7 Best Shaving Soaps in 2020

The best shaving soap that you can buy today is the Proraso Shaving Soap in a Bowl. This is a paraben and silicone-free shave soap that provides a thick, soothing lather. It has a mild, natural eucalyptus scent and subtle menthol for a clean, cool, refreshing shave.

For the best shave, finding the best shaving soap is just as important as picking the best safety razor or the best shaving brush. To help you pick the best shaving soap for your needs, we’ve tested some of the most highly recommended and most popular shaving soaps on the market, consulted dermatologists and studied ingredients that go into the best artisan shave soap. We also highlighted natural, fragrance-free products and looked for the best shaving soap for sensitive skin. Keep reading to learn more about other great shaving soaps on the market.

Top 7 Best Shaving Soap

 #1  Proraso Soap in a Bowl Shaving Soap

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: Made using a traditional, rigorous hot soap making process, this shaving soap produces a thick, rich lather and leaves skin feeling toned and freshened. It uses a paraben-free formula with eucalyptus oil.

Pros
  • Low moisture content for denser lathers
  • Paraben-free with 95 % natural ingredients
  • Vegan
Cons
  • Requires more pre-soak than other shaving soap
  • Not recommended for those sensitive to menthol or eucalyptus oil

This 95% natural Proraso shave soap is made using an old school “hot soap” making process, where it’s cured at high temperature for 10 days, reducing moisture content and producing a soap that creates a denser, more elastic and forgiving lather when used with a shaving brush.

In production since 1948 and often listed as a top choice for the best hard shaving soap, this Proraso shave soap is also Paraben and silicone free, as well as free of mineral oil and animal products. While it has no fragrances or artificial colors added, it’s formulated with a trace of menthol for cooling and with eucalyptus oil as a toner. It comes with a convenient bowl that’s just the right size for use with a shaving brush and shave soap. Speaking of shaving, also consider an electric shaver, which requires no soap but has a higher upfront cost.

 #2  Henry Cavendish Himalaya Shaving Soap with Shea Butter & Coconut Oil

Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: Made with shea butter and coconut oil, this ultra-smooth shaving soap is moisturizing and helps lubricate the skin for the smoothest, closest shave possible.

Pros
  • Helps replenish and restore skin moisture
  • Glycerin-based formula helps razor glide smoothly
  • Beard softening and conditioning
Cons
  • No bowl included
  • Not fragrance free

This glycerin-based shave soap is designed to produce a silky and well-lubricating lather that promotes a smooth shave without leaving your skin feeling oily. It benefits from conditioning and moisturizing ingredients, including Shea butter, soy and coconut oil, that replenish moisture and help ward off dry skin.

When used with a good shaving brush, this lightly scented shaving soap produces a rich lather that helps condition facial hair and allows for a closer shave. It also helps avoid ingrown hairs and razor burn, lubricating skin so that there’s less irritating friction. For the least possible irritation during your shave, you can’t go without the best shaving brush. While this soap is in some ways among the best shaving soaps for sensitive skin, it’s not ideal for skin that reacts to fragrances.

 #3  Lather & Wood Shaving Soap

Award: BEST HAND CRAFTED

WHY WE LIKE IT: Hand crafted and hand-poured, this small batch shaving soap has a refined, subtle bergamot and oakmoss scent and delivers one of the richest, creamiest lathers we’ve seen.

Pros
  • Shea butter infused smoothness
  • Comes with a generous 4.7 oz of soap
  • Reduced friction makes it good for sensitive skin
Cons
  • Not as moisturizing as glycerin-based soaps
  • Does not condition facial hair

This small batch shaving soap is hand crafted and poured and comes with a sophisticated, earthy and subtle sandalwood scent. It’s formulated with Shea butter and produces a seamless coating on beard hairs and whiskers, helping to prevent razor burn. Essentially a traditional, tallow-based shaving soap, it whips up into a very thick and creamy lather and doesn’t require that much water to use.

The 4.7 oz soap is about enough for over 100 shaves, making it a decent value, though it’s far from the least expensive shaving soap we’ve tested. While this shaving soap performs well for beard and mustache softening, it’s not as moisturizing as glycerin-based shaving soaps tend to be. As a tallow-based soap, it’s also not suitable for those looking to avoid animal products. While we’re talking about your morning routine, you’ll also need a tube of the best toothpaste.

 #4  Sir Hare Premium Shaving Soap for Men

Award: MOST CONVENIENT

WHY WE LIKE IT: This high quality tallow based shaving soap for men is packaged in a time-saving container that doubles as a neat shaving bowl. Just add water, your shaving brush, and your favorite safety razor and you’re ready to go.

Pros
  • Made in small batches and hand poured
  • Highly effective, creamy lather
  • Comes with enough soap for 100 shaves
Cons
  • Not as cleansing as some shaving soaps

Another excellent pick among the tallow-based artisanal shaving soaps, this premium shaving soap for men has a pleasant yet not intrusive cedarwood and bergamot fragrance with subtle hints of oak moss for a fresh, natural feeling. It goes on smoothly and provides excellent lubrication and softening, allowing for a very close, easy shave.

With its thick, heady lather and good moisturizing characteristics, it helps avoid razor burn and ingrown hairs and is generally well tolerated even if you have sensitive skin. It also comes with a clever package that doubles as a shaving bowl, for added convenience. Speaking of convenience, the best beard dye will have your beard looking fresh with limited hassle.

 #5  Van Der Hagen Scented Shaving Soap

Award: BEST ON A BUDGET

WHY WE LIKE IT: This shaving soap comes in a convenient 3-pack and whips up into a lather more quickly than most, taking only about 15 seconds to be ready to apply. It also does an excellent job moisturizing and refreshing skin.

Pros
  • Skin-soothing Shea butter
  • Locks in moisture without leaving oily texture
  • Comes with 10.5 oz of soap, a good value
Cons
  • Lather not as thick as with tallow-based soap
  • Not for those sensitive to fragrances
  • Not strictly all-natural–contains fragrance and titanium dioxide

Delivered in a three-pack of hard shave soap pucks, 3.5-oz each, this is a good value for those looking to restock their wet shave supplies inventory or who want to try out an upgraded shaving routine. The Van Der Hagen shave soap is formulated with glycerin, Shea butter and coconut oil for a smooth, gliding shave and it does a great job locking in moisture.

While some may prefer the “creamy” feel of tallow-based soaps, this glycerin-based shave soap softens beard hairs and lubricates skin very well, and it leaves no residue or “tight” feeling, making it great for those who deal with dry skin often. It’s also free of animal products. It does contain fragrance, but is generally very gentle on skin, and can be recommended for those who suffer from acne and oily skin as well. For your hair, you’ll want some of the best hair clay.

 #6  Viking Revolution Shaving Soap for Men 4 Pack Variety

Award: BEST FOR TRAVEL

WHY WE LIKE IT: Offering four different scent options in its 2.5 oz soap pucks, this shaving soap makes a great gift or a great travel soap. It adds convenience to your routine as well, since it does a good job of cleansing and doubles as a face soap, moisturizing and refreshing skin.

Pros
  • Fresh scents including peppermint and eucalyptus
  • Doubles as body wash and facial scrub
  • Exfoliates and removes blackheads
Cons
  • Less specialized for lather than some shaving soaps
  • Doesn’t come with shaving bowl

If you’re looking to pack an upgraded wet shave into a sometimes rushed morning routine, this convenient shave soap has a lot to offer. It’s also great for travel since it functions as a kind of all-in-one bar soap and shave soap combination. Made with sea salt and glycerin along with essential oils, it does a good job of detoxifying and cleansing skin as well as lubricating and softening facial hair.

Since it’s scented with natural oils it may also be a great shaving soap for those with sensitive skin. It’s made without much in the way of artificial ingredients or fragrances, and the variety pack gives you a chance to try out different scents. With your beard trimmed, you’ll also need the best hair gel for men to keep your hair in place.

 #7  Mitchell’s Wool Fat Shaving Soap

Award: BEST TRADITIONAL RECIPE

WHY WE LIKE IT: Still made according to a nearly century-old Scottish recipe, this lanolin-based wool fat soap offers an exceptionally smooth and gentle shaving experience, earning it much praise as the best shave soap for sensitive skin.

Pros
  • All natural lanolin formula
  • Fantastic for the softening of beard hair
  • Helps drastically reduce redness and irritation for sensitive skin
Cons
  • Lather not as creamy as found with tallow-based shaving soaps
  • Not microwaveable like glycerin-based shaving soaps

If you’re looking for the best wet shaving experience and especially for those prone to razor burn, bumps, redness or irritation, this all-natural wool fat shaving soap is often considered the best shaving soap for sensitive skin. It’s made using organic ingredients and with a recipe that dates back to the 1930s and has changed little since.

What sets this artisan shave soap apart is its use of lanolin, or wool fat. This natural substance, derived from sheep’s wool, has superior hair softening and lubricating properties, and is even gentler on skin than tallow-based shaving soaps.

How We Decided

In order to narrow it down to the best shaving soaps on the market, we looked for high quality, artisanal shave soaps that used primarily natural and proven ingredients and that performed well in tests of lather-production and shaving smoothness.

We also considered packaging and convenience, looking for soaps that you could place in a typical traditional shaving bowl of 6-8 oz capacity. Value for the money and innovative presentation were a bonus. Some shaving soap comes with a shaving bowl included, making it ideal for those switching over to wet shave soap and brush.

We included scented and unscented shave soap, but required that any fragrances be subtle. Natural essential-oil derived scents were preferable, and when choosing the best shave soap for sensitive skin we looked for a fragrance and paraben-free option.

Finally, we only included shave soap that was free of chemicals noted to cause skin and follicle irritation or excess drying.

Best Shave Soap Buyer’s Guide

Features to Consider

  1. Base Ingredient
    While all shaving soap is designed to form a lather when brushed with a wet brush, the consistency and lubricating effects can vary, as can the soap’s effect on your skin, based on the primary ingredient used. Glycerin or plant-based shave soaps can be vegan-suitable and often leave skin feeling more cleansed and refreshed, but typically form a somewhat thinner, less creamy lather. Tallow or fat-based shave soap produces the creamiest lather and remains lathered longer, than glycerin based soap. Finally, lanolin based shave soap offers the most lubrication and the highest level of beard softening, but doesn’t give as creamy of a lather as tallow.
  2. Cleansing Ingredients
    Some shaving soap includes exfoliating and skin cleansing ingredients as well. Sea salt, peppermint, and eucalyptus are commonly used, along with charcoal. While this can be a benefit for convenience and leaves skin feeling fresh and clean, it may detract from the smoothness of the shave.
  3. Scent
    Most shaving soap is mildly scented. If you have fragrance sensitivity, be sure to check for the scent ingredients. Some use natural plant essential oils, which can vary greatly in terms of how irritating they are to sensitive skin. Otherwise, the scent is largely a matter of taste and personal preference.
  4. Paraben and Silicone-Free
    The best artisan shave soap, 2019 and later models especially, should be free of chemicals that are largely being phased out of skincare products, such as parabens, silicones and most dyes.

Shave Soap FAQs

How much shaving soap should you use?

It depends on the length of your facial hair, the coarseness of hair and your skin type, as well as the type of soap. For most cases, a little bit of shaving soap will foam up enough to coat your shaving brush with a comfortable consistency of lather.

Is shaving soap better than cream?

Most barbers, estheticians and skin care experts recommend a good artisan shave soap over typically canned shaving cream, since it’s less irritating for your skin and produces a thicker, more cleansing lather, doing a better job of lubricating and softening hairs. Especially for use with a straight razor or safety razor, shaving soap is preferable to shaving cream.

What is the best shaving soap for sensitive skin?

Depending on skin type and sensitivity, most recommend the lanolin-based wool fat shaving soap as the least irritating and most soothing type of shave soap. Those with oily skin may prefer a tallow based shave soap, whereas those with dry skin may want a more moisture-sealing glycerin or lanolin soap.

What accessories do I need to get a good shave?

In order to get the best traditional wet shave with your artisan shave soap, you’ll want to have a good shaving bowl that has enough room to whip up a sizable head of lather. Typically for 4 oz of soap, you’ll want about an 8 oz shaving bowl. It’s also important to pick the best shaving brush, as well as the best razor for your shave.

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Ryan Mcbride

Ryan McBride is a writer based in Los Angeles. He has contributed work to magazines and sites including Gayot, Spy, Paper, Ladygunn, 3AM and the Crab Creek Review. He writes consumer reviews, essays, science and tech journalism as well as literary and art criticism.

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