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Soaps vs. Creams?

I have a very general question concerning creams and soaps and the shaves that they deliver. It has probably been asked here before, but having read though a number of old posts I am still without a definitive answer. Here is my question: Are there shaving soaps that are better than the best shaving creams?
The information I have looked at points to NO.
However, shaving soaps may offer some bonuses such as efficiency, less costly, etc.
I have heard many people rave about a soap called 'Mama bear'.
But I still wonder if there are soaps which are - on the while - better than creams. I ask this question because I wouldn't mind stocking up on some soaps. But I would probably want to buy them only if they would be as good as the creams which I've been using, which are Truefitt and Hill, and Taylors.
The answer to your question is very subjective. What I have gleaned is the main difference between soaps and creams is this. Creams tend to give more cushion while soaps tend to be slicker. Which one is right for you can only be determined by testing and deciding which you like.

There are several soaps out there that are inexpensive. A couple of these soaps are MamaBear, or Honeybee. I personally only have experience with the MamaBear soaps, I have to be very frugal about my aquisition disorders.
I've been curious about this as well. I was wondering if part of my "sophomore slump" (having a few good shaves and suddenly going south) was related to my changing from a soap to a cream. Because of the incredible recommendations of Taylor's Avocado, I assumed that it would make my shaves better by virtue of its exulted goodness. I wonder if I would just do better with soap until I get some more mileage.

I've been tempted to try the soap again, just to see, but want to try and stick with one setup and reduce the variables.

So, trying not to hijack Cristoph's question while phrasing it in a different spirit: Do the folks who shave with soap prefer soap because of economy, range of options, or because they feel the soaps do a better job on their faces?
I prefer to use creams. They lather easier, and seem to provide more "protection" from nicks and cuts. That being said I still use soaps quite frequently and I am certain that I get a closer shave with soap.

Variety is the spice of life.
I alternate between soap and cream: soap shaves closer and is more fun (after all, going from hard soap to rich and moist lather is more special than doing the same from a soft cream), but cream is safer for the face and -in general- a bit more moisturising. I'd suggest using both.
I use both but probably use cream a little more often than soap. As far as the difference between the two, this depends on the soap and cream being compared. As an example, Tabac soap is probably one of the most moisturising products out there, on my skin anyway.
I have been primarily a 'cream guy' because I really liked their easily produced luxurious lather. However, I was always trying soaps because I really wanted to be able to use the 'classic and original' means of producing lather since my return to DE shaving. I ended up trying and discarding many shaving soaps and had nearly come to the conclusion that soaps just weren't for me. Then I discovered Tabac, and as John said, this stuff produces an amazing lather and works well for me. My next big discovery was HoneyBee shaving soaps, which have become my 'go to' shaving soaps due to the wide variety of scents, the ease with which they lather, the slickness of the lather, the irritation free shave which they give and the moisturizing feeling they leave your face with. In addition, I have also found Charles' soaps at QED to be a winner and they are available in a wide variety of scents as well.

I am now a cream and a soap guy. It's not that one is better than the other, they just produce somewhat of a different shaving experience and help to keep shaving exciting. I probably now use the soaps a little more than the creams but I still like them both. There are some great soaps out there, so don't give up on 'em, just keep trying them and you will find the ones that work for you. There's nothing like the feeling of shaving with a DE, a badger brush and soap...it takes you back to a time when life was simpler and shaving once again becomes one of life's little pleasures. :cool:
I used to be a mostly cream guy, but now, I've become about equal. I use soaps on a more regular basis. I'd say now it's just about 50/50.

The answer to your question is that there are lots of soaps out there that....

  1. Produce lather as good as, or better than, creams
  2. Smell fantastic
  3. Shave great

I actually prefer soaps, though I use both extensively.
Different people prefer different shaving experiences. Some people like both soaps and creams, but others have strong preferences one way or the other. Soaps help the razor slip-n-slide along the surface of the skin, and creams tend to help the blade glide above the skin.

One aspect of creams that I think makes them more popular than soaps is the smell - soaps just don't have the intense aroma of a good cream. Soaps can have a very nice scent, it just tends to be more subtle.
I used to use primarly creams until I tried the Honeybee-Spa shaving soap. Now I much prefer this soap over the creams or any other soap. The Honeybee provides the absolute best and smoothest shave I have ever obtained and leaves my face feeling very moist and refreshed. Using this soap is pure luxury for me. Not only does it offer the advantages of the creams in its lathering abilities, but also all the advantages of a quality soap. I also enjoy the various fragrances of the Honeybee soaps which are great. It is also very reasonably priced. Since switching to the Honeybee-Spa shaivng soap, all my creams are no longer being used except on rare occassions and when I do, the next day I'm back to the Honeybee soap for a superior shave.

Deleted member 477

Why not put a dab of cream on the soap. Thats what I do. Its the best of both worlds
mparker762 said:
Different people prefer different shaving experiences. Some people like both soaps and creams, but others have strong preferences one way or the other. Soaps help the razor slip-n-slide along the surface of the skin, and creams tend to help the blade glide above the skin.

One aspect of creams that I think makes them more popular than soaps is the smell - soaps just don't have the intense aroma of a good cream. Soaps can have a very nice scent, it just tends to be more subtle.
Get some QED, Mama Bear, Tabac, etc. and see if you still stand by this statement. I think this was once the case, but I think you can get soaps as intensely fragranced as creams nowadays.
I started using only creams. I use both now, but lean more to soaps. As others have said, the creams seem more "dense". The soaps are a bit slicker and seem to allow better access for the razor to "bite" the whisker. I may not be articulating this well (hey, its Tuesday after a holiday weekend...:tongue: ), so try some Tabac, QED, and one of the Sue's soaps and see what you think.

I've been leaning towards soaps recently. I've read this thread a number of times over the past few days trying to come up with a reason for it. I'm still not sure why, but I just prefer using soaps right now. Maybe it's the higher lubricity. Maybe it just feels right to use older style shaving supplies with the DE shave. Maybe it's because the collective Sue's have fortified their soaps with an addictive additive. Or maybe it's just a personal fad. I'm sure I'll change again in the future and turn into a cream guy for a while.
Same with John here. I use both creams and soaps but find myself preferring soaps lately. The QED soaps are unsurpassed. The Honeybee soaps are excellent as well. I seem to get a closer/better shave with soaps. Creams whip up easily but seem to lack a little something that soap has. That said, I still like my Salter Mint and C&E Sweet Almond.

I too am going along with John and Dennis. I used to use Proraso, until I got some Mama Bear soaps. Now, during the week I shave with the soaps and on the weekends I use the Proraso. I really feel that the soaps allow for a closer shave then the creams, but to each their own.

If you want to try out soaps, the only three I've every used has been VanDerHagen (available cheap at Walgreens, not bad, not great and relatively no scent), Classic Shaving and Mama Bear's. I highly recommend Mama Bear's.
As a test, I went back to my startup soap today (Conk Lime). As a newbie it was hard to tell what switching to cream would really mean, after having used the soap for 2 or 3 days. Having used the Taylor's for a few weeks now I have a better sense of the difference. I had a somewhat better shave! Less irritation, and a closer shave with fewer passes. I nicked myself more (newbie with an HD and Feathers!), but that could just be due to my overzealousness and my first experience with switching lubricants after having gotten accustomed to a different one.

In any case, I have a bit of newbie perspective on this: I could feel my face better. I could tell when I was hitting roughness, being too aggressive, and not using a good angle. I think the "cushion" of the creams covers up that important feedback a bit... So I think I'll go back to my very first setup (plus my Shavemac!): Merkur HD, soap, Merkur blades to reduce the risk of my cutting myself. That seems like a safe road for a while. :rolleyes:

Cristoph, it seems like we've been taken down the long road to get to an answer to your original question: it depends. :wink:
Question: do brushes behave differently with soaps and creams? In concrete terms, is it possible for a brush to create a good lather with creams but not with soaps and vice versa?
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