When it comes to a traditional wet shave, there are several different products one can use to make the shave close and effective. Below, we will be listening out the different options, and give a general overview of their effectiveness.
Bath soap or shower gel
While technically an option, Bath Soap and Shower Gels make poor replacements for proper shaving products. They make your skin slippery and create a rather thin lather. As well as rinsing off poorly, which can dull the blade. All combined, you will struggle to make the razor glide over the face smoothly which can easily result in nicks & cuts. Finally, using these options repeatedly can end up drying out the skin, leading to more issues in the future.
In an emergency, Bath Soap and Show Gels are a potential option, such as going on a trip and forgetting to pack your usual preferred product, but we firmly suggest that it is not used as a daily habit.
The cheapest and most convenient product, cans of shaving foam can easily be found available in shops and supermarkets.
The problem, however, is that while the foams seem to produce a pillowy lather, it is mostly made up of air, leading to a surprisingly thin lather. This thin lather means less lubrication, which results in heavier use of the blade, increasing the risk of nicks & cuts. They do lubricate the skin, making them a better option that bath soap or shower gels, but not by much.
Additionally, shaving foam often contains high levels of alcohol which, over time, can dry out the skin and lead to irritation. Not to mention there are often other chemicals in the foam which can cause skin irritation and result in a rash.
Just like the previous option, we do not recommend the use of shaving foam as a daily habit.
A good quality shaving cream is more difficult to find on the high street. But is easily available online.
With added ingredients such as glycerine, good quality shaving creams can soothe and moisturise the skin. It’s easy to use shaving cream, creating a thick lather using only your fingers, leading to a smoother, easier shave than any other option so fair.
In terms of cost, a tub of shaving cream likely has the highest upfront cost, but only a small amount is needed for each shave, meaning that the tubs last quite a long time, and are surprisingly cost-effective.
Just like shaving cream, good quality shaving soap is better found online than on the high street.
And also like shaving cream, shaving soaps can provide a thick, creamy lather that moisturises the skin, perfect for shaving. It is also easier to find shaving soaps made from 100% natural ingredients, including products suitable for vegans.
The issue with shaving soap, however, is that it takes a lot more effort to produce a lather compared to shaving cream. It is advisable to use a shaving brush, as well as a shaving bowl, both of which add to the cost of shaving soap.
Compared to shaving cream, there is not much difference between a cream and gel, with the main difference being how they produce a lather. In a traditional wet shave, a shaving cream uses water to help produce the lather, while shaving gels are thicker, and tend to work on their own. Additionally, they are often transparent, useful for when you need to see where you are shaving, such as having a goatee.
Compared to foams and non-shaving products, shaving creams, soaps and gels provide thicker lathers for smoother, easier shaves, as well as softening and moisturising the skin. They can often be more expensive up-front and harder to find in stores, but they are well worth the extra price and hassle.
In terms of the difference between the three options, the only distinction of note is that shaving soaps require a brush and go well with a bowel. Aside from that, it is down to personal preference. You can either buy one and stick with it, or try two or all three and see which one suits you best.
The Groomed Man recommendations
D R Harris shaving cream – A top-quality and richly concentrated cream containing a high proportion of glycerin, giving an extra soothing and moisturising shave. Available in a range of fragrances in 75g tube or 150g tube
Geo F Trumper shaving soap – A finely refined soap which makes it both smooth and long-lasting. It is of the highest quality and produces a good later. Available in a range of fragrances as either a refill or a wooden shaving bowl.