If you are new to wet shaving, deciding whether to use shaving cream or soap would probably be one of those dilemmas that you will be having, right after deciding if you’re going to use a safety or a straight razor.
In the online shaving forums, there can be many discussions on this aspect of wet shaving.
For a beginner, it can be a confusing experience, not knowing which comment to believe. From the passionately-driven straight razor purists to the laidback certainty of safety razor aficionados, each one has their own reasons for preferring a particular product to help with the shave.
In all of these opinions, only one thing is clear: water isn’t enough to help ease the razor blade on your face. One needs to use a product that will not only prepare the skin for the shaving experience but will also help the razor blade perform its function efficiently.
Wet Shaving 101
Both soap and cream were developed to produce the lather that is used to coat the face during wet shaving. This coating serves two functions: to lubricate the razor blade so that it shaves smoothly and to provide protection for the skin by moisturizing it so that it is easy to shave.
As early as the 19th century, shaving soaps were making their presence in the wet shaving business. Meant to be used in a shaving mug during those days, it is often sold as a round puck. This was probably done to differentiate itself from the common soap bar.
It wasn’t until World War 1 that shaving creams became available widely. Spurred by the war effort’s need for a more convenient and faster approach towards shaving for its enlisted men, the shaving cream overshadowed the use of the shaving soap, since one did not have to spend so much time working a lather in order to put it on the face.
Among users of straight razors, however, shaving soap continued to be used. In fact, straight razors and shaving soap go hand in hand, particularly for wet shaving purists. For these guys, the process of lathering the soap is an essential part of the shaving ritual and so it should not be skipped over during the shaving experience.
Is a Shaving Soap similar to a Soap Bar?
Newbies need to know though that one cannot substitute an ordinary soap bar for a shaving soap.
For one thing, a shaving soap gives out a thicker lather than your favorite shower soap bar. One needs a lot of lather that lasts long enough to making the shaving as smooth and easy.
The best shaving soaps have a lot of fat content. That is because the higher the fat percentage, the more lubrication the soap is able to provide. Shaving soaps with low-fat content will make the shaving experience less smooth and more prone to accidental nicks and cuts. It can also dry out and irritate the skin, even before you begin shaving.
This is why glycerin is an important ingredient in shaving soaps. It’s a natural substance that prevents water loss and hydrates the skin so that when one shaves, the skin remains smooth and flexible. This reduces the risk of skin irritation common to shaving, like razor burn.
High quality shaving soaps are usually triple-milled, which means that right after the soap is made, it is rolled at least three times between stainless steel soap rollers before it is pressed to the soap puck moulds. This process leads to a creamy density which allows it to mix evenly and produce a more luxurious lather.
What’s in a Shaving Cream?
A shaving cream, meanwhile, is a frothy cosmetic cream that facilitates the shaving process. Similar to a soap, it lubricates the shaving process, making it easy and smooth. Unlike a soap, however, one does not need to spend some time lathering because a shaving cream already contains water and so it is easy to turn into a froth.
While shaving creams were only commercially produced in the 1940s, the idea for it already existed in prehistoric times. In fact, the earliest record of a shaving cream was discovered in Mesopotamia, which consisted of wood alkali and animal fat.
Most wet shaving purists though would frown down on shaving creams because it cuts down the shaving ritual by shortcutting the process of working the lather. But that’s the same reason why shaving cream users generally like it- for its convenience.
Still, if one decides to use shaving cream, one should know what to look out for in terms of quality.
A good shaving cream should cover the basics: it should be good for all skin types, it should effectively wet and lift your whiskers for smoother cutting while efficiently hydrating and nourishing your skin.
If you’re looking to cut down on costs, then our recommendation would be to go for a shaving soap. If you value convenience more than affordability, then go get a shaving cream.
— D'Rock, Naked Armor Founder
Soap vs. Cream
Now one might ask: If they are all that similar in terms of purpose, how does one differentiate them?
Basically, the time and effort that you need to spend to get that thick lather.
For shaving soaps, there’s a bit of a learning curve to be had in creating a lather. One needs to know how to use a shaving scuttle and a shaving brush before beginning to lather. And then, one has to find the proper mix of water and soap in order to produce the right amount of thick lather that one needs for shaving. You can learn more about that in our Beginners Guide to Using a Shave Soap.
In contrast, one does not need a lot of work with shaving creams. Some even come out of aerosol cans with foam ready for shaving! If one uses a high-quality shaving cream, it will still provide the same easy and clean shave as any high-quality shaving soap would.
Saving with Shaving Soap
However, if there is one aspect that can win the argument for shaving soap, it would be in the cost per shave.
Shaving soaps are concentrated pucks of fat and glycerin. They will last longer than a tube of shaving cream. This means that it will be cheaper in the long run if one relies on shaving soap for producing lather, especially for those who shave everyday.
So Should I Use Shaving Cream or Soap?
It all depends on your preference. If you’re looking to cut down on costs, then our recommendation would be to go for a shaving soap. If you value convenience more than affordability, then go get a shaving cream.
Here at Naked Armor though, we are such proud wet shaving traditionalists that we prefer a shaving soap over cream any time. That’s because our Noah’s Organic Shave Soap includes various essential oils which have an ultra-moisturizing effect on the skin. It is handmade, cold-pressed artisanal soap with a masculine scent that will make the ladies even love you more.
When paired with our Swedish Black Wood Shaving Brush, you will get better results as our Futura-made bristles can lather the soap to a consistent and thicker foam, giving you a better shaving experience.
So if you are in the market for a product that would make shaving a luxurious experience, why don’t you try out our shave soap. Click Add to Cart to order now.