The debate seems endless: which is superior, shaving cream or shaving soap? The answer depends on a variety of factors including practical use and preference.
Here’s the scoop:
Shaving cream and shaving soap are similar products
If you want to wet shave, you need to protect your skin with lather. Some people prefer shaving cream in a can while others prefer shaving soap. Both are similar products, but differ in several important ways.
The main difference between shaving cream and shaving soap is the fact that cream comes in a pressurized can and soap comes as a solid puck or a soft cream-like substance. While the end result of both products is slick lather, the method of creating that lather is different.
Shaving cream is a mixture of chemicals inside an aerosol can that creates lather on command when you press a button. According to How Stuff Works, the combination of glycerin, lanoline, Stearic acid, and triethanolamine is responsible for creating the dense lather. A propellant – usually butane or propane – is used to expand the ingredients as it comes out of the can.
On the other hand, shaving soap requires manual effort to create lather. The process is simple but requires skill to master. To make lather out of shaving soap, you need to transfer a little bit of soap into a scuttle and whip it up, adding a little bit of water when necessary. This can take a few minutes but the end result is a thick lather that can be applied to your face or body.
Creating lather using the cream-like shaving soap is similar. The difference is, with cream-like shaving soap you squeeze out a small amount of product from the tube and use it to make your lather.
With a little practice and some YouTube tutorials, anyone can learn to make lather from a puck of shaving soap. Some men prefer to create lather directly on their face rather than in a scuttle. Both methods work, so it’s all a matter of preference.
Shaving soap makes people want to use traditional shaving tools
Most people who use shaving soap prefer to shave with traditional razors. Let’s face it, if you’re going to spend time making your own lather you may as well use a traditional razor.
Manually creating lather from shaving soap has been an aspect of traditional shaving since forever. One hundred years ago, shaving cream in a can didn’t exist. Nobody had options. Everyone – men and women – had to create lather by hand if they wanted to shave.
Most men went to the barber for a shave, but many shaved at home with their own straight razor. When the double-edge razor was invented, many people switched because the blades are disposable and the razor itself doesn’t require extensive maintenance.
By today’s standards, both straight razors and safety razors are considered traditional shaving tools. Disposable and cartridge razors are not.
There are a handful of people who use disposable razors with shaving soap, but for the most part, it feels weird using a cheap, plastic razor after you’ve worked up a good lather by hand.
Product ingredients matter
Your skin is the body’s largest organ and absorbs more than you think. What you put on your skin matters.
While not all shaving soaps are the same they’ll contain fewer harsh chemicals than canned shaving cream. Shaving cream notoriously contains ingredients that dry out the skin (like alcohol), while shaving soap is usually made with hydrating and moisturizing ingredients.
For sensitive skin, it’s a safer bet to use natural, unscented shaving soap with limited ingredients. It’s difficult to find shaving cream in can that doesn’t have added scents and harsh ingredients.
If you’re always in a rush and don’t have an extra three minutes to create your own lather, shaving cream is your best option as long as your skin can handle it.
Try traditional wet shaving at least once
At least once in your life, try a traditional wet shave with a safety razor and shaving soap. If you don’t feel like you got the best shave of your life, you can always go back to plastic razors. However, be warned that once you shave with traditional tools, you’ll wonder why you didn’t try it sooner.