In order to put your best face forward and boldly challenge each new day, it is essential that your face look clean and well cared for. For most men, shaving is a huge part of their morning routine and executing a good shave in the morning can make a man feel like a million bucks.
But what about if he uses an old razor and finds his face covered in nicks and scratches? It puts a damper on his confidence and sets a demoralizing tone for the day.
Even if you aren’t victim to obvious abrasions, your daily shave can also dampen your mood if:
- It is making you skid into work late
- Leaving your wallet emptier of resources than the Sahara Desert
- Letting your face remain as dry and prickly as a cactus in said desert
The biggest concerns for men when it comes to shaving their faces include several factors, the most important of which are time, price, closeness of the shave, and reducing razor burn. Keeping a stable routine of using quality products and replacing your razors often enough can make all the difference in fighting razor burn and maintaining a face that is handsome as Henry Cavill and smooth as silk.
According to Prim & Prep’s 2019 survey , younger American men are getting more interested in buying higher quality shaving products than their older counterparts. They are learning that using the right shaving products for guys with their particular needs prevents razor burn, bumps, itchiness, redness, flakes, ingrown hairs, razor clog-up, and more.
That being said, many men are still stuck in the dark ages of using inferior aerosol cans of cheap foam or even only water or dry shaving techniques just to save time. They don’t want to expend the effort to find the right products and make sure they are going through a full routine of caring for their skin. Sacrificing a good shave as a means of saving time and money may seem like the smart choice in the short run, but skin damage that causes them to buy new products to treat later, and a vicious cycle of worsening razor burn can really make finding a better routine worth it. It’s no wonder younger men are starting to invest in higher quality products.
But what is the best product to shave with?
Even putting aside the discussion of razors and their many breeds, there are also a myriad of shaving products to choose from. It can be overwhelming, especially because there is no‘ right’ answer to which product is best. It all depends on your skin type, desired look, and the routine that you want to follow. Keep reading to find out the specs and shaving tips for using different kinds of shaving foams, butters, creams, and more.
What exactly is it about real shaving products that helps so much?
The sensitive skin of the face needs gentle products to help:
- Exfoliate gently to cleanse impurities and flaky skin without harsh scrubbing
- Lubricate to protect against the razor for sensitive skin type
- Help the hair stand away from the skin so it can be caught into the razor and be cut close to the root
In addition to good products, using lukewarm water that is encouraged to soak into the skin before starting shaving helps open the pores and soften the sensitive skin so the razor can glide over more smoothly without catching on any dry spots. Wet shaving techniques are therefore recommended for those with sensitive skin.
Here's a list of 8 Shaving Products to compare
- No Products, No water
- Soap, Bodywash, or Plain Cleanser
- Shaving Foam
- Shaving butter
- Shaving Bar
- Shaving Gel
- Shaving Cream
- Innovative Dual Products (Face Wash + Shaving Foam)
1. No Products, No Water
Most of us have tried it at some point out of desperation or pure laziness. Without any preparation of product or water, we’ve subjected our skin to a razor, which is the equivalent of scraping knives against our skin, just to see what happened. Before delving into various products worth trying, it’s important to compare them to the all-too common routine of abandoning all products except our not-so-friendly razor.
Shaving without any products may be very tempting when you’re in a hurry, especially if you don’t happen to have sensitive skin. It may appear to be okay if you do it once, but it does cause skin damage and will leave skin looking dull and feeling mildly irritated even in the very best-case scenario. If you have sensitive skin, it will be a different story.
More likely, red bumps, razor burn, itchiness, skin flakes, and roughness, the whole shebang will occur, leaving you regretting your decision. Shaving dry with no product causes the razor to scrape at the high-friction surface and catches dry skin cells without getting close to the root of the hair. This poor exfoliation will leave skin dull and with rougher texture, making your complexion look lifeless.
Summary for No Products, No Water
- Dry skin is rougher against the razor
- Irritation and razor burn is inevitable
- Fast, but will cause you to need soothing treatments afterwards
- Causes flaking and poor exfoliation, dull complexion
Tips for No Products, No Water (if you must)
- Use a really good aftershave with ingredients like aloe vera
- Moisturize to try to compensate (you can only do so much)
- Use a very gentle razor with multiple blades instead of the disposable kind
- Try an electric razor and accept that it won’t be as close a shave on that hurried day when you're desperate enough to skip using shaving products
2. Soap, Bodywash, or Plain Cleanser
When looking for ways to save time and money, the idea of using body wash or other soaps you already have in the shower may also be enticing. Some men use these in lieu of shaving-specific products, but it’s important to keep in mind that your face needs soothing ingredients, gentle exfoliation, and proper lubricating texture to help the razor slide smoothly.
Bodywash is made for the skin on your body, which has different properties. Bodywash isn’t made for the sensitive skin on your face, so not only is it more likely to have harsher ingredients and fragrances, but it also isn’t slick enough.
Cleanser is at least intended for your face and is excellent to use in conjunction with shaving products because it keeps your skin clean from bacteria that may be trapped in your facial hair or unexfoliated outer layer of dead skin cells. However, facial cleanser alone is not enough to protect from the razor or soothe the skin.
Regular hand soap is the worst because it is intended to create mild friction on your skin so you can scrub impurities away. That means that even with water and regular soap, red bumps, ingrown hair, redness, itchiness, and rough skin occurs.
These products are inferior because the razor comes into closer contact with your skin and is faced (pun intended) with friction.
Not just harmful to your sensitive skin texture, they are more likely to clog up razors, too. As they clog up, you’ll have to change your razor more often. That means you’re not actually saving as much money as you think by using regular soap instead of investing in better quality shaving products.
Summary for Soap, Bodywash, or Plain Cleanser
- Easy and fast because they’re already in your shower
- Not gentle enough on facial skin
- Not slick enough to smooth
- May cause razor burn
- Harsher ingredients or perfumes in bodywash or handwash
- Clogs up razors
Tips for Soap, Bodywash, or Plain Cleanser (if you must)
- Get a razor that has lubricating gel to help the razor glide better
- Make sure skin is clean beforehand
- Use strong moisturizer afterwards and pat it into the skin to absorb well
3. Shaving Foam
A common misconception about shaving cream is that it is the stuff that comes in an aerosol can and foams up into a big, airy, white lather. Contrary to popular use of the word, real shaving cream doesn’t come in an aerosol can.
In actuality, those products you're used to being named as shaving creams are shaving foams. Aerosol canned shaving foam is often the cheapest shaving product and the easiest to find. It is the first thing that comes to mind when considering shaving products.
But is it the best just because it's the basic choice?
Shaving foam is fluffy, lathers up thickly from the can, and is used on a wettened face. It does the job of keeping the hairs standing up away from the skin and creates a barrier between the razor and the skin.
It is certainly functional enough to survive with, but it can be more drying to your skin than its competitors. If you’re using an aerosol shaving foam, it’s especially important that you rehydrate your skin with good moisturizer like‘Energy On Your Face’ or a higher quality moisturizing aftershave.
Most men shave before showering when their skin is driest, so if you suffer from dry skin, it might be a good idea to try shaving during or after showering when the skin is better prepared and is pumped with moisture.
The other quality of canned shaving foam is that its thick lather can clog razors quickly. Because it is so thick and gets stuck between the blades, impossible to wash away, it is best suited to the disposable razors that are already intended to be given up on frequently.
Aerosol foam cans and their matching disposable razors can be bad for the environment because they create more waste than other shaving types. Trying out a higher quality form of shaving products are something we highly recommend because it will help out the environment and your wallet.
Summary of Shaving Foam
- Efficient lather
- Shave brush is optional
- Cheap price and easy to find
- Keeps the hair standing away from the skin
- Not moisturizing
- Doesn’t leave the skin texture smooth
- Clogs razor faster
Tips for Shaving Foam
- Shave last in the shower or after showering to allow maximum time for moisture to soften the skin and open the pores
- Look for a shaving foam that says it's moisturizing
- Use only a thin layer of product
- Rinse the razor often while working to prevent clogging as much as possible
- Press lightly and try to move the razor in consistent and smooth motions
- Don’t double swipe because it will be hard on skin that isn't very slick
4. Shaving butter:
Shaving butter, one of the lesser-known methods of shaving, is a form of dry shaving. Dry shaving means water is not used to activate the shaving product. Wetting the face before use is not required.
Shaving butter’s texture gives it its name because it is smooth and translucent like butter itself. The translucency is one of its upsides because it makes it very easy to see through to the hairs to be efficient with each swipe of your razor blade.
Shaving butter doesn’t require a shaving brush and is applied using only your hands. It also allows close contact between the blade and the skin and therefore gets you a close and smooth shave. Containing oils means that shaving butter is also moisturizing. It leaves skin feeling smooth and doesn't leave behind a lot of residue, so rinsing off afterwards is lickety split.
But with the closeness and lack of water, shaving butter comes some risk of razor burn. No lather to create a barrier means more product is needed. There isn't any water involved to open the pores and hydrate the skin to protect it from friction, so the product has to do all that work itself.
Using a lot of product means it has the downside of being used up quickly. It might require repurchase more often than shaving creams, soaps, and foams that lather up to create efficient volume. It also means that this type of product is better for quick shaves for shorter stubble.
Shaving butter is great to get a nice, clean smooth shave for those short hairs that you need to be able to see. If you have more extensive or tough hair growth to work through, it is better to use foam or shaving cream that is thicker. Lastly, this kind of oil-rich shaving product might not be great for acne-prone skin depending on the type of oils it contains, so that is one thing to be considerate of when choosing to try shaving butter.
Summary of Shaving Butter
- No water to activate
- No lather
- Doesn't require a shave brush
- Translucent: see what you're doing
- Doesn't leave residue
- Allows close contact with the blade
- Contains oils
- Good to use the day after last having shaved
Tips for Shaving Butter
- Better for thinner hair
- Use on hurried days or when the hair is just short stubble (don't attack a beard with it)
- Use lots of product
- Try to help the hair stand away from the skin while applying the product
- Considering cleansing with acne wash and moisturizing afterwards to prevent oil absorption if you have acne prone skin
5. Shaving Bar
Shaving bars are in solid form and resemble bar soap, often encased in a convenient dish. Shaving bars are a wet shaving product. Shaving bars require a brush and water to activate and swish around in the dish to work into a lather before applying the lather to the face. It does take a little time to work up a lather and to shave quickly enough before it deflates and drips down the face, but they don’t contain fillers and are efficient in space, last a very long time, and therefore can be cost-effective over time.
Many of these shaving bars are available from higher quality, organic, or specialty brands and are therefore often better for sensitive skin than the cheap shaving foam products. Shaving bars are a lesser-known alternative to other space-saving shaving products.
Shaving Bar Summary
- Comes in a solid bar
- Activated with a brush and water
- No fillers
Shaving Bar Tips
- Use a shaving brush wetted with water to activate
- Work up a lather for what feels like too long before taking the brush to your face
- Apply a generous amount of the lather on your face
- Shave efficiently or you may have to reapply the product as it might deflate
- If you find it dripping, try starting with a dry face because depending on the product, it might be too much moisture
6. Shaving Gel
Many shaving gels are non-foaming, meaning they are clear in color and don't require lathering. They’re great because they won’t clogging razors and most likely don’t contain oils, as compared to the shaving butter. Their lack of lather means they create less of a barrier between the razor and your skin, but it's easy to see what you're doing.
Foaming shaving gel, on the other hand, is similar to shaving foam in that it often comes in a can, but it is more concentrated than foam. It comes out of the can as a gel and must be combined with water and worked into a lather in the hands. It is more lubricating and moisturizing than shaving foam and lathers less dramatically, so it is efficient by volume and doesn't clog razors. It's also better for seeing your razor's path compared to foam. Another great thing about it is it doesn’t require much product and therefore lasts longer, so it's often better to spend a little more and get a lot more product.
Shaving Gel Summary
- Lubricates better than shaving foam
- Foaming type requires lathering with your hands
- Easier to see what you’re doing
- Thin layer protects from between the blade and your skin
Shaving Gel Tips
- Apply to a wet face and work well into a lather before shaving
- Not very much product is needed
7. Shaving Cream:
Shaving creams often come in bottles or in screw-top lidded containers, never in aerosol cans. Shaving cream is applied to the face after being activated with warm water in either the hands or by a brush. Considered the more effective and high-end of the basic shaving products, shaving cream is often the most recommended as it is better for sensitive skin and more moisturizing than its counterparts.
Shaving creams are very efficient because a little goes a long way as water activates them into a lather. Their lather is not as thick as shaving foam, so it doesn't clog razors, but is still thick enough to be hailed as worthy of hacking down thicker hair growth and getting you a close shave. Because it is a creamy lathered texture, it often doesn't contain excess oils, making it is less likely to cause breakouts. Shaving creams are more moisturizing and better for cleansing and soothing the skin than some of the other shaving products.
Shaving Cream Summary
- Requires water
- Work into a lather with hands
- Efficient while using less product
- Good for shaving of thicker hair growth
- Doesn't contain excess oils
Shaving Cream Tips
- Make sure it's really a shaving cream, not shaving foam
- Try to pick mid to higher quality level products (because the product amount is more efficient)
- Use a medium amount of product
8. Innovative Dual Products
But besides the shaving products themselves, what other skincare is necessary to use in conjunction if you want the best results from your shave?
The better your skin is, the smoother your shave and the smoother your shave, the better your skin is. Moisturizers, exfoliators, cleansers, aftershaves, acne care, the list of skincare that you most likely need goes on and on. But what if those other skincare needs could be combined in to improve your skin and prevent razor burn and acne spots even better than before?
Because the gazillion existing styles of shaving products weren't complicated enough to sift through, modern dual products that have multi-functions are now hitting the market. These products are not only innovative responses to the feedback of men who are fed up with razor burn and acne, but are also genius ways of saving time. With new technology and scientific innovations, skincare specialists are making combinations of multiple products that, unlike their predecessors, don't sacrifice any of the great qualities of the individual steps alone.
For example, Boldnine’s new Shave While You Wash , available soon, is the combination of shaving cream and facial cleansing wash. When it comes to dual products, the best shaving cream for men features the best protection from razors without clogging them, allows for a close shave, and improves overall skin condition.
But above all, the hassle of taking up time to shave and wash in the morning, spending time in front of the sink, is a priority for men. In one single step, the Shave While You Wash cream is worked into a lather using lightly-wetted hands and applied to the face, working in circular motions. The areas in need of shaving are then shaved using any razor of your choice and a simple rinse finishes the whole process. That means it not only works to sooth and lubricate skin to protect it from the razor with the perfect consistency of lather, but it also helps to cleanse the skin of impurities.
Shaving is already a good way to exfoliate and wash impurities away. Even more than that, the cleanser helps to make sure those impurities get carried away and rinsed off completely in a safe way that doesn’t allow friction or cause the skin to be rough afterwards.
The soapiness works easily into a full lather and helps combat acne-causing impurities that would otherwise stay fused to the skin. Unlike many shaving products, it doesn't contain excess oils that could aggravate acne prone skin. Instead, it contains aloe vera, an ingredient that has soothing qualities, other anti-inflammatory ingredients, and glycerin to help moisturize. It combats redness and prevents razor burn while helping the razor glide smoothly across the skin. Even more than plain shaving cream, it improves the skin overall and eliminates the need for separate cleansing steps.
Other examples of innovative dual products include acne-fighting shaving products that have ingredients like benzoyl peroxide to improve acne, moisturizer and shaving cream 2-in-1, and products that are soothing enough to be used as an aftershave or skin conditioner.
These kinds of products are best for guys who are rushed in the morning, not interested in buying a million products to clog their skin edges, or looking to save a few bucks.
Using one new product that solves many issues is almost too good to be true, but with new technology it's become a reality in many cases, appealing to men who have long been too frustrated to try out many products. Even better, these kinds of products are available at mid-level prices, making them worth investing in, but not bank-breaking.
Dual Products Summary
- Save time
- Cheaper to buy than the separate steps
- Good ones don't sacrifice the quality
Dual Products Tips
- Look for products that make sense together
- Check whether both of functions respectively work great
- Compare the price if you get two products originally
- Check the manufacturer company and ingredients
Katerina Tsatsomeros, PR manager
Very informative write up! A good shave in the morning really does make a difference so it is important to choose the right shaving product.
If anyone is interested, I wrote a similar article in which you can read here: https://thetrendingman.com/best-shaving-cream-for-men/
Stay cool and safe!