The shave soap or cream is an essential component to a good shave. With so many products on the market, knowing which one to choose can be extremely overwhelming for a new wet shaver. First let’s discuss the most popular types of shave soap and cream.
HARD SHAVE SOAP
Traditionally a hard shave soap is like a regular bar of body soap. Hard shaving soap to some is considered old school, as many shave soaps in the early days were hard soaps. Hard shave soaps are still relatively accessible and easy to find and come in many scents.
TO BLOOM, LOAD AND LATHER: Hard soaps are often loaded right out of the container into the shave brush. Some come wrapped as a separate refill bar of soap and not in a container, which can be placed into lather bowl or shaving mug and the soap can loaded out of there. With hard soaps you can also optionally bloom them in advance by pouring several drops of warm water on the soap or even completely submerging it in the container for 30 seconds to 1 minute. The water will awaken and soften the top layer of the hard soap making it easier to lather.
Load your shaving brush by swirling it over the soap in the container, using a circular motion for about 30-40 seconds. Don’t be afraid to use a little pressure and press your brush bristles down to help pack more soap into the brush. From there, you can proceed with whipping up a shave lather on your damp skin, in a shave mug, lather bowl or scuttle.
This can range from a viscous cream in a tube to a thicker cream cheese like substance in a screw top tub or tin. Many people like creams because some find them easier to lather. Again, this will depend on your gear and technique and this varies from person to person.
TO LOAD AND LATHER: For a Cream, scoop or squeeze out an almond sized amount and press it into the middle of the soaked shave brush. Then you can proceed into building your lather on your damp face or skin, in a shave mug, lather bowl or scuttle.
With certain shave creams you can sometimes dab your brush in the container to transfer some product directly onto the brush. Ideally with a shave cream you don’t want to get water inside the tub or container. You can also scoop some out and press or smash it into the bottom of a shave mug, lather bowl or scuttle and then proceed with whipping it up from there.
A Croap is cream-hard soap hybrid with a soft putty-like consistency typically presented in a screw off tub or tin. Some also classify these shave soaps as Italian Soaps or Italian hardness shaving soaps.
TO LOAD AND LATHER: Much like the hard shave soaps, they are often loaded into the brush right out of the container.
With certain croaps or Italian shave soaps you can sometimes bloom them in advance by pouring several drops of hot water on the soap in the container for 30 seconds to 1 minute. The water will awaken and soften the top layer of the croap making it easier to lather. Again, proceed with caution if you decide to bloom, as not all croaps react well to having that much excess water in the container.
To load your shaving brush, swirl it over the soap in the container, using a circular motion for about 30-40 seconds. Don’t be afraid to use a little pressure and press your brush bristles down to help pack more soap product into the brush.
For a Croap or Italian shave soap, you can also scoop some out and press or smash it into the bottom of a shave mug, lather bowl or scuttle and then proceed with whipping up your shave lather from there.
4 IMPORTANT FACTORS WHEN CHOOSING A SHAVE SOAP
Many traditional wet shavers evaluate or choose a shave soap for different reasons. Some of the most common performance and experience based evaluation characteristics are: Scent, Lather, Cushion and Slickness.
SCENT: Typically the most important factor when choosing a shave soap, cream or croap. The scent profile can make you immediately love or hate it.
LATHER: The soap or creams ability to lather up is extremely important for blade protection.
CUSHION: Generally blade protection is described as cushion and a dense lather will ensure you are protected.
SLICKNESS: Slickness is essential the help your razor and blade glide to prevent chatter for an ultra-smooth shave.
PACKAGING: One other factor when choosing the right shave soap or cream is to consider the user experience based on the packaging. This can be as simple as the type of container, how the container fits in your hand or even the overall aesthetic look.
FEELING: More emotional considerations include the design of the label and how the overall presentation of the product makes you feel.
VALUES: Values considerations could be choosing Vegan soap, not made with animal tallow if you are Vegan.
INGREDIENTS LIST: Ingredients can be important to certain wet shavers. Most traditional wet shaving soaps or creams typically have really simple ingredients and are commonly free of Parabens and SLS. Read more on the Anatomy of a Shave Cream here.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: For some, the country of where the shave soap or cream is made can be important.
LEGACY OF BRAND: Some wet shavers favor more established brands that have been around for many years, while some really enjoy supporting exclusive, specialty, independent or artisan shave soap makers.
When choosing the right shave soap, first decide whether you would like a hard soap, cream or croap/Italian hardness shave soap. From there select a scent that resonates with you. Lastly choose the brand that aligns with your performance expectations, values, packaging preferences and always choose one that makes you feel good.