What’s the difference between the best shave of your life and a painful experience of raking a razor over your face? Shaving cream, Watson!
You may have seen our previous articles about razors and trimmers, so you know how seriously we take our tools. Well, shaving cream is right up there in terms of importance, so to give your shave the shake up it needs, we have compiled a guide of the best shaving cream products out there at the moment. The shaving cream reviews below mainly focused on products for guys, but we’ve included a few female specific categories too - note that the info about ingredients and skin requirements are relevant to everyone.
How to Pick the Best Shaving Cream for your Skin?
Skin ain’t simple, put it that way. Everyone’s skin has nuanced needs (particularly facial skin). Usually you will fall under a category of oily, dry or sensitive skin, and depending on which category you belong to you will require different things from your shaving cream.
An oily skinned person should seek out a shaving cream that has a mild astringent in it (this is an ingredient that helps to reduce the amount of oil on your skin without drying it out completely, you need a balance in order to achieve a smooth and comfortable shave). A shaving cream with astringent properties will also help limit clogging of the blade (and therefore irritation), which you can also do by rinsing your blade regularly throughout the shave - as often as after every stroke, in fact.
Dry skinned folk should look for a shaving cream with extra moisturising properties - think coconut, almond, jojoba. Although we think of these things as being very oily by nature, the light natural qualities of these oils will evaporate once they touch your skin, providing just enough moisture to keep your skin from feeling dry and irritated. Also, glycerides are your friend - these are plant derived ingredients that assist the uptake of moisturizing your skin.
Sensitive skinned folk beware- sensitive skin is not the same as dry skin! Dry skin products may have ingredients that will cause sensitive skin to flare up. If you’ve got sensitive skin, you will want a product that has soothing ingredients, something like aloe vera. Aloe has a historical reputation for its soothing, healing and antiseptic properties. General rule of thumb, stay away from synthetics and always look for natural ingredients.
The Bad Guys: Ingredients You Don’t Want
Now you’ve got an idea of what ingredients you want, it’s time to think about the baddies - the ones you want to avoid. Personal care products make up one of the world’s greatest ponzi schemes, convincing customers that investing in the newest, greatest, most highly developed products will give the biggest return- when in fact many of these products are only different in that they are laced with unnecessary additives and chemicals that do more harm than good. Limiting the amount of synthetic ingredients and choosing natural products will always be of benefit to your skin. Here’s a list of the biggest no-no ingredients (and why to avoid them):
- Anything that ends in “-paraben”. Parabens are included in products to prevent bacterial growth, but have been heavily linked to hormone disruption, reproductive issues, even cancer. Trust us, you’ll do just fine without them.
- Acronyms that sound like military divisions- SLS, SLES, TEA, DEA, MEA. These guys are alcohol based detergents to clean your skin, which is a problem because a) it strips away your skin’s natural oils which can lead to irritation/damage, and b) these chemicals can pass into your bloodstream and circulate throughout your body for 5 days after application.
- Anything that ends in “-ol”. It will be some nasty alcohol based agent that dries out your skin until it crumbles off your face and you’re left as a human skeleton.
- Petrochemicals. Petroleum based ingredients that acts as cheap and abrasive replacements for natural oils. They disrupt your skin’s natural respiratory process and dry it out badly. So that’s a big no to paraffins, petroleum and mineral oils.
- Fragrance. It might sound nice - heck, some people even specifically look for fragranced products, but be warned - this term on the ingredients list can represent any number of the 3,000+ chemicals that fall under its classification. If you want a scented product, choose one that uses natural fragrances from essential oils (sandalwood, rose, lavender, peppermint, bergamot etc.)
What’s in a Name: Different Shaving Product Types
Not all shaving lubes are created equal, so listen up. The point of using a shaving cream is to create a lather that will act as a protective barrier between the blade and your skin, and lubricate it to prevent friction and irritation.
Depending on the product you use, the quality of this protective barrier will vary greatly. Modern day aerosols and gels are heavily marketed and distributed worldwide, but despite their popularity they are almost certainly the least protective of all. Anything that comes in a pressurized can will contain something like iso propane or butane gases, which is why even when the foam in your hand appears to be rich, it’s mostly gas, and serves little purpose in protecting your skin during a shave. These products are also more likely to contain nasty dyes, detergents and synthetic chemicals- therefore we only recommend these shaving products as a last resort.
IN A NUTSHELL: Products that come in a pressurized can are likely the least effective in protecting your skin during a shave.
The best shaving cream products are usually the lather up versions sold in tubs or jars, because they contain the highest percentage of fats (around 50%) like glycerin, which is what provides the protective element. These are also the products which you need to manually lather either with your hands or a brush, the process of which when applied to your skin will lift up and soften the hairs, resulting in the closest and most comfortable shave.
Shaving soap, on the other hand, is to cream what a safety razor is to a cartridge. Old school, classic, and still sworn down by many as the best shaving cream alternative. Shaving soap is similar to a shaving cream in terms of purpose of use, but the preparation and application are very different- so take note. While a cream can be lathered in your hand and prepared quite quickly, a shaving soap needs to be bloomed first (soaked in water) and lathered with a brush for about 45 seconds before you can apply it to your skin. The process takes a little longer than when using a cream, but those who swear by soaps say that the lather produced is much slicker and ultimately produces a smoother and more comfortable shave.
In order to give the most well-rounded perspective possible, we’re going to review something from each category, so just take note of which style appeals to your specific shaving requirements the most.
Top 15 Best Shaving Products Countdown
1. Best Shaving Cream for Sensitive Skin: Proraso Shaving Cream
Infused with green tea and oatmeal, Proraso shaving cream is a great choice for those with sensitive skin thanks to the very protective, thick lather it creates. Green tea acts as an anti-inflammatory agent to prevent redness and razor burn, while the oatmeal constituent works as a thick protective guard between your skin and the blade. The lather smells really good- natural and sort of appley- so I don’t usually even bother to put on an aftershave, otherwise the smells might conflict with each other. The lather is super quick and easy to whip up too, which is a bonus for those like me who are looking to shave time off their shave time- if you know what I mean. The only negative I can see in this product is to do with the packaging, the cap is a little plastic screw top which is quite fiddly to take off and put back on. Plus the plastic it is made from is rather flimsy and I could imagine it could break quite easily and leave you with no way to seal up your nice shave cream.
2. Best Cooling Shaving Cream: Cremo Cooling
Cremo is one of the best shaving cream brands around. It’s American made, free of parabens and uses natural oils and scents- in this particular version there’s nice ingredients like macadamia seed oil and calendula extract which act as the moisturising agents. The cooling aspect is what makes this product special though, thanks to the peppermint, menthol and tea tree oil combo your skin feels really refreshed and cool after the shave- I’d describe the sensation as almost tingly. It’s pleasant, trust me, once you feel it you’ll never look back. The manufacturer claims it makes a light lather, but I would say that’s a little misleading. Expect more of a lotion consistency, and be prepared for the fact that you can’t see it very well on your skin so you will have to adjust your method of knowing where you have left to shave. When I finish the shave I just rub the rest of the Cremo into my face, it works well as a conditioner too. The other upside is that the tube is really long lasting, so great value for money.
3. Best Shaving Cream for Safety Razor: Cremo Original
I did say that I love Cremo, so don’t be surprised that 2 out of the top 3 shaving cream reviews so far are products made by these guys. It is very possibly the best shaving cream for men there is (possibly… so hard to choose…). This original version is a classic, and tops my list for the best shaving cream for safety razor for a couple of reasons. First, I’ll give you a little background- a lot of safety razors have a pretty aggressive blade angle, so when you look for a complementary shaving cream you’re going to want one that creates a slick and thick barrier over your skin so that the blade glides instead of pulling. Cremo shaving cream does just this, and like its cooling cousin, you really only need to use a small almond sized dab of it, mixed liberally with water, to create a substantial amount for your shave. Added plus is the olive leaf and aloe extract which acts a soothing and moisturizing agent. It’s especially important with a safety razor that you rinse regularly- as often as every stroke, and if you find your blade is still getting clogged easily you should use either less Cremo or more water. Less is more, as they say.
4. Best in a Bowl: Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Cream Bowl
TOBS set the industry standard long ago, so it would be remiss of us to omit this top seller- for a number of other reasons besides its evident popularity. If you are new to the whole brush-cream-shave concept, or if you are just a person who looks for an extra element of convenience in their purchases then this product is a great one. This is because the lid of the shaving cream acts as a bowl for you to whip up your lather in, which is seriously handy and minimises mess. The lather itself is intensely creamy, almost lotion-like, but with enough whipping it can easily be converted into a shaving cream with more body. The sandalwood scent is pretty strong- not for the faint of heart. In fact I would say it’s not entirely a sandalwood smell, it’s more floral than earthy I guess. It does a great job of softening the hairs pre-shave, and bare in mind I have a very thick coarse beard so I struggle to find products that do the job effectively, but this is definitely one of the best men’s shaving cream products out there.
5. Best Cheap Shaving Cream: Pacific Shaving Company Caffeinated Shaving Cream
Good results don’t require massive investment, and this shaving cream is proof of that. A complete bargain, Pacific Shaving Co got it right with their caffeinated shaving cream formula. You’re probably wondering, so I’ll tell you, the caffeine part is not a gimmick (although they do rely on it pretty heavily in their marketing so one could be excused for being skeptical). The caffeine factor actually is the main preventor of razor rash, because it causes (get ready for fancy words) vasoconstriction, which is the tightening of your blood vessels which in turn reduces redness and rashes. This also means if you do happen to accidentally nick yourself, you will bleed less since your vessels are constricted. Who knew?! I’m a fan of the light minty scent too, not at all overpowering and almost totally washes away after you have finished shaving. If you’re a guy who values both the quality of the product and the price you pay for it then this should be top of your shopping list- it’s without doubt one of the cheapest and best shaving cream for men there is.
6. Best Unscented: The Art of Shaving Cream (Unscented)
The Art of Shaving products are the gold standard of the shaving cream world. They make a range of concoctions, both scented and unscented. This unscented version doesn’t compromise on any of the rich lathering qualities though, and thanks to the active coconut acid and glycerin ingredients, this cream does a great job of producing a smooth and pull-free shave. I usually leave the cream on my face for a minute before I start with the razor so that the hairs are extra soft (skin likes it too). Granted, this is a bit on the pricey side, but like most high quality shaving creams you only need to use a tiny dab to create a good lather- so the tub will last you a long time. For the sake of the guys who prefer to go au-natural in the fragrance department, this is one of the best wet shaving products you can get your mitts on, and the good news is that if you like this one, there is a whole range of complementary oils, washes and lotions that go with it.
7. Best Moisturizing: Henry Cavendish Himalaya Shaving Soap with Shea Butter & Coconut Oil
I bought Henry Cavendish’s shaving soap purely based on the manufacturer’s quip that it “doesn’t contain anything you can’t pronounce”- I’m telling you, words to live by. Here’s what we can tell from the ingredients list: there’s a high glycerin content which makes this one a top contender for best shaving cream for sensitive skin (even though I gave it to Proraso this time), the soy extract acts as a conditioner, and the shea butter adds extra moisture and replenishes skin that’s seen better days. These three factors together combine to make a really powerful moisturising agent, perfect for those with dry skin. Remember, this is a soap and not a cream so it requires some slightly different preparation, but the upside is that it lasts longer than any other cream I’ve used (I reckon this was about 8 months on my bathroom counter top). The smell is natural and minimal, and I wouldn’t say it’s gender specific either- in fact my girlfriend also uses this and says she thinks it’s the best shaving cream for legs she’s used. And she’s got high standards mate let me tell you, oh god let me tell you…. The only thing I have to say was a bit sneaky of old Henry is that he slipped the dreaded “fragrance” into the ingredients list. Tut tut, and to think I almost gave it 5 stars.
8. Best Shaving Cream for Acne: Neutrogena Men Skin Clearing Shave Cream
Shaving when you have acne prone skin is an absolute nightmare. I’m lucky in that I am only prone to outbreaks every once and awhile, so most of the time I don’t share the same struggles as those who have to deal with it every day. My brother-in-law is one of those people though, and he told me that he swears by this product from Neutrogena. Although most dermatologists recommend that if you have severe acne that you don’t shave, or at least not often (or perhaps use an electric shave to prevent the blade having direct contact with your skin and causing further irritation). However, if you have to shave, try using this beauty- it’s packed with antiseptic healing agents like salicylic acid. It’s also a non-oily formula, which is a necessity if you find yourself prone to breakouts caused by sebum overproduction. The light formula is great because it won’t clog your pores either, so you’ll feel clean as opposed to caked.
9. Best Shaving Soap: Proraso Shaving Soap in a Bowl, Sensitive Skin
This is the second Prosraso shave cream we’ve looked at here, and the second shave soap- but this one is a clear winner because unlike the soap reviewed above, this one has no synthetic colours, parabens, mineral oils or silicones. The soap is hard, hard enough that you can load up your brush on it but soft enough that you can get a really good creamy lather without causing carpal tunnel. The result from using this soap is second to none in terms of smoothness- and no rash, bumps or ingrown hairs to speak of which is quite miraculous for me. Even with my tough beard that grows in many directions, I still think this is one of the best wet shaving products I’ve tried, I’d recommend it to anyone whether you have sensitive skin or not. I guess the one thing I’m not such a fan of with this particular product is the scent. I like mild scents, and this is mild, but it’s soapy- in fact it smells like any other soap you’d buy at a dollar store. This definitely isn’t a big problem since the scent more or less completely washes away post-shave, it’s just personal preference I suppose.
10. Best Anti-aging: Shaveology Rich Anti-Aging Shave Cream Lather
Shaveology products are great all round. Scent-wise, it’s not far off of a light cologne- clean and manly. The consistency of the cream is almost like yogurt, in a way it’s more of a dry cream even though technically it is part of the wet shaving products line. Anyway this time I used my brush to load up the cream and applied it directly onto my (wet) face (which is maybe partially the reason for the thicker consistency since I didn’t pre mix in a bowl), however after about 15 seconds of brushing in circular motions the cream turned lighter and fluffier. It was a seriously smooth shave, and no pulling during the actual shaving process. The anti-aging properties come from the golden seaweed infusion, which the guys at Shaveology claim is a potent hydrator and protector from the elements. Overall, nice product, cool packaging, and does what it says on the tin. I’d happily continue to use Shaveology’s wet shaving products over others because I also like to support small businesses.
11. Best Vegan Shaving Cream: The Body Shop For Men Maca Root Shave Cream
I’ve always been a fan of The Body Shop (as has my girlfriend, we’ve got a bathroom cabinet with samples spilling out… I don’t complain) but I had never tried their shaving cream before. While conducting the research for this article I became more conscious than ever of the ingredients list on these sorts of products, and particularly careful that the ones I chose to support were cruelty free and vegan- which this one is. Infused with Peruvian maca root to give a refreshed and energised complexion, this is probably the best shaving cream if you want a natural fragrance that isn’t cologney and not too earthy either. It’s chocked full of brazil nut and sesame oil to keep your skin feeling hydrated after the razor is packed up, and aloe to calm down any irritation that might have been on its way. Oh, and all of these components are Community Trade, too. The lather is smooth and creamy, comparable to TOBS, maybe even better- and for a cheaper price. This is certainly a top contender for best shaving cream for men who are conscious of where their products come from.
12. Best Travel Sized: Kiss My Face Moisture Shave 3.4oz
A lot of the shaving cream reviews above also produce travel sized versions of their products, and if you’ve got a favourite up there by all means stick with it. However, if you’re still unsure, or if you are looking for a really good all-rounder for when you are on the go and don’t want to take multiple products with you, then Kiss My Face travel sized is a winner. Go for the fragrance free option if you can, it’s always the best choice if you don’t want to run the risk of drying out your skin or exposing yourself to nasty additives. This version is also suitable for sensitive skin, thanks to its natural ingredients and moisture enhancers. The products claims to be a 4in1- cleansing with lemongrass and soapwort, astringent lady’s mantel, goldenseal to protect against nicks, and peppermint to cool and disinfect. The lather is more lotion like in consistency, and really feels like it creates a consistent barrier between my face and the blade. My gf uses regularly on her bikini area too and claims she has never suffered redness or bumps after use. Win-win.
13. Best Unisex: Aveeno Therapeutic Moisturizing Shave Gel
Let me start this review by saying that this is by no means the only unisex product mentioned in this article. Okay, a majority of the products mentioned above are geared towards men, but that by no means eliminates ladies from using and benefiting from them. However, I chose this particular product as the best shave cream that isn’t gender specific based on a couple factors: size, scent, performance, and packaging. This 7oz bottle is big enough that it could easily be shared between two people doing regular shaves, even if one or both of those people are shaving large areas like legs- and still not have to buy a new bottle every other week. This product doesn’t have any scent (none that I could catch anyway), and the packaging is minimal and neutral. Performance-wise it produces a nice, smooth shave on the legs, bikini area, or face and does a good job of preventing burns and bumps thanks to the protective oatmeal ingredient. The one thing I would say against using this product is that there are 3 parabens listed on the bottle (and I was sure that the ad said it was paraben free..?)
14. Best Shaving Cream for Women: Cremo Coconut Mango Shaving Cream for Women
Back to old faithful, Cremo makes it on the list for the third time- and deserves every bit of praise I’m giving it. While the aforementioned Cremo products are not necessarily gender specific, this coconut mango version is one for the girls. It definitely smells… feminine. Delicious, but undoubtedly girly. In terms of performance Cremo is a winner. You really only need a pea sized amount to cover a sizable area (say both underarms for example) so the 6oz bottle goes a long way. It’s a feather light and non foamy lather, and despite its lightness it is still emollient enough to be extremely protective against the blade (even in the sensitive spots- back of the legs, bikini area, underarms). Plus any residual product left on your skin post shave can be rubbed in for a super luxurious skin conditioner- and trust me you’ll want to leave some of this on your skin thanks to the divine smell. Overall, this Cremo product is extraordinarily moisturizing, smells amazing, works wonders on large areas like legs and sensitive bikini/underarm areas, is long lasting and good value. This is definitely one of the best shaving creams for women out there, the only downside I would say is the artificial factor- if you are prone to extremely sensitive skin beware of the alcohol element in here, it may dry you out over time- that’s the only reason I don’t think this is the best shaving cream for sensitive skin users.
15. Best Shaving Cream for Bikini Area: IntiMD COOCHY PLUS Intimate Shave Cream
The list of best shaving cream products would simply not be complete without something for the coochy, and IntiMD are the go-to saviours for those who are looking to maintain a smooth bikini area. This is the best shave cream for the nether regions because it ticks all the boxes in terms of the natural ingredients to look for: jojoba, avocado, maca root, aloe vera and shea butter. These super moisturizing properties work to soften the hairs so that you don’t need to apply so much pressure with the razor, in turn preventing you from causing irritation or cutting yourself. The Coochy producers have a pretty powerful theory about the maca root component- they say it helps to alleviate menstrual symptoms and also acts as a potent aphrodisiac and libido enhancer (well why not, if anything it smells good). The thinking behind this shaving cream is that it is gentle and effective enough to use on your most sensitive nether regions and soften the coarsest of hair down there, so it must be suitable to use on the rest of your body too.
Wrapping it Up: The Winner
Overall, I’m going to give the winning title to Cremo Original (as much as I love the coconut mango version, it’s overpriced compared with the Original, and the cooling version may not be for everyone). The Cremo Original is versatile, performs well, and is easy on your skin (yes, even sensitive types!).
At the end of the day, each of the products above supports its own merits so the winner will always be the one that you prefer. My recommendation for today is going to be that Cremo has to be the best shave cream brand I’ve reviewed today for a couple of reasons. It’s the best value of all of the shaving cream reviews I’ve done, suitable for men and women, comes in a variety of scented (and unscented) versions, it’s free of parabens and other nasties, and there’s a version to suit every individual skin requirement. Cremo is supremo!