10 Best Shaving Soaps – Reviews and Buying Guide
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In this article, we will take an in-depth look at the best shaving soaps that are easily available on the market.
Many things that had gone out of style are slowly coming back. These pertain to music, cars, clothes and now, shaving. Yes, there is nothing wrong with wanting to shave like your grandfather or great-grandfather used to. We are big boys and make our own choices.
One of the tools that were handy to our forefathers in their clean shaving endeavors is the shaving soap. Yes, sure, most people today probably think of a shave cream when they are looking to boost their daily shave. However, there is also the option of shaving soap. And believe it or not, unlike cream, shaving soap has been around for centuries.
TOP 5 Shaving Soaps (Summary)
In this review and buying guide, we take a close look at some of the best shave soaps that are still in production. At the very top of the list is Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Soap.
But before we get our heads deep in the review, here are some factors to consider when shopping for the top choice shave soap available today.
Factors to Consider When Looking For The Best Shave Soap
While we shall provide a review list of some of the options available, it is also essential that you have a solid understanding of how we arrived at these products as being the best. Having knowledge of these factors will also make you one of the savviest shoppers. Being bombarded with lots of options from different brands will not faze you; you will be able to effortlessly pick out the one that fit your needs from the sea of alternatives available.
So before you proceed to the store, here are some factors you should be aware of.
1. Various Types of Shave Soaps
By types, we refer to the process that manufacturers use to produce the soap.
This process of making shaving soap involves grating the final soap product. The grating is followed by melting and then pressing it into a bar or puck. If you do not have the time, or you just do not like the idea of getting your hands dirty by grating the soap yourself, you will be pleased that some companies use some specialized machines to triple mill the soap they distribute to their clients.
But why is triple milling soap an important process of soap making?
The answer is in the moisture levels. When the soap has less water, it is milder and of higher quality. Sure there is always the option of curing the soap for ages to evaporate the water out from the soap, but this is a time-consuming process.
Triple-milling is fast. Additionally, this process mainly produces a hard soap which tends to last way longer than soft soaps do.
As its name suggests, the soap is slightly softer than triple milled soaps but is still harder than croap’s which when compared to semi-hard soaps, do not last long.
This is a soft, even creamy soap. The term ‘croap’ is a combination of creamy and soap. It is the softest of all shaving soaps as it contains a lot of moisture compared to other soap types.
2. What Are the Components in a Good Shave Soap?
Before you invest your hard-earned cash in any product, it is important that you pay close attention to the various shaving products. Soaps are not an exception. For the most part, soaps are oil, glycerin or tallow-based.
- Tallow-based – these soaps are more traditional and are favored by old-school shavers. These soaps are animal fat-based. Over the years, individuals thought of tallow soaps of being superior in quality to other soaps. But slowly, this notion is changing.
- Oil-based – these soaps have been made using oils including palm, argan, coconut and olive oil. These oils and therefore the soaps are vegan-friendly. They are the perfect solid alternative to tallow based soaps.
- Glycerin based – these have been gaining popularity over the years. They are considered to be gentle on the skin compared to oil and tallow-based soaps. For the shavers that have sensitive skin, this type of shave soap is a great choice.
Aside from the ingredients mentioned above, another ingredient included in most soaps is the fragrance. This can either be synthetic or natural. Blending some essential oils is one of the ways manufacturers have devised to provide natural scents.
3. Is it Easy to Use?
With regards to ease of use, there are several factors that you ought to consider. These factors include the ease of loading the soap onto the shaving brush and just how fast the soap lathers and still provides excellent moisture and slickness required to ensure a good close shave.
While you can use your hand to lather the soap, it is better to use a brush to make the application. Additionally, you will find it easier to create the lather in a shaving bowl.
Another merit of using a brush for the application process is the fact that the brush will tend to lift hair off the face and help in facilitating a clean and close shave. The brush also lubricates the skin and softens the facial hair.
Most of the shaving brushes available are made from boar hair, badger hair, synthetic fibers or horse hairs.
4. What Kind of Scent Does it Have?
Some individuals love scented soaps while others prefer their soap with no fragrance. The smell is, for the most part, a personal preference. Most of the soaps available, however, are unscented. And those that are scented are only mildly fragranced such that the aroma does not last through the day.
Most manufacturers derive their fragrance from natural essential oils. There are however some synthetic soaps that feature alcohol. If you have irritable or sensitive skin, you will want to stay away from alcohol-based smells.
5. Important: Slickness and Cushioning
If you are just starting your journey on old-school shaving, either using a straight cut razor or a double-edge razor, you should take note of these two terms – you will come across them often. Cushioning refers to the ability of the soap to allow the razor head to float on the skin thus avoiding cuts, nicks and razor burns.
Slickness, on the other hand, refers to the layer of lather that remains on the skin and that helps to prevent friction. The higher the slickness of your soap, the more comfortable your shave will be.
6. Price of a Good Shaving Soap
Truth be told, regardless of what you are planning on buying, the price will always be a factor to consider. Sure the cost of the soap is not as significant as other products necessary for a clean and close shave, but all the same, it is an important factor. Generally, most soaps range between $5 and $25. You can expect your soap to last several months regardless of the price.
10 Best Shave Soaps 2020
1. Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Soap – All Time Classic
Their top soap, the Sandalwood shaving soap is of a quality very few if any, shaving soap alternatives can match.
There is so much that draws someone in; from its sandalwood fragrance to its smooth consistency and the shaving bowl it comes with. Here is an in-depth review.
As pointed out above, Sandalwood features a feel and consistency that most soaps and creams envy. It feels like lotion in the hand. Other soaps are thin, however, this soap is thick and forms a perfect foundation for the blade to glide over your cheeks smoothly and with ease.
This soap comes oozing with essential oils which work to soften the beard and the skin as well as provide perfect lubrication.
Sandalwood has created a reputation for itself as a manly scent with some earthy tones laced with cedar. The company also threw in some rosemary, jasmine, lavender and rose to provide it with a unique smell. In all honesty, and this is probably a good thing for most, it is not a soap you can share with your girlfriend or wife.
One of the main ingredients in this product is glycerin. Glycerin is a natural sugar alcohol that is contained in most lotions. In combination with palm oil, these components help to make this soap a classic and superior to other shaving soaps available.
The soap is packaged in a reusable shaving bowl (wooden). This bowl enables you to save water. The addition of the bowl is yet another example of this product’s class and elegance.
You will notice that this soap fetches a slightly higher price than most shaving soaps. While this may cause some to shy away from its purchase, you should note that it of high quality and will last longer. A small amount will provide you with all the lather you need.
2. Truefitt & Hill 1805 Luxury Shaving Soap with Bowl – Superior Smoothening & Moistening Abilities
For more than two centuries, this brand has provided men with quality grooming products. Truefitt & Hill holds the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest barbershop that transition into producing men’s grooming products. But most men don’t love it because it is old, though their experience in the industry has taught them a thing or two about what men want in grooming products.
This shaving soap has a lot of features going right for it. But at the top of the list is its wooden packaging. Very few men expect this even from a premium shaving soap. But while other manufacturers shy away from wooden packaging, Truefitt & Hill readily embraced it, and the results were phenomenal. The bowl is classy and elegant. It features ridges on its side which improve its grip. So even when you have soapy and slippery hands, it won’t keep slipping to the floor. Additionally, on the lid is a well-designed waterproof sticker that screams royalty.
Being a product from two centuries ago, you’d expect it to have an old man smell. Well, it doesn’t. On the contrary, it has an oceanic and fresh scent. The scent is mild and doesn’t linger for long. In addition to this, Truefitt &Hill provided several scent options including cardamom, mandarin, geranium, lavender and clary sage resting on a cedarwood, musk, and sandalwood base. Though the smells are mild and simple, they are unforgettable and complement the gentleman look.
Now, when using it for the first time, you’ll find the soap to be hard. Because of this, the soap requires extra loading than other soaps do. However, this is nothing a thin water layer cannot help to solve.
Overall, the soap lathers. With the hardness of the soap, you’d expect it to take long to lather approximately 45 seconds. But you’ll be shocked to find 30 seconds are more than enough to yield lather enough for two razor passes.
Using this soap, you’ll yield a smooth shave with minimal nicks and cuts. The foam nourishes the skin and easily softens heavy beards. It is ideal for all skin types and can be used for wet shaving, preventing ingrown hairs, preventing razor burns, and bumps.
3. Proraso For Sensitive Skin (White Line) Shaving Soap – Best Choice if You Have Sensitive Skin
It seems to be a common belief among the millennials that shaving is a boring process. So much so that there are even months dedicated to letting beards grow thick and wild (see #noshavenovember). But contrary to these beliefs, for those who have actually tried, shaving is actually an enjoyable and luxurious process. You, however, need to have the best tools in hand which mean getting the best creams, razors, and soaps. For those with sensitive skin, this is even more important, even essential for good results.
We have gone through the razors on other posts, so we shall not get into the details of that here. Rather let’s have a look at the leading shave soaps. Of the many soaps available on the market, Proraso’s soap is perfect for sensitive skin. It helps men shave without getting skin irritation and razor burns.
Proraso is designed using green tea and oatmeal which contribute to its gentle nature making it perfect for sensitive skin. These ingredients will protect and soothe sensitive skin. Additionally, it is known to produce a rich and creamy lather designed to soften the skin and provides perfect lubrication for the skin. The razor glides over the skin with great ease.
Proraso Shaving Soap For Sensitive Skin is produced the traditional way and matures in a pan for 10 days after cooking so that it becomes even more concentrated.
Proraso, the company, is located in Italy. It has been producing premium shaving products for a long time (since 1948). It has grown to be one of the leading brands available. Products from this company include all natural ingredients such as natural oils and botanical extracts which work well to prevent skin irritation.
It is also worth noting that the products are paraben free. This, in the shaving industry, is a huge plus. Additionally, it is free of SLS and mineral oils which gradually leech natural oils from the skin.
Most men have gone on record to comment about the scent of this soap. It has a hint of apple and lime which is manly and attractive a well. Unlike other soaps, it is not overpowering and neither is it too citrusy.
4. Van Der Hagen Luxury Scented Shave Soap – Vegan Friendly
When choosing a soap, the scent is not the most critical factor to consider, though it does have some bearing as to how great you feel and smell after the shave. Instead and at the very top of the list is how well the soap lathers and the lubrication it provides. These factors and properties will provide you with the best-wet shaving experience.
If you do come across a soap that provides a thick and rich lather, has great lubrication and smells terrific, it is certainly worth a good look. Luckily for you, the Van Der Hagen Soap is one of such soaps. It falls in the category of very desirable soaps.
This product is a perfect combination of shea butter, mango butter, and cocoa butter. These ingredients are mixed in just the right ratios thus producing an appealing quality and fragrance. In addition, it is worth noting that this product has glycerin. The glycerin does nothing to improve the scent but it plays a big role in ensuring the product provides a smooth, moisturizing and lubricated shave. With all these ingredients, it is safe to say that the soap is perfect for sensitive and dry skin. Additionally, it is one of the best hypo-allergenic soaps available.
But this is not all this product has to offer – there is more.
The very first thing you will notice is about it is just how fast it lathers. The best part is that it is also easy to work up a thick and rich lather with this product. With this soap, your shaving brush will be ready in 60 seconds of swirling around the soap mixed with water in a shaving bowl. Also worth noting is that the lather produced by this product lasts slightly longer on the face compared to several other ‘budget’ soaps. Speaking of budget alternatives, you will be pleased to note that this soap retails for about $10 on Amazon (this might change from time to time). For the quality of this product you get, it truly is a bargain. Though the lather is not as thick compared to other high-end options, it will get the job done and get you a smooth close shave.
The Van Der Hagen Scented Soap is designed to be vegan-friendly.
Now back to its scent. While it’s fragrance is not over the top powerful, compared to other products the Bay Rum smell infused in the soap is gentle and smells great.
5. RazoRock XXX Italian – High Quality, Traditional Italian
This is a high-quality shaving soap with its roots in Italy. It is made using the Super Tallow recipe. This is a new recipe which includes aloe vera, shea butter, lanolin, argan oil, and tallow. All the listed ingredients are key to making the RazoRock XXX the great product that it is.
The ingredients contribute to the moisturizing properties of the soap even after the shaving is complete. As such, when using this soap, you can save on aftershave – you will not need to buy one.
Its soft consistency (softer than most soaps) makes it easier to load. Additionally, it also means that you do not need a lot of the soap to whip up a rich lather.
The fragrance of this Italian product is described by most men as a traditional Italian. This scent is inspired by Acqua di Parma. This manly smell also has hints of lemon, bergamot and orange complimented with the earthy scents.
There are videos available to give you an idea of how well this product performs. The video below will put all your doubts to rest.
The lather this soap provides will allow you to shave closer to the skin with a sharp blade without nicking or cutting yourself. You will not have to go against the grain to achieve the much desired close shave.
6. Col. Conk World Famous Glycerine Shave Soap – Bay Rum Scent
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this product, let us have a look at the scent (Bay Rum). This fragrance has been the go-to smell for most men for what seems like forever. In history, we read that sailors used to rub the bar tree leaves on their bodies to mask their open-sea scent. Upon setting foot on land, they would smell fresh and welcoming to their families and lovers. This was way back in the 1500s.
While men of the 21st century are more sophisticated and cannot rub the leaves directly on their bodies, they still make use of the scent of these leaves extract well known as Bay Rum scent. The smell is masculine, spicy but with a tinge of vanilla and citrus.
The fragrance will stick with you like glue all day long. And the best part is that it is mild and does not overpower your family, friends, and colleagues. You will love it, and the ladies will LOVE it too.
It is also worth noting that the Bay Rum scent has been the preferred choice of most barbershops around the world. Shaving with the Col. Conk’s soap which features this smell will help you be right in the middle of the shaving tradition.
The Col. Conk Shave soap is made with vitamin E, glycerin, and Avocado oil. Oil extracted from avocados is a great natural moisturizer. It soothes and smooths the skin giving it a mild glow. Avocado oil is one of the main ingredients in most moisturizers. In addition, it is perfect for getting rid of acne and blackheads. Any inflammation around the blackheads and acne are also taken care of.
The shaving soap also includes Vitamin E which has a wonderful moisturizing quality. Additionally, it has antioxidant properties that help to protect your skin. Its anti-inflammatory properties play a big role in ensuring that the inflammation and redness reduces. These features make the soap perfect for sensitive skin.
In other articles, we have gone through the presence of glycerin in both soaps and creams. It is one element that these products cannot afford to lack. Glycerin is either animal or plant-based. Whichever the source, you can rest assured that it is safe and beneficial to your skin. The glycerin contained in the Col. Conk’s Shaving Soap is plant-based and will keep the animal lovers out there pleased. The glycerin works to improve the smoothness of the skin and moisturizes it in the process.
Another fact you will love about this product is that it produces a rich lather. You can create this lather using a bowl and a brush.
7. Henry Cavendish Himalaya with Coconut Oil and Shea Butter – Will Last You a Long Time, Good For Sensitive Skin
The brand name has an old-soul feel to it. It is impossible to read the name out without thinking of shaving scenario with a razor, a mug, and a shaving brush. The manufacturer of this product even insists that one uses a bowl and shaving brush to land the desired results when using this soap.
If you are a firm believer in high quality goes hand in hand with retro standards, then Henry Cavendish’s Classic shave soap is the perfect choice for you. The quality of this product is made possible by the list of ingredients it contains.
At the very top of the list of its ingredients is glycerin. As earlier pointed out, glycerin is present in moisturizing creams as well as Shea butter. It works to replenish, revitalize and moisturize the skin. This soap is bound to give your skin a smooth feel.
And not only are you going to get a smooth shave, but you also will work up a thick, rich and creamy lather. This will help to soften your coarse beard and help to ensure that the razor glides over the skin smoothly.
If you love scented shaving, you will fall in love with this soap. It features a perfume oil fragrance. This scent is natural, refreshing and light. It does not overpower those close to you or advertise your arrival before you physically enter a room.
The Henry Cavendish shaving soap comes highly concentrated and is bound to last longer in comparison to most other soaps in the market. The natural ingredients that it sports make it a great choice for sensitive skin. The product does not contain any harmful additives or chemicals.
8. D.R. Harris Windsor Shaving Bowl – Classic & Expensive – But Worth it
This is by far one of the oldest brands available in the wet shaving industry. The company was formed back in the late 1700s. Needless to say, the company has centuries of experience in producing high-quality shaving soaps. In modern times, this brand of soap may just be the last standing old school soap containing tallow.
This product comes in different scents designed to suit the varying needs of men. These variations include;
- Almond – this is a combination of a warm woodsy scent with that almond fragrance
- Arlington – this is a mixture of fern and citrus
- Marlborough – this is a mixture of cedar and fern. Though some individuals describe this scent as being tobacco like
Windsor – most men describe this scent as being citrusy and leathery with just the perfect tinge or pepper, vetiver, and patchouli
The reason why this soap stands out from the crowd is possible courtesy of its ease of loading despite it being a hard soap.
With this soap, you are bound to save a lot of time. Unlike most triple milled soaps, this soap does not require soaking.
The lather this soap produces is luxurious, thick and rich. It is slick and also a great post shave soap. Long story short, this product contains all the characteristics you would need in a shaving soap. These characteristics, however, do come at a price.
9. The Blades Grim Luxury Shaving Soap – Masculine Scent
On the face of this shaving’s soap package is a logo of the Grim Reaper. While this might be scary for some, you should not let it frighten you away. The product inside will not drain your soul away. On the contrary, it is designed to add some life and a great experience to your shaving session. Besides, if you take a closer look, the logo is actually creative. The Grim Reaper is holding a cool straight razor scythe.
That said, you should not judge the book by its cover. There is more to this than meets the eye. This soap is also included in several of the straight razor sets we have reviewed. So what does this shaving soap have to offer?
The shaving soap, compared to other products has a soft texture. It is what will work for you if you are tired of the hard pucks you often get today.
Yes, you read it right, handmade. With technology evolving and spreading to just about every industry, it is harder to come across products that are really handmade. The Blades Grim Shaving Soap is one of the few that are. Most experienced shavers prefer the handmade product as they have a high quality and feel to them that the factory mass produced products just do not have.
While most shaving soaps are not strong scented, it is always nice to have a one that leaves a fresh scent after you are done with shaving. The scent of this product is referred to as smolder. It actually is the most noticeable features.
There are hints of star anise and coriander which add some spice to the scent. Overall, the scent foundation is found in the Tonka bean. This gives it a masculine feel as opposed to vanilla. The combination of these ingredients provides a wood smoke scent – this is refined and manly at the same time.
The list of these ingredients includes coconut oil. This is perfect for the skin. It cleanses and hydrates thus providing a smooth and close shave. It also contains glycerin (vegetable glycerin) coupled with stearic acid which provides adequate moisture. It also helps to make lathering the soap an easy.
The soap is perfect for its thick and slick lather. It is easy to lather in a short time; another benefit of its soft texture.
10. Soap Commander Unscented Shaving Soap – Artisan Soap
This is an artisan soap that has garnered a large following in the wet shaving industry. This company was formed out of necessity. The daughter of the founding father suffered from eczema. When the company started it did not sell shaving soap rather, it was a company for handmade soaps formed from natural ingredients that are designed to soothe the itchiness on the daughter’s skin.
With time, however, they have since expanded into the manufacture of other products. It is important to note that this unit requires some presoaking to achieve a rich lather. Currently, 15 scents are available.
How to Build a Great Lather With a Shaving Soap For a Top Shaving Experience
Now that you have gotten the business of choosing the best soap out of the way, let us get our hands dirty with the actual shaving process.
First and foremost, you should build a rich and thick lather. This will help to ensure that the shave is close, clean and most importantly comfortable.
To help you work up a thick and rich lather with ease, there are two methods you can use. Here is a step by step process of each method. The first is using a shaving bowl. The second is building the lather directly on the face.
Using a Shaving Bowl
The first step is to fill your bowl with some hot water and then dip the brush in to soak for a minimum of two minutes. You could also soak the brush in running water.
After you have soaked the brush, the next step is to pour out the water and just leave a tiny amount in the bowl. Next step is to shake your brush to rid it of any excess moisture.
As you soak your shaving brush, you should also be working on softening the soap. Dripping a few drops of warm/hot water on it will do the trick. When soft enough you should swirl the brush on the surface of your soap for about 15 seconds. Bear in mind that this is the most important step in the process of creating a thick and rich lather.
Last, swirl your brush in the mixing bowl for about 60 seconds. The lather will build from a light bubbly texture to a thick one. If you think the lather is too thick, you can simply add several water droplets to the mixture and continue swirling.
Creating the Lather on the Face
First, soak your brush in some hot water. Only retract the brush when the bristles are soft and moist.
As you soak the water, soften the shaving soap with a few hot water droplets.
Swirl the shaving brush on your soap. For this process, ensure is that the shaving brush bristle tips are covered in soap.
Last, swirl the soap covered brush on the area you intend to shave. Use a short and circular motion. This will build the lather and will not take longer than 30 seconds to get a rich lather. If your lather proves to be too watery, re-swirl the brush on your soap. On the other hand, if it is too thick, add a few droplets of water to the bristles and reapply on our cheeks.
Difference Between a Shaving Cream and a Soap (Pros & Cons)
When differentiating between cream and soap, there are several things you need to remember.
First, a soap is a much older tradition than the cream. The shaving cream first debut was in the mid-20th century while soaps have been in use for ages. This is what your great grandfathers used to use.
They come is packaged as hard pucks while shaving cream is, well, just cream. Building lather with soap takes a bit more than shaving cream can produce exactly the result you are looking for.
There are plenty of shaving soap brands and types available in the market including semi-hard, triple milled and croaps. Triple milled is by far the most costly of the three. Most wet shavers prefer it as it gives a thick lather other soaps cannot provide
Creating lather with your shaving soap means adding some water to soften it and have an easier time. While this makes the process easier, it is important to note that with soaps there is a bit of a learning curve involved.
Shaving creams have been in use since the mid-20th century having grown in popularity and now found in all supermarkets and pharmacy stores. Shaving creams are designed to provide wet shavers with rich and thick lather fast and conveniently which is often directly applied to your cheeks. For this reason, shaving cream is best used by new wet shavers.
A shaving cream is designed in a variety of smells. However, if your skin is sensitive, you will need to get one that is fragrance-free.
How We Made the Best Shaving Soap List for You
Truth be told, finding the best product is not an easy process. There are lots of high-quality soaps on the market and narrowing down to just a few of them is tricky.
To come up with this list, we used the resources at our disposal to test as many soaps as possible. Sure we did not sample every product available, but where our hands-on experience lacked, research and supporting reviews by other experts in the field came in handy.
During the review process, we considered the price, ease of use, quality and the ingredients used. We did also consider the aroma of the product even though the scent makes for a small portion of the puzzle.
Hopefully, this review has shed some light and got you on the right path of finding and choosing the best product available to meet your needs.