It’s an ancient debate: Shaving cream vs soap. Especially if you’re new to wet shaving, it can be difficult to know which to choose. Each has its own pros and cons. Of course, like with all shaving decisions, a lot of it is just personal preference. We have a preference too. Like most wet shavers, we prefer a more traditional shave, so we use soap. But hey: everyone’s face (and life) is different, so it’s definitely worth experimenting with both to see which is right for you. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we consolidated the essential information into this sweet infographic.

 

 


Quick Note on Shaving Soap:

Most wet shavers prefer shaving soap. We say this in almost every article, but, again, it’s true: shaving is an experience, and using a soap + brush adds to the experience. And really, that’s important. It’s almost like the difference between drinking whisky out of a plastic cup vs a glass tumbler: even if you get a good result both ways, one experience is just… different, more luxurious.

The Advantages of Shaving Soap:

Shaving soaps usually offer a bit more of a stiffer, fluffy lather, which creates a larger “cushion” between the razor and your face. They are also usually slicker, which makes them slide faster and more easily across the skin.

Shaving soaps also give you a lot more control. From start to finish, you control your lather. It’s almost like cooking. You determine how fast, vigorously and long you whip your soap, so you can create exactly the type of lather you like. You control the thickness, aeration and volume. However, that also means there’s a bit of experience required, and that doesn’t come overnight. So, if you’re new to wet shaving, finding a good soap for your face and learning how to use it can take some time. This level of control is great, and most experienced shavers really enjoy this aspect of shaving soap, but, again, it takes time and experience.

Shaving soaps are usually more cost-effective as well. Shaving creams are essentially pre-lathered, so you’re buying something that is already whipped and aerated. Shaving soap is condensed, and you whip it yourself. So, usually, shaving soap will last you a lot longer than shaving cream, making it more cost effective on average.

Finally, shaving soap is just cooler (we think so, anyway). This is part of the experience we mentioned. When you shave with a soap, there’s just a sense of satisfaction involved. There’s something about sticking your soap to the bottom of a shaving mug – maybe the shaving mug your grandpa used – getting your badger-hair brush, and whipping up the perfect lather that just makes you feel like a gentleman. Needless to say, it’s a much different experience than squirting your lather out of a can.

Types of Soap:

There are two basic types of shaving soap: glycerin soaps and triple milled soaps. They perform quite a bit differently, and it’s mostly about preference.

  • Glycerin soaps. Glycerin soaps contain (you guessed it) glycerin, which is a component of oil or fat. These soaps are usually non-milled, so part of the soap is water. Additionally, because of the molecular alignment of glycerin soaps, a lot of them are clear. Generally, glycerin soaps tend to be cheaper but won’t last as long. They also usually have stronger scents, which some guys like. A few of our friends have even used glycerin soap instead of cologne.
  • Triple milled soap. Milling is the process of using a mill to grind, heat and cool the shaving soap. This process is usually used with vegetable- or tallow-based soap. Soaps are milled to harden them, add colors and fragrances, and extract water. If you hadn’t guessed by now, triple milled soaps go through the mill three different times. After it comes out of the mill for the third time, the soap is usually very hard, creating a much different texture than the comparatively soft glycerin soaps. Triple milled soaps usually last a lot longer than glycerin soaps, too, although they’re not usually as fragrant.

If you’re in the market for a good shaving soap, here are some great options:

Advantages of Shaving Cream:

Shaving creams are basically soaps that have been emulsified with water, aerated and pre-whipped into lather. So, it stands to reason that shaving creams are a lot more convenient than soaps. You can just buy a tub (we don’t recommend anything than comes out of can – in shaving and in life). Shaving creams also tend to give slightly better protection, making them the preferred lather product of many safety-razor connoisseurs

Types of Shaving Creams:

There are three basic types of shaving cream: traditional shaving cream, pressurized shaving cream and shaving gel. Like shaving soaps, each type has pros and cons, so if you want to use shaving cream, you may need to try a couple different products to see which you like best.

  • Traditional shaving cream. Traditional shaving creams are usually pre-lathered shaving soaps with a slightly higher potassium hydroxide content, which means they’re more water-soluble and can be prepared (and stored) in cream form.
  • Pressurized shaving cream. Pressurized shaving cream was a product of the 1950s craze to can everything. Really, back in those days, they were canning all kinds of stuff, and shaving cream was not exempt. These creams are stored in pressurized aerosol cans. These don’t last as long, and they produce quite a bit of waste, but they are super convenient, which is why people still buy them.
  • Shaving gel. Shaving gels are something we’ve all seen in stores, mostly because they have the flashiest marketing campaigns (e.g. “Super Hydro Action Impact Man Gel!”). Wet shavers stay away from gels, but some lads buy them because they are convenient and don’t require a brush.

If you’d like to try a good shaving cream, here are a few of our favorites:

  • Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Cream
  • Jack Black Supreme Cream Triple Cushion Shave Lather
  • Ultimate Comfort Shave Cream
  • Tribute Supply Co. Shaving Cream

Bottom line?

So what’s the answer to the old “Shaving Cream vs Soap” debate? Well, you should try everything to see what’s right for your face and lifestyle. For our part, we really prefer a good shaving soap over shaving cream. It’s just a lot more fun.