Canned shaving cream doesn’t always provide the same level of shaving satisfaction as with shaving soap.
Shaving cream might appear on the surface to be the cheaper option, but not only does shave soap win on shave-by-shave cost basis, it can also be counted as more face-healthy.
Read on to learn more about shaving soap, the differences between shaving cream and soap, and how to choose the best product for you.
Table of Contents
- What is Shaving Soap?
- How to Use Shaving Soap
- Shave Soap Dos and Don’ts
- Get the Right Shaving Soap
What is Shaving Soap?
Shaving soap resembles the typical bar of soap; it is a solid and breaks down in water to form a lather. Because shaving soap is in a bar form, it lasts longer than shaving gels, oils, and creams. This is because these products are often infused with air.
Shaving soap is often a better product because it isn’t diluted with air. Shaving soaps can last for months while canned shaving cream typically only lasts a few weeks (depending on how often you shave, of course).
Believe it or not, shaving soaps have been used since the 14th century and were popular until World War I. The ease of lather is one of the reasons canned shaving cream gained popularity over the last 100 years.
The Difference Between Shaving Cream and Shaving Soap
The primary difference between shaving creams and shaving soaps is that shaving creams already contain water, which makes it easy to work up a lather. Although it might be easier to use a shaving cream for this very reason, this also means that shaving cream is less durable than soap lather. Although they might require a little more work on your part, working up a soap lather will cling to skin and facial hair with greater fidelity.
Many new shavers have difficulty adjusting to the razor and working up the perfect lather. This is because using shaving soap requires an understanding of the appropriate water-to-soap ratio and how to whisk the shaving brush effectively.
As a result, many learn the art of shaving by using shaving creams. After developing sufficient shaving skills, some men end up making the switch to shaving soap.
Another key difference between shaving creams and soaps that many cost-conscious shavers notice is in the wallet. Good shaving soaps retail for $10 whereas canned shaving creams are priced at only $1-$4, depending on the brand and retailer.
Necessary Tools for Using Shaving Soap
Here are some must-have tools for using shaving soap:
– Old Coffee Mug: Shaving soap requires a cup for lathering and a brush for application. Any old coffee mug will work, as long as your brush has enough room to whisk freely.
– Badger Brushes: A badger brush is preferred by professional barbers because the bristles are strong and stiff enough to whisk, but soft enough to apply a lather. However, these aren’t exactly a cruelty-free tool.
– Horse Hair Brushes: An alternative to the badger brush, horse hair isn’t as stiff as a badger brush, yet it still whisks and applies lather effectively.
– Synthetic Brushes: These are now just as highly regarded as badger brushes. The more expensive the synthetic brush, the better the quality.
Once you have a brush, cup, and razor, it’s time to find the right shaving soap.
What You Should Know Before Selecting the Right Shaving Soap
Finding the right shaving soap is easy when looking at the ingredient label and how the product is made. The following ingredients are found in top shaving soaps.
– Glycerin: This ingredient allows water to interact with other ingredients to form a lather.
– Natural Oils: Natural oils condition and hydrate skin and hair. Coconut oil and lanolin are two of the most popular.
– Triple Milled: Good shaving soaps are triple milled, which means they are mixed three times for the best concentration.
How to Use Shaving Soap
Now that you are armed with the right tools and knowledge to use shaving soap, the next step is to learn how to use shaving soap correctly to get the best results.
Here are a few tips on how to use shaving soap:
- Soak the Brush: Fill your shaving mug with water and let the brush soak for a minute or two. Soaking softens the bristles, which makes it easier to whisk the soap and water into a lather. It also makes the application process seemingly effortless.
- Soften the Soap: Use a few drops of hot water to soften the soap. Soft soap is easier to lather. This can be done while the brush is soaking.
- Swirl the Soap: Swirl the brush over the soap for approximately 10 to 15 seconds. The goal is to coat the bristle tips with soap.
- Build Lather: After soaking the brush, dump out the water. Then, add a small amount of water back into the cup while coating the brush. If you notice bubbles, then keep swirling. If the soap is too thick, add more water.
- Apply: In a circular motion, apply the lather to your face. It’s okay to go against the grain as the brush will lift the hair, making it easier to cut. Once the face is lathered, it’s time to shave.
Shave Soap Dos and Don’ts
Most of us don’t learn to use shaving soap until we’ve mastered the “bachelor’s shave” with a cheap-o disposable razor and canned shaving cream. So, don’t take it to heart if you’re looking at your new block of shaving soap and have no idea what to do with it.
Here’s a starter look at do’s and don’ts to keep in mind while using shaving soap:
Do #1: Soak Your Implements in Warm Water
“Implements” being your brush and soap, of course. For best results, prep a small bowl of warm water and pop your brush and soap in there together for approximately 10 minutes. You can do this while you’re showering. So, by the time you’re done, it’s time to shave.
Allowing the soap to sit gives it time to soften up so you can easily get it onto the brush. This process also softens the bristles for the same effect. This means you’ll spend much less time loading the suds onto your brush, and you’ll have better quality suds to boot.
Do #2: Build Lather Before You Try to Shave
You’ll be a little disappointed if you try to shave before you lather the soap. Shaving soaps need some encouragement to create foam or lather, but they are well worth it. This type of soap gives you the creamiest, softest shave you can imagine.
This process is a little bit more involved than simply pressing a button and getting instant foam in the palm of your hand. Take your soaked soap and brush, press the brush into the soap firmly enough to splay the bristles out side-to-side, and rub it in a vigorous circular motion.
Watch as the lather builds up. It takes some time and a little elbow grease, but your face will thank you.
Do #3: Choose a Light Fragrance
You typically wear cologne on your neck, which is pretty close to your face. As such, it’s common for strongly-scented shaving soaps to mingle with the cologne, creating a less-than-desirable fragrance.
Avoid this easily by choosing a lightly-scented or fragranced soap that will wear off over time. This prevents it from overpowering your cologne and creating a monster that nobody in the office wants to smell.
Don’t #1: Use Hard Water
Got hard water? Prepare to ruin your straight razor and have an extremely frustrating lathering process. It can be difficult to make shaving soap lather up with hard water as it can also create mineral deposits on your razor, dulling it prematurely.
If you have hard water, don’t fret too much; simply pick up a jug of distilled water before your next shave, and you’ll be golden.
Don’t #2: Expect the Same Type of Foam as Shave Creams
If you spend forever working up your lather with the goal of a creamy, thick white foam, you’re going to lose a lot of time.
Know what shaving soap foam looks like before you get started. It’s more watery than shaving cream, and is similar to the soapy lather you get when washing your hair or body with bar soap or body wash. This will help you know when to stop so you don’t overwork your lather.
Don’t #3: Feel Pressured To Use Any One Method or Product
Shaving this way is a personal process, and that’s what so many men love about it. There are hundreds of shaving soaps and safety razors on the market, and that means one for every type of man.
Take your time trying out different shaving soaps and products, as well as different lathering methods. You’ll quickly discover that there is a method out there that perfectly complements your daily routine. Make it yours!
Wet shaving can require a little more time than a regular shaving process, so enjoy it and take your time figuring out what works for you.
Get the Right Shaving Soap
There are many shaving soaps on the market, so it’s important to have a discerning eye. Use the information above to find the right shaving soap to ensure a better shave.