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Shaving Soap vs Shaving Cream-West Coast Shaving

Shaving Soap vs Shaving Cream

One of the most important elements of a wet shave is a good lather. A thick, dense, rich, frothy, smooth, . . . ahem, sorry, lost my train of thought. A drool worthy lather makes a huge difference in the comfort and performance of your shave. But you might be asking yourself, which is better: a shaving cream or a shaving soap? Here’s a break-down of some of the differences.

The first thing to say about this discussion is that you can create an amazing lather from both shaving creams and shaving soaps. There isn’t necessarily a categorically better product. However, their different attributes might make one more attractive to you, but both will whip up protective, lubricating froth with a shaving brush.

Shaving Cream vs Shaving Soap - What’s the Difference?

Shaving Creams:

  • Probably the biggest difference between a soap and a cream is the consistency. Shaving creams are softer. They often contain more water and are easily scooped and placed in a mug or bowl for lathering. 
  • Creams are often quick to lather. It doesn’t make much elbow grease, “blooming”, or water to get a legitimate whip going. 
  • Because of the ease of lather, creams are often the go-to for beginner shavers. When you are just getting started and all the many techniques are new, taking a few variables out of the equation can be helpful. And a nice, easy lathering cream can be a great place to start.
  • Just about any brush you can think of can produce a fabulous lather on a cream.
  • Even though you only need a dime sized amount of cream to whip up a multiple pass lather, you will still likely go through cream faster than a soap on a ounce for ounce basis.

Shaving Soaps:

  • If a cream is “creamier” in consistency, then a soap takes the other side. Shaving soaps tend to be hard. They are frequently “triple-milled” which results in an extremely hard puck. You aren’t going to be scooping out the soap with your finger. Usually it will come in a jar/bowl for lathering or you can load the brush on the soap and take it to the bowl/mug/palm/face to finish the lather. 
  • While soaps can be vegan as well, many soaps contain tallow, a traditional ingredient that promotes at light, creamy lather and provides moisturizing properties.
  • Because of the nature of triple-milled soaps, they have great longevity. One soap puck can last quite awhile. Load off the top, rinse, allow it to dry and it will provide you many great shaves. Shaving soaps are a fantastic value for your money.
  • During the soap making process and particularly with the triple milled the scent gets mixed thoroughly into the product resulting in a uniform aroma. 
  • Some hard soap users like a boar brush (or stiffer shaving brush) to bring out the lather from the harder soap. You also might want to “bloom” the soap (set warm water on the top of the puck for a few moments before you apply the shaving brush).

Both Creams & Shaving Soaps:

  • Additionally, ingredients can be added to both shaving soaps and creams to enhance certain characteristics. You will frequently find glycerin, shea butter and other butters, jojoba oil, bentonite clay, and so many other additives that promote hydration, post-face feel, stable lather and more. Many products can be added to contribute to a notable post-shave face feel and nourished skin.
  • They can be vegan-based and created with solely plant-based products. 
  • Both creams and soaps can boast fantastic, long-lasting scents.
  • Shaving creams and shaving soaps can both be whipped with a quality, shaving brush

Whether a novice or experienced wet shaver, either a shaving cream or shaving soap can provide the lubricating froth you’re looking for to get that perfectly smooth face.

So, what are you lathering up? Are you a shaving soap aficionado? Do you prefer shaving creams? Tell us why in the comments below.

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Steven - May 18, 2020

I also am of African decent and I would suggest the following:
1) Get a powered facial brush or at least a toothbrush. Use with a good facial cleanser or soap ( NOT a deodorant soap but something like Dove, Purpose,…I like Pears, I get from the Dollar Store for $1)
2) Shave after a hot shower in which you use the above, or at least shave after washing face using lots of warm water
3) Get a shaving a shaving brush. I suggest a boar bush for the stiffness to lift a curlier beard. Badger brush would do also if the knot is very dense (24 or more mm)
4) Use a high quality cream/soap. If you haven’t used a brush before I suggest starting with a cream. Remember anything in an aerosol can is NOT a cream.
5) Use a single blade safety razor or Bump Fighter razor. Change blade frequently, not more than 3 shaves per blade. Take your time shaving. Light, short strokes. Shave with the grain and across the grain, never against the grain.
6) Finish up by thoroughly rinsing your face with warm then cold water, gently rub an alum block on the skin and use a non-alcohol based after shave balm.

Andrew - April 1, 2020

I am of African descent and I’ve tried many shaving products but end up stopping due to bumps. I am interested in your products, what are your recommendations for a good shave that will also prevent bumps, thank you

Paul A Schneider - February 29, 2020

Having tried many soaps and creams, I find it hard to beat a good cream.
I stick with Poraso (pre and shave) and Fine with the DE everyday; and for travel I use a small tube of Spiek preceded by small pill box of poraso, with a small omega brush where I use a Trac2

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