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If your skin is on the dryer side, you may want to swap in your shaving foam for a shaving soap. To start with, the right soap will help your razor move cleanly across your face with enough protective lubrication for the skin and the whiskers you’re getting rid of. You also don’t want to lose the moisture that’s already in your skin during shaving, as that will lead to irritation and increase the likelihood of pseudofolliculitis barbae, or razor bumps. For those with sensitive skin (like myself), shaving foams can also lead to irritation because of the ingredients that are used.
Shaving soaps are made primarily with added fat from plant or animal sources. Some also contain glycerin. These components are what help give the soap the smooth consistency needed to produce the protective layer of lubrication for your skin without sacrificing any hydration. This was something important for me as I have a bald head (which besides a killer smirk is the only thing I have in common with The Rock), and I need that extra protection.
If you’re going to make the switch, it’s best to find the right shaving soap that factor in skin protection and good hydration. We’ve got seven soaps lined up that will be the centerpiece for your wet shaving kit and a ticket to making your routine a time of luxury.
Here are the best shaving soaps in 2021:
Pros: very gentle but consistent lather, great moisture, exquisite aroma
Cons: the price might deter some depending on their budget
Chances are, you might remember Floris from the 2012 James Bond movie “SkyFall”.
This shave soap certainly has that air of elegance, made by a fragrance company that has been in existence in Britain since 1730. The No.89 is a triple-milled soap that has a highly pleasing scent with notes of bergamot and sandalwood. It lathers up very well with a wet brush, and I found that lather held up for my entire shave. The No.89 gives you a smooth shave from start to finish, leaving the skin soft and well-hydrated afterwards. And
the scent is magnificent – I actually got complimented by a few people thinking it was a
cologne I was wearing.
Col. Ichabod Conk
Pros: Fabulous scent, provides excellent moisturizing throughout, pleasing soap texture
Cons: The packaging isn’t that attractive
You might be tempted to whistle an old-fashioned show tune while using the Bay Rum Shave Soap from Col. Ichabod Conk. No judgement here – it is a soap that does give you that vintage barbershop feel beginning with that stunning bay rum scent. I found myself transported back to when my late father cut my hair with that fragrance. This is a reformulated version of their most popular shave soap. The first lather is a good indicator as to why, as it’s smooth and doesn’t overly lubricate. It handles the razor well and has the best finish with no residue left on the skin afterwards.
Pros: Good initial lather, rich texture and feel, high quality moisture
Cons: Moisture residue but slight, lather does fade within a minute of application
Aiming for a shave experience steeped in sustainability? Then Badger Balm is one you might consider. Made with organic ingredients including aloe vera and coconut oil, this soap gives off a good initial lather and a really soothing texture. I found that this soap helped to soften the whiskers swiftly, allowing for a nice and crisp shave. There’s a good layer of moisture left afterwards, with a scant bit of soapy residue but not much to be bothered by. It also blends well with many of the aftershave products I have.
Pros: Decent scent, soap texture is pleasant without too much lather
Cons: Lather disappears frequently, the scent doesn’t carry for too long after the shave
This company’s soap offers up a decent shave, with a gentle bourbon cedar fragrance to it. The lather starts out strong off the brush but does fade quickly. That doesn’t take away from its positive capability to work well with both traditional and multi-blade razors during a shave. As mentioned before, the scent’s nice but it doesn’t linger. It’s a good starter soap for your budget if you’re just building your wet shaving setup.
Pros: Great hydration from lather, nice texture to the soap, works well with other aftershave products
Cons: You do have to lather consistently during your shave, slightly smaller than other soaps
Gentleman Jon is a company that’s committed to giving a truly classic shave experience with their glycerin-based soap. I found the lather was very smooth at the outset. One striking point is that while shaving, there wasn’t that much buildup on the razor but the skin felt very hydrated without much leftover moisture. The aroma is highly pleasant and blends in well with aftershave balms without any irritation. Using the soap also left the skin extremely smooth compared to the other soaps tested on both passes.
Pros: Good lather, works well with straight razors, leaves skin feeling softer after shave
Cons: Leaves a considerable amount of moisture buildup after, a little thick when using Multi-blade razors
The London-based company has been among the premier grooming companies, and their moisture-rich shaving soap with its own bowl is a reason why. Made partially with coconut oil, it provides a decent lather when starting out, but it can leave a little bit extra moisture afterwards so it’s best to go lightly with it. Its scent is pleasant, but not overly aromatic if you’re looking to not have it conflict with other grooming products. The soap does leave your skin feeling supple without any irritation, and it has a distinctive hydrating factor in helping the razor get rid of hairs.
The Art of Shaving
Pros: Good initial lather, helps you get a close shave right against the skin
Cons: Skin dryness and potential for irritation afterwards depending on your skin makeup
The sandalwood shaving soap by The Art of Shaving represents a lot of thought given to what one desires in a shave. It gives off a good lather, and on the first shave it helped a lot towards clean hair removal close to the skin. There’s a brief bit of moisture residue afterwards but nothing too obvious. On the second pass however, I did feel my skin feeling drier than expected afterwards and a tad irritated which suggests this might be better for special occasion shaving.
How we tested
The process of testing each soap was based on shaving every two days, with each having two passes. Each pass was done using a wet brush made with badger hair and a shaving bowl owned by myself. Soaps that came with their own bowls are noted below. Every soap was also gauged on how smooth they left the skin, and if there were any irritation or potential for tonal changes.