How Is Shaving Soap Made?
In short, there are two methods of making shaving soap. The most traditional technique is cold process saponification where oils or fat is mixed with lye (sodium hydroxide). Once emulsified, it’s left to cure over days or weeks before being ready to use.
If you’ve seen Fight Club, you’ll know that fat or tallow produces the richest soaps. However, it’s equally common to find exquisite soaps made only from vegetable oils. Famous examples include ancient vegetable-based soaps such as Marseille and Aleppo soap, which are still available today.
Finally, another common method is known as Melt & Pour where bases are heated up before adding oils and other substances. The advantage is that the artisan doesn’t come into contact with lye. However, it isn’t always as rich as cold-processed soap and sometimes requires added glycerine. Although this is often seen as a corner-cutting technique, it can also make excellent soaps.
Why Is Shaving Soap Better Than Foam?
Unlike foam or gel, soap and cream are a veritable joy to use for shaving. If you’ve already experienced either, you realise how much of an affordable luxury they are.
Whilst shaving foam and gel are heavily commercialised products packed with synthetic stabilisers, soaps remain an overly artisanal venture. Nevertheless, there are numerous heritage and independent brands that produce extremely reputable shaving soap and cream.
If you’re a veteran enthusiast, you’re likely always looking for new and exciting soaps to try. The thrill and adventure of testing new products is part of the experience when it becomes a passion. However, if you’re a newcomer, you may be overwhelmed by all the different products available.
In 1949, the first canned shaving foam was released and became enormously popular. Little did we know the damage they caused to the environment at the time. Within but a few years, 65% of shaving cream sales was canned foam.
Ditching The Can
As you are likely aware, aerosol sprays are bad for the environment. Of course, Ozone-depleting CFCs have been outlawed since the 1980s. However, they often contain other compressed gases that damage the environment. Additionally, they tend to include volatile compounds that contribute to city smog and can affect asthma.
Even if aerosol cans are becoming easier to recycle, their wide usage still contributes to waste. However, shaving soap normally comes as a hard puck. Sometimes they can be bought with a bowl but you can usually get refills to fill your own. Nevertheless, creams do have to come in a container such as a metal tube or plastic bowl.
A can of gel may be cheaper than a puck of premium soap but the long-term cost is far greater. Overall, you can get between 1 to 2 months’ shaves worth of foam in a single can. Yet a single puck of soap can last up to 6 months if you shave on a daily basis.
A Natural Solution
Overall, soaps and traditional creams are made with far fewer chemical substances. Most foams are filled with synthetic stabilisers, preservatives and chemicals that are actually bad for your skin.
Ironically, many cans include irritants such as Propylene Glycol, which induce rashes, eczema and razor burn. Foams and gels also contain mineral oils that clog the pores and dry the skin.
Alternatively, the best soaps include mostly natural ingredients and oils. Unlike mineral oils found in cans, those found in soap hydrate the skin and protect it from razor burn. For this reason, many soaps are hypoallergenic and some are even vegan-friendly.
A Better Shave
Big brands may boast that their gels give you the best shave yet. However, try going back to traditional soaps and you’ll release that this isn’t quite true.
Gels only produce a thin and foamy layer of protection with limited lubrication. Meanwhile, soaps produce thick and creamy lathers that provide a cushion against the blade.
This ensures better protection for the skin when passing your razor across it. Furthermore, the lubrication is far superior, which prevents the blade from tugging on your hairs and creating irritation.
How To Use Shaving Soap
If you want to learn how to use shaving soap, simply head to our detailed guide on lathering, which features a unique infographic. Here you will learn the best guide on how to create a rich lather with any shaving soap or cream. You’ll also read about how to store your soap after using it.
Having now read about the best shaving soap, check out more of our resources for further reading! We suggest the following guides: