face. It really adds nothing new to the equation. So let me dispel the myth and kinda reclaim what I initially intended. Again, I appreciate people using the water rather than dumping it, but it is not a preshave product and not part of the blooming concept or rather, it wasn't.
Will It Destroy the Scent of My Soap?
As of yet, after almost 10 years, have I yet to destroy a soaps scent strength by Blooming it. I believe the fear of this is born out of pure speculation, for believe me I have tried to destroy them! I make soap for a living, it is my passion. The last thing I ever want to do is to give bad advice in this matter...and that's why I have gone out of my way to test this concept.
[Ironically enough, some of the very same folks that repeat over and over that wet blooming kills the scent, I have also seen giving advice on how to melt soap in a microwave in order to pour it into a mug or other container. Talk about a method that can fry the delicate fragrance oils! But I digress...]
What I have observed during wet blooming is that the water heats the surface of the soap, it does not permeate the puck as if it were a sponge. In fact, it's made of butters and oils that naturally repel water. This is the matrix that encases and binds with the scent oils, and I believe protects them.
Wet Bloom Responsibly
If you so choose to use the wet method, which I only recommend for Hard soaps and Croaps, you must allow it to dry completely before putting the lid back on. If you shave in the morning, this could mean leaving the jar open and upside down, leaning it on the lid until the evening. Only when you put the lid back on while the puck is still wet do you risk the possibility of having problems. Wet Blooming does not kill soaps, people do.
Fact is, If you are, like me, a fragrance enthusiast, you just may want to try Blooming. But please, please, please remember, the "wet method" is just one of few ways to do it, NOT THE ONLY WAY.
Wet Method Blooming
Place a few table spoons of hot water on the surface of the puck for 5-10 minutes while you shower. I use hot water from the tap, the hottest it can get. When I step out of the shower I am met with a scent that fills the room and it's delightful, a word I seldom use. That's it!
Dry Method Blooming
Tube Cream: As mentioned above, simply place the tube in a cup or mug of hot water while you hit the shower. This really bumps up the scent nicely! If it is a brushless cream it also makes the product nice and warm on the skin.
Lid On: Also mentioned above. Float tub of soap in a sink of hot water or bowl while you shower. You can also weigh the tub down with a scuttle or something heavy. Note: If you will be using a scuttle, you need not bloom the soap before hand. The hot scuttle will bloom the soap for you!
Lid Off: Take the lid off your soap tub and place the jar in a ziplock bag. Add hot water to the surface as you would if Blooming a hard puck. The bag protects your soap but allows the hot water to still make contact with the surface of the puck or soft soap.
Candle Warmer: This is done, as you can guess, with a candle warmer. However, the soap must be in a tin, not a plastic jar. Others have reported back about this one to me with positive results, I have not fully explored it myself.
And that's it folks, simple stuff and nothing to get too excited about...except for an epic scent boost if you so wish!
Soap is meant to be used and enjoyed, this is just a simple tip you can add to your daily shave or not. I hope this provides some clarity and dispels a lot of the misconceptions out there.