Shaving Soap vs Cream: Which is the Better Lubricant for Shaving?

Shaving soap vs cream, which is better for you?

Shaving is an essential part of men’s grooming regimen. From the stone age hunters to the medieval kings, men have historically been shaping how their facial hair looks. At present, shaving has been refined to near perfection. Various tools and accessories have been developed to help men get a clean shave. The most common are straight razors, safety razors blades, electric shavers and epilators.  

But for beginners in the art of shaving, the abundance of options can be confusing. And this is certainly the case when it comes to choosing between shaving soap vs cream. Luckily, we are here to help you decide what is best for you. So read on. 

Shaving Soap vs Cream: What’s the Difference?

Before we can decide between shaving soap vs cream, it is important to first get to know each of them. Yes, we are aware that they both help achieve the perfect smooth shave, but how exactly are they different?

In this section, we will talk about their differences in structure, appearance, ingredients and usage. Let us begin with the shaving soap.

What is a shaving soap?

The shaving soap looks like any hard soap but specifically formulated for shaving purposes. It is often round and may come with or without its own wooden or ceramic container dish. Sometimes, it is a cylindrical stick that can be found in a plastic tube or wrapped in foil or paper. Frequent travelers often use the shaving soap in stick form because these are more compact and handy.


Shaving soaps are often triple-milled. That is why they are usually hard and they last for a long time. You may also find double action shaving soaps that provide a pre-scrub. These soaps remove dead skin and give a light form of exfoliation.

Most common shaving soap ingredients

To help us decide which is better, shaving soap vs cream, we must know what they are made of. We listed below the most common shaving soap ingredients. 

Tallow is a less dense and less soluble cattle-derived fatty acid obtained through steam melting solid fats. It is typically mixed with coconut acid or coconut oil to make a soap. The tallow is the one that gives a slick lather.  

Jojoba oil comes from the seed of the jojoba plant. This oil does not transform during the soap-making process. It remains in its true form. The Jojoba oil has the same function and chemical structure as sebum (or the oil naturally found in our skin). Those who have very dry skin highly benefit from this ingredient.

Shea Butter comes from the African Shea Tree. This ingredient provides UV protection. That is why it is also commonly found on sunscreens. It helps retain and normalize skin moisture.

Scents provide pleasant and soothing aroma to the shaving soap. These are added during the milling process. 

Now that we know what is a shaving soap and what it is typically made of, let us now learn how to use it. 

How to use a shaving soap?

Since the shaving soap is hard, you will need a shaving brush to use it. A shaving brush helps to create lather, softens facial hairs and allows them to stand on end. These ensure a close and clean shave.  Check out our review on the best shaving brush to get a great product. The following are the steps in using a shaving soap.

  1. Soak the shaving brush in water. 
  2. Swirl the shaving brush over the surface of the soap until the moist soap coats the brush bristles. 
  3. Transfer the brush either to a separate bowl or to the face to lather. 
  4. Once the hairs are covered with the shaving soap lather, you can now begin to shave. 

But if you are using a shaving stick, follow the steps listed below.

  1. Soak the shaving brush in water. 
  2. Rub the exposed  end of the stick to the face until the face is coated with soap.
  3. Swirl the shaving brush over the surface of the face until it lathers
  4. Once the hairs are covered with the shaving soap lather, you can now begin to shave. 

Load off the top, rinse and dry the shaving soap after use so it will last for a while. 

Now that we know the basics of a shaving soap, let us move on to shaving cream.

What is a shaving cream?

If the shaving soap is hard, the shaving cream is a soft fatty mixture that softens hair and protects the skin. This easily creates lather and deeply moisturizes the skin. Shaving creams come in different forms. Aside from the traditional lather shaving cream, there are also aerosol shaving cream, and latherless shaving cream. 

The aerosol shaving creams are also called shaving foam. These have added gases for a rich texture. On the other hand, the latherless shaving creams are also called brushless shaving cream or non-aerosol shaving cream. Based on the name itself, they do not lather. These do not contain soap. Rather, they are a mixture of oil with humectants, wetting agents, and other ingredients. To learn more, check out our review of the best shaving creams in the market today.


The shaving creams are usually sold in jars, tubs and tubes. 

Most Common Shaving Cream Ingredients

Just like the shaving soap, the shaving creams also contain natural oils like coconut, avocado and jojoba. But aside from these, they also have a unique set of other ingredients. Examples are listed below. 

Myristic Acid is an organic fatty acid that is formed from saponification of coconut oil (acid). This surfactant can help speed up the lathering process.  It also has great emulsifying properties. It creates a stable lather and distributes the botanical ingredients evenly. 

Methylchloroisothiazolinone is a phenolic compound. It is a common preservative found in many topical and liquid skin care products. This compound has antifungal and antibacterial properties. But be careful with products with this ingredient for it can also potentially cause some mild contact dermatitis for those with sensitive skin.  

Menthol and scents for a soothing and refreshing feeling after use.

How to use a shaving cream?

Unlike the shaving soap, with shaving cream, you have the option to use or not to use a shaving brush. Since the shaving cream is soft, you can just apply it using your fingertips. Just follow the directions below. 

  1. Wet your fingers and face.
  2. Dip your fingers into the jar and get a small amount of cream.
  3. Apply directly to your face.
  4. Lather the cream in your face. Massage in circular motion.
  5. Wet the face with warm water and massage again to achieve a richer lather.
  6. Once the hairs are coated with the shaving cream lather, you can now begin to shave. 

If you prefer to use a shaving brush and a bowl, then follow the directions below. 

  1. Soak the shaving brush in the bowl with warm water
  2. Empty the bowl with water and shake the excess water from the brush. 
  3. Add a small amount of cream to the bowl
  4. Lather using the wet shaving brush in circular motion
  5. Add additional drops of warm water for richer lather.
  6. Squeeze out all the lather from the brush into the bowl. Check if it is already thick and creamy.
  7. Apply the lather to your face with the brush.
  8. Once the hairs are covered with the shaving cream lather, you can now begin to shave.

We are done with the characteristics and differences of shaving soap vs cream. Let us now summarize their pros and cons. 

Shaving Soap vs. Cream: Pros and Cons

We are finally assessing which is better between shaving soap vs cream. Let us enumerate their advantages and disadvantages.


Shaving Soap 


  • Lathers more
  • Soften hairs
  • Moisturizes skin
  • Protects skin from cuts and nicks
  • Best for shaving professionals
  • Last for a longer time
  • Allows hair to stand
  • Best for close and clean shave
  • Provides pre-shave exfoliation


  • More expensive
  • More difficult to find

Shaving Cream


  • Lathers quicker
  • Soften hairs
  • Moisturizes skin
  • Protects skin from cuts and nicks
  • Easier to use
  • Easier to find
  • Cheaper
  • Best for beginners in the art of shaving
  • Can be used without a shaving brush


  • Requires pre-shave exfoliation
  • Aerosol shaving creams may contain harmful and unnecessary gases

Shaving Soap vs. Cream: FAQs

Do I need a shaving brush and shaving bowl?

If you are using shaving soap, then the answer is yes. If you are using a shaving cream, then the answer depends on the product that you are using. Some shaving cream brands do not require a shaving brush to produce a good lather. Just using your fingers is enough. 

That said, we recommend using a shaving brush and bowl for better lather, closer and cleaner shave.

When is the best time to shave?

The best time is your preferred time. Shaving in the morning is the traditional time for shaving. However, due to the morning rush, you might not have enough time to shave so shaving at night could be ideal. 

Do you need a straight razor/safety razor?

Yes. We recommend that you use either a straight razor of a safety razor. Although the up-front cost may be pricey, they could be cheaper compared to disposable razors in the long run.

Shaving Soap vs Cream: Final Verdict

If we were to judge between shaving soap vs cream, we would say that there is no categorically better product. Each has its own attributes that make it both suitable and inconvenient to a certain type of user. At the end of the day, both create great lathers and are effective in achieving a perfect and nick-free shave. Both shaving soap vs cream exists for a reason and that  is to serve the different shaving needs and preferences of men.

Do not want shaving? Perhaps you can try barbers face waxing.

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