Finding the best shaving soap is always going to be difficult. With so many brands and scents to consider you have to try a lot of shave soap to find the right one for you.
But luckily for you, we’ve done the research for you. As a team of wet shavers going back many years, we’ve had the chance to try a heck of a lot of shave soap.
Despite all that research, we still find shaving soap is a very personal choice and so we’ve provided you with a shortlist of top choices to try for yourself and experience the very best that wet shaving has to offer.
Our favourite is Truefitt & Hill 1805 as a very rich traditional option with a regal opulence that lasts hundreds of shaves.
The smooth and silky Art of Shaving Sandalwood cream is a modern favourite premium option.
For a fresh scent at a low price, Proraso is also a classic top pick.
Best Shaving Soap – Our Top Picks
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- Royal Warrant holder
- Traditional recipe
- Rare luxury scents
- Soft cream
- Soft cream lathers beautifully
- Fresh eucalyptus scent
- Made with Italian hot soap method
- James Bond’s fragrance
- Soft cream
- Classic sandalwood fragrance
- Hard puck
- Lanolin based so much slicker
- Beautiful ceramic
The Best Shaving Soap Reviews
Truefitt and Hill are the chosen hairdressers of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, the husband of the Queen of England, and hold the royal warrant that adorns all their products.
As such their shaving cream is of a very high quality with a smooth glycerine-based formula. It’s softer and creamier than most shaving soap but you only need a small amount to make a great lather.
The most popular choice is Truefitt and Hill 1805 with a rich, delicate and complex scent of Bergamot, Mandarin and Cardamon, combined with a Lavender, Geranium and Clary Sage heart resting on a Sandalwood, Cedar Wood and Musk base.
The Art of Shaving is frequently slated by wet shaving fans as a small artisanal brand that sold out to Proctor and Gamble. And it is Proctor and Gamble that owns Gillette, the very origin of the safety razor that turned its back on it in favour of overhyped multi-blade cartridge razors.
However, while we may berudge the Art of Shaving for pushing premium multi-blade heated razors, their shaving cream remains impressive despite the premium price. And we do mean the shaving cream as their hard shaving soap doesn’t offer the same standard.
The cream is luxuriously soft and smooth and comes in a number of rare scents – our favourites are Bourbon, Oud and Bergamot and Neroli. They also offer a classic Sandalwood that competes with Taylor of Old Bond Street.
Proraso offers a smooth cream in a nicely shaped bowl and a strong eucalyptus and menthol scent that’s more reviving and refreshing than the other old fashioned scents we’ve tried. That said if you like this then try Taylor’s lime scent.
Proraso’s shave soap is still made following a ‘hot soap’-making process during which it’s left to mature for 10 days in small batches to thoroughly dry out. This results in a more concentrated soap that produces an amazing lather.
Our Proraso shaving soap review concludes that this is a classic European shaving soap – a traditional method with a timeless fresh scent.
Fancy trying a shaving cream made by the Queen of England’s perfumier? Floris was founded in 1730 as the United Kingdom’s oldest fragrance retailer and is still run by the 9th generation of the same founding family. In fact they have been awarded several royal warrants over the years, but perhaps more impressive for their No.89 fragrance is that it was the choice of James Bond.
They are based at No.89 Jermyn Street – just down from Taylor of Old Bond Street (that’s not a mistake – Taylor moved from Old Bond Street to Jermyn Street but kept the name) and as such reside in the home of the finest men’s grooming establishments.
The Floris shaving soap is pretty expensive for a hard puck – and it’s fair to say it’s the scent you’re paying for here – but the shaving soap is triple-milled (read on for what this means) and contains shea butter to create a creamy lather.
As you can imagine with a perfumier’s shaving soap, the scent is varied and complex with citrus and lavender combining with a muskier base. This is not for the faint-hearted. The scent can be very overpowering.
It is available in three scents, perhaps the best being juniper, bergamot and jasmine that is light and quite citrusy. We also like “Coastal” that combines the bergamot with deep cedar and oakmoss.
It is very moisturizing thanks to a generous amount of shea butter and jojoba oil which also make it very smooth and protective.
This classic shaving brand has been providing great quality products since 1854. Their range of shaving soaps is no exception and form a perfect middle between hard shaving soap pucks and tubed cream. Instead these shaving creams are like a thick paste that comes in it’s own shaving bowl.
The sandalwood shaving soap is the most popular and with good reason. Taylor of Old Bond Street shaving soap is known for its smooth texture and still provides a thick lather with very little work.
The scent is subtle yet satisfying with top notes of geranium, lavender, rosemary and liquid amber supported by a heart of carnation, fern and orange blossom resting on a sumptuous base of patchouli, sandalwood, vetivert, powdery musk and rock rose.
Taylors offer a range of great shaving soap scents. Try 16 varieties with their sample pack.
Mitchell’s Wool Fat Soap was first produced in the early 1930’s by a British chemist Fred Mitchell who realised that the natural lanolin content of wool fat kept the hands of local sheep shearers and wool sorters so exceptionally soft.
If you’re willing to pay the extra we firmly believe this is the very best looking shaving soap container out their with a ceramic that looks like it’s a Victorian original.
Mitchell’s Wool Fat Soap is still made to his original formula, based on a recipe from the turn of the century and incorporating lanolin from the wool fat as the key ingredient.
As a tallow-based shaving soap it is incredibly smooth on my skin and softens any beard bristles nicely. The Scottish soap creates a slick lather that’s not so thick but very lubricating. It takes a lot of practice to get the right lathering technique and plenty of shavers dismiss it too early. Mitchell’s shave soap is a very creamy soap that leaves your skin feeling beautifully soft after and offers a lot of lubricating protection when shaving.
We also like the fact that despite Mitchell’s offering the performance of a creamy shaving soap there’s no plastic container to throw away – just paper wrapping and recyclable cardboard on the refills.
Geo F. Trumper is a renowned barbershop in London’s Mayfair, just down the road from Taylor of Old Bond Street.
Their luxurious coconut oil shaving cream offers a light and fresher scent than many of these traditional shaving soaps. The shaving cream is very silky and soft so no blooming is required and only a small amount of work with a shaving brush.
The tub is a good third bigger than Taylor of Old Bond Street and is similar in style as a plastic pot with a screw lid. You hardly need any on your brush to whip up a big foaming lather. The scent is quite gentle and fades quite quickly, making a wonderful shave without lingering scent.
Meanwhile your skin and any facial hair you keep will reap all the benefits of coconut oil and feel soft and nourished after.
Captain’s Choice offer a remarkable bay rum shaving soap using the same formula as their best bay rum aftershave. A very new brand, Captain’s Choice was started when its founders grew frustrated with the lack of quality bay rum products on the market.
Bay rum is one of the most traditional shaving scents dating back to the 16th Century when sailors in the West Indies steeped bay leaves in the local rum produce.
Captain’s Choice is now one of the best bay rum aftershaves and you can pair that with this bay rum shave soap. Being first and foremost an aftershave brand you shouldn’t expect the best shaving soap around.
Generally it lathers well and gives a good shave and its a softer shaving cream more than a hard puck soap. That’s why it comes in a container that’s slightly larger than necessary so you don’t loose any lather as it foams up. However, you should definitely stay for the scent.
If Captain’s Choice doesn’t satisfy you for bay rum, try Colonel Conk. It’s a good hard shaving soap that performs well at a great price.
The original Colonel Conk traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1866 after the Civil War left him in financial ruin. He dated a woman who owned several barber shops. He started packaging the products they used and started selling them across the mid West as a travelling salesman.
Today’s brand was not his though. Rather, he was taken as a figurehead and mascot for this brand of glycerine shaving soaps. Part of Col. Conk’s popularity is in the bay rum scent but Conk also makes soaps in lime, almond and amber scents. One of the big perks of the brand is you can buy a variety pack very cheaply and find your favourite.
Van Der Hagen offers something more like a “puck” style shaving soap. That means you need a shaving mug or shaving scuttle to take full advantage of it. However, this is surely a more eco-friendly means of shaving than the solid plastic bowls of Taylor shave soap.
Of course you can just use it like a bar of soap and still rotate your shaving brush on it but this seems a little clumsy when you can treat yourself to a mug. For this reason it is much harder than the Taylor of Old Bond Street shaving cream. You might also struggle to get it to fit your mug but you can always trim it so size.
Overall Van Der Hagen offers a great product for a great price. The lather and scent are great and a single puck lasts for ages, making a great value piece of premium shaving equipment. Why not combine it with their safety razor? Read our Van der Hagen safety razor review.
Lather & Wood offer a sizeable 4.7oz tin with incredible vintage graphics – and that’s before we even open it!
Sticking to the classic sandalwood, Bay Rum and “Barbershop” fragrances, Lather & Wood is handcrafted in small batches to ensure premium quality. Like Taylors, this is more of a shaving cream than a hard soap puck and so you use the tin itself as a shaving bowl.
Tallow (animal fat) and shea butter make an incredibly thick lather that is also smooth and nourishing. Of course this offers an obvious drawback that it isn’t vegan but you can decide how much that matters to you. This might be more of a concern if you are considering shaving gift sets.
Arko is a barbershop classic that used to come in a stick wrapped in paper. Unfortunately the paper would get wet, the red color would bleed into the soap making a mess of this budget shave soap. Some persistent fans would grate the soap up and mash it into an empty container.
Now Arko shaving soap comes in a convenient puck in a simple plastic, screw-top container. Arko has quite a fresh lemony scent that people either love or hate. It lathers incredibly easily in basically any water condition, although as a hard puck soap be sure to bloom it nicely beforehand.
Launched by the design house of Maurer & Wirtz in 1959, Tabac Original is a men’s fragrance based on a blend of lavender, citrus, and warm florals.
While you may see Tabac as more of a drugstore brand they offer a great shaving soap that is creamy and rich. Plus for this Tabac shaving soap review we love the fact it comes in a ceramic container which feels more sustainable than the plastic containers of Proraso and Taylor of Old Bond Street.
When you finally finish this – it can last years – you can simply buy a refill puck to fit the container.
The fragrance on this is deep and floral with strong undertones of coumarin and limonene to give it a more masculine flavor.
Tabac lathers well in hard water and performs as good as English tallow soaps, and noticeably better than grocery store varieties despite its low price.
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What Makes The Best Shave Soap?
Some shaving soaps foam up nice and thick when massaged with a shaving brush and hot water. Others take a lot more effort or don’t stay as thick foam for long. A good lather is warm and satisfying, and also helps to keep your bristles upright and away from the skin so they are easier to shave.
Shaving is a chore every morning so start the day right and make it worthwhile. Find a scent that makes you happy to be up and heading to work. Many shaving soaps go for old fashioned scents like bay rum and sandalwood so consider if you want this or a fresher menthol scent like Proraso.
If you have a particular aftershave you like to wear then you may want to go for a soap with very little scent so you don’t end up clashing. On the other hand many of these brands like Taylor of Old Bond Street offer aftershaves and eau de toilettes to match their shaving soap scents.
You obviously don’t want to pay over the odds for any kind of soap. Shaving soap requires you to be quite generous as you whip up a lather with your shaving brush so you don’t want to be worrying about the cost of your shave in the morning.
That said, don’t settle for a cheap hard soap when you have many luxurious options to choose from to make your morning ritual divine.
Types of Shaving Soap
Shaving soaps come in three different consistencies; a hard soap, a cream soap, and something the shaving community fondly calls a “croap”, which is between a cream and a soap. Croaps are also commonly referred to as Italian-style soaps.
You may encounter terms about milling the shaving soap – such as triple-milled or French milled. This is a process that improves the quality of the shaving soap by taking the initial product and grating it back up again to be reprocessed. That involves melting and heating that reduces the amount of air and water in the soap, which makes it smoother and denser, especially if repeated again. The final triple-milled shaving soap is so dense that it springs back to life with water to create a superior creamy lather.
Triple-milling is an easy way to distinguish between a quality shave soap and a block from the drugstore that’s just been molded into a puck shape.
Puck Shave Soap
This is a disk of hard soap, often with a shaped bottom to fit in a shaving mug. It can take a little bit of work depending on the size and shape of your mug. At first it will probably slip and spin a bit but over time it will weld itself into the form.
Puck shave soap tends to last longer as it’s so dense. It can also take a bit more time to build up a good lather. On the other hand using a proper shaving bowl can often help to build up a nice hot lather.
“Blooming” is the process of gently wetting the top of the shaving soap with hot water to soften it up.
Blooming the soap is highly recommended for hard shaving soaps and can solve many issues. Blooming makes it much easier to load a brush up to its full capacity and hydrates the top layer of the soap.
Shaving Cream in a Bowl
Some brands offer this product that’s not so soft that it can go in a tube and doesn’t need a shaving brush, but is still too soft to come in a hard puck. Instead it comes in its own shaving bowl with a screw-top.
This can be much more convenient than having to buy a shaving mug. Plus the experience tends to be much better with a richer lather with less effort.
One minor issue is you should really let the shaving soap dry out between uses and so you should resist the urge to screw the top back on right away.
Throwing away the (usually) plastic bowl does feel a bit wasteful but in reality one of these tubs will last for months. That said, the nice screw tops mean you could definitely re-use them for storing things.
Shaving Soap Cream (croap), Often in a Tube
This shaving cream is so soft it can literally be scooped up. This is quicker and more convenient for busy modern lives – which is exactly why some people choose to reject it and favour a harder soap that requires more of a ritual. However, our top choice is Proraso shaving cream.
While shaving cream soaps or croaps are usually soft enough to not require blooming to help load a brush, they also benefit from the soap being hydrated.
However, if you want to bloom the scent or make the cream a little runnier, you can submerge the entire container in hot water to warm up the cream soap. This works for cream soaps in both containers and tubes.
How To Use Shaving Soap
If you’re used to shaving foam out of a can having only just switched to using a safety razor then you may be a little confused about how shaving soap works.
We’ve already covered what does shaving cream do, and shaving soap performs much the same function. However, while you’re used to rubbing shaving cream on your face with a hand from your aerosol, shaving soap requires the use of a good shaving brush to create lather.
What is a Lather?
Soap molecules are long molecules that have one end that is attracted to water and the other end that is attracted to oil. When soap molecules and water are combined with friction, lathering usually occurs.
This addition of water causes the soap to form orderly layers (the walls of a soap bubble). The friction incorporates air into the mix, pockets of air develop, and each of the air pockets become coated by the oil in the soap.
Different types of oils make different size air pockets (bubbles). If you do this in a controlled manner, such as with a shaving brush and shaving soap, you create lather.
Soak Your Shaving Brush
To use shaving soap, you should first soak your shaving brush in hot water to soften the hairs. You can do this at the same time you prepare your face for shaving with a hot towel – unless you are shaving after a shower. Either way you want to leave the brush in hot water for at least a minute but preferably longer.
If you have a synthetic brush you can now run it under some water and get it wet. Give it a gentle squeeze to get rid of some of the excess water but do it very gently. Synthetics do not soak up water so you need to retain a little more in the bristles.
How To Bloom Hard Shaving Soap
Next we want to make sure the soap can load onto the brush. To do this we are going to “Bloom” the soap. This consists of placing a layer of warm water on the soap and letting it soak in. This accomplishes three things.
- It softens the soap and allows it to be loaded onto the shaving brush easier. A very common mistake is to blame the soap for making poor lather when in reality you have not loaded enough soap onto your brush.
- It partially hydrates the soap, making it easier to lather. Many soaps can be picky about how much water is added when creating a lather. This problem is greatly reduced is you start out with a “wetter” soap and need to add less during the lather building process
- It releases the fragrance of the soap for greater enjoyment. We all buy scented soaps because it smells good.
Once the soap and brush have had enough time to get all of the benefits they can get from a good soak it’s time to load your brush.
Put the brush to the side and take a look at your soap.
Using the Shaving Brush
Take your shaving brush out of its container and discard the soaking water. Hold your brush over the sink and give the bristles one good squeeze to get rid of excess moisture. Do not squeeze it more than that or flick it to get rid of more water. You need that water to create lather so make sure the shaving brush is wet but not dripping.
One reason shaving soap offers a better shaving experience is because of this process of brushing the skin, opening and cleaning pores as well as softening bristles and exfoliating the skin. Can you shave with regular soap? Of course – but you miss out on a more luxurious experience.
Place the shaving brush bristles in the soap and apply just enough pressure to cause the bristles to splay out slightly. Too much pressure and you risk damaging the bristles, to little and you will not be able to properly load the shaving brush.
Whirl the shaving brush around the shaving bowl your shaving soap comes in to build up a rich lather. Don’t apply too much pressure and also consider adding more hot water until you get the right foamy consistency.
Swirl the brush back and forth in a clockwise/counter-clockwise motion for a full 30 seconds.
After 30 seconds the top of your brush should be fully coated in soap and the tips should be starting to clump together a bit. You may see what looks like an early form of lather forming as well. If you don’t see this then you can try loading the brush for another 10 or 15 seconds.
Using Shaving Cream Soap/Croap
To load your brush with a cream shaving soap perform the following.
Scoop up and apply a portion of cream approximately the size of a pea to the top of the bristles. You can use your finger, the handle end of your toothbrush, or be a real gentleman and use a “snurdle”.
Take your finger and rub the cream on the top of the bristles to work it in a bit.
A brush loaded with a cream soap does not visually resemble a brush that was loaded from a hard or croap shaving soap.
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