Shaving Soap vs Shaving Cream (Differences & Benefits)

Upgrading to wet shaving? See the differences of shaving soap vs shaving creams so you know what ingredients will work best with your skin and shaving style.

Both shaving soaps and creams provide better lubrication so that your razor glides along your skin while delivering a close shave. However, there are other differences to keep in mind so you pick the right products.

shaving soap vs shaving cream

Shaving Soap vs Cream – What’s Best for Wet Shaving?

When it comes to a great lather, both shaving creams and soaps can provide a good barrier between your razor and skin. Wet shavers use both of these products as they’re very similar in quality, but there are some advantages with each one.

Just with a dime-sized amount of shaving cream, you can build a rich lather. However, shaving soaps offer a great shave for oily skin and have amazing scents.

For wet shaving, both of these products provide smooth results. The ingredients also matter, as you want to have a smooth post shave result.

What is Wet Shaving?

Wet shaving simply describes shaving with water, as opposed to shaving with an electric razor. For traditional wet shaves, a shaving soap or cream is used to lather up your face using a shaving brush.

Proponents of wet shaving like myself always say that you get a much closer shave that is free of razor burn and bumps. Thus, many men with sensitive skin prefer wet shaving to electric razors and trimmers.

Here’s a guide to how each of these wet shaving products work:

What is Shaving Soap?

Shaving soaps are solid bars made with saponifying fats like potassium and sodium hydroxide. Due to the high stearic acid content, shaving soaps provide a stable lather, more slickness, and softening agents.

The main difference between wet shaving with shaving soap vs cream is that it takes longer to get a good lather with soaps, and you’ll definitely need a shave brush.

In addition, shaving soaps are different than shaving with regular soap. Regular bath soap doesn’t have the same fat and oil content, so it dissipates faster. Shaving with regular soap frequently leads to dry skin.

You’ll need to use more water and purchase a high-quality shave brush to get the most out of your shave soap.

shaving soap vs cream is personal preference
Choosing between shave creams and soaps is really a personal preference depending on the type of shaving, skin type, and your comfortable shave routine.

Shaving Soap Ingredients

  • Tallow: High in stearic acid. Better for moisturizing the skin and healing after a close shave.
  • Glycerin: Creamier and easier to lather, better for quick shaving.
  • Oils: Some soaps will use coconut oil or jojoba oil in their formulas for hydration and more stability.
  • Humectants (Moisturizing Agents): Aloe vera, allantoin, goat’s milk, jojoba oil, kokum butter, or shea butter may be used for more hydration, as well as antiseptics.
  • Hybrid: Blends the two nicely and may be best for sensitive skin.

Shaving Soap Benefits

  • High-quality, close shave
  • More concentrated, provides more product
  • Provides smooth barrier for razor to glide
  • Great for all skin types, but works really well for oily skin

Tips for Wet Shaving with Soap

  1. Wet your shaving brush for a few minutes in a warm bowl of water or in your sink.
  2. Use a badger hair shaving brush as it retains more water.
  3. Once your brush bristles have soaked in warm water, place on the shaving soap and swirl in circular motions.
  4. Your shaving soap should begin to lather up immediately, leading to a rich lather in about 20 seconds.
  5. Apply the shaving cream with the brush to areas you want to shave, using a circular motion.
  6. If you need more shaving cream, just repeat process making sure bristles are moistened with warm water first.

What is Shaving Cream?

Shaving creams combine surfactants, emollients, humectants, and water, making it faster to lather up quickly. Some creams also have oils in the formula, such as coconut oil.

Shaving cream come in tubs and shaving soap comes in bars.
Shaving creams typically come in tubs, tubes, or tins that can easily be lathered with a shaving brush.

Just like with shaving soap, you should also use a shave brush to spread and lather the cream, but it won’t take as long with creams.

Unfortunately, one drawback to shaving cream is that it doesn’t last as long as shaving soaps. You’ll typically go through creams in a matter of 7-14 days or faster if you shave every day.

Shaving Cream Ingredients

  • Surfactants: These ingredients allow the cream to foam up and provide cushion for shaving.
  • Emollients: These lubricate and condition the skin for shaving.
  • Humectants (Moisturizing Agents): Aloe vera, allantoin, goat’s milk, jojoba oil, kokum butter, or shea butter may be used for more hydration, as well as antiseptics.
  • Water: Makes it fast to lather up and serves as the solvent by which other substances dissolve.

Unlike shaving foams and gels that come in aerosol cans, shaving creams come in large pots or tins.

Shaving Cream Benefits

  • Lathers up quickly with shaving brush
  • Leaves skin feeling soft and moisturized
  • Typically has more scent ranges
  • Can be used with cartridge razors, safety razors, or straight razors

Tips for Wet Shaving with Shaving Cream

  1. Place a shaving brush in warm water, soaking for about 60 seconds. Bristles should be soft and warm so you get a rich lather.
  2. Use a dim-sized amount at first, dipping directly on the brush.
  3. Lather your face using circular motions, using more cream if necessary until your skin is covered.
  4. Remember to shave in the opposite direction of hair growth.

Final Thoughts: Shaving Soap vs Cream

Shaving soap is best for those who want a high-quality lather that will last a long time. It’s also best to use shaving soaps if you have sensitive skin.

Shaving cream lathers up faster but the product doesn’t last as long as shaving soap.

With both products, you’ll want to purchase a badger bristle shaving brush and possibly a shaving bowl so you can quickly go through your wet shaving routine.

By Eric Melillo

I'm the co-owner of B&B. I live in Guilford, Connecticut and I've been obsessed with bald & beard styles & trends for over 20 years..