Know what goes into your shaving creams and gels and find what works best for your skin.
Shaving has regularly been a part of men’s skincare regimen. But, however familiar you’ve been with this routine, there would still be days when shaving becomes a troublesome experience rather than a pleasant one. Instead of a perfectly smooth shaved face, all you’d get are razor burns, nicks, skin irritation, and dryness. If you’ve come across any of these problems, it means you might have been shaving the wrong way.
Shaving is not as easy as just gliding a razor across your face.
Aside from a good razor and proper technique, you also need to apply a shaving solution to lubricate the area to be shaved for a closer and smoother glide. It also helps prevent the above-mentioned problems that can occur with shaving.
Shaving solutions are now widely available in the market in either cream or gel form. These products are formulated with a wide array of ingredients. Depending on specific skin types, our skin responds better to different ingredients. So before you buy one, you must check the ingredients used in it to know if it’s right for your skin. It would also help to compare shaving cream vs shaving gel in choosing what variant is best for you.
Why Not Use Shaving Foams?
You might be familiar with shaving foam. It’s the classic shaving cream in an aerosol can which has been popular since the past few decades. It’s easy to use and saves you time on lathering up the cream. You just spray the foamy lather onto your skin, let it sit a few minutes, shave the hair, and remove excess foam using a wet towel.
Although shaving foams offer convenience, they aren’t as good as today’s shaving creams and gels.
Use of shaving foams is not recommended because they are not as dense as shaving creams or gel and thus does not lift up the hair as much leading to a higher probability of getting cuts, nicks and razor burns. They also contain ingredients that are harmful to your skin such as the following:
Surfactants are the chemicals in canned shaving cream that help it turn into foam. But as a result of this, the fluffy foam is made up of more air than cream, thus reducing its lubricating effect. This reduced lubrication can lead to severe skin dryness through prolonged use.
Propylene glycol is a common ingredient in pressurized cans. While it doesn’t pose an immediate threat of damage to your skin, propylene glycol can lead to severe skin irritation and allergies over time.
Mineral oil is the main moisturizing component of shaving foam. Although mineral oil does a good job of lubricating the skin during a shave, it also clogs the pores that increase the risk of acne breakouts and skin irritation.
What Are Shaving Creams?
Regardless of what the name suggests, shaving cream is different from shaving cream in a can. If so, then what is shaving cream?
Shaving cream in a can is what we talked about earlier, AKA shaving foam. Shaving foam looks almost like shaving cream, only that the former is contained in pressurized aerosol cans while the latter is packed in squeeze tubes or bowls. Looks aside, shaving creams also do not have the harmful ingredients that tend to be contained in shaving foam.
What does shaving cream do?
Now you know that a shaving solution, such as cream, is essential for a nice clean shave. But really, what does shaving cream do?
Shaving cream acts as a lubricating and moisturizing agent for your skin during a shave. This helps protect your skin from damage and irritation.
Using shaving cream is pretty much like using shaving foam. A basic safety razor will be enough to use it with.
But unlike shaving foam, you have to lather up shaving cream either in a bowl, on your face or in your palms using a brush. This process may take a while. After you’ve evenly spread the lather on your face, let it sit a few minutes, shave the hair, and remove the excess lather with a wet towel.
Benefits of using shaving cream
Smooth clean shave
The thick cream acting as a barrier between the razor and skin prevents cuts and razor burns, thus resulting in a perfectly smooth shaved skin.
Moisturized and nourished skin
Aside from lubricating the skin, shaving cream also hydrates and nourishes your skin, giving a fresh feeling after shaving.
Because of its light foamy texture, excess shaving cream is easy to remove and doesn’t clog your razor.
Shaving creams suitable for acne-prone or sensitive skin
Truefitt and Hill Ultimate Comfort Shaving Cream Tube
Unscented and alcohol-free
Containing no alcohol, astringents, and additional fragrances, Truefitt and Hill Ultimate Comfort Shaving Cream won’t irritate sensitive skin.
Truefitt and Hill Ultimate Comfort Shaving Cream contains lavender essential oil that gently disinfects and heals the shaved skin.
With glycerin, Truefitt and Hill Ultimate Comfort Shaving Cream’s rich lather moisturizes the skin for a smoother razor glide.
Taylor of Old Bond Street Jermyn Street Shaving Cream for Sensitive Skin
Formulated with light fragrances such as bergamot lemon lime and lavender, Taylor of Old Bond Street Jermyn Street Shaving Cream is safe for sensitive skin.
Taylor of Old Bond Street Jermyn Street Shaving Cream contains Patchouli oil, an allergen-free ingredient, which is touted to help with skin irritations and combat acne and dry skin.
Using Theobroma Cacao seed butter in their formula, Taylor of Old Bond Street Jermyn Street Shaving Cream will leave your skin feeling soft and moisturized after your shave.
What Are Shaving Gels?
Shaving gel serves the same purpose as shaving cream. It’s a thick transparent gel that you apply to your skin to act as a lubricating agent for shaving. You can also use it with a basic safety razor. However, the thicker gels tend to clog up the razor cartridge and you will have to spend more effort cleaning it during your shave.
But unlike shaving creams, shaving gels do not lather up when applied.
What does shaving gel do?
Just like shaving cream, shaving gel also lubricates and moisturizes your skin while shaving to protect it from damage.
To use shaving gel, just apply it on the area to be shaved. Let it sit a few minutes, then shave and rinse off the excess gel.
Benefits of using shaving gel
Smooth clean shave
Just like shaving cream, shaving gel also serves as a barrier between the razor and skin which prevents cuts and razor burns resulting in a perfectly smooth shaved skin.
Moisturized and nourished skin
Shaving gels also contain ingredients that moisturize and soothe skin irritations leaving the skin nourished.
Shaving gel’s transparent gel form is helpful for those with sensitive skin. This helps them see immediately if ever there are any problems in the shaved area.
Shaving gels suitable for acne-prone or sensitive skin
Truefitt and Hill No. 10 Sensitive Shave Gel
Nourishing and soothing
Enriched with aloe vera, Truefitt and Hill No. 10 Sensitive Shave Gel helps reduce inflammation and soothes irritated skin caused by shaving.
Truefitt and Hill No. 10 Sensitive Shave Gel’s formulation reduces razor burn for a close yet gentle shave.
Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel with Oat and Vitamin E
Formulated with oat, Vitamin E, and moisturizing lubricants, Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel hydrates and protects skin from razor bumps. This gel is specially formulated for dry and sensitive skin.
Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel’s lubricating formula ensures a close and smooth shave.
Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel has no added fragrance that can irritate sensitive skin.
Ingredients to look out for in shaving creams or gels
Some cheaper shaving products like shaving foam contain ingredients such as mineral oils and propylene glycol which both can be harmful to your skin. Shaving creams and gels may cost more but they are generally better in quality.
With that said, look out for these ingredients before you buy your shaving solution:
Ingredients to avoid
Denatured alcohol, along with ethanol and isopropyl, have a dehydrating effect on the skin which leads to skin dryness and irritation. Avoid shaving solutions that contain any of these alcohols, especially if you have dry and sensitive skin.
Mineral oil is the lubricating agent of shaving foam and is commonly found in other cheaper skincare and shaving solutions. While it does work as a lubricant and moisturizer, it clogs the pores which leads to acne breakouts. Look out for this ingredient if you have acne-prone skin.
Not all essential oils have the same effect on the skin. Some essential oils may irritate or trigger allergic reactions on sensitive skin. To be sure, avoid shaving solutions with citrus and minty scents because they are most likely bad for sensitive skin.
Astringents are commonly used for skin cleansing, especially if you have oily and acne-prone skin because they help tighten pores and dry out oil. But if you have dry and sensitive skin, it’s best not to buy a shaving product containing this ingredient as it can irritate your skin and cause your skin to start flaking or cause a breakout.
Coconut oil can moisturize dry skin and keep it healthy. However, it is comedogenic and has a high tendency to clog the pores which is bad for oily and acne-prone skin. Coconut oil can also irritate highly sensitive skin.
Beneficial ingredients to look out for
Cocoa butter is a rich moisturizer that keeps the skin looking healthy. This ingredient is great for dry skin.
Shea butter can reduce redness and swelling of the skin. It also has a long-lasting moisturizing effect. If you have dry and sensitive skin, you might want to look out for this ingredient.
Aloe vera is well-known for its moisturizing, soothing, and healing properties. The moisturizing effect of aloe vera helps relieve dry and itchy skin. It also helps in the quick relief and faster healing of cuts, small abrasions, and minor burns. With its many benefits, aloe vera is great for all skin types.
Glycerin is pretty much a common ingredient in personal care products, shaving creams and gels included. It moisturizes and protects the skin from irritants, which makes it great for dry and sensitive skin.
Shaving Cream Vs Shaving Gel
To better help you choose between shaving cream and shaving gel, here’s a comparative table that you could check out:
|Shaving Cream||Shaving Gel|
|Average price point||USD$26 per 100 mL||USD$18 per 125 mL|
|Ease of use||Average
(Need to work into a lather)
(Can be applied directly)
|Ease of cleaning||Easy
(Light foam doesn’t clog razor)
(Thick gel tends to clog razor)
|Commonly found Ingredients||
Aqua / Water
Stearic Acid (Cleansing)
Myristic Acid (Cleansing)
Coconut Oil (Comedogenic)
Sodium Hydroxide (Irritant)
Aqua / Water
Stearic Acid (Cleansing)
Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer (Thickening Agent)
Palmitic Acid (Irritant)
Sodium Hydroxide (Irritant)
|More Suitable for||Dry skin
Acne Prone skin
Applying a shaving solution is essential to your shaving routine. Shaving creams and gels both lubricate your skin for a closer and smoother razor glide to help you achieve a flawlessly smooth shaved face free from cuts, razor burns, and skin irritation.
Shaving cream or shaving gel? Well, in general, there’s no sure way of telling which one is better than the other.
The only big difference between them is their form and consistency which have their own set of benefits and drawbacks. In terms of cleaning, shaving cream is easier to wipe off your razor than shaving gel. When it comes to application, shaving gel can be directly put on your skin as opposed to shaving cream that needs to be lathered up first.
As to formulation, they mostly differ but still share a few ingredients in common. How the skin reacts to each of these ingredients mainly depends on your skin type and sensitivities.
In choosing between cream or gel form, you can base that decision on what suits your personal preference. But whatever form you choose, don’t forget to take your skin type into consideration. So before you buy that shaving cream or gel, remember to first check its ingredients so that you’ll know if that’s the right shaving solution for you.