One of the most common questions we get asked here at Edwin Jagger is what is the main difference between shaving soap and shaving cream? Even those new to wet shaving know the importance of a rich shaving lather for providing plenty of glide and cushion and reducing post-shave irritation, but many of those starting out are unsure about how best to create this lather. Whether you opt for a shaving cream or a shaving soap can make a huge difference to your wet shaving experience, so it’s important to know which is best for you and your routine. Remember, shaving is a highly personal experience and your skin type, hair type and general preferences will all impact your shave. There is no definitive answer as to whether one is better than the other, but armed with the correct information, you should be able to work out whether a shaving cream or a shaving soap is best for you.
First of all, let’s establish how the two are similar. Both are used with hot water and a quality shaving brush to produce a suitably thick lather (most shavers aim for a yoghurt-like consistency). The lather from either a cream or a soap will lubricate the skin, form a protective barrier and allow the razor to glide smoothly across the area you’re shaving with minimal discomfort. The differences emerge when it comes to creating and applying this lather…
The most notable difference between a shaving soap and a shaving cream is the texture. Shaving soaps are solid pucks that feel firm before being mixed with water, whereas shaving creams are much softer and silkier with a paste-like consistency. We sell both shaving creams and shaving soaps in economical screw-top tubs, but shaving creams are also available in practical 75ml squeezable tubes. Many shavers prefer the ease of use and portion control that comes from squeezing cream from a tube, whereas others argue that a tub is better value for money and still easy to use. We also offer refills exclusively for the shaving soaps that you can pop back in the original tub or store hygienically in a shaving bowl.
The difference in texture means you will need a slightly different process and technique depending on whether you’re creating a lather from a shaving soap or shaving cream. Due to the harder, denser structure of a shaving soap, more water is required to achieve the desired lather texture. The best way to achieve this is by soaking a high-quality shaving brush in warm (not hot) water for a minute or so beforehand so it can hold a good amount of water. Then, you can start working the damp brush into the solid surface of the soap in a circular motion to begin working up your lather. This is considered the traditional way to create a lather and those new to wet shaving may find it takes longer to master the technique.
Shaving cream on the other hand tends to be much easier to work with, especially for first-time wet shavers. As the cream already has a silkier texture, less water and manual effort is required to get the consistency just right. This also makes shaving cream popular with experienced shavers who favour speed over precision. Lathering with a shaving soap may take longer but this process also gives you greater control once you have honed the technique as you can better tailor the thickness, aeration and volume to just how you like it.
A key thing to remember regardless of whether you go for shaving soap or shaving cream is neither will produce a particularly effective lather if you are using a low-quality shaving brush. The bristles should be arranged to optimally conserve moisture, trap hot water within the knot and work into the texture of the cream or soap. If you’d like to know more about how different grades of shaving brush perform, check out our previous blog post here.
Another key difference is that unlike solid shaving soaps, shaving creams can actually be applied straight to the face or legs and then lathered directly on the skin using the brush. As soaps are solid, they must first be worked in the tub itself or in a shaving bowl. Whether you’re leaning more towards a soap or a cream, we would always recommend lathering in a shaving bowl for best results. Designed to fit a full puck of shaving soap or a generous amount of shaving cream, our shaving bowls are made of either porcelain or stainless steel. Porcelain is a particularly effective material for shaving bowls as it keeps in the heat from the warm water, making your lather more consistent. Alternatively, stainless-steel bowls are built to last, proving a worthwhile investment for any wet shaver.
We hope this blog has helped you see the main differences between shaving soaps and shaving creams. If it’s guided you towards making your decision, the next step is to choose which fragrance to add to your shaving regime. Fortunately, both our shaving soaps and shaving creams are available in our three fragrances:
Subtle aroma with soothing floral notes. A must-have for those with sensitive skin, the natural aloe vera extracts repair dry and damaged skin and are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
Zesty citrus aroma with fresh tropical notes. A sharper, bolder fragrance, this sweet aroma is particularly alluring and enticing.
Woody aroma with exotic peppery notes. This is traditionally the most popular fragrance of shaving cream as the subtle, masculine scent evokes sophistication and class.
If you’re still undecided or just keen to try every fragrance, we also offer sample pots of all three shaving creams. Sufficient for three to four shaves, it’s the perfect way to discover our full range without breaking the bank.
Know exactly which fragrance you want and looking to make a worthwhile investment in wet shaving? We offer a number of gift sets with your choice of shaving cream and either a shaving brush or double edge safety razor. You can shop our gift sets here.