Shaving Soap vs Cream: A Lesson in Modrn Man Skin Care

Posted by Dan Farris on
Shaving Soap vs Cream: A Lesson in Modrn Man Skin Care

A lot of skincare and cosmetic products have similar names, so they must do the same thing, right? While both shaving soap and cream have the same basic functions of softening the hair follicles, lubricating the skin, and adding moisture, they do have a few key differences.

Do you want to be a shaving connoisseur or ‘shave’ off some time in your routine? Knowing your options for facial hair care is the first step to achieving what you desire.

Shaving Soap

Shaving soap has been used since the 14th century but has taken a backseat in grooming habits since shaving creams become popular after World War I. Many men prefer the old-school way of shaving, using a shaving brush and container. Shaving soap is denser than shaving cream, so it takes a bit of time to produce a good lather.

shaving soap image

There are three types of shaving soap on the market. What makes them different is the process it takes to make them.

Triple-Milled: this type of shaving soap is usually more expensive than the others. A manufacturer, whether it be a factory or homemade, will grate their finished soap and melt it down again. It’s pressed into its shape for a second time. What this does is speed up the curing process: eliminating moisture in the soap to create a harder bar. This tends to make the shaving soap last longer. The triple-milling process also allows the maker the opportunity to add more fragrances, colorants, and superfats to the soap to make it more luxurious.

Semi-hard: just as it sounds, semi-hard shaving soap is when it’s not as hard as triple-milled but is also not too soft. They’re less dense than harder soaps and have a slightly lessened lifespan than triple-milled soaps.

Croap: is a soft, creamy shaving soap that contains a lot of moisture. Due to the softness, the shaving soap won’t last too long. It’s also the most inexpensive type of shaving soap on the market.

Shaving soaps also have a few main ingredients that can determine whether or not you wish to purchase that particular soap. The base of the soap can make a huge difference in moisture, scent, and the overall feel of the soap.

The ingredients include:

Oil-based: these types of shaving soaps are environmentally friendly and typically vegan. The oils can include olive, palm, argan, coconut, castor, almond, and more.

Tallow-based: this is the traditional type of shaving soap and is animal-fat based. If you want to stick to the old ways, then this is the way to go.

Glycerin-based: glycerin-based soaps are highly popular and lock in moisture better to moisturize the skin. This is ideal for those with sensitive skin as it’s gentler than oil and tallow-based soaps.

glycerin soap image

A great rule-of-thumb for shaving soap users is to know what type of water comes out of the faucet. If you have hard water, then it will have an impact on the lather you can work up. It’s recommended to use distilled water if you’re struggling.

Shaving Cream

We’ve all used shaving cream because it’s relatively inexpensive and widespread. It’s likely that the majority of us were taught to shave with it and didn’t even realize there were other options until we were much older. The convenience and instant lather of the shaving cream is what makes it a convenient and popular choice among consumers. Shaving cream, like any shaving aid, is made to add a protective layer against the razor and skin while moisturizing the hair follicles.

shaving cream image

There’s a wide range of shaving cream on the market. It creates a dense and creamy lather, and we have probably all played with it at one point as youngsters. Shaving creams typically contain harsh chemicals unless you’re using a high-quality artisan cream.

These chemicals can dry out your skin and increase irritation. Always check the ingredients list to avoid buying a shaving cream that contains alcohol because it can definitely dry out your skin.

Some common shaving cream ingredients include:

Triethanolamine (TEA): this ingredient combines all the other ingredients, preventing oil and water-based ingredients from separating. TEA is a known skin irritant and can easily be contaminated with nitrosamines: a compound that’s been linked to cancer. However, TEA isn’t a necessary ingredient, and it’s advised to choose a shaving cream that doesn’t contain it.

Glycerin/Glycerol: glycerin is a staple in skin-care and cosmetics. It helps moisturize the skin and is an effective ingredient for protecting the skin from the razor blade. It also helps retain water that increases the density and stability of the lather. Lastly, it also aids in a smooth glide for the razor.

homemade glycerin soap image

Sodium Hydroxide: this ingredient is also known as lye and is used to balance pH levels and helps maintain the consistency of the shaving cream. It’s a well-known and researched irritant, but it’s still FDA approved and used in several different types of products.

Stearic Acid: this is used as a thickening agent and stabilizes the lather. It’s extracted from animal or vegetable fats/oils. It’s also a common ingredient used in various products like shampoo, detergents, and make-up.

stearic acid image

Myristic Acid: just like stearic acid, myristic acid is a fatty acid, and it can be found in palm oil and coconut oil. It’s an excellent cleansing agent, and it plays a huge role in lubrication. It also thickens the lather.

Shaving creams can contain a lot of harmful ingredients that are unnecessary. Comparing ingredient labels can help you find one that is better for your skin without sacrificing effectiveness. Knowing what ingredients are and what role they play in the formula is the best way to determine if you should purchase that particular product.

Which is Right for You?

Deciding which shaving method is right for you comes down to the type of lather you prefer and the preparation you’re willing to go through. Since they both have the same purpose, it really only comes down to a few elements.

Personal preference, budget, and allergies are usually the bottom-line deciding factors when determining what should be a part of your grooming habits. To find the best shaving soap or shaving cream for your needs, visit us at for all your shaving essentials.

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