Introduction
650 words 4 minutes
Shaving soap and brush

Whether it's a traditional shaving cream or soap, or goo from a can, we've got you covered (in a dense, rich, lubricating foam)

Types of foam

Overview

lather from shaving soap
Quality lather

Lather from shaving soap

For most people, shaving cream is a can of shaving foam from the supermarket. It’s a convenient form of foam that takes a shake, a squirt and a slap to get your shave started.

Whilst convenient, canned shaving cream – derisively called canned goo in shaving enthusiast circles – is probably the worst type of lather available. For the remainder of this article, we’ll forget all about canned goo and focus on the traditional shaving creams and soaps; they’re superior in every way and the only types worth focusing on.

Forget all about canned goo and focus on the traditional shaving creams and soaps; they're superior in every way. Tweet this!

Generating a quality lather from a shaving soap is an art and a skill. A traditional shaving cream or a shaving soap can be worked with a shaving brush to create a rich, luxurious lather that provides a slick, cushioning layer for your razor blades to glide safely across your skin.

Shaving cream vs shaving soap

What’s the difference?

Shaving cream usually comes in a tube or cannister. It’s a soft, creamy substance that works easily into a lather. Shaving cream has been around since the 1940s so it’s moderately new compared to shaving soap.

Shaving soap is the more traditional (i.e. older) form of shaving lather. Shaving soap has been around for centuries and usually comes packaged as a puck but it can also be found in stick form. It is hard (especially triple-milled shaving soap) and lasts a long time.

Shaving cream is easier to use than shaving soap it is recommended for people starting out with traditional wet shaving. You may get frustrated trying to make a lather from shaving soap if your shaving brush skills aren’t well developed.

This article describes shaving creams and shaving soaps. For instructions on how to work a lather using a shaving brush, please read our article on how to use a shaving brush

Shaving cream

shaving cream
Shaving cream

Shaving creams in tubes and tubs

Shaving cream can be applied with the hands, by working a lather directly against the beard, or by using a shaving brush either directly against your beard or using a shaving scuttle (bowl). Using a shaving brush yields far greater results and a better shave.

It is easy to generate a lather that cushions and lubricates using a shaving cream. Modern formulations ensure the small dab of cream transforms into a generous foam in a matter of seconds.

A tube of shaving cream should last a few months (depending on size and your usage patterns). Shaving creams work out to be more costly than shaving soaps but they are less effort to use, especially for people who haven’t reached expert/god-level brush skills yet.

Shaving soap

shaving soaps
Shaving soaps

Fancy and no-nonsense shaving soaps

Shaving soap isn’t like normal body soap, although there is no formal definition separating the two. Generally, a shaving soap will have ingredients that cause it to generate a denser, richer foam that is more cushioning than body soap. Some of the ingredients also help with shaving specific needs such as moisture retention (glycerine) and lubrication (oils or lanolin). These ingredients may also be present in shaving creams.

Generating a quality lather from a shaving soap is an art and a skill. Tweet this!

Generating a quality lather from a shaving soap is an art and a skill. It is more difficult than using a shaving cream but once mastered, the results are better. Die-hard wet shavers are often snobby and superior about using soaps over creams.

shaving scuttle and shaving brush
Shaving scuttle

Bowl scuttle and shaving brush

To make a lather using shaving soap you must have a shaving brush and a shaving scuttle or mug. There may be a few magicians out there who can summon a fine lather directly against their beard (or in their hand) but it is much easier using a scuttle.

A good puck of shaving soap may last up to a year (depending on usage) so it works out to be quite an economical purchase for shaving lather.