Getting a close shave comes down to two important tools – your razor and your shaving cream. There are other factors, such as shaving technique, the texture of your hair, even your own attention span, but those aren’t nearly as important as the razor and the cream.
We’ve talked about razors and blades in previous posts, so now it’s time to look at shave cream. A quality cream can be the difference between a great shave and a shave that’s just “meh.”
Because we don’t want you to ever have a bad shaving experience, we’re here to help with our reviews of the best shaving cream for men in 2017. We start with a favorite from the United Kingdom – the Taylor of Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Cream – and work our way through a list we think will help you get the quality shave you deserve.
Let’s get started.
- Before you buy: 3 things to consider when purchasing shave cream
- The 7 best shaving creams for men 2017
- The fine art of applying shave cream to your face
- Shaving cream or shaving soap: What’s the difference?
- Our method for choosing the best shave creams of 2017
Before You Buy: 3 things to Consider When Purchasing Shave Cream
It’s easy to grab any old shave cream off the grocery store shelf. Perhaps you check the scent, see if it’s good for sensitive skin (or whatever your skin type), and check the price tag. It’s not so easy, however, if you’re serious about finding a quality shave cream such as the ones we list in this review.
Here are some things to consider:
1. Type of skin
Base you shaving cream on the type of skin you have. Most men have one of three types – sensitive, oily, and dry. If you have sensitive skin, avoid shaving creams that have an astringent of any kind. But it’s OK to use cream with astringent if you have an oily face because it reduces the oil and prevents your pores from clogging.
If you have dry skin, make sure the cream you choose has a glycerin base. Glycerin helps provide a foundation that allows your blade to glide over your face without causing nicks and cuts.
2. Ingredients (to avoid)
What’s in your shaving cream is an important factor, as well. Here are some ingredients to avoid:
Let’s cut to the chase – parabens = trouble. What else can you say about something that linked to a variety of ailments, including asthma and allergies? They’re used in skin care products to prevent bacteria growth but … you can do without them just fine.
It sounds like the acronym for a spy agency, but SLS stands for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. While it’s supposed to clean up your skin when applied directly, it also strips away the natural oils found on your skin. Plus, SLS stays in your body for up to 5 days.
SLES is used to reduce the side effects of petroleum-based products but also may cause some serious side effects – such as organ toxicity, for starters.
Yes, fragrance. You’ll find it most skin care products, so it’s hard to avoid, but “fragrance” is a term used for over 3,000 chemicals. Avoid it if you can.
3. Ingredients (to include)
Shaving creams with natural ingredients such as oils – jojoba, almond, etc. – are better for your face. They’re not oily, and they evaporate quickly on your skin.
Also, look for creams with essential oils, such as sandalwood, eucalyptus, lavender, rose, and more. They’re good for your skin and leave a pleasant, natural scent.
Now that we’ve covered some buying tips, it’s time to dig into our shaving cream reviews.
The 7 Best Shaving Creams For Men 2017
No reviews of the best shaving cream for men is complete (or accurate) without listing Taylor of Old Bond Street’s Sandalwood Shaving Cream. It’s the gold standard among shave creams and has been for a long, long time.
Taylor of Old Bond Street was founded in 1854 and became well-known for its botanical extracts. It has gone on to produce many other fine products that are in the classy British style of understated elegance.
There’s just so much to like about Taylor’s Sandalwood Shaving Cream, and it has a sterling reputation among consumers. We have it on our list for a lot of reasons, including:
- It has a consistency that’s almost lotion-like but is easy to work into a full-fledged, luxurious lather. Taylor even includes a sandalwood shaving bowl for your convenience and ease of lathering.
- While the Sandalwood Shaving Cream may have been your grandfather’s go-to cream, it’s a timeless product that’s perfect for every modern beardsman or smooth-faced man.
- Its lather produces the ideal cushion for a comfortable shave that leaves your skin feeling smooth and moisturized. One of the Sandalwood Shaving Cream’s main ingredients is glycerin, which provides moisture to the skin (while enhancing the smoothness of your shave).
- While you can use this shaving cream with cartridge and electric razors – with good results – it’s best suited for double-edge safety razors and straight razors. It certainly ranks at the top when it comes to the best shaving cream for a safety razor.
- Sandalwood is a masculine scent that combines a variety of tones – from cedar to lighter notes of vanilla. However, if sandalwood isn’t your thing, Taylor of Old Bond Street also makes shave cream in almond, coconut, grapefruit, lavender, lemon & lime, peppermint, and rose scents.
- While this product is priced higher than many other creams, it lasts longer than most which make it a good long-term investment.
- Still aren’t convinced? Check out this video testament to the wonders of Taylor of Old Bond Street’s premier shave cream:
- Excellent, rich lather
- Provides superior shaving comfort and is easy on the skin
- Superior, timeless craftsmanship
- Not many cons, if any, although it’s a bit more expensive than other creams
If you’re serious about investing in top quality shaving products, then you’ll want to try Taylor of Old Bond Street’s Sandalwood Shaving Cream. It’s as good as it gets.
Are you in the market for a shave cream that can handle several jobs at once? Then look no further than Jack Black’s Beard Lube Conditioning Shave Cream which is a three-in-one product, unlike foams or gels.
The versatility of this product – as well as its quality – is a big reason we include it on our list of best shaving cream for men. Jack Black makes a lot of great men’s grooming product and their Lube Conditioning Shave Cream, which serves as a pre-shave oil, shave cream, and conditioner is an excellent example of their quality.
We also like it because, unlike many other traditional foams and gels, it doesn’t dry out the skin. It prepares your shave by penetrating and softening whisker growth but also holds in moisture to give you a smooth shave that glides easily across your skin.
Finally, it refreshes the skin to enhance your shave without irritation. There’s no wonder why it’s perhaps the best shaving cream for sensitive skin.
The cream is made with a unique formula that includes phospholipids, which are a rich source of essential fatty acids that bind moisture to the skin while supporting the skin’s foundation. Some of its other ingredients include Macadamia nut oil, jojoba oil, and glycerin to provide a lubricated, protective cushion for your face as you shave.
Moreover, peppermint, eucalyptus, and menthol are added to refresh and revitalize the skin. The Lube Conditioning Shave Cream is fragrance-free and alcohol-free, contains no colorant, is made with only vegan products, and is dermatologist-tested.
It’s perhaps the best shaving cream for a black man because it’s fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. Black men are more likely to have sensitive skin that becomes irritated (and has in-grown hairs).
The see-through texture of this cream is another selling point. It allows you to see the areas of your face where the blade will pass, which makes for a cleaner, more efficient, and nick- and cut-free shave. It’s ideal for shaving your sideburns, mustache, and even your head (and we’ve talked about the art of shaving your head in a previous post).
- 3-in-1 product that’s a pre-shave oil, shave cream, and conditioner rolled into one.
- Transparent so you can see your shaving surface
- Nice blend of carrier and essential oils
- Not as good with straight or electric razors as other creams.
While the lack of lather might concern you when you first use this cream, the well-lubricated, smooth shave will please you. Good ingredients, good versatility – good product.
OK, so is it “astonishingly” superior?
Well, astonishing is a strong adjective, but Cremo does have a superior product in its Astonishingly Superior Shaving Cream for Men. It also comes at a price that’s right, but it performs better than a lot of “budget” products you can think of, men’s grooming or otherwise.
It’s also something of a “renegade” in the world of wet shaving.
For one, Cremo doesn’t create a thick lather like the majority of shave creams, and you only need your fingers – and not a shave brush – to apply it. Neither fact follows long-held traditions in the wet shaving game but, hey, some of the best things in life are those that broke new ground.
But it’s not like Cremo is veering from tradition just to be different. The designers of their Astonishingly Superior Shave Cream argue that traditional shaving cream lathers contain air pockets, which increases the chances of nicks, cuts, and general irritation. The absence of air allows a barrier to form between your skin and the blade.
In other words, there’s not much dead air in Cremo’s astonishing product. Instead, it’s filled with slick molecules that deliver a close shave without irritation. There is no gimmicks or fluff about this cream, but a formula that’s carefully crafted to provide the best grooming possible.
Furthermore, while you can buy it at a price that won’t bash your budget, it’s also made to last you a long time. Just an almond-side dollop of the cream is enough for one shave. You’ll create a thin layer of cream on your face that’s super slick and allows your blade to slide effortlessly over your skin.
The list of Astonishingly Superior Shave Cream’s ingredients includes the likes of Macadamia seed oil, Aloe, Lemon Extract, Papaya Extract, and Olive Leaf Extract. The cream has a subtle scent of citrus notes that are never overpowering. All of Cremo’s products are paraben-free and never tested on animals.
The aloe and key oils also help ensure that your face will stay moisturized long after your shave while preventing dry skin and general flaking.
Another thing to like about this cream is that it works with most types of razors, including an electric razor that’s able to handle a wet shave. Men who use straight razors will find this cream advantageous because it provides a light covering that allows you to concentrate on the contours of your face and your shaving technique. As always, however, make sure that you’re using the only the highest-quality razors: straight, safety, disposable, or electric (also check out our review of the best razors of any type).
- A little goes a long way
- Provides moist, irritation-free shaves
- Budget friendly
- Make sure you don’t confuse it with pre-shave oils that you apply along with shave cream
Cremo is unique among other products you’ll find on the wet shaving shelf, but it backs its uniqueness with sound science. You’ll get a clean shave when using this product with most types of razors. Astonishing.
We’ve featured the Billy Jealousy brand in other product reviews, so they’re a well-rounded company. It fancies itself as the go-to option for sophisticated, yet sometimes bad boy men and its products are said to be favored by the likes of George Clooney and James Franco.
Of course, you earn street cred through doing the job right, and Billy Jealousy’s Hydroplane Slick Shave Cream more than answers the bell. Like the Jack Black Beard Lube, the Hydroplane Slick Cream is an all-in-one product that blends pre-shave oil, shaving cream, and skin conditioner.
It also produces a foamless lather that is clear, rich, and certain to give you an ultra-smooth shave. Why are we so confident in this product? For one, it has an impressive list of ingredients that are almost as notable for what’s not on it than what is.
A key ingredient in this cream is dimethicone, which is a silicone water-based oil that provides a super slick barrier over the skin that makes getting a close shave so much easier. Another key ingredient is derived from silica, a sand-like substance, that reduces your chances of razor drag and skin irritation.
What’s not on Billy Jealousy’s list of ingredients? Perfumes and alcohol, for starters. However, you will find natural fruit oils that provide excellent moisturizing and a mild citrus and mint fragrance. Unlike some shave creams, it won’t dry up and just adding the occasional drop or two of water keeps it super slick for your entire shave.
It may take an adjustment period to get used to the cream’s clear texture (again, it doesn’t foam). However, it provides the advantage of being able to see your way around your face as you shave. To apply it, simply squeeze out a small amount of cream – about the size of a quarter – on your fingers then rub it onto your face in a circular motion.
Another nice thing about this cream is that it doesn’t clog your razor and it rinses out easily.
- All-in-one product
- Slick texture eliminates razor drag
- No ingredients that produce skin irritation
- A little on the pricey side
Billy Jealousy is known for its edgy products and their Hydroplane Super Slick Shave Cream is no exception. It’s a cut above traditional shave creams and will enhance your overall shaving experience.
Proraso is an Italian company that has been around for over 100 years and developed the first pre-shave cream in 1948. They’re still cranking out innovative products today, including their signature shaving cream, while becoming a staple of Italian culture.
For this review, we’ll focus on the green version of the Proraso Shaving Cream – the version that’s considered their general use cream (they also have sensitive skin, moisturizing and nourishing, and protective and moisturizing creams. If you’re new to the brand or wet shaving, we recommend getting the green version.
There’s a lot of love about this Proraso product, and it has many features that we like and think warrant it being on this list of the best shaving creams of 2017.
For one, you can’t miss the Eucalyptus Oil and Menthol – both in its tones and on its list of ingredients. Both help revitalize and refresh your face, while you can’t but help notice the Menthol when you first open the tube of shave cream. But, while the Menthol is strong at first its scent dissipates rather quickly.
Proraso makes its cream by a ‘hot soap’ making process that results in an ultra-rich cream that produces as thick and creamy of a lather as you’ll find in any product. The lather protects your face while helping to produce a comfortable, close shave that leaves your skin soft and hydrated. And Menthol helps keep your skin cool and fresh.
Users say Proraso’s shaving cream produces a generous lather easily and quickly, while also generating slick lubrication that makes your razor glide smoothly across your face. Overall, you’ll like how your skin is left free of skin irritation and razor bumps.
It also works with any bladed razor – whether it’s cartridge, safety, or straight edge.
We also appreciate a list of ingredients that don’t include parabens, silicones, and artificial colors.
- Made by one of the most reputable companies that produce grooming products
- Rich, creamy lather
- Eucalyptus and Menthol leave your skin feeling refreshed
- One of its ingredients is “fragrance” – an artificial addition that usually has a lot of chemicals
Proraso is another one those products that your grandfather (or great, grandfather) may have used but is still just as effective as it was ‘back in the day.’ You’ll love the lather and the way it makes your skin feel refreshed.
How many times do you think you shave during your lifetime?
The folks at The Art of Shaving say it’s more than 20,000. With that many times in front of the mirror, razor in hand, it’s easy to become a bit complacent and take the occasional shave for granted but, rest assured, The Art of Shaving never wants that to happen.
That’s part of their reasoning behind their Sandalwood Shaving Cream, which they think will not only help you get a superior shave but also invigorate a shaving experience that may have become as dull as a blade on a cheap razor.
To them, the quest for a perfect shave (one envisions a Holy Grail of shaving) must always include preparation, lathering, shaving, and moisturizing. And they think they accomplish all four with their Sandalwood Shaving Cream. After all, it generates a rich, foamy lather that protects the skin from irritation while also providing an ultra-smooth shave.
Moreover, it nourishes and moistures your skin and leaves it feeling refreshed long after your shave.
We like what’s on the Sandalwood Shaving Cream’s list of ingredients, including glycerin, coconut oil, and essential oils. Of course, one of its most important essential oils is sandalwood, which gives the cream its subtle scent that lingers throughout the day without being overpowering.
Sandalwood essential oil also includes a natural antiseptic agent that helps to heal scars and skin spots, relieves inflammation, and contains anti-aging properties.
It’s all good stuff from a company that’s relatively new to the wet shaving game – especially when compared to some of the venerable companies mentioned throughout this review. But Art of Shaving has captured the attention of many men with quality products that compare well with any other. They’re also easy to obtain compared to some other products, and you’ll find over 70 AOS stores in the U.S. alone. If not, you can buy their products on their website or via online retailers.
The Art of Shaving Sandalwood Shaving Cream is on the expensive side, but you don’t need to use a lot of it to get the amount of lather you’ll need for a proper shave. A 5-ounce container of it will last you several months. Also, it works well with any razor.
- Provides great cushion and lubrication
- You’ll love the rich lather
- Excellent sandalwood scent
- More expensive than many creams
True, you’ll pay a bit more for this shave cream, but you’ll get a high-quality product that will last you a long time before you have to re-order. Provides a soothing, well-lubricated shave that we think you’ll like.
Many of us understand the importance of a morning jolt of caffeine. At times, it seems like life-giving nectar – a gift from the gods. It only makes sense that it would provide a boost to another sacred morning routine.
The Pacific Shaving Company’s signature shaving cream includes caffeine, albeit not quite the same stuff that ends up in your coffee cup. But it’s caffeine nonetheless – in this case naturally-derived caffeine – that is great for your skin.
How is caffeine good for your skin? Well, it’s loaded with antioxidants and reduces puffiness and swelling of the skin, which is a good thing if you’re coming off a long night. Thus, as one pundit put it, caffeine is good for in your mug and on your mug.
But caffeine and it’s skin-beneficial qualities isn’t the only reason to like this shave cream. It’s also made with aloe, spearmint, sunflower oil, and shea butter, all of which also help protect and nourish the skin. The Pacific Shaving Company is adamant when it comes to using natural ingredients, and all of its products are vegan, fragrance-free, and animal-testing free.
The Caffeinated Shave Cream is another cream in which a little bit goes a long way. And it’s very affordable when compared to most quality creams.
- Naturally-derived caffeine is soothing for your skin
- Very affordable
- Natural ingredients
- Some men aren’t crazy about its scent
We didn’t include this product on our list just because of its uniqueness. Instead, it’s a good all-around product that ranks with other premium shave creams.
The Fine Art of Applying Shave Cream to Your Face
No, it’s not rocket science – come to think of it, only rocket science is rocket science – but there’s an art to applying shave cream to your face. It all starts with quality shave cream, of course, such as those we’ve listed above, but your chances of getting a close, clean, irritation-free, and comfortable shave increase when you take the time to apply your cream correctly.
Let’s break the process down while examining the process for applying cream with a shave brush and with your hand:
1. With a Shave Brush
Most shaving experts agree that applying cream with a shave brush is the best option. Why?
- Using a shave brush generally means that you’re mixing your cream in a bowl. With a high-quality cream, you have better control over moisture and heat and can produce a far richer cream than you would otherwise.
- A shaving brush lifts the hairs on your face, making it easier for your blade to cut the hair without having to press down firmly on your razor. In turn, you’ll have less irritation and avoid nicks and cuts.
- You’re able to spread the shave cream more uniformly on your face.
It’s also worth noting that shaving brushes come in different fibers, including horse hair, boar hair, badger hair, and synthetic material. A horse hair brush is considered the higher-end for shave brushes but isn’t carried by every manufacturer. Wet shaving newcomers may want to start with synthetic brushes. Badger hair brushes remain the most popular among wet shaving enthusiasts and they come in many different grades.
OK, if you’re using a shaving brush you need to start with a bowl in which you can mix your preferred cream to the thickness and texture you desire (by adding water to the cream). Your cream shouldn’t be too watery or too foamy. Use your brush to swirl the mixture around in a bowl to form a rich lather.
Next, apply water on your face – ideally, water at room temperature – to help your lather retain its integrity while softening the follicles.
Finally, use your brush to spread the cream. Put a dime-sized dollop of cream on each cheek, and then swirl it into a larger circle until it encompasses the entire shaving area. Be thorough, because the end goal is to a smooth shave on every part of your face, but applying too much can flatten your facial hair against your skin.
2. With your hands
Place a small amount cream in each hand and rub them together in small, tight circle. Add a few drops of water and rub some more. Then apply it evenly across the shaving area while making sure it doesn’t form clumps.
Just a note: We recommend applying your cream and shaving – and mixing your cream – after you shower. The moisture and heat from your shower soften your hair follicles and prepares them for the shave.
Shaving Cream or Shaving Soap: What’s the Difference?
Shaving cream and shaving soap are designed to do the same thing but are completely different types of products. If you’re new to wet shaving – or even have plenty of experience – knowing the differences between the two ensures that you’re getting the best shave possible.
Let’s take a closer look:
Shaving soap is old-school. It has been around for hundreds of years and represents the traditional method of wet shaving.
The most noticeable difference between shaving soap and shaving cream is that shaving soap comes in a disc or hard puck. The soap is meant to use in a shaving bowl or other containers and most need to have water added before you’ll work up a good lather. And the best way to build up the lather is by using a shaving brush (which you then use to apply the substance to your face).
Experienced wet shavers prefer using triple-milled soaps which are much harder than other types of shaving soaps, which means it takes a big longer to work them into a lather. But, once you’ve put in the extra time, the result is an incredibly rich lather that feels like heaven on your face.
Another good thing about triple-milled soaps is that they last longer than other soaps – even as long as four months out of one puck or disc.
While wet shaving newbies will love the kind of shave they’ll get with shaving soap; there is a bit of a learning curve with shaving soap because, well, it’s not as commonly used, at least in the West. But we’re not talking trigonometry, but just a slightly different grooming process.
Shaving cream has been around since the 1940s and represents the more modern method of lathering up ye olde face for a shave. You know what we mean by traditional shaving cream: it comes in an aerosol can, and you push a button that releases the cream-like substance into your hand. You can apply it directly with your fingers or swirl it around for a bit in your shaving bowl to get a quick lather.
Note: quality shaving creams often come in tubes or jars and are usually thicker than the kind that comes in cans. It takes a little more effort to build up your desired lather but, like many traditional shave creams, natural ingredients such as shea butter and essential help nourish and protect the skin.
Of course, let’s not forget about shaving gel, which also comes in a can but needs to be worked into a lather (which takes a matter of seconds, mind you). Some shaving experts advise using shave gel if you have sensitive skin, although there are plenty of “sensitive skin” shave creams available, as well.
OK, let’s look at some other differences
Indeed, it’s not hard to notice the difference between a puck-like disc of shaving soap and the creamy substance of shaving cream and shave gels. But there are other differences between the two, both subtle and not-so-subtle.
First, it’s a myth that shave soap is unscented. You can easily find shave soap that’s scented (and come in a variety of scents). Likewise, not all shaving cream is scented. This is important to know for folks with sensitive skin who worry that the ingredients used to create fragrances cause irritation.
The bottom line: you can find scented and unscented varieties in both shave soap and shave cream.
- Cushion & Lubrication
Let’s get back to lather.
With shave cream, it takes little effort to work up quality cushioning and lubrication because the stuff lathers up so easily. You’ll get the same cushioning and lubrication and with shaving soap – and some wet shaving gurus say you’ll get even better cushioning and lubrication – but you just have to work a bit harder to get it.
You also need to add water to shaving soap and it takes some practice to figure out exactly how much water you’ll need.
That said, however, there is a school of thought out there among shaving experts who say that shaving soap provides better overall lubrication and cushion – especially when compared to non-traditional shave creams and gels that don’t include natural ingredients.
We’ll let you be the judge, however.
Shaving creams are usually a bit more expensive than shaving soaps but not dramatically so. You can pay close to $30 for high-end shaving cream, but you’ll also find what you need in the $10 to $15 range. Shave soaps are also in the $10 to $15 range.
Our Method for Choosing the Best Shave Creams of 2017
We don’t take our job of selecting the best shaving creams available lightly. There are a lot of good products out there, and our list could easily be longer. We spend a lot of time doing research, reading user reviews, and gathering all the information we can about a given product.
We also take into account price and try to pick a variety of products that are affordable to as many men as possible. True, some of the best things in life come with a higher price, but that’s not always the case, and the same is true of shave cream. We also prefer products made with natural ingredients because we think they’re better for you and your face.
While we don’t have time to test all of the products available, we can assure you that our research is thorough and choose only those products that have received high marks from a variety of sources. The result is a list that we think serves you well.
Well, that wraps up another review, but more are coming shortly. Stay tuned. As always, we welcome your comments and feedback. If you’ve used any of the shave creams listed here, let us know what you think. Or, tell us about your favorite cream that’s not on this list. We hope to hear from you!