- Why We Are Qualified To Recommend The Best Shaving Cream
- Understanding The Difference Between a Shaving Cream vs Shaving Soap
- Application of Shaving Creams
- What Ingredients To Look Out For When Selecting the Best Shaving Cream For You?
- With The Shaving Cream Set, What About The Hardware?
- How We Determine The Best Shaving Cream For You
Why We Are Qualified To Recommend The Best Shaving Cream
Finding the best shaving cream available for you takes a lot of work. From countless hours of research, testing, reading user reviews from popular online retailers like Amazon along with checking out what enthusiasts think about the products when reviewing great communities like /r/wicked_edge or Badger & Blade.
At Tools of Men we take a lot of pride in perfecting the grooming routine. From research on double edge safety razors, shaving soaps, aftershave balms and more, we have published a lot of articles specifically analyzing every aspect of the shave routine.
Therefore when reviewing the shaving creams outlined below, we wanted to make sure that the shaving cream not only performed extremely well in our tests, but also would provide unparalleled comfort regardless of whether you are using a cartridge razor, disposable razor, straight razor, or double edge safety razor.
Understanding The Difference Between a Shaving Cream vs Shaving Soap
One of the first mistakes that many men make when trying to decide on a brand new shaving cream is that they often get them confused with shaving soaps.
However, both products couldn’t be more different when it comes to prep and application.
It’s often even more confusing due to the fact that many manufacturers actually make both soaps and creams with nearly the same properties and scents too (i.e. Proraso)!
So what is a shaving soap?
Shaving soaps have been around for centuries and are still just as popular back in their heydays as they are today. Shave soaps will typically come “milled”. This means that the soap has been put through the grinder, made into a mold, and then ground again. Often times soaps may be double or triple milled. Generally speaking, higher end shave soaps will have a higher mill rate than others.
Lower end soaps may have only been milled once and then poured into a mold, most often with these cases the manufacturer was doing this to cut costs and therefore isn’t going to be advertising this.
What’s particularly distinct about shaving soaps is that in order to draw out the soap, you will need to have a shave brush (typically made of badger hair). Shaving soaps require that the soap is bloomed (soaked in water) and then loaded into the brush for several seconds (45 second load times are the average).
Once the brush has been properly loaded it is then applied to your face for a final lather and then ultimately the shave.
Why is this important?
The shave soap process is quite lengthy and what some consider an “old-school” method of shaving. To put it simply, this is how your grandfather shaved back in the day.
There are plenty of wet-shave traditionalists that still hold true to this method of applying their lather as they feel it delivers a slicker lather for ultimately a better performing shave.
In addition, shave soaps typically will be a bit cheaper when compared to their shave cream counterparts. However some of the triple milled soaps can get quite pricey.
How do shaving creams differ?
When compared to shaving soaps, shaving creams are relatively a newer invention and were introduced as brushless creams in the 1940s.
With the introduction of shaving creams they later evolved to aerosol cans that are heavily marketed today.
However, in this review we are solely concentrating on the more traditional shaving creams that are housed within tubes and tubs. These traditional shaving creams that are used widely by wet shaving enthusiasts typically contain a much higher amount of natural oils and glycerin.
Glycerin, if you aren’t aware, is a product that is found in both foods and many different types of beauty products. Typically glycerin may be derived from plants and is a natural humectant. This is important in that it helps to encapsulate the moisture which will lead to a much more comfortable shave.
Shaving creams in general when compared to shaving soaps will lather at a much quicker rate allowing for a more efficient morning shave.
While the shave soap needs to bloom and load into a brush prior to use, a shave cream can simply be squirted into a brush and you can begin to form your later immediately with either your scuttle or palm of hand.
Application of Shaving Creams
When it comes to shave creams there are a few different techniques and application methods that you should be aware of.
The most optimal way to apply shave cream will be the use of a badger hair shaving brush.
Badger hair brushes do a phenomenal job at lifting your hairs up on edge, whereas if you used your hands directly to apply the shaving cream it may leave many hairs matted against your skin. In addition to lifting your hairs, badger hair brushes also do a great job at providing a gentle pre-exfoliation of your skin. This pre-exfoliation will help loosen up any dirt and oil that is coating your skin prior to shaving.
When using a shaving brush with a shaving cream, its always important to let it rest in warm water for a few minutes prior to having the shave cream loaded into the brush. This will allow the badger hairs to retain more moisture and to ultimately assist in creating a lather that is a bit more richer and slicker.
When it comes to shaving creams, its all about moisture and heat retention.
For generating the lather there are a few options at your disposal:
Workflow 1 (optimal method with badger brush):
- Before you hop into the shower, get your scuttle (ceramic bowl or old coffee mug) and rest your badger brush in the hot water.
- Once out of the shower, you will want to pour out the water from your bowl (but don’t dry it) and then gently give your shave brush a few shakes to get out any excess water. Its important to remember that a little water is ok as it will help to form the lather, you just don’t want to leave everything bone dry or soaking wet as it will effect the lathering process.
- After your scuttle and brush are prepped, simply squirt out about an almond sized amount of shaving cream from your tube (if you are using a tub of shaving cream – then you will want to scrape out about a thumbnail sized amount).
- Once your brush has been loaded, then you will want to begin forming a lather in the bowl by vigorously stirring the shaving brush for about 45 seconds. The goal here is to create a lather that has really small bubbles (i.e. to the point where you don’t see individual bubbles) and that has a few nice peaks to it.
- When your shaving cream is prepped then you will want to apply liberally to your face. Typically what works for most men is a few broad strokes with the shaving brush followed up by a circular motion around all the areas that are to be shaved.
- After your face has been evenly coated then you will want to go ahead and make appropriate passes with the razor and lather back up with the excess shave cream that should be still found within your brush if necessary.
Workflow 2 (brush without a scuttle):
- In order to allow your brush to be well moisturized, you can either let it rest in a sink full of hot water or simply bring the badger brush into the shower for you.
- Upon exiting the shower, you will want to go ahead and carefully shake out the excess water within the brush and then load the shaving cream into the brush.
- Prior to working up a lather directly on your face, make sure that you splash your face with hot water (it’s important to leave the water on your face and to not dry it off as it will help provide moisture to generate the lather).
- To start up a lather directly on your face with a shaving brush, we find it best to go repeatedly in a circular motion. This method may take a little bit longer, so expect to be going continuously in circles for up to about two minutes.
- After you face has been fully lathered, simply set the brush aside and reapply shaving cream if necessary for additional passes of the razor.
Workflow 3 (hands only):
- Either apply a hot towel or take a shower for several minutes to allow your pores to open up.
- Prior to application of shaving cream, apply hot water to your face to help activate the lather properties of the cream.
- Apply about a pea sized amount of shaving cream to the tip of your hand and then begin to massage into your face. To help generate a lather we recommended going in circular motions repeatedly with your hands and sprinkling on hot water when necessary. While you won’t generate much of a lather through this method, it will help provide some lubrication for the blade to make a bit more gentler of passes that will ultimately help increase comfort.
What Ingredients To Look Out For When Selecting the Best Shaving Cream For You?
There are always a lot of ingredients contained within shaving creams. However there are a few that you should be mindful of when trying to select the best one for you.
Here are a few ingredients to be on the look out for and are generally best to avoid:
- Parabens – There’s no sugar coating this ingredient. Parabens have been found in several studies that are linked to reproductive, asthma, allergies and more aliments. Their core purpose and why they were used in skin care products was their ability to prevent bacteria growth. Their names can be quite confusing, however look out for these ingredients:
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – Many cheap beauty products contain SLS as its an incredibly low cost detergent that helps to clean up your skin when directly applied. Unfortunately SLS has been known to actually circulate within your body for up to five days after initial application! In addition, SLS will strip away any sort of oils found naturally on your skin (i.e. sebum oil). This stripping of oil will likely lead to a much more uncomfortable shave that will leave you susceptible to nicks and cuts.
- Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLES) – Similar to SLS, SLES is used to reduce the side effects of petroleum based products. SLES can cause organ toxicity, reproductive toxicity, mutations of cancer among several other side effects (Source).
- Fragrance – While this ingredient is found in nearly all skin care products including many of the shaving creams we reviewed, we simply wish it wasn’t. Finding a product without this ingredient is rare however we did our best to try and found one for you to consider. While the term Fragrance on the side of a shaving cream tube may sound harmless it’s not. Fragrance is an umbrella term for up to 3,100 different chemicals! According to the Environmental Working Group, Fragrance has an extremely poor rating and should be avoided.
While those are the ingredients to look out for within shaving creams, there are a few popular ones that you will typically find in all shaving creams. Examples of popular ingredients include water, stearic acid, myristic acid, potassium hydroxide, and glycerin to just name a few.
With The Shaving Cream Set, What About The Hardware?
Whether you are using a straight edge razor (typically just a foldable single blade or shavette), double edge razor (usually a Merkur or Edwin Jagger brand), cartridge based razor (common brands – i.e. Gillette, Dollar Shave Club, Schick, etc), or a electric shaver that is capable of performing “wet” – a premium shaving cream can provide a world of difference when it comes to comfort.
Most all the shaving creams listed below will work best for all different blade types listed below. However if you are coming from a cartridge based background, typically a shave cream that is latherless will be the least intimidating of all the types as they don’t require a shave brush and scuttle that require you to form a lather.
However, you definitely shouldn’t be deterred from trying any of the other shaving creams. There are plenty of great YouTube videos out there that go over the basics of generating the proper lather and some of the things you should be looking out for.
Lastly, in order to use many of the shaving creams (or soaps) to their fullest potential a shaving brush (typically made of badger hair) is a necessary tool. Therefore if you don’t already have one, we would highly recommend picking one up when you get your shaving cream.
How We Determine The Best Shaving Cream For You
While there is a lot of subjectivity to shaving cream performance in general, we tried to compensate for this during the exhaustive research process. Therefore we broke down individual components of the shaving cream itself and eventually distilled it into one overall score which you can see in the each of the sections below.
While the reviews below may only indicate a brief summary, be sure to check out each product in detail through the links provided below the reviews for a more in-depth look at the product.
We determined the best shaving cream through the following metrics:
Scent – Does the shaving cream provide a wonderful scent that doesn’t smell too incredibly offensive, soapy, or downright cheap? Will the scent completely clash with any other fragrances that you may be wearing (i.e. cologne, body spray, or aftershave). Is the product being scented through the use of “Fragrance” chemical as we outlined above?
Performance – Simply put, does the shaving cream provide a slick and rich lather that will leave your skin free of any general irritation or post shave razor burn? Also does the shaving cream actually lather well or is it simply too thin or thick that may ultimately lead to unnecessary skipping of the blade that will cause nicks and cuts?
Peer Reviews – While we have spent countless hours researching these shaving creams, its always important to understand what others think of them as well. While this may be much more qualitative in nature, we open our ears to see what other wet shave enthusiasts and thought leaders say about these shaving creams through several different avenues including online retailers, forums, video reviews, etc.
Cost – While every wishes they had an endless supply of cash, the reality is that of course isn’t true. Therefore if a shaving cream is commanding a price tag that is higher than $20, can you simply tell that the shave is going to be one that yields a higher performance?
Ingredients – While we alluded to it in our scent category, the ingredients that make up a shaving cream should be safe for use. With all the research that has been done on chemicals to date, there is absolutely no reason that you should settle for cheap ingredients that may potentially cause long term damage to your health.
Overall/Final Thoughts – While taking all the above points into consideration, we will tally every component up and deliver a final score in order to determine the title of the best shaving cream for you.