Whenever unwanted hair grows, shaving creams can be applied to moisturize the skin and prevent razor burn during shaving. There are two main types of shaving creams: hard soaps and creams used with a shaving brush to produce a rich lather, and disposable cans of ready-to-use shaving foams and gels.
Following shaving, some men use a scented aftershave lotion containing an antiseptic like isopropyl alcohol to prevent infection from cuts, and moisturizers to soften the facial skin. If you have issues with razor burn, make sure you’re using a sharp blade and always run the razor in the same direction as the hairs are growing or “with the grain.”
What they are: Most shaving creams in tubs and tubes are applied directly to your skin in a thin layer using your fingertips. Many contain aloe and other soothing ingredients. Shaving creams and gels in disposable cans come out in ready-to-use foam.
Why to buy: Shaving creams and gels are a convenient way to hydrate and protect your skin for a close shave without razor burn. They take up less space than traditional shaving soaps, and require less prep and clean up.
Things to consider: Shaving traditionalists argue that canned shaving creams do not provide the same lather effect as shaving soaps, and thus do not protect the skin as well from cuts and razor burn. If you have sensitive skin, look for shaving creams with numbing and/or soothing ingredients.
Shaving Sticks & Soaps
What they are: Shaving soaps are meant for mixing in a mug with a wet shaving brush to achieve lather. Shaving sticks, or face sticks, are hard shaving soaps packaged in a plastic cylinder for easy application. More commonly used for facial shaving, you rub the exposed end of the stick across the area to be shaved and then lather the soap with a moistened shaving brush.
Why to buy: Shaving soaps and sticks are thought to provide superior hydration compared with canned shaving creams. Oil-removing ingredients in the shaving soap and the scrubbing action of the brush remove the natural oils from the face so water can more easily penetrate and soften the whiskers. Shaving sticks are popular for traveling because they’re compact and permitted in carry-on luggage by TSA and other airport security agencies. Plus, with shaving sticks there’s no risk of accidental discharge and messy luggage.
Things to consider: You’ll need to buy a shaving brush, usually made of either boar or badger hair or of synthetic fibers like nylon, and a shaving mug in which to whip up a nice lather—and then find a convenient place to store them. Even though shaving soaps may cost more initially when buying the soap and equipment, over time they are comparable in cost or even cheaper than many canned shaving creams.
Active Ingredients in Shaving Products
What they are: Shaving creams commonly include of a mixture of oils, soaps, ingredients that alter surface tension (surfactants), and water or alcohol, balanced to ensure proper pH and consistency. For enhanced moisturizing, ingredients like aloe and vitamin E are often used, and menthol provides natural cooling and soothing.
Why to buy: Compared with standard soap and water, shaving creams, gels, soaps, and sticks offer greater moisturizing of the skin and hair, and better protection from cuts and razor burn.
Things to consider: Decide if you want your shaving products to be unscented, or to contain calming scents like jasmine and lavender. If you have sensitive skin, look for shaving products that are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. You can also find shaving creams, gels, and soaps that are paraben-free.