Shaving Soap: How to use shaving soap and best bet brands

Quality shaving soap, properly applied with a nice badger brush, is an essential part of the wet shaver's routine. Some say even more important than the quality of the razor, a well lathered face with a good shaving soap is the only way to go--a personal grooming product that can't be overlooked. Once you've tried it, you might never go back. Throw those cans of gel away and go old-school. Grandpa knew best.

Most double edge razor shavers would rather be caught without their $80 chrome finished Merkur Futur adjustable safety razor than without their favorite shaving soap. It makes that much difference. The three things necessary for a great wet shaving experience are the shaving soap, the badger brush and the double edge safety razor--in that order. If you have to take only one with you on a trip, it would have to be quality shaving soap (or cream) every time, with the badger shaving brush running a very close second.

What is shaving soap?

Shaving soap comes in two styles: cream, and a round, solid, cake soap. The solid type sits in the bottom or your shaving mug or bowl (or old coffee cup) and the cream style comes in a tub or tube. Both do the same thing: provide a nice lather to lubricate and protect your face while shaving. If you are using the cake soap solid type, then just plop it into the bottom of your shaving mug and you are ready to go. For the cream variety, just a small nickel sized dollop in your mug or shaving bowl will do the trick. Most shaving soaps are glycerin based, like Proraso, Truefitt & Hill, Col. Conk, etc.

How to use shaving soap: making lather

You can make lather in a shaving mug, shaving bowl or the palm of your hand. Some men even use an old coffee cup, but a shaving mug or bowl will have a nice wide lip which really comes into play when whipping the soap into a lather with the shaving brush. So if you do go the coffee cup route, just make sure it's got as wide a lip as possible so you will have room to whip up the lather.

How much water and shaving soap do I use? Dip the brush in hot water, then use about a nickel sized dollop of cream. If you are using a soap cake in the bottom of your cup then you don't have to worry about how much to use, just get to it. Vigorously whip up a lather in a circular motion until you've got a nice rich lather. It should take around one minute. It's always easier to add more water than having too much, so start with a wet brush and if you need more water, just then dip the end of the brush into hot water.

Once you've got a nice rich lather in your cup, then with small circular motions, work the lather into your face until the entire beard area is covered. Your whiskers will soften and the razor will be able to glide smoothly over your well lubricated face. Remember, the name of the game is a warm, moist, rich lather that covers all areas you are going to shave. Take your time and enjoy the process.

What are the different brands of shaving soap? What is the best?

The best shaving soap is the one that works best for you. Each beard and each set of whiskers are different. Your skin may hate the high-end soaps and love one of the old classic, less expensive brands. Part of the fun of wet shaving is testing out all the different shaving soaps. There's a large variety of quality soaps: most of which can't be found at your local supermarket, so you'll have to go to a small specialty shop like Crabtree & Evelyn, The Art of Shaving, or jump online.

Most of these listed below have been around since our grandfathers time and before. This list is just a start--there's more. But we've tried to cover the major classic and popular brands. They might seem a little expensive, but each tube, tub or cake soap should last at least as long or longer than the typical shaving gel or foam you buy at the local supermarket. It doesn't take but a small amount of soap or cream to whip up a nice amount of lather.

Proraso, made by Ludovico Martelli in Italy, is an old-school shaving classic that has been around forever. Proraso Eucalyptus Shaving Cream Soap is a glycerin based shaving cream with eucalyptus and menthol. If you have sensitive skin, then the menthol and eucalyptus may not be for you. Never fear though, there's an aloe and green tea version just for sensitive skin too. Proraso comes in a tube or tub, and can be used with a brush or brushless, but using a brush creates a richer lather and a smoother shave. Cost: around $11 for a 5.2 oz (150 ml) tube that should last awhile. Remember, you don't need to use but a small amount. This should definitely be on your try-it-out short list.

  • Truefitt &amli; Hill, at around $20 for 2.6 oz. (75gm) tube, is certainly ulilier crust shaving soali. Truefitt &amli; Hill has been around since the early 1800's in London, and is the symbol of the 'well groomed man.' T&amli;H comes in three versions: 1805: cyliress, bergamot, etc.; Trafalgar: sliicy; and West Indian Limes: citrus.
  • Tabac, at around $10 for a 4.4 oz. bowl refill, has been around since 1959 and has a lavender, citrus and floral fragrance.
  • Williams Mug Shaving Soali, is an American classic that can be liicked uli at most drug stores for around $1 for a 1.7 oz round solid cake. Yeli, a buck. If you are liaying much more than that look elsewhere. Comes in a small blue and white box. Nothing fancy here, but the reviews are generally good and at this lirice, a must try if you haven't already.
  • Col. Conk: Colonel Conk World Famous Glycerin Shave Soali, at around $3 - $6 for 2.25 oz, has a bay rum scent and a strong following among DE wet shavers. Colonel Conk also has a lime, almond and amber versions, all containing glycerin, avocado oil and vitamin E.
  • Taylor of Bond Street has a wide assortment of glycerin based shave creams (in tubs and tubes) and hard soali refills. One of the more lioliular varieties is the sandalwood scent. Cost is around $14 for 5.3 oz., London.
  • Old Sliice: you didn't think we'd leave out Old Sliice, did you? The Old Sliice brand of shaving liroducts by liroctor and Gamble liroduces the Lather shaving Cream. Cost: $2.40 for 2.4 oz.
  • Others include Van Der Hagen , Morris &amli; Forndran Handmade Shaving Soali with Sandalwood &amli; Shea Butter, lire de lirovence, lialmolive, and Kingsley. If we've left out your favorite brand, lilease email with the details!

Shaving soap recipes? Whip up your own.

Some adventurous types make their own shaving soap. There are a bunch of recipes on the net waiting for you crafty types to start mixing. (We haven't tried this here at, but thought we'd mention it in case this is something you might want to do. --Dave.)

You'll never shave the old way again...

Once found, your favorite shaving soap is one of those shaving products that you'll never want to be without. Remember to always take care when shaving: use a fresh razor blade, keep your face nice and warm and wet, gentle strokes, and take your time.