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.

Grooming Artist News Roundup: July 2017

As we learned from photographer/author Rob Hammer, traditional barbershops are slowly disappearing from the American landscape. Which is why we’re glad to hear about the new generation of traditional barbershops: barbershops that preserve tradition while adding a fun vibe, making them appealing to both veterans and youngins.

Such is the case with Sandhills Shave Shop in Fayetteville, NC, where customers can sip on ale and play pool while waiting for a haircut. The barbershop has been run out of a former car repair shop for over 60 years. And cousins Jess Goins and Frankie Petrillo of St. Louis, Missouri are bringing traditional barbering to the masses by housing their barbershop in an Airstream.

Speaking of tonsorial arts, Sharpologist has come up with a must-read list for the newly enlightened shaver: the 10 Commandments of Wet Shaving. If you’re short for time, the list perfectly condenses all the major tenets of getting a great shave.

Even if you’re a skilled wet shaver, acne can often lead to sub-par shaves and irritation. So we’ve included our guide to shaving with acne, where we cover every step of the shaving process. Let us know if you see improvements!

We cap things off with delectable grilling recipes ready for a relaxed Sunday afternoon.

Enjoy!

Beach season means you can no longer hide the thick blanket of hair beneath your clothes. T3 reveals the best body groomers for turning sasquatch into squeaky clean. (T3)

The 10 Commandments of Wet Shaving. (Sharpologist)

A lovely profile of Fayetteville, NC barbershop Sandhills Shave Shop, which blends barbering, beer, and pool for one memorable haircut or shave. (The Fayetteville Observer)

Cousins Jess Goins and Frankie Petrillo converted an old Airstream into a barbershop. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Wet shaving can be downright miserable with acne. Here’s our complete approach to minimizing irritation for those with acne-prone skin. (Grooming Artist)

Algae isn’t just a murky organism that lives in streams – it’s also great for face and shave. (Grooming Artist)

19 delicious summer grilling recipes. (Serious Eats)

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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