Creams and Soap: Getting a Good Morning Lather

When I first started using a safety razor I wasn’t sold on also changing up my shaving cream. While I didn’t normally use it, when I did I was perfectly happy with aerosol or gels, and it’s what I used for the first month or so after switching razors. My wife thankfully had more foresight than I and got me a brush and shave soap for Christmas, I’ve been a believer ever since. It’s opened up a whole new aspect to shaving, with hundreds of options available.

Most of those options fall into two groups: shaving creams, and shaving soaps.

So what’s the difference? It’s pretty simple:

To the left is a tub of shaving cream, to the right is a (heavily used) bar of shaving soap.

To the left is a tub of shaving cream, to the right is a (heavily used) bar of shaving soap.

Creams

Brush mixed shaving creams come in a tub or tube (like toothpaste), are fairly moist, and have the consistency of moderate to thick putty. My experience with creams has been that they are very easy to mix, and with a wet brush they create a good lather very quickly and with little effort. They’ve given me consistent and satisfying lathers every time.

Soaps

Shaving soaps are just what the name says, it’s a soap that’s made for shaving. It comes in bar or puck form, and generally lasts for about three months (some varieties last much longer). They are different from normal bar soap, though I’ve heard stories of some people using regular bar soap also. My experience with them has been that they take a bit more practice to master, and a little more time to mix. Both my best and my worst have been from soaps, with some absolutely great and others down right terrible, which I suspect to be a user issue.

Do they actually do a better job protecting your skin than gels or aerosol creams?

I honestly don’t know, but I have no reason to think they are any worse. That said, they absolutely make for a more enjoyable shaving experience and it’s become a much anticipated part of my shaving ritual. Preparing and loading the brush, mixing the to your desire, and getting a fresh, warm lather is incredibly refreshing. Plus, they have much richer, deeper scents that not only make for a pleasant shave, but which also linger on the skin well afterward.

Of the two, I personally lean towards shaving soap. That being said, I’m primarily using a shaving cream right now and having a very enjoyable experience. Luckily, with good soaps costing only a few dollars and creams not much more, there’s no reason that you only have to choose one!

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