Shaving cream comes in many varieties and is one of the most important elements to a wet shave. If you’re unsure whether you need to use it, this will help you understand what exactly shaving cream does and how it helps. It’s important that you find the best shaving cream for your needs, allowing you to get the most comfortable and closest shave possible.
There are also other options available alongside cream, such as shaving soap, foam, or gel. We, at The English Shaving Company, would always recommend using a high quality shaving cream or soap rather than the foamy stuff from a can which can often contain a lot of additives. The canned product is often much less effective, less moisturising and produces a lower quality result, while potentially harming your skin. Continue reading to find out exactly what shaving cream does and why it’s a better choice than canned foam.
What does shaving cream help with?
If you’re wondering why you need to use shaving cream, the best place to start is taking a look at what a cream provides. It has many functions in a wet shave, which is why its importance cannot be underestimated. We’ve broken down the key elements to help you get the most out of not just your shaving products, but your whole shave.
(Want even more information? Read our blog on choosing the best shaving cream!)
One of the jobs of shaving cream is to soften your facial hairs. Unlike the hair on your head, your facial hair is what’s known as androgenic -- hair that’s controlled by hormones. This is why facial hair is more prevalent in men than women, as it’s influenced by testosterone levels. Androgenic hair is very different -- much more wiry and thick -- than other hair.
This thickness makes facial hair harder to cut, particularly when you’re looking to shave it very close to the base to achieve a smooth look. The best shaving cream softens the facial hair. It makes it much easier for your razor blade to cut through the hair and achieve the result you want.
Lubricating and Protection
The texture of facial hair poses another problem; aside from being hard to cut, it also contrasts significantly with the texture of your skin. While your hair is rough, your skin is soft and smooth. As these two contrasting textures lie so close together, it can be hard to get the right level of aggression to cut the hairs closely, while not damaging your vulnerable skin. (The right safety razor helps a lot with this too!)
Shaving cream provides a layer of protection that allows you to cut the stubborn hairs while minimising damage. Rather than removing the top layer of skin as your blade moves against your face, it removes the layer of shaving cream.
The layer of protection also works as a lubricant. It reduces friction between the blade and skin and therefore minimises problems that occur post-shave, such as itching or shaving rash.
If a shaving cream or soap is described as having good ‘glide’ or ‘slickness’, these aspects are what it refers to.
Not only do shaving creams soften the hairs, they also help to soften your skin. A wet shave can easily lead to dry skin for a number of reasons. For example, extended exposure to heat will draw moisture away from your face. Shaving cream protects against this. It minimises drying out during a shave. It also soothes your skin after the abrasive effects of shaving. Aftershave too is really useful for this -- and it also protects against damage to your skin.
Shaving cream has the added bonus of helping you keep track of your shaving pattern. Because the razor removes the shaving cream as it glides over your skin, you can clearly see where you’ve already shaved and ensure you don’t miss any hairs!
Cream vs Soap
While we’ve already mentioned that we wouldn’t recommend shaving foam from a can, both shaving cream and soap are valuable products that aid your shave. Deciding which to go for often comes down to personal preference.
Shaving soap requires the use of a brush for application, whereas this is not necessary with a cream - although it is recommended.
Shaving creams and soaps often share similar properties - some find creams to be easier to apply and offer more moisturising properties, while others prefer the longer lasting nature of the soaps coupled with the ability to control the thickness of the lather. It really is an individual choice. Why not try both to see which works best for your shave and skin?
Do you use shaving cream or soap? We’d love to hear about your favourite products and why you like them.
For more information, explore our blog! We've got everything from the beard styles of 2017 to tips on how to shave.