With so many brands and types, it is easy to question exactly what does shaving cream do. Especially when a hundred years ago all people used to shave with was soap – which is still common and perfectly good today.
Nevertheless what are the benefits of shaving cream and what makes the best shaving cream? Today it is easy to ignore since so many cartridge razors now come with lubrication built in – although this isn’t meant to be used purely on its own and tends to result in a poor shave anyway.
The primary purpose of shaving cream is lubrication so your razor can glide smoothly across the skin without cutting it. Another function is to lift up the bristles more in order to cut them better. Many also include extracts to help with inflammation and to reduce the chance of shaving rash.
You can also see exactly where you have shaved and keep track – and then re-lather for multiple passes to get an extra close shave. It is this ability to see where you have shaved that means many people prefer it to shave butter and oils which are transparent.
Shaving cream is very much a generalisation of a range of alternative products like shave butter, shaving oil and shaving soap. Today we’re used to seeing it as a foam in a pressurized container. This is largely a matter of convenience as shaving soap requires lots of preparation with hot water and a shaving brush – preferably in a shaving bowl or shaving mug.
However, while foam is quick and easy it does not compare to the luxury of traditional soaps as it tends to be thick and uneven. Shaving soap on the other hand, despite the preparation required, is massaged evenly onto the skin with a brush. This helps lift the bristles and exfoliates the skin underneath, making it an essential piece of safety razor kit.
I’m on a mission to help millions of people around the world ditch expensive and wasteful plastic cartridge razors and switch to traditional safety razors that are far better for the planet.
I discovered the joy of traditional shaving when I was just 14, less than a year after I even started shaving at all. I loved the time-honoured ceremony, precision and quality of soap, brush, razor and aftershave.
My double-edge safety razor from Merkur is still the same one I use every day, although I’ve enjoyed experimenting with a range of models over the years.
Paradoxically I have also been through a long list of interesting facial hair styles, but have never stuck with a full beard. Instead I am normally sporting very intricate mixes of sideburns, moustache and goatee that makes a good shaving system essential.