Save the aerosol shaving cream for bachelor party pranks and your teenage nephew. While it might foam up nicely, even shaving creams designed for sensitive skin can be drying or irritating, and no wonder! It takes quite a bit of processing and chemicals to make that shaving cream. If this is what you're still using, isn't it time to step up?
The lather of your favorite shaving creams is nothing compared to the best shaving soap out there. The scents, such as sandalwood and bay rum, are more masculine than whatever "ocean breeze" or other generic scents the shaving cream companies are selling - and different from what you see at a supermarket or big box store. Shave soap’s smell is like being sent back to the simpler, old-fashioned times and the lather is unparalleled. It works up easily in a shaving mug with just a few circular swipes of your shave brush and no matter the brand, you are going to experience a well-balanced lather that is neither drying nor oily.
The best part is that these benefits are pretty universal to shave soaps, which also means that picking the best shaving soap is a highly personal matter. Aside from your choice of scent, you are going to be looking for a key ingredient that makes your face feel the way you like. Dry skin has different needs than oily skin, and sensitive skin has its own unique challenges. Some men prefer a different shave soap depending on how aggressive they are shaving as some key ingredients help you get a little closer.
There are four basic options, established by the base ingredient: Bentonite Clay, Coconut Oil, Glycerin, and Sodium Palmate.
Here's what you need to know and how to choose:
The first option you have (in alphabetical order) is bentonite clay. You will see this as an ingredient used in more artisanal soaps. It helps the razor glide well and has a reputation for drawing out toxins from your body while providing a powerhouse of nutrition for your skin.
Coconut oil is also a popular shave soap ingredient. When you see coconut oil listed as a key ingredient in your shave soap, you know that the lather is going to be super rich and will take very little to lather up. Keep in mind that because you are using oil, you are going to need to use warm water for the best effect. Also, shaving soaps using coconut oil are a little oilier than other options (you noticed "oil" in the name, right?) but that isn't a bad thing. Men with sensitive skin or those who want a super close shave need that oil for the best shave possible.
Next up on our list is glycerin. Shaving soaps with a glycerin base are incredibly hydrating and long-lasting. They don't just moisturize, they seem to make your skin inherently softer and smoother. This makes glycerin-based soap the best shaving soap for people with oily skin. However, these soaps are a bit harder than their counterparts. They will lather quickly but you have to have a good brush. Truefitt & Hill Luxury Shave Soap uses glycerin in its soap and it features an old-school, mild lavender scent. If you want something with more of a kick, try the Proraso Shaving Soap Jar It is made with eucalyptus oil and menthol so you are going to feel a little tingle when you use it.
Finally, we have sodium palmate-based shave soaps. Sodium palmate is the end result of palm oil that has reacted with sodium hydroxide. It is a key ingredient in lots of different soaps and acts like a gentle cleanser, making it a good shaving soap for men with dry or sensitive skin. Sodium palmate is a key featured ingredient in Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Soap, in which it is combined with actual sandalwood oil. The smell is incredible yet subtle. This shaving soap is very hard, so you will need warm water and a good brush to make it work as intended. We recommend badger.