Shaving Soaps, Creams, and Gels: Which Should You Use?

 

Proper razor technique and blade sharpness are only part of the wet shaving puzzle. To shave well, you must ultimately be equipped with a spread of tools tailored to your skin type and lifestyle.

Shaving creams, shaving soaps, and shaving gels are all designed for the same purpose: to enhance glide and protect your face during shaving. But each type has benefits and drawbacks.

We hope the following breakdown will help you decide which one to go with!

Shaving Soap

There’s a small learning curve associated with lathering a shaving soap. Condensed into a puck or a disc, shaving soaps only lather with water and a shaving brush. Producing lather takes a few minutes, and the process can be even harder if you’re using triple-milled soap.

Triple-milled soap is soap that has been passed through a milling machine three times to thoroughly mix the ingredients and fragrances, as well as squeeze out extra moisture. This makes triple-milled soap harder than regular soap – and thus more difficult to lather. However, once you do learn how to lather it, triple-milled soap produces the richest lather you will experience. Plus, triple-milled soap is more economical. You can easily get 3 – 4 months of shaving out of one puck.

This is why soaps like Mitchell’s Wool Fat Shaving Soap and Geo F. Trumper Hard Shaving Soap (both triple-milled soaps) have just as many die-hard fans as men who complain about how hard they are to lather. A trick to try: place a few drops of Geo F. Trumper Skin Food or glycerin on the puck or brush prior to lathering. Most importantly, always use distilled water.

If you want more advice on the subject, we actually wrote a blog post on how to get lather from Geo F. Trumper Hard Shaving Soap here.For a slightly easier lathering experience, try Edwin Jagger Shaving Soap.

Tip: If you have sensitive skin, note that shaving soaps are more likely to dry out your skin than creams or gels. But don’t let that stop you from trying one – just pick a soap formulated for sensitive skin, like Acca Kappa Muschio Bianco Shaving Soap Bowl.

Shaving Cream

Shaving creams contain more water than shaving soaps. This makes them far easier to lather (in fact, you can lather immediately and without water, versus having to build lather slowly with shaving soaps). So if you typically find yourself short on time, a shaving cream may be the smart choice for you. We also recommend shaving soaps for those new to wet shaving, as developing lather with soap is a learning process in and of itself.

And shaving creams are often a better choice for men with sensitive skin. Because shaving creams tend to come in many more varieties than shaving soaps, you’ll find plenty of unscented versions with minimal ingredients that can irritate skin. Truefitt & Hill has a lovely unscented line called Ultimate Comfort, formulated for sensitive skin.

You can’t go wrong with a shaving cream from one of the three T’s: Geo F. Trumper, Taylor of Old Bond Street, and Truefitt & Hill. For an indulgent shave experience, try Castle Forbes Essential Oil Shaving Cream, an ultra rich cream with aloe vera to prevent irritation. If you’re looking for something more affordable, Proraso has long been a standby.

Shave Gel

Like shaving creams, shaving gels don’t require water to build lather. Just squeeze some out from the tube and apply with your fingers. Shaving gels are thinner in consistency than shaving creams and allow you to see what you’re doing, since they don’t produce lather. This feature makes shaving gels a good choice for beginners who can use the visual feedback.

Zirh Aloe Vera Shaving Gel is a lightweight-yet-hydrating shaving gel that cushions with glycerin and has a smooth consistency.

The Conclusion

So which type of shaving product should you use? Let’s sum it up:

For massive lather: Shaving Soap

For men with limited time: Shaving cream or gel

For beginners: Shaving cream or gel

For men with dry or sensitive skin: Shaving cream

Shaving Myths Debunked: Should You Wet Shave in the Shower?

Shaving in the shower isn’t for everyone. Some men prefer it to sink shaving, while others scoff at the thought of shaving without much visual or auditory feedback.

There are many misconceptions about shower shaving, and we’re here to clear the air so you can make the best decision for yourself. Even if you’re a die-hard sink shaver, there are some instances – like needing to be at a work meeting pronto – where you don’t have the time to enjoy a long shave at the sink, but still want to get in a wet shave. When time is limited, a shower shave kills several birds with one stone. The trick is in the setup.

Below, we debunk several shower shaving myths and give you tips for shower shaving with finesse.

Note: If you are a novice wet shaver, we recommend first refining your technique at the sink, then moving to the shower once you’ve memorized the contours of your face and are confident in your shaving abilities.

See more articles in our Shaving Myths Debunked series here.


Myth: You’ll drop your razor because it’ll be too slippery.

Fact: Most DE razors have enough grip for a shower shave – and some even have knurling.

With a bit of practice, you can use just about any safety razor to shave in wet conditions. If you’re still worried, use a razor with a knurled handle, like the Muhle R89 Grande Closed Comb Safety Razor. Stay away from straight razors, since dropping one of these in the shower can mean losing a toe. Save straight razor shaving for the sink.


Myth: Your mirror will fog up and you won’t be able to see anything.

Fact: Fogless mirrors allow you to safely shave in the shower.

Not being able to see where you’re shaving is one of the biggest roadblocks to men trying out shower shaving.

While fogless mirrors don’t guarantee 100% visibility, they allow you to see where you’re making passes and negate the need to wipe off the mirror every few seconds. Upper West Collection’s No Fog Shower Mirror rotates and has an adjustable arm for easy positioning. This mirror even has an attached razor holder.

For extra insurance against fogging, do one of the following:

  • Rub bar soap or liquid soap on your mirror lightly.
  • Rub shampoo onto your mirror. Remove extra shampoo with a paper towel.
  • For longer-lasting defogging: make a vinegar mixture of one cup vinegar and one cup water. Spray the mixture onto the mirror and then wipe the mirror down. This method lasts for several days!

Myth: You can’t get any auditory feedback.

Fact: Turn off the water when you shave for excellent feedback.

Turn on the water and get shampoo, conditioner, and body wash done first. Save shaving for last. While you’re getting everything else cleaned up, the steam from the shower will open pores and soften facial hair so it’s more pliable during your shave. In fact, when hair is fully soaked with warm water for 3 minutes, cutting strength is reduced by at least 30%. Apply extra hair conditioner or shaving cream onto your face as you lather your hair and body for extra bristle softening.

Then, when you’re ready to shave, turn off the water. This will reduce the amount of fog as well produce excellent acoustics, since the hard wall surfaces of a bathroom, combined with a lack of soft furnishings, create a space that amplifies sound.


Myth: You’ll waste water.

Fact: Once again, just turn off the water when you shave.

If you prefer to have some water running to rinse your blade between passes, turn the water down to a trickle.


Myth: The shaving process will take too long.

Fact: Invest in a small shaving cubby to have everything where you need it, reducing prep and clean-up time.

A corner shaving cubby is petite enough not to get in the way, but spacious enough for all the essentials. Store your shaving cream, soap, scuttle, and pre-shave oil here. Shaving brushes and razors should be stored outside the shower in order to let them dry properly. Bring your brush and razor into the shower with you every time you shave.

How to Shave When You Have Acne

Whether you get the occasional zit or are struggling with adult acne, trying to shave with pimples may make wet shaving seem less art form and more balancing act. While shaving with acne is by no means easy, there are plenty of ways you can make the process less irritating for your skin.

Below, we’ve included tips for every step of your shaving routine. With a few adjustments (you may need to say goodbye to your shaving brush), you will see improvements in your skin and shave.

Preparation

Clean your skin

Take a warm shower before you begin shaving. The steam will soften your skin and facial hair. Pliable facial hair means you’ll encounter less tugging while shaving. Less tugging = less irritation, which is a major plus for acne-prone skin.

If you are unable to take a shower before you shave, warm a towel and place it on your face for 3 minutes to similar effect.

While in the shower, use a facial cleanser that removes excess oil without drying out your skin. Liquid soaps tend to be less drying than bar soaps. We’ve heard great things about Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash, Clean & Clear Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser, and Olay Foaming Face Wash (all recommended by Acne.org). Avoid washing your face with a washcloth or scrubber. Vigorous scrubbing will only irritate skin and exacerbate acne.

Squeeze pimples

Normally we wouldn’t recommend going anywhere near a pimple. But when you’ve got acne and need to shave, it’s more hygienic to pop the pimple yourself before the shave than to let the razor pop it for you. Popping a pimple pre-shave and cleaning up afterwards will reduce the amount and spread of bacteria on your face. If the razor pops your pimple, it’ll introduce bacteria to the rest of your skin.

To squeeze a pimple safely, reference this link.

Apply pre-shave – or not

There are plenty of men on both sides of the fence here. Pre-shave oil softens hair for a smoother shave, but Sharpologist argues it can clog pores. Our verdict? Try a non-comedogenic pre-shave oil (which doesn’t clog pores). If you find it too heavy, stop using it. You can also try a pre-shave lotion, which is lighter in consistency than oil. We like Edwin Jagger Hydrating Pre-Shave Lotion, designed with aloe vera to protect sensitive skin.

During the shave

Use an alcohol-free shaving cream

Alcohol is too drying for acne-prone skin. Use an alcohol-free shaving cream formulated for sensitive skin, like Taylor of Old Bond Street Jermyn Street Shaving Cream.

Never use old towels

Towels are breeding grounds for bacteria. If you’re using yesterday’s towel for today’s shave (without laundering it first), you’re just reintroducing bacteria to your face. Opt for a pack of barber towels, which are inexpensive and lint-free, so you can switch out towels every time you shave.

Don’t use a shaving brush

Like towels, shaving brushes are microbial hotbeds. Typically, cleaning a brush post-shave means simply rinsing with water, so the brush may still harbor bacteria the next time you use it. The solution? Apply shaving cream with your fingers. Suavecito makes a well-loved brushless shaving cream.

Say no to cartridge razors

More blades = more irritation. A 4-blade cartridge has 4 separate blades, each of which can lift and irritate skin, pop pimples, and make acne worse. A single blade razor – AKA a safety razor – with low aggressiveness (less of the blade is exposed) will give you a clean cut without traumatizing skin. The Feather AS-D2 is known for delivering a gentle yet effective shave, while the Merkur Progress offers 5 aggressiveness settings for personalized control.

Bypass pimples

Avoid shaving over pimples if possible. This can pop whiteheads as well as spread bacteria over already sensitive, freshly shaved skin. If you accidentally cut yourself, quickly apply a topical antibiotic or use a styptic pen to stop the bleeding.

Shave with the grain using light pressure

It’s true that shaving against the grain gets you a closer cut, but doing so with acne causes more nicks and irritation than it’s worth. Instead, shave with the grain with little to no pressure on the razor. Safety razors do not require much pressure to cleanly cut hair. In fact, pressing down on the razor will only produce more friction.

Rinse your razor with hot running water between passes.

After the shave

Disinfect the razor with rubbing alcohol

Eliminate all traces of bacteria by dousing your razor with rubbing alcohol. Remember to do this again before your next shave.

Clean and tone your skin

It’s important to remove all traces of shaving cream, as it can clog pores. Rinse your face with warm water, followed by cool water to close pores. Run an alum block over shaved areas, leave it on for a minute, and then rinse. Pat your face dry.

Instead of an alum block, you can try an alcohol-free astringent toner like Prospector Co. KC Atwood Aftershave Splash, which contains antiseptic witch hazel. If you use a salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide acne treatment, wait until your skin is dry for application.

Why You Should Use Algae on Your Face

A background on algae

The slimy stuff you usually see making streams look murky is actually highly beneficial for your skin. Algae have been used for many years as the basis of healthy foods like Kombucha and sushi (seaweed is a type of algae), boosting healthy bacteria. Algae are also used to thicken foods and skincare products so they don’t become runny. But in recent years, algae have come into the spotlight as a potent skincare ingredient: the green gunk is rich in minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids.

There are 2 types of algae:

Microalgae – Tiny, single-celled creatures

Macroalgae – Multi-cellular organisms like seaweed and kelp

Within these two categories, over 20,000 species of algae exist. The main ones you should know about are brown algae, green microalgae, and red algae.

Why should I rub pond organisms on my face?

Algae are natural moisturizers that enhance skin barrier function. These plant organisms hydrate skin and then lock in the moisture. Algae condition the skin after a shave, when your skin is thirsting for replenishment.

Who should be using algae in skincare products?

Algae are beneficial for everyone – and are skin savers for wet shavers. Brimming with vitamins and minerals, algae is a natural antioxidant, emollient, and soothing agent. Apply a product with algae before your shave for stronger skin more resistant to irritation and cuts, and after your shave for instant skin barrier repair.

Red algae (including carrageenan and Irish moss)

If you have acne, red algae have antimicrobial properties, reducing inflammation without the drying properties of over the counter drugs. Red algae also absorb UVA rays, acting like natural sunscreen.

Brown algae

Out in the sun all the time? Brown algae combat free radical oxidation.

Mature skin can also benefit from brown algae, which improve the appearance of aging skin.

Green micro-algae

Full of phytochemicals, green micro-algae combat free radicals and inflammation while regulating melanin production. If you have an old scar from acne or a razor nick, this type of algae will improve skin tone and fade the scar gradually.

Our product recommendations:

Baxter of California Vitamin Cleansing Bar

This bar soap is far from drying. Aloe vera, glycerin, and seaweed (brown algae) nourish skin, while vitamins E and A neutralize free radicals for protection from the elements and pollution.

SHOP: Baxter of California Vitamin Cleansing Bar

The Art of Shaving After-Shave Gel

Carrageenan boosts the moisture quotient in this lightweight gel aftershave. Calendula extract contains anti-inflammatory linoleic acid, which heals a wide variety of skin conditions, from acne to eczema. Add this aftershave to your post-shave routine if you have oily or normal skin.

SHOP: The Art of Shaving After-Shave Gel

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Jack Black Double-Duty Face Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20

Protect your skin after a morning shave with Jack Black Double-Duty Face Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20. Blue algae keeps skin supple while reducing inflammation, and sea parsley contains vitamins A and C to encourage collagen production (and thereby skin healing).

SHOP: Jack Black Double-Duty Face Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20

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