Shave Soap vs. Cream

Discussion in 'Shaving Soaps' started by cedwa2, Mar 11, 2012.

  1. I have a question. What is the difference between soap and cream? I'm not talking about the obvious differences. What are the subtle nuances between the two? Why would you choose one over the other?

    I've mostly used creams but after getting some MWF I find myself more interested in trying some soaps.

    A little shared wisdom would be greatly appreciated. I've been wet shaving for about 8 months and pretty much everything I've read on B&B has turned out to be gospel. So thank you to everyone who helps to answer these questions.

  2. Chris, don't feel like *need* to use shave soap just because it's super popular here on B&B or anything like that. If you are getting great shaves from creams and your puck of MWF, just keep using those and you'll figure out what the nuances are and what works best for you personally. IMHO, I don't think one is inherently superior to the other. Maybe try the MWF for a few days in a row, then your favorite cream for a few days in a row.

    Btw, there are a ton of threads on this topic...
  3. Other than the make up of them (hard vs soft) there is little difference. I use both without giving a through.

    Use what you like. That's the fun of this.

    For me, today was a soap day (QCS Rose Otto). Tomorrow may be a cream day, who knows, have not decided what tomorrow will be.

    I usually pick the brush I want to use, then think "what soap/cream do I want to later with it". No rime or reason. No preference of one type over the other. I have to pick the brush first as I only keep 4 brushes in the shave den so I need to have that under wraps so that I make sure what I want to use that day makes it up to be used.
  4. Personally, I find creams to lather easier, while soaps are slicker. I tend to use creams if I am using a more dull razor and/or blade, and soaps with a more aggressive setup. Like everything else, YMMV.
  5. DaveL

    DaveL Contributor

    And beware the ADs!
  6. There are no subtle nuances which in general hold true over the entire range of products. I used to think that there was a difference between 'glide' and 'cushion', but after meticulously going through many soaps, and recently revisiting many creams, I've come to the conclusion that once my technique became flawless, it didn't really matter anymore what I applied to my face. There are still differences between each product individually of course, but I cannot in good conscience make blanket statements anymore.

    Really, if there is a lesson to be learned, it is that shavers vastly overdramatise the differences between soap and cream. In your case that means 'stop wondering why you would want to use soaps': don't fret, just go out and buy them, learn to use them (this may take a while), and enjoy your shaves. Nothing more, nothing less.
  7. Why I would doesn't matter. Why you would does matter. It's a subjective matter (i.e. YMMV) and that's why everyone doesn't use the exact same products. Try as much as you can and decide for yourself based on first hand experience. Don't rely solely on what you've read.

    Definitely don't overlook the existing threads. This is an extremely common topic.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2012
  8. I have a preference for creams simply because they're easier to use, not because they perform any differently than soaps. The soap/cream divide isn't analogous to red wine/white wine, they're much closer together than that. The quality of one's shave hinges on the quality of the product and their technique rather than any kind of broad generalizations.
  9. Although I only own 2 brands of soap, Cella and Culmak, and about 5 million of some of the best regarded creams, I'd have to go with soap or uberlather (same thing?!?).
  10. While I have more creams than soaps (if I put the Italian soft soaps into the cream category) I like and use both but have recently been using creams more just because I never can tell any performance difference and they are quicker to lather. But today, I impulsively picked up my tin of triple milled PdP and EJ super badger brush (which is not known for its stiff backbone) and loaded the brush (I tend to shake most of the water out when loading hard soaps) for maybe 30 seconds or a bit less. I then moved the brush to my bowl and drizzled in some hot water and went to work. Plenty of proper lather, very nice shave using a Super Speed and Perma Sharp blade on it's fourth and final shave and got my usual DFS to BBS shave with three passes and touch-up.

    Point being that with good prep and good tools, creams and soaps both work very well if they're made with the right stuff. Soaps are slower to work up but I had a bit more time today.
  11. Thanks guys. I appreciate all the input. I kind of figured the difference between the two is merely preference but I wasn't sure.
  12. Your beard has a natural waterproofing oil on them, soaps remove this to let hot water soften you beard up for shaving, i mean the hard soaps. that is why soaps are better than creams, i general use soaps and creams together though.
  13. i like to mix the cream and soap
  14. To answer the op - it's the spelling of course!
  15. Technique is everything. Creams and soaps make it more fun
  16. Soaps are not better than creams and creams are not better than soaps. Creams soften up your whiskers just like a soap does. It is all a matter of preference as to what you prefer and what works best for you.
  17. +1 on the 1st comment. In fact, soaps and creams are the exact same product just with a different consistency.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2014
  18. Ingredients. Not all soaps and/ or creams are created equal.

    Extreme example: Barbasol foam-in-a-can shave cream contains stearic acid as do many quality artisan types, yet also packed with propane and butane, Barbasol 'Beard Buster' by no stretch of imagination comes anywhere close to what i.e. RazoRock S. Maria (with lanolin, e.g.) shave cream delivers.

    Preview: How it preps your hairs and guards your skin before sharpened steel rides across it is very important. Check those ingredients closely. If you don't know what it is, then look it up, here's where an internet search engine can be your friend (as long as you don't think everything on the internet must be true). Not everything unpronounceable is bad, despite some commercial claims, some very good ingredients are ofttimes listed in Latin or by their more scientific names. If in doubt, search it out!

    Aftershock: How it leaves your skin looking and feeling post-shave can be anywhere from semi-gruesome irritating razor burn and bumps to downright silky-smooth feeling and an exhilarating experience. Don't use something others enjoy, use something you'll enjoy, and if your not sure just investigate and get an average idea in what others are saying. There's no gospel, only science, no right or wrong other than keeping your fingers out of the flames (don't substitute a good pre-shave oil with Zippo fuel, just because you don't have the oil but do have plenty lighter fluid!).

    Enjoy!!!: Probably the most important thing, is to find something you enjoy using despite what anyone else might think. If a $1 puck of your discount stores soap aids your shave, doesn't make your skin dry and flaky, then where's the harm? Are there better soaps? Probably, actually very likely, but again they might not work any better for you. Sometimes we have to listen to our wallets, go with what we can afford.

    Research, experiment, share with friends, research some more,... the possibilities are almost endless. Then again you might find one thing really works for you better than a thousand choices or suggestions by others, then again it's in the variety of choices many of us find the most appealing. That's where sharing with friends really shines, trade-off product you might not have otherwise tried, share what you love and don't always expect others to love it too. It's all good (well not ALL good; I wouldn't suggest trying Tide for example, just because it gets your clothes clean. Common sense dictates common sense in that regard) soap and/ or cream, as long as you enjoy it, that's what really matters!
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2014

  19. IMO, some blades have been discounted by people due to a bad cream or soap (and even prep) & vice versa. I have a lot of creams and a few soaps and I have noticed that with some of them certain blades "sing" and with other creams/soaps no blade "sings". For example, I have found that FOR ME an Arko (stick) will make even a mediocre blade cut decently. If I use say a cream such as Ingram, which IMO is mediocre, I need a top notch blade to get a DFS. A better cream, such as the Bulgarian ones or Erasmic, aid & abet a mediocre blade. It's all "give & take". As well, I honestly think a person would better off (and ahead financially) to choose one good soap/cream & one great blade and stick with it. :001_smile
  20. It's a toss-up, really. As one's technique improves, the pleasant and subtle differences between a soap and a cream can be more pronounced, but they aren't earth-rattling, unless the shave is noticeably worse or the aroma unbearable.

    I am back only recently to DE shaving, but my first 20+ years shaving were spent using a Fatboy just like I use now. Like riding a bike. Now I need to find the right blade. I am working my way through lots of Rose and Almond soaps and creams to find my favorites. Rose and Almond only, because otherwise I'd go nuts (and be broke.)

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