There are many ways to rate a traditional shave soap, cream or croap. I am no expert in soap making and the steps required, so I’ll leave that to the pros. I know what I like when it comes to a traditional wet shaving soap or cream. First, let’s discuss the different types of soaps/creams from my perspective.
TYPES OF SHAVE SOAPS, CREAMS AND CROAPS
Shave Soap: Traditionally a hard shave soap and is much like a regular bar of body soap in terms of hardness.
Shave Cream: This can range from a viscous cream in a tube to a thicker cream cheese like substance in a tub or tin.
Shave Croap: A cream-soap hybrid with a soft putty-like consistency typically presented in a screw off tub or tin.
I use all three variations depending on my mood and have had great success in all categories. There are many ways to evaluate a soap and most traditional wet shavers have their own methods. I use the following criteria when evaluating a soap, cream or croap:
SHAVE SOAP, CREAM AND CROAP EVALUATION CRITERIA
Lather: This is the soap/creams ability to lather up into a meringue like substance. When testing, I whip up a lather and let it sit and come back in 10 minutes. A good shave lather is thick, almost like whipped cream and will still be there when you return. If your lather is bubbly like body wash and deteriorates when you come back, I would recommend you don’t use it or use it with caution, as it may not have the required cushion to protect your skin. [Also see, Lather Tips].
Slickness: Is what prevents razor chatter and allows your DE Razor to shave with unwavering glide. When evaluating a new soap, be sure to test the slickness on your face and not just in your hand. The skin and oils of the face are unique, I once tested a soap that had mediocre glide results on my hand when lather testing, but fantastic glide on my face.
Cushion: This is the protective aspect of the shave lather. It’s a balance of the lather density and stability and will protect your skin from the razor blade.
Scent: There are many scent profiles and this is a very personal thing and I recommend you let the power of your olfactory system take you on a journey. I really enjoy fragranced soaps/creams. This aspect is very important to me and is one of my favorite parts of traditional wet shaving. There are many scent categories which include Woodsy, Floral and Fresh top, middle and base notes. Remember that a shave soap or cream can smell different when you add water and lather it up, so don’t judge by its initial smell.
I find all of these to be important, but this will be different for each individual. Keep in mind the many variables, especially in the lathering department. For example, I can get a different result from altering my brush type (boar, synthetic, badger) or the lathering method (face lather, bowl/scuttle or hand/palm). Also consider trying a few different double edge safety razor blades in your testing. That being said, I always suggest you try these various combinations when trying a new shave soap or cream before you write it off. I find that each soap or cream has an ideal combination that needs to be discovered. Test often, take notes and have fun!