We as wet shavers, or at least I, usually look at “bang for my buck” when buying shaving soap and/or cream.
I weigh a lot of factors into my decision, like performance, scent…but I haven’t really thought too much about if it is the best price per ounce depending on the container…and if I will be able to use all cream or soap. It’s always…right there in whatever container I bought it in.
But what if those are points to take into consideration? What’s the most economical container per price per ounce and what’s the best way for you to use all the product you just shelled out good money for?
Soaps and creams come in, generally, three different packaging types.
The trusty tub.
The old fashioned stick.
And the tube.
What are the pros and cons of each?
For the tub, the majority of products come in 4-to-5 ounce containers. While prices can vary wildly, the most common prices I’ve seen from cruising several websites is around $20 a tub. That comes out to between $4 and $5 an ounce.
It’s safe to say that the majority of shave cream and soaps package their products in tubs. The roundness of the container makes it easy to get all the products.
This is a bowl of bay rum that I’ve happened to have for years. I use it about 6-8 times a year and I’ve never had a problem loading my brush. Even a bit dried out, I can bloom it with hot water and get my brush loaded pretty fast. I know there will come a time when I will need to do some scraping and scooping to get the last bit out of there.
That’s why I always have a couple of guitar picks in my bathroom. I have used this one many times to get the last remnants out of an old bowl. I then smoosh it into the bottom of my scuttle and use that until it disappears. That’s getting 100% out of a product! I started shaving my head in the shower a couple of years ago and that’s when I realized that I enjoy face/head lathering the most.
There are not the same amount of offerings in sticks as there is for tubs. Taking a look at the price per ounce economics of a shave stick, it seems to be right inline with the tub offerings. $4-$5 an ounce. Some are more, like the Speick…
Some are much, much less, like the trusty Arko. A tube of this old time classic is usually around $3. That’s about $1.30 an ounce. Definitely on the lower end of the price point.
As I said, the majority of my shaves are in the shower and I face and head lather.
For that, shave sticks totally rock. My collection also has several shave sticks. The Ogallala Bay Rum I bought years ago when I traveled more. It’s perfect because the TSA never hassled me over the size or amount, which did happen when I tried to fly with a new tub of cream. That sucker got left at the airport while I flew on. I was not a happy camper, but I learned my lessons.
The middle stick is from a set from Razorock, my review is here. Not very pricey…in fact a six-pack of the sticks is $22, which is less than $1.50 an ounce and each performs very well. I decided after I’d had them for a while, I didn’t want to keep having to wash the soap off my hands every time I used one. I bought the holders on Amazon, if I remember right. Now I can just twist the bottom and it raises up.
Another soap I’ve had for a long time is an Erasmic Stick. It’s tallow-based and I like the fact that I know I will, like all sticks, be able to use all of it until there’s just a sliver left.
Another common way to buy shaving cream is the trusty tube.
Price-wise, there are several products from England that cost about $6 to $7 an ounce. Proraso, another shaving classic, has several scents and their offerings are $2 an ounce.
There are not many “cons” to the tube. It’s pretty simple…squeeze or roll the tube until you stop getting any cream out. Throw it away and buy another one. What could the problem be?
This is the problem. Not the metal tubes, but what’s inside each. Crabtree and Evelyn was one of the few brands, like Proraso, Lea and Palmolive, that made shaving cream in metal and not plastic tubes. But the key word here is “made.” C&E has all but disappeared from the face of retail. All the brick and mortar stores closed. I wrote an article in June, 2017 saying it was an overlooked British champ when it came to wet shaving. I even lamented that one of the scents, Sienna, had been discontinued. Little did I know the rest of the line would follow suit in the coming years. By 2019, it had rebranded itself and dropped all shaving products.
Out of all three, Nomad is my favorite. I managed to find a couple of these small tubes, along with an aftershave balm, before the company imploded.
Of course if you have the money, you can find anything…including new tubes of Nomad. But with the cheapest being $62 and going up from there, it’s really not worth it, IMHO.
So that leaves tubes at the bottom of the “economical scale” if you want to use all the cream inside.
Will I be grabbing the tin snips when I can’t force/squeeze any more cream out of the Crabtree and Evelyn tubes, you bet your life. Does it make me wish I had bought the shave soap instead? Yep. I know I could use every last little bit, enjoying each shave.
So when you go shopping for your next soap or cream, think about not just the price per ounce… but if you will be able to use all of it…with nothing going to waste. And that’s economical in my book.
Saul Nathanson says
Interesting article. I have been wrestling with a similar problem recently. Should I use soap or the cream. For instance, Captain’s Choice makes an excellent Lime Cream and an equally excellent Lime Soap. While not as hard as a triple milled it is definitely firmer than a cream. The cream comes in a 4 ounce tub for $15.95 , or $3.99 per ounce and the soap in a 5 ounce tub for $18.95, or $3.79. A trivial difference? Maybe not when you consider that the cream has “water” as its first and presumably largest ingredient. The soap has “water” as its fifth and presumably fifth largest component.
Logically I assume you are paying for the water in the cream more so then in the soap which you are providing free.
I’m wondering if an ounce of the soap lasts longer than an ounce of the cream because you are adding the water to the soap to build up the volume when it is already there in the cream.
Any advantage to the cream? Because it already has so much water in it it is much easier and faster to build a lather than the soap which does require more effort to get to lather. You pay for the convenience.
Jay Harrell says
I have to agree with paying for convenience. In one of my first articles I justified it as “I don’t have time to load a brush!”
Now, 99% of all I use are soaps. I haven’t found, or really…haven’t looked, any creams that are made with tallow. I shave my head and tallow-based soaps are the best for my scalp.
I believe that an ounce of soap will last more shaves than an ounce of cream. I may have to do a very un-scientific experiment soon!
Jay Harrell says
Ahhh! I totally skipped the pump! I have debated cutting open a Kiss My Face patchouli to get the last of it. Agreed, that is the most wasteful design. I have to admit I haven’t bought anything that used a pump since that one bottle of KMF.
Michael Goldweber says
Nice article, but you neglected to report on the pump bottle. Taconic is one such producer. Great cream, but probably the most wasteful when it comes to product left in the container. One can exchange the pump top with a simple cap and turn the bottle upside down to get what is at the bottom of the bottle/container after the pump runs dry. Just unscrew the cap and shake out the product you need for the shave
Michael Goldweber says
Though the most wasteful design, there are some good creams that come in a pump bottle. WM. Neumann had a great product. Sadly, they reformulated it and now it is not so good. However, Taconic is an excellent shave cream and is on the Sharpologist’s top shave cream list. Finally, as a fellow shower-shaver, I do find a pump delivery to be highly desirable.
Jay Harrell says
I can see that would be good for shower shavers. But after discovering what tallow does to my scalp, I’m only using soaps. It feels great post-shave. Are there any others that use a pump? Heck, I might have to try the Taconic.