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

Tips for Wet Shaving While Traveling, Part 1: Razors and Blades

Got a trip coming up? You may think you’ll have to surrender your wet shaving routine while you’re traveling, but that’s simply not the case. Today, there are plenty of products designed to give you a pleasurable shaving experience while still abiding by strict TSA standards. Whether these products are created specifically for travel or they are compact and sturdy by nature, we’ll be taking a look at smart travel choices for razors.

Check back for Part 2 soon!

Carry-on vs. checked bag

Before you begin packing, consider how long you’ll be traveling and whether you’ll be checking bags or bringing a carry-on only.

Razor blades are not permitted in carry-ons. However, the TSA allows you to bring a DE razor in your carry-on so long as it doesn’t have a razor blade inside. So if you wish to bring razor blades, you’ll have to put them in checked baggage. That being said, in our experience putting blades in checked baggage can still sometimes warrant a TSA inspection. If you want to avoid the hassle of possibly getting searched, try to ship your blades ahead of time or purchase them once you’re at your destination.

If this too sounds like a hassle, you can compromise and bring a cartridge razor or electric trimmer. While this may not be ideal, if your trip is on the shorter side (a business trip, for instance) you’ll be able to tolerate one to two days of acceptable shaves.

Travel-sized DE razors

There are quite a few great DE razor options out there for travelers. Merkur Progress features a slight but mighty frame with an adjustable head. And no need to worry about purchasing an additional case: our Merkur Progress Adjustable Safety Razor Travel Set includes a travel case and a 10-pack of Merkur Super Platinum Blades so you’re good to start shaving right after you land.

Merkur also makes a specialized travel razor with a four-piece design that lets you dissemble and fit it even into the tightest corners of your carry-on. Merkur’s travel razor retains the brand’s classic head, so if you’re familiar with Merkur, you won’t face a learning curve when transitioning over.

You can also consider a shavette, a straight razor-style razor that uses disposable blades. The Dovo Shavette Travel Kit comes in a leather travel case and includes a polishing cloth. Just remember you’ll have to figure out how to ship or acquire blades.

Cartridge razors and electric trimmers

If expediency is key, these two will get you seamlessly through TSA.

We recommend the Edwin Jagger Diffusion Fusion Razor for a comfortable shave with the heft you’re used to getting from a DE razor. The extra-long handle gives you optimal balance, while the smooth, ergonomic shape enhances comfort and control. The Edwin Jagger Diffusion Fusion Razor uses standard Gillette Fusion cartridges, which are available worldwide, so you can get a great shave anywhere you go.

For a high-functioning electric trimmer, the Philips Norelco PQ 208/40 Travel Electric Razor is a small version of the original Philips Norelco Electric Razor. You get 60 minutes of cordless shaving, and the razor’s lightweight design makes it perfect for travel. Independently floating heads follow the contour of your face.

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The Top 7 Bestsellers of 2016

It’s coming on the end of the year, and we feel it appropriate to share a “Best Of” list to celebrate. With the immense growth of the men’s grooming industry, there are new products being released all the time, vying at our attention. However, there are certain tools that persist – whether it’s the blade that gets you the perfect shave or the safety razor that weaned you off cartridge shaving for good.

Every year, we take a look back on the wet shaving essentials that you loved most. The following seven items are our bestsellers of 2016. Take a gander, gain a few tips from the reviews, and perhaps discover your next standby.

30 Degree 320 Silvertip Badger Shaving Brush – Black Resin

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Features

  • Soft silvertip badger hair with superb water retention
  • Smaller knot for optimal precision and control
  • Bulbous loft for easier lathering in shave bowls and mugs

Customer review

“This is a good brush that produces a great lather. Great deal for the money.”

-Rod

SHOP: 30 Degree 320 Silvertip Badger Shaving Brush – Black Resin 

Merkur Super Platinum Stainless Blades, 10 Blades

 

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Features

  • Platinum-coated stainless steel
  • Excellent starter blade for men with light to medium beards

Customer review

“Makes my Merkur 34C sparkle in the morning. Gives my wife a great cheek to cheek.”

-Larry J.

SHOP: Merkur Super Platinum Stainless Blades, 10 Blades 

Merkur 34C HD Classic Safety Razor – Polished Chrome Finish

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Features

  • Midweight construction for just enough pressure
  • Stubby handle for better grip
  • Two-piece, closed comb construction

Customer review

“This is my first safety razor. I tried the Merkur blade that came with it and was so impressed at how mild yet effective the razor was. I was very nervous the first time. No nicks but the closest, smoothest shave ever in over 30 years of shaving.”

SHOP: Merkur 34C HD Classic Safety Razor – Polished Chrome Finish 

Taylor of Old Bond Street Luxury Shaving Cream Bowl

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Features

  • Glycerin-based for slickness and glide
  • Coconut acid for a rich lather
  • Available in a dozen scents

Customer review

“This is the best shave cream that money can buy. There is no burning or drying your skin out. It bathes you skin in comfort, and the Sandalwood scent is the best I have ever smelled.”

-Jerry B.

SHOP: Taylor of Old Bond Street Luxury Shaving Cream Bowl 

Edwin Jagger DE89L Double Edge Safety Razor with Lined Handle

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Features

  • Three-piece, closed comb construction
  • Chrome-plated for enhanced rust resistance
  • Fluted handle for a secure grip

Customer review

“This is a pretty amazing razor at a very economical price. Fantastic option for new DE shavers who want a superior razor but don’t want to spend a lot upfront. Very impressive build quality and materials. Weight is just right. And the longer handle is a great choice for those transitioning from cartridge and disposables. It will feel very familiar. At this price, you can’t go wrong. Actually, you’ll be pretty amazed at how much razor you get for just $32.”

-Kenstee

SHOP: Edwin Jagger DE89L Double Edge Safety Razor with Lined Handle

Dovo Best Quality 5/8″ Full Hollow Carbon Steel Straight Razor – Black Celluloid

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Features

  • Stiffer, more forgiving half hollow Swedish blade
  • Top and bottom tang jimps for enhanced grip
  • Durable celluloid scales

Customer review

“Nice Straight Razor. Smooth Dovo quality clearly felt in this razor, great first razor to jump into straight razor shaving. There are better Dovo razors but this is a great starter for the price and quality. It will last forever and be a great travel razor when you upgrade.”

-Michael L.

SHOP: Dovo Best Quality 5/8″ Full Hollow Carbon Steel Straight Razor – Black Celluloid 

Proraso Shave Soap Jar – Green, Refreshing and Toning

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Features

  • Coconut oil for enhanced slickness
  • Glycerin-based formula keeps skin soft
  • Soothing menthol scent

Customer review

“I purchased the Proraso Hard shaving cream as part of a straight razor starter kit. When Opened the Proraso hard shaving cream bowl, I could immediately smell the refreshing scents of menthol and eucalyptus. This cream lathers up very thick with little effort. The cream not only applies to my skin very nicely ( I recommend a badger brush), but it also doesn’t bubble out like a lot of other creams out there. After I use the shaving cream my skin is super soft. I will only use this cream from now on.”

-Jason

SHOP: Proraso Shave Soap Jar – Green, Refreshing and Toning

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Our Favorite Posts of 2016

As we head into the end of the year, we wanted to look back on some of the highlights of 2016 on The Grooming Artist.

We brought you behind the scenes of two of the most respected names in wet shaving: Truefitt & Hill and Edwin Jagger. We also gave due coverage to the ever-expanding group of wet shavers who have taken their craft to Instagram, inspiring us with their beautifully composed #SOTD (Shave of the Day) setups, reviews, and tips. The traditional shaving community on Instagram is strong, and we plan to explore this scene further in the upcoming year.

From our archives, we also pulled out a couple of our favorite “how to” posts, from How to Clean Your DE Razor to How to Use the 3 Razor Shaving Method.

Give these posts a gander if you’re looking for some reading material during your holiday break.

All of us at RoyalShave hope you have a season filled with warmth, comfort, and good cheer!

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Our interviews with…

Truefitt & Hill

Edwin Jagger

Captain’s Choice

3-razor-method

Tips on how to…

Avoid 5 common wet shaving mistakes

Clean your DE razor

Use the 3-Razor shaving method for a close shave that’s gentle on sensitive skin

Care for a leather strop

Get lather from Geo. F. Trumper Hard Shaving Soap

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Our favorite Instagram accounts for…

#SOTD (Shave of the Day) inspiration

Wet shaving tips and tricks

Young barber applying a hot towel on a client's face before giving him a shave

Some miscellaneous…

How to DIY a barbershop hot towel at home

The long, royal history of Truefitt & Hill

Is a synthetic fiber brush worth your time?

Wedge straight razors vs. hollow straight razors: a comparison

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