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 many heritage and established 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.
Therefore, read on to discover our recommendations as well as the following:
- What Are The Best Creams & Soaps?
- How Is Shaving Soap Made?
- Why Is Shaving Soap Better Than Foam?
- How To Lather Shaving Soap
What Are The Best Creams & Soaps?
We’ve assembled the best soaps from all around the world that we’ve tested in a single list. Below you’ll find soaps and creams from the USA, the UK, France, Germany and Italy. Amazingly, each one of these are readily available on Amazon.com:
- All-Natural Solution For Sensitive Skin
- Best Value Cream
- Best Vegan Solution
- Premium Choice
- Best Value Soap
Although the list features classics that are well-known among the shaving community, it also includes some more obscure soaps too. This speaks volumes about the demand for quality soap today if they can now be easily found on Amazon.com.
1. Best All-Natural For Sensitive Skin: La Savonnerie Bourbonnaise Organic Donkey Milk Shaving Soap
- Type: Milk Soap
- Country Of Origin: France
- Vegan Friendly: Vegetarian
- Includes Bowl: Yes
- Notable Ingredients: Organic – Donkey’s Milk, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Lemongrass Oil, Cedarwood Oil
- Size: 2.65 Oz (75 g)
- Price: $16 [Buy Now On Amazon]
Since Ancient Egypt, donkey’s milk has been revered as one of the most nutritional sources for moisturising skin. Today, it’s France that’s most renowned for concocting products from the almost magical lait d’anesse.
La Savonnerie Bourbonnaise is one of the most authentic artisans around but most of their kind only export to Europe. In fact, it was one of France’s best kept secrets until today.
Therefore, it was both a delight and surprise to find this product on Amazon.com. Based in a small cottage in the central region of Auvergne, LSB sources its organic ingredients locally.
In addition, the soaps are made using the traditional cold saponification method, which is a time-consuming and arduous process.
Although it may not be a vegan choice due to the milk, it is safe for vegetarians. No beef tallow is used and all the ingredients are natural with no additives. In addition, local and organic olive oil is used instead of palm oil, which is the most common tallow alternative.
This traditional soap creates one of the richest lathers even possible with a nutritional composition that’s perfect for sensitive skin.
Finally, a small bar can be found on Amazon.com for $16, which is excellent considering its source. Although it has no reviews yet, personal experience assures that this is one of the finest soaps available.
"A thick, pure lather. With a comfortable feeling akin to triple cream, this artisanal French soap is one of the richest shaving experiences possible."Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★
2. Best Value Cream: Proraso Sapone Da Barba Shaving Cream
- Type: Vegetable-Based Cream
- Country Of Origin: Italy
- Vegan Friendly: Yes
- Includes Bowl: Tube
- Notable Ingredients: Glycerin, Eucalyptus Oil
- Size: 5.2 Oz (150 ml)
- Price: $10 [Buy Now On Amazon]
Like Taylor of Old Bond Street, Proraso is one of the most established manufacturers of men’s grooming products. Founded in 1908 in Florence, it has been making its celebrated shaving cream since 1948.
Today, Proraso still boasts a rich cream that is absent of additives and features a 95% natural formula.
Furthermore, no ingredients are of animal origin, which means that it’s totally vegan friendly.
Therefore, Proraso’s shaving cream is a pleasure on the skin. Its thick and creamy lather offers a slick shave with high lubrication.
Finally, the presence of eucalyptus oil adds a refreshing sensation, which also protects the skin from ingrown hairs and rashes.
At only $10 for a 5.2 Oz tube on Amazon.com, Proraso’s shaving cream is an ideal choice for beginners and seasoned veterans alike.
3. Best Vegan: Soap Commander “Vision” Vegan Shaving Soap
- Type: Vegetable-based Soap
- Country Of Origin: USA
- Vegan Friendly: Yes
- Includes Bowl: Yes
- Notable Ingredients: Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Castor Oil
- Size: 6 Oz (170 g)
- Price: $17 [Buy Now On Amazon]
Unlike its European neighbours, the USA has embraced a mind-blowing amount of unique soap artisans. As they often provide some of the most unique shaves, these creators are celebrated by wet shaving enthusiasts.
Overall, one of the most popular among them is Soap Commander. It was founded by Navy Veteran Darren and his wife, Carrie. Their original goal was to find dermatological solutions for their daughter’s eczema.
However, due to the enormous popularity of their products especially among men, the couple launched Soap Commander in 2014.
Today, they make some of the most original and luxurious artisan shaving soaps that cater to those with certain requirements. From skin sensitive cream to vegan-friendly products, there’s something for everyone at Soap Commander.
Of course, their Vision shaving soap is no different. A vegan-based shaving soap enriched with shea butter, it protects and nourishes the skin while providing the perfect shave.
Similarly, Vision features an enticingly invigorating fragrance composed of red fruits, peppermint essential oil and citrus.
At $17 for a large 6 Oz bowl on Amazon.com, Soap Commander still provide excellent value considering their high demand.
4. Best Premium: D.R. Harris Malborough Shaving Cream
- Type: Shaving Cream
- Country Of Origin: United Kingdom
- Vegan Friendly: Uncertain
- Includes Bowl: Yes
- Notable Ingredients: Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Glycerin
- Size: 5.3 Oz (150 g)
- Price: $30 [Buy Now On Amazon]
D.R. Harris is one of London’s most iconic boutiques featuring a plethora of luxurious colognes and traditional cosmetics. It was founded in 1970 at No. 11 St James’s Street by surgeon Henry Harris and chemist Daniel Rotely.
In 1938, they were awarded a Royal Warrant as chemists to her Majesty The Queen. Upon the Queen’s Mother’s death in 2002, another was appointed as chemists to His Royal Highness The Prince Of Wales.
Catering to both men and women, they sell one of the most renowned and exclusive ranges for your shaving routine. Therefore, the Malborough Shaving Cream is no different. Offering a luxurious experience, it gives a thick and creamy lather for the blade.
Furthermore, the tantalising cedarwood and sandalwood fragrance is boosted by additional glycerine. Although shaving creams rarely contain tallow, it was impossible to find a confirmation for this. So it’s not entirely certain that this is a vegan-friendly option. However, none of their products are tested on animals.
Finally, at $30 for 5.3 Oz on Amazon.com, DR Harris’ Marlborough cream is the most premium option featured on this list. However, it offers one of the most pleasant and exclusive shaving experiences.
5. Best Value Soap: Tabac Original Shaving Soap
- Type: Tallow Soap
- Country Of Origin: Germany
- Vegan Friendly: No
- Includes Bowl: No
- Notable Ingredients: Same iconic scent as cologne
- Size: 4.4 Oz (125 g)
- Price: $10 [Buy Now On Amazon]
Despite being Germany’s lesser-known answer to Old Spice, Tabac is one of the most popular shaving soaps among enthusiasts.
We actually reviewed the Tabac Original cologne as a fragrance. Therefore, it was interesting to try its shaving soap cousin.
Overall, it smells remarkably similar, which makes it an apt choice for pairing with any post-shave traditional cologne or fragrance.
Indeed, the lather produced is rich and creamy, providing cushion to your blade when shaving.
However, the only downside is that Tabac Original is not very clear on its ingredients. Therefore, it’s hard to know what’s actually in the bar of soap when using it on your face.
Nevertheless, not only does it produce one of the richest lathers, it’s also exceedingly affordable at only $10 for 4.4 Oz on Amazon.com.
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?
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 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.
Now that you’ve read about shaving soaps and the best on the market, head to our main shaving page to discover all the other guides that we offer. You can learn all about straight razors, safety razors and much more.