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Shaving soap may sound like an archaic precursor to shaving cream, or something you’ll only get from a professional barber’s shave, but this seeming relic of the past is making a comeback in a huge way. Shaving soap may not be big with Baby Boomers or Gen X, who came of age during the level of high-tech shaving, but their sons, the Millennials, have shunned electric razors and nonsensical shave gels in favor of straight razors and shaving soap in order to achieve the ultimate wet shave experience.
To be short, our top pick is Col. Conk’s Shaving Soap. Interested in seeing why? Read on my bearded friend.
They shave the way their great-grandfathers did, and the smooth results speak for themselves. And a puck of shaving soap, and a DOVO straight razor are the primary ingredients for that good, old-fashioned shave that feels and looks better than anything an electric razor can produce.
Light lime and Apple
Bergamot and oak moss
Let's take a look at the current top rated Shave soaps on the market:
Col. Conk World Famous Shaving Soap is presented in an awesomely retro package. It’s a puck of soap with one of the best interpretations of Bay Rum I’ve ever smelled in my life. It’s slightly spicy with a masculine warmth and a certain undertone that mellows things out. It’s a rather perfect scent, in my opinion. The soap itself creates a very rich lather and does so easily in a shave bowl alongside your favorite shaving brush, and it feels good on the face. I got a perfectly close shave the day I used Col. Conk, and my skin felt immediately smooth just after that one use alone. And I don’t just mean clean-shaved. I mean the skin itself felt smoother, which I like. A bonus: The scent isn’t that strong and if you use aftershave, it’s not going to overpower it. It’s subtle; a girl would have to be right next to you to even catch a hint of it, which is how scents should be.
Classic Bay Rum scent
Bay Rum is the go-to classic shaving soap scent, which is why the best shaving soap brands tend to offer it as one of their scents. You might say that Bay Rum is one of the oldest scents for men. As early as the 1500’s, sailors in the West Indies would rub themselves with leaves from the West Indian bay tree, known by its scientific name as Pimenta racemosa. It’s quite different from the bay leaf found in European cuisine, which is Laurus nobilis. Bay Rum was first made in St. Thomas; aside of the West Indian bay tree leaf, Bay Rum also includes clove oil, cinnamon oil and citrus oil. Different brands tend to have their own signature Bay Rum scent, but many describe Bay Rum in general as spice meets vanilla with a hint of citrus. Bay Rum’s classically masculine scent is why it’s a favorite of barbershops as well as Millennials looking to keep the old shaving ways alive.
Avocado oil smooths your skin due to its natural moisturizing properties. In fact, avocado is such an effective moisturizer, you’ve probably seen your girlfriend literally slather the fruit on her face to reap its benefits. And these healthy skin benefits work for guys, too. Not only is it moisturizing, but avocado oil can also help get rid of blackheads, zits and reduce the inflammation around them, so your face has a better, clearer overall appearance.
Vitamin E oil is highly moisturizing, but that’s not its only benefit. It’s an antioxidant, which means it protects your skin from free radicals and pollutants. Also, it’s anti-inflammatory properties reduce redness and inflammation in your skin, which makes it great for guys with prone to redness and dryness.
Glycerin soaps, in general, are super-moisturizing and it’s been theorized glycerin may attract moisture from the air, providing even more smoothness for your skin. Glycerin is also considered a very safe ingredient which is why many of the best shaving soap brands tend to use glycerin as a base. Glycerin can be plant or animal-based. In the case of Capt. Conk World’s Famous Shaving Soap, the glycerin is made from plant oils, so it’s safe for vegans.
Stearic acid is a type of fatty acid that promotes the rich lather that shaving soap, especially Col. Conk, is known for.
The first thing that meets the eye about The Blades Grim Gold Luxury Shaving Soap is its shining gold container with a straight-razor wielding grim reaper. It’s distinctive and cool.
Opening up the container, it’s pretty noticeable this soap is a lot softer than traditional hard shaving soaps, but that’s not really a bad thing, because it lathers amazingly. It gives your skin a nice silky feel when you’re done.
A softer shaving soap
Most shaving soap is hard like the hockey puck it’s shaped like. The Blades Grim soap is a good bit softer. If you’ve been looking for a relatively soft shaving soap, this might be right up your alley.
The Smolder scent is one of the most well-liked attributes of this shaving soap. It has notes of mandarin and orange peel for a citrusy quality, while coriander and star anise add some spice; the whole scent profile is grounded with Tonka bean, which gives it a vanilla-like quality, which is more masculine than the traditional feminine vanilla you may be thinking of. The reason it’s called Smolder is that all of these things combined to create a slightly smoky scent, more like wood smoke than tobacco. It’s the sort of smell that will make her want to curl up with you on a crisp autumn night. It’s both refined and manly, a hard line to walk, but Smolder walks it.
Thick, protective lather
The Blades Grim Luxury Shaving Soap is renowned for its thick lather. Furthermore, its lather is quite slick, so you will be able to make a second pass of areas you may have missed initially without worrying about razor burn.
Stearic acid, a fatty acid, is a mainstay in shaving soaps because it provides moisture and aids the lathering process.
Coconut oil is great for your skin. It hydrates and cleanses at the same time, so not only will you get a close shave, your skin will be smoother and cleaner.
I’m probably one of the few people who has never tried or even seen Proraso Shaving Soap before, so I was highly intrigued to try this one. I found it interesting that it wasn’t a puck; it’s softer than that, but definitely not a soft soap.
I like the fact that it comes in its own bowl, if for the convenience alone. And I think other guys will like it, because one thing that puts dudes off of shaving soap is having to have all the gear that goes with it. The fact that Proraso is contained in its own bowl is a point in its favor for those who value convenience. Although we usually buy pucks, and we use a shaving scuttle or bowl to create lather, the bowl was definitely a nice added luxury.
I’m typically not a fan of minty smells, but Proraso actually smells more fresh than straight-up like menthol. I think guys who like a “clean” smell will really like this one. My brother is one of those guys. After I told him about Proraso, he bought some and it’s his favorite now, which speaks to the power of Proraso: A lot of guys will latch on to it and it will become their go-to, just as it is the go-to of Italian barbers.
Proraso has been around for three generations and touts itself as the favorite shaving soap of Italian barbers. Its longevity alone speaks well of it and it’s highly-regarded today among professionals and average joes alike.
Coconut oil is a natural moisturizer that’s light and doesn’t clog pores like other oils can, which is why it’s such a common ingredient in well-known shaving soap brands.
Eucalyptus might not be a cure-all, but it has a lot of health benefits for your skin. Firstly, it’s anti-inflammatory, which reduces skin redness. Eucalyptus is also naturally antibacterial and antiseptic, so in the unlikely event you were to nick yourself, eucalyptus can discourage bacteria from taking hold. And as a bonus, it helps you breathe clearing while you shave, thanks to its decongestant properties.
Menthol soothes and cools the skin, giving a nice, clean feeling when you shave.
Lactic acid is a natural remedy for skin coloration, so this is a shaving cream that can actually get rid of dark spots and even out your skin tone.
The packaging is very classy and English in style, which a lot of traditional shavers will like since we keep to the old ways.
This is a mug-sized shaving soap, so I wasn’t alarmed when I saw it was smaller than the standard puck size. I would highly caution folks to read the product description because this is meant for mug and brush. This isn’t a bowl-sized puck. Not paying attention may lead some to be disappointed—but they shouldn’t be. I’ve had this shaving soap the longest of them all—three months—and it’s still going strong. I reckon it will make it to six months or more. I do have a few other soaps in my rotation, but I think that even if a guy used it every day, it would still last for three months, at least.
The Himalayan scent is both exotic yet old world. It’s a nice balance of exciting and refined, which you get the feeling that’s what they were going for at Henry Cavendish.
Mug and brush shaving experience
Mug and brush is a classic way to experience shaving. One of the benefits is you can melt the soap in the mug if you need to, which is why a lot of guys prefer this method.
Soy naturally evens out your skin, reducing dark spots from acne scars and sun damage. Soy also makes your skin softer, so it’s a very natural way to not only improve the look of your skin, but to promote a better shave.
Shea butter is both moisturizing and anti-inflammatory. Both of these qualities work to prevent the dryness and inflammation that lead to red, irritated skin.
Unique Himalaya-inspired scent
The fragrance is inspired by the Himalayas. It’s woody, containing notes of Himalayan blue pine and Indian cedar. These woody notes are complemented by amber and cashmere musk, which soften the wood and make for a very masculine, classy scent. Its overall refinement tends to attract ladies not just to you but the scent itself because they find it very wearable if they’re the type of girl who likes to share her man’s cologne. Some couples find it a very sensual thing to share fragrances and shaving soap, so this may be a point in the Henry Cavendish Himalaya soap’s favor in that respect.
3 to 6 months of usage
Since shaving soaps designed for mug use tend to be smaller than larger puck soaps, a shorter usage period can be a problem. However, the Henry Cavendish soap lasts a lot longer than standard mug shaving soaps, so you should be able to get comparable usage out of it to what you’d expect from a standard-sized puck.
I’m a big fan of the retro packaging with a jaunty hare in a bowler hat on the front. The smell is very unique—the bergamot really makes it. And it creates a great lather. This will definitely be a fixture in my shaving soap collection, because it’s simply likable, as well as convenient, thanks to the fact you don’t need a bowl for it.
Its container doubles as a shaving bowl
If you’re new to wet shaving, gathering all the accouterments can be daunting, and finding the right shaving bowl even more so. Because Sir Hare’s container doubles as a shaving bowl, you don’t have to worry about that. Better still, the label is waterproof so you don’t have to worry about the container’s quality deteriorating either.
Made in small batches
Sir Hare Shaving Soap for Men is made in small batches in the United States. The small batch production aids in better quality control. And the fact that it’s a small business means they have to really rely on their ingredients’ superiority to draw in customers; this further ups the high-quality factor.
A lot of modern shaving soaps are made with vegetable oil-based glycerin, but Sir Hare is made with tallow. While it’s not vegan-friendly, this is the traditional way of making shaving soap. And because it’s natural and highly moisturizing, it’s good for sensitive skin.
Good for 100 shaves
You get four ounces of shaving soap goodness in each container, which Sir Hare boasts will last for 100 shaves.
The scent is a masculine combination of oakmoss, cedarwood, and bergamot. If you’ve never heard of bergamot, it’s a citrus fruit from which all other citrus descends; it’s also the ingredient that sets Earl Grey tea apart from the rest, and as well as the ingredient that makes it smell amazing.
The biggest benefit of buying shaving soap is the high-quality rich lather it produces. Shaving soap is made from slightly different ingredients than body soap. Some of these differing ingredients are used to make the soap pucks shaving soap typically comes in harder; others are designed to create the distinctly rich lather from shaving soap. The specific combination of ingredients is tailored to creating the thick lather necessary for a proper wet shave. Another benefit of shaving soap is that, unlike a can of shaving cream, you can travel with it on a plane in your carry-on bag. It’s compact, so you don’t have to alter your routine if you travel a lot, which is a big plus for those who work for corporations where you have to travel all over the world and look good while doing it.
Shaving soap is more moisturizing than shaving cream or gel. This creates a better, closer shaving experience, because the blade of your straight razor or safety razor can get extremely close to the skin when facial hair is softened. The result is a smoother shave, with less chance of nicks or irritation afterward. A practical benefit to buying shaving soap is that it’s way better for the environment than anything that comes in an aerosol can. So, if you like to be environmentally friendly, that’s definitely a factor to consider. Shaving soap is often more cost-effective than shaving cream in a can. You use less of it; it last longer per unit. You can see how that adds up. A lot of men go for shaving soap for that one aspect alone. Finally, one of the top benefits of buying shaving soap is that its part of the traditional shaving experience. For the first time in fifty or so years, a lot of men have realized that a traditional shave with their best shaving soap is not only better for basic grooming, it’s an art that was almost lost. And that near-loss of the art of traditional shaving would be a detriment to men everywhere. When you shave with shaving soap, you know you’re keeping the superior shaving knowledge of our forefathers alive.
Shaving soap typically comes in two forms: a puck or a stick. Generally, pucks are more common and more preferred. Some men find they prefer sticks for traveling, since you can usually just rub it across your face. However, the downside of the stick is that it doesn’t give you the best lather the way a puck and a brush can, which is why most men prefer pucks for home usage, and it’s why they’re generally used by professional barbers too. Some shaving soaps are still made of ultra-traditional tallow (animal fat), while others use vegetable oils like coconut and avocado in its place. If you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, you’ll definitely want to avoid tallow soaps. And some men may prefer the vegetable oil-based soaps anyway, because of the healthy skin benefits of coconut oil and others, for instance. Most soaps don’t use parabens anymore, but it’s best to avoid brands that do use them, if you can, because it’s better for you and the environment. Shaving soaps come in a variety of scents; some you may already be familiar with, others may be a bit retro. In general, shaving soaps cater to a manly crowd, so scents tend to be traditional and not overwhelming.
There are a few things to remember when choosing the best shaving soap for your needs:
After testing each of these shaving soaps, the clear winner of this roundup is Col. Conk World Famous Shaving Soap in Bay Rum scent. Not only is the Bay Rum scent superb and classic, the rich lather you get from this puck offers the best shave of them all.