5 shaving creams that shaving soap guys should try

In general, I prefer shaving soap to shaving cream. The tap water where I live is relatively soft, so soaps are not hesitant to lather, and I enjoy creating a good, thick, creamy lather from a soap. I’ve now been wetshaving long enough so that loading the brush takes only about 15 seconds. (The secret is vigorous, firm brushing with a fully wet brush—over the sink, since water will spill away—until the bubbles that form on the soap as you brush it are microscopic.) Once the brush is fully loaded, I work up the lather on my beard: no bowl used.

Still, some shaving creams are well worth trying even if you’re soap-oriented like me, and some of those require some seeking out. Three, though, are widely available: Geo. F. Trumper’s Coconut Oil shaving cream, Taylor of Old Bond Street Avocado shaving cream, and Speick shaving cream. (Of course, any shaving product may not work for some—for example, if you are allergic to coconut, the Coconut Oil shaving cream would be a bad idea.)

All three of these shaving creams are solid performers and readily available and any would be a good choice for a newbie. (Geo. F. Trumper’s Coconut Oil shaving soap is also excellent if you want to stick with soap.)

The other shaving creams in my list are less readily available and will undoubtedly have to be ordered. They are:

Nancy Boy Signature shaving cream: Nancy Boy, a company based in San Francisco, sells a first-rate line of grooming and beauty products, and their Signature shaving cream is one of my favorites. (The shaving cream is also available as a “Replenishing” shaving cream, with a cucumber fragrance, and a Blossomwood shaving cream). This is not a lathering shaving cream, so you don’t add water. I apply it by wetting my brush, shaking it well so that it’s just damp, twirling it in the the cream, and then using the brush to spread it over my (wet, washed) beard and work it into the stubble. The brush has plenty left for later passes. The Signature fragrance is totally charming, and the cream is highly effective and leaves your skin happy.

Tabula Rasa shaving cream: Tabula Rasa is a German company and a few years ago Tabula Rasa was the Big New Thing. The excitement has died down somewhat as other Big New Things have come on the scene, but the cream is still (in my view) remarkably good. I have both the Dark Lavender and the Patchouli versions, and like them both. It’s a fairly firm cream, so you load the brush much as you would with a (softer) soap.

J.M. Fraser shaving cream: This wonderful shaving cream, which has a lemony fragrance, comes in a 1-lb tub, which lasts a long time. The cream is excellent and highly effective at softening the beard. It’s a Canadian product and not always available from US vendors, though it remains in the catalog of several. Snap up a tub now: it’s inexpensive but first-rate.

UPDATE and NOTE: I just emailed the maker of J.M. Fraser shaving cream about the problem noted in the comment below. Here’s the response:

Just so you aware there has been no changes in ownership or the formula -we recently found out that our last batch was not “whipped” enough during the compounding stage and as a result the cream is a little too thick/ heavy to get it to lather ( will still give a smooth shave -just not enough lather to make it feel just right) we are in the process of getting a replacement batch done and will replace our clients inventory once this batch is filled.

If you have any questions I am always happy to help and I am hoping we can still say on your favourite shaving cream list.

Thank you ! David Kaufman

Al’s Shaving shaving cream: Al’s Shaving is one of the growing number of artisanal makers of shaving products, and his creams (and balms) are excellent. Probably the simplest approach is to order the 7-cream sampler (scroll down at the link), which allows you to try a variety of fragrances. Each sample is good for 5 or 6 shaves.

Dr. Selby’s 3x Concentrated shaving cream: This shaving cream, from Uruguay, is soap-like in its firmness, and produces a wonderful lather quickly. It’s such an unusual shaving cream that it’s worth trying for that alone, but in addition it makes a superb lather.

There are many other shaving creams I enjoy—Figaro, a firm Italian cream with an almond fragrance, or I Coloniali shaving cream with rhubarb—but those listed above are the core of my list of creams that a shaver really should try.

I use all of these from time to time, and always with great enjoyment. But the universe of shaving creams is large, so I’m curious to know which shaving cream(s) you believe even a shaving-soap lover should try. I’m partial to artisanal products because of the individual connection, but any unusual, first-rate shaving creams you’ve discovered would be of interest.

Related Post:

5 Shaving Soaps That Shaving Cream Guys Should Try


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  1. says

    +1 on JM Fraser and Als. I’d also recommend Any of the remaining RazoRock Classic Shave Cream line (I loved the XXX and still use the Fresco).

      • says

        This is subjective of course, but 3 other creams I’d personally recommend trying are Acca Kappa 1869, Dreadnought, and Godrej Deluxe. They vary widely in price from $22 – 3.50 (respectively) but I have never had a bad shave when using one of these.

        For me, Godrej is the best quality/price ratio, the scent is definitely Middle Eastern/Indian, but I like it.

        I probably use creams 75% to soaps 25% of the time I shave.

  2. Ayodh says

    Wouldn’t count Selby’s as a cream. Its harder than most soaps! I would add XPEC (but its too rare) and RR S Maria.

    • says

      Well, however you count it, it is a cream, as the manufacturer says. I presume this means that the ingredients tilt toward the detergent-like characteristics of a cream. There are some shaving soaps that are quite soft (e.g., Cella, Vitos, and Virgilio Valobra), but they are still soaps. And there are some shaving creams that are quite firm (e.g., Tabula Rasa, Dr. Selby’s). It’s not a question of firmness or softness that makes the difference. Indeed, it’s Dr. Selby’s unusual firmness, together with the excellence of the lather, that made me include it.

      • says

        This is an excellent point often ignored by users and amateur “soapers” alike. Along with the raw materials the process (saponification) is key.

  3. Rob says

    I notice many Pacific Shaving Co products in that photo…is the cream on par with some of the others you’ve mentioned?

      • says

        I do like the Pacific Shaving line. Their shaving creams smells very citrusy (strong notes of grapefruit to my nose); it is considered a brushless cream, but it does lather nicely, however it performs best with very little water.

        I love their Aftershave Daily Moisturizer, highly recommended (it smells like oranges!).

        I don’t care for pre-shave oils, but the PSC Shave Oil is light and it also smells like orange; worth checking out imo, but I didn’t notice much difference personally. It did not clog my razor like other oils.

        • says

          Their Nick Stick works well for nicks. I think their Shave Oil must have some sort of emulsifier in it to help the action—quite good if you like shave oils.

          Have you tried Nancy Boy shaving cream? Just curious, since it’s also a non-lathering one that responds well to brush.

  4. says

    Good recomendations.The Dr Selby is a great soap (even when is call a cream) and the Tabula Rasa Dark Lavender has a superb lavender scent.I will also add the RazoRock Fresco.

    • says

      The difference between soaps and creams is not hardness—there are very soft soaps and very hard creams (e.g., Dr. Selby’s)—it’s the difference in formulation. Creams as a class do better with hard water than soaps because creams are more detergent-like. That’s why Dr. Selby’s is referred to as a cream: because it is a cream, just one that’s been concentrated to a hard consistency.

      Of course, you are welcome to call all the firm lather sources soaps and all the soft one creams, but it’s good to know the reasons for the other usage. (And, BTW, if you’re using the terms that way, it would be better to use “hard” in place of “soap” and “soft” in place of “cream”: that way, no one is confused or misled.)

  5. says

    Taylor of Old Bond Street Avocado is such a great call. The cream whips up into such a thick lather its almost ridiculous. And the scent grows on you so much as you use it.

    And thanks for the other recommendations, there are several I want to check out, especially Al’s…

  6. says

    Absolutely love JM Fraser! Also huge fan of your book! My latest affordable shaving puck of choice a neroli scented, kokum butter shaving puck by Petal Pusher Fancies! Thanks for the great article as always!

  7. says

    ..oh and I have a question about shaving sticks. What do you look for texture wise? Should they be as soft as clay or as hard as a good bar? Thanks again!

    • says

      Thank you for your kind comments. I have used a lot of shave sticks and even the relatively hard ones work well—D.R. Harris and Valobra, for example, The Ogallala shave sticks are firm, too, and they make a wonderful lather. Mystic Water‘s shave sticks are quite good and relatively soft. So you don’t need to look for hard or soft: quality sticks can be found in either category.

  8. Jim says

    +1 on J.M. Fraser’s cream. It’s getting harder to find in all its variations, but remains one of the best creams I’ve ever used. The beard softening qualities are excellent, and the tub it comes in (if you ever get to the bottom of it) is big enough to bathe the family dog!

  9. SlopeRocker says

    Based on this, I got some of the J.M. Fraser’s cream. Worst cream I have ever tried. Nearly impossible to get/make a good lather. I’m pretty experienced at this and could not manage to get a good lather after several attempts trying EVERY trick in the book to get a good one going. Tried in hand, scuttle, on-face, etc. Very odd.

    • says

      That is indeed odd. I’d contact the vendor, but J.M. Fraser in general gets high praise. And it could be that the tub is old, because mine is pretty old and still makes a good lather immediately. It doesn’t seem likely that it’s hard water: first, it’s a shaving cream, and second, you seem to be in NYC, which has good water. What kind of brush are you using? (Grasping at straws, here.)

      • SlopeRocker says

        Just a heads-up that there are indeed serious issues with the recent batches of the J.M. Fraser. Ordered it from DetailsforMen via Amazon. I asked for a refund. An email from Details said: >> Refund has been issued. Throw it away. They are having a manufacturing issue and we issued a full refund. No clue what happened. We ordered fresh product, took 2 months to get and then the quality issue came up.<<

        • says

          I queried BeautyFactory.com (which makes J.M. Fraser). Response (also noted in the post above);

          Just so you aware there has been no changes in ownership or the formula -we recently found out that our last batch was not “whipped” enough during the compounding stage and as a result the cream is a little too thick/ heavy to get it to lather ( will still give a smooth shave -just not enough lather to make it feel just right) we are in the process of getting a replacement batch done and will replace our clients inventory once this batch is filled.

          If you have any questions I am always happy to help and I am hoping we can still say on your favourite shaving cream list.

          Thank you ! David Kaufman

  10. Galactimax says

    You say the Trumpers Coconut Oil soap is a good performer. I’m curious if this is the current formulation or the old formulation as Trumpers underwent a change for the worse (or at least that is my understanding). Does the coconut oil soap perform comparably to say, D.R. Harris soaps?

    • says

      My tub of Trumpers is about five or six years old, so it’s probably the former formulation if the product has been recently reformulated. My Trumper Soaps and D.R. Harris soaps are comparable, on the whole. Perhaps I would give Harris the edge.

      One reason I favor artisanal soaps so much is that their formulations are better explained and often make better lather. Try one of the Strop Shoppe Special Edition soaps, for example, or Mike’s Natural (which requires more water than you expect) or Prairie Creations or Mystic Water (mystic4men.com).

  11. Tim McD says

    I love the Geo F Trumper creams (alas, their current soap isn’t worth the effort required to use).

    I have Coconut and Violet tubs purchased recently and they lather flawlessly.

    I find Nancy Boy lathers nicely with a little brush work. It has an incredible scent and a great post shave feel. Don’t forget to join their “club” and enjoy a discount on purchases. I have no problem endorsing their entire product line.

  12. Shave Dude says

    I’d love to see a video of how you load a brush in 15 seconds. It takes me a good deal longer than that. Good writing.

    • says

      Here’s how I make lather, and I recommend that you make a series of practice lathers using the technique to gain experience quickly. Play with brush speed, brush pressure (firm is good), and how long you continue loading once you see microscopic bubbles. But do try the exact procedure before trying modifications. (That’s harder than it sounds because one automatically and almost unconsciously makes changes on the fly—I find it almost impossible to follow a cookbook recipe as written, for example.)

      I do have fairly soft water, and I use firm pressure and brisk speed when loading the brush, so I’m at microscopic bubbles in 10 or 15 seconds.

  13. Ralph says

    Ok I’ve really only used shave soaps so I consider myself a shave soap kind of guy. But based on mantic’s article on Al at Al’s shave creams I thought I’d give his products a try. And well now I’m a shave cream guy. Everyone should go try his products because they are awesome. Have a good day.

  14. Nick from WI says

    I really like Eshu shave cream! It is really excellent and I love TOBS and Al’s shave cream as well! I prefer Tallow shave soaps though and think they are the best!

  15. Frank Smith says

    One of my favorites has to be classic Proraso. Menthol is not for everyone, but one a hot summer day it can not be beaten for it’s cooling effects. Also, I have gotten to read several of your articles and I really want to buy the book soon Leisureguy.

  16. says

    Good list but there are many others that would make for a better list, would good to compile a list of the best soaps from around the world.

    +1 for the Godrej soap, I currently have it in rotation with MdC, Mike’s Soap, Cella and Super Smooth from Wickham Soap Co.

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