Let’s start with a basic assertion; male grooming has become a growth market over the course of the last five years and now represents big business in the UK.
This market had a cumulative value of £512 million back in 2007, for example, rising to £574 million just five years later. At the end of 2017, the market peaked at a value of £608 million, thanks largely to the diversification of products and some significant shifts in the behaviour of consumers.
Shaving cream represents one of the most essential and desirable products within this marketplace, while the particular niche has also seen considerable evolution in recent times. We’ll explore this further in the post below, while reviewing the best shaving creams currently on the market.
Shaving Foam vs. Shaving Gel
Let’s start at the very beginning; as the term ‘shaving cream’ is a little generic and does little to drill down deeper into the primary product ranges available to customers.
In simple terms, the best creams on the market will include shaving foams and gels, both of which will have been primarily designed for use during wet shaving to help minimise irritation and reduce the risk of continued razor burn.
OK, we hear you ask, but are there any differences between shaving foam and gel? The short answer is yes, with shaving gels typically capable of producing a slightly richer lather than foams and providing greater protection for your skin during sustained usage.
This is a crucial consideration, as the thick and easy-to-achieve lather created by gels allow for a far smoother wet shave. By allowing the razor’s edge to glide more seamlessly across the skin, you’ll also achieve the core objective of minimising irritation and preventing occurrences of in-growing hairs.
Gels also tend to be a little thinner in consistency, meaning that they spread across your face and head much more easily and improve your chances of achieving a more even shave.
However, shaving foams are generally considered to boast superior lubrication qualities, which is why products of this type are often recommended to men who have sensitive skin. Of course, there are available gels that have been primarily designed to suit this skin type, but foams often offer better performance and improved value in this respect.
The question that remains, though, is which is right for you? In simple terms, those of you who shave everyday should consider using gels, thanks to their capacity for providing noticeably better skin protection over time.
If you don’t shave everyday and have instead adopted a less rigorous skincare regime, shaving foam may offer a slightly more suitable and affordable option.
You can also increase the thickness of the lather created by shaving foams through the use of a dedicated brush and piping hot water, which may prove particularly useful when removing days-old stubble and maximising your levels of lubrication.
Your Key Considerations – What Type of Skin do you Have?
Before we begin to review some of the year’s best products, it’s also important that we discuss the impact of skin type and why this is so important when formulating an effective skincare regime.
The type of skin that you have will definitely dictate the precise type of product that you buy from your chosen provider, or at least it should if you want to minimise the risk of irritation. In simple terms, there are three distinct skin types among men; namely sensitive, oily and dry.
If you have dry skin that is prone to crack in colder weather conditions, it’s crucial that you look for shaving cream with a glycerin base. This will compensate for the dryness of your skin, creating a foundation that allows your blade to glide across the face and scalp without causing nicks, cuts or soreness.
On a similar note, those of you with sensitive skin should avoid any type of shaving cream that has an alcohol-based astringent as its foundation. This type of product can cause significant irritation and redness, even if it is not used regularly or on a daily basis.
Conversely, astringent shaving creams can be used by customers with oily skin, as this reduces the presence of excess oil and prevents individual pores from becoming clogged.
The Best Shaving Creams for Your Skin Type
At this stage, it makes sense to review the very best shaving creams for the three primary skin types discussed above, so that you can make an informed decision in the real-time market.
Of course, we’ll take a more comprehensive look at the best overall products a little later in the piece, but here are some initial options to help you on your way:
For Dry Skin
The market for dry skin shaving creams has grown exponentially in recent times, as men have become increasingly informed and aware about how their specific skin type should impact on their choice of product.
As you can imagine, these products tend to avoid the inclusion of toxins and potentially harmful ingredients such as alcohol (we’ll have a little more on this below), while the use of a glycerine base will also help to compensate for the innate dryness of your skin.
As they tend to be slightly more hydrating, shaving foams may be a little more effective when dealing with dry skin, with the interestingly named ‘Health Cream Shaving’ offering a relevant case in point.
This richly-textured hydrating shave gel comprises a blend of nine alternative soft and hard soaps, providing unique and deeply nourishing hydration characteristics. It’s particularly ideal for those who have dry skin and shave regularly, while it may be worth its weight of gold during the harsh winter months.
For Sensitive Skin
Unlike dry skin, sensitive skin covers a slightly broader range of needs and requirements, making it harder to quantify and understand in the minds of consumers.
In general terms, however, people with sensitive skin are more prone to inflammation and adverse reactions to specific ingredients, including chemical agents, dyes and fragrances.
But what are the best current creams on the market for dealing with sensitive skin? Unsurprisingly, the iconic Taylor of Bond Street brand has a range of creams that have been formulated to suit sensitive skin, which typically include soothing agents such as aloe and minimise the use of fragrances by adopting mild and natural scents.
Proraso’s Shaving Cream for Sensitive Skin is also a viable option, with this product capable of creating a rich and creamy lather that minimises irritation and allows for a smooth and enjoyable shave.
This cream also features oatmeal and green tea amongst its ingredients, both of which help to sooth your skin after you’ve shaved.
You’ll find additional products from these brands listed towards the end of the article, but keep in mind that these two have been designed specifically for customers with sensitive skin.
For Oily Skin
Oily skin can be caused by a number of external and hereditary factors, including your age, genetics and any medication that you may be on.
Interestingly, over exfoliation or the lack of moisturisation can induce the skin glands to secrete more oil over time, as a way of naturally hydrating the skin (particularly on the face and scalp).
Of course, this process can be negated by gentle exfoliation and regular moisturisation, while you should also consider using some of the specialist products listed below.
One of the best products in this regard is Dual Shave’s Medicated Liquid Shaving Cream for Oily Skin, which can keep your skin completely free from harmful bacteria and is 100% paraben-free. It also features 5% benzoyl, which directly combats the type of acne widely associated with excessively oily skin.
You may also want to check out Neutrogena’s Skin Clearing Shaving Cream for Oily Skin, which is totally oil-free and can lead the fight against razor bumps and in-growing hairs.
It’s also glycerine based, so remains capable of effectively hydrating and regulating your skin while avoiding excess dryness.
The Ingredients to Avoid, and Those to Look out for
While you may want to avoid or prioritise products with an astringent base depending on your skin type, this is not the only consideration when appraising the composition of shaving creams.
In fact, there are a number of generic ingredients that should be avoided as a general rule, regardless of your skin type and how it responds to products. Here are some of the most prominent:
- Parabens: While some of the ingredients listed here boast both good and bad qualities, there are others that should be avoided without question. Take parabens, for example, which studies have linked to a variety of ailments including asthma and various allergies. They’re often included in shaving creams to prevent the growth of bacteria, but it’s fair to surmise that any potential benefits are questionable and do not outweigh the risks.
- SLS: Also known as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, the theory behind the inclusion of this ingredient is that it cleans the skins through direct application. However, it also strips the naturals oils found on your skin, causing potential dryness or sensitivity over a prolonged period of time. This compound also remains in the body for up to five days, which only serves to compound its long-term impact.
- Fragrance: This may come as a surprise to many, particularly as fragrance is a key component of almost every available skincare product. While products featuring fragrance as an ingredient may be hard to ignore, however, this is often a byword for more than 3,000 chemicals and should be avoided where possible. A difficult task, we know, but it’s an important consideration for anyone with sensitive skin.
- Alcohol: Last, but by no means least, we come to alcohol. This ingredient is used widely throughout the skincare and male grooming industry, thanks largely to its versatile nature. While not all ‘alcohols’ are harmful to your skin, however, specific ingredients such as methanol are renowned for dehydrating your skin and having a long-term drying impact. So, although it is capable of dissolving oils on the skin, it can also have a highly damaging impact over time and may lead to significant irritation in the longer-term.
While these ingredients may be of interest for all the wrong reasons, there are others that should be considered as being desirable among customers. The majority of these are natural, meaning that they’re not comprised of potentially damaging astringents or chemical elements that can impact negatively on the human form.
Make no mistake; shaving creams that are comprised of natural oils such as jojoba and almond are inherently better at soothing your face during shaving, particularly because they complement the oils found organically in your skin.
These oils also evaporate quickly on the skin, meaning that they will not contribute to a build-up of oil over a period of time.
On a similar note, shaving creams with essential oils such as rose, lavender, sandalwood and eucalyptus are also extremely beneficial, while they create a natural scent that negates the need for products with synthetic fragrances.
The Devil’s in the Detail – 7 of the Best Shaving Creams
With these points in mind, the time has come to delve deep into the market and identify the best available shaving creams. Here are our top seven picks, (in no particular order), along with a brief breakdown of why they’re so good!
Cremo’s Astonishingly Superior Shaving Cream for Men
The Cremo range is one of the most effective and competitively priced in the current market, and one that is primarily targeted at busy men with a hectic lifestyle. This is embodied by the brand’s Astonishingly Superior Shaving Cream for Men, which is something of a trail-blazer in the eyes of the consumer.
In short, Cremo’s premier unscented shaving cream is non-lathering and can be applied with a small amount of water, creating a slick and fast-acting product that is ideal for those of you who are in a rush!
It also provides excellent lubrication and deceptively impressive cushioning during the shave, which in turn lends itself to a close shave without nicks, cuts or the dreaded razor burn.
Although it’s unscented and does not feature a chemically synthesised fragrance, its natural oils and ingredients do combine to create a pleasant (albeit faint) citrus aroma. This represents a nice feature and one that is perfectly in line with the understated nature of the brand.
This product can be purchased for around $9.99 (£8.00), while the brand’s cheaper offering can cost as little as $5.69 (£4.00) through retailers such as Amazon. Regardless, this remains one of the most affordable brands on the market and one that offers genuine value for money!
Pacific Shaving Company’s Caffeinated Shaving Cream
With its ground-breaking composition and bold, black and red branding, there’s no doubt that the Pacific Shaving Company’s Caffeinated Shaving Cream is one of the market’s true standout products.
At the heart of this is the inclusion of caffeine as a key ingredient, which is naturally derived at extremely beneficial for your skin. Loaded with antioxidants and capable of reducing any swelling or redness that can easily occur after shaving, it’s has the potential to rejuvenate your skin and restore its vibrancy after a rough night on the town.
This represents the tip of the iceberg for this product, however, which also includes a stellar list of natural ingredients such as sunflower oil, aloe, spearmint and shea butter. This A-list cast of components provide superb lubrication during shaving, while also offering additional covering against the movement of the blade.
Unsurprisingly, it’s also fragrance-free and completely vegan friendly, making it a safe and popular product suitable for the mass market.
Typically priced at $13.00 (£10.00), it offers both value and appeal as a standout product, even in a market that becomes increasingly crowded with every passing year.
Proraso’s Shaving Cream
If you’re looking for a product with a reputable brand behind it, look no further than Proraso’s signature shaving cream.
The brand itself has been in existence for more than 100 years, while it brought its first shaving cream to the market back in 1948. It’s trademark product arguably remains its crowning achievement to date, however, and one that has maintained its relevance in the modern-day market.
There are various iterations of this product, including creams for sensitive skin, others for moisturising and nourishing and a general use version for the mass market. The latter remains the brand’s flagship formula, with its unique combination of Eucalyptus and Menthol capable of refreshing your face post-shave and providing exceptional lubrication.
The inclusion of Menthol also provides a strong and refreshing scent and one that softens once it has been applied.
This product is manufactured using a so-called ‘hot soap’ process, which underpins a tremendously rich shaving cream that provides the thickest lather on the market. It is this feature that effectively cushions the skin during shaving while leaving it soft and hydrated afterward.
It’s also an unscented shaving cream that compromises of almost entirely natural ingredients, while silicones, parabens, and artificial colourants are also noticeably absent.
We also like the price and value proposition of this product, with a low-end retail cost of around $7.50 (£6.00) to the customer online.
Headblade’s HeadSlick Shave Cream
Next up is a particular favourite for bald men nationwide, with Headblade’s HeadSlick Shave Cream having been designed for use on both the face and scalp!
This ambitious purpose is underpinned by a unique formula, which creates a smooth but not particularly thick lather that provides the optimal lubrication. This means that the blade can glide seamlessly across the skin on the face and your head, without any kind of noticeable friction.
The carefully formulated lather also provides the ideal level of cushioning, meaning that your shaven head will be free from those unsightly nicks, cuts, and scrapes even following a close shave!
Headblade Head Slick Shave Cream is fresh and provides a subtle, natural fragrance through the use of Menthol. This also works to cool your skin post-shave, which is crucial for anyone who wants to enjoy a comfortable experience.
Prices for this particular, ground-breaking product start at around $10.72 (£8.50) on Amazon, which is relatively competitive given its place and standing in the market.
The Art of Shaving Sandalwood Shaving Cream
We’ve already touched on Sandalwood as one of the most popular essential oils available, so it stands to reason that some companies should leverage this a key component of their products.
Take the Art of Shaving brand, for example, whose Sandalwood Shaving Cream has been primarily designed to capitalise on the natural characteristics of the oils and deliver a superior shave.
Its formula has been created to optimise every stage of the shaving experience, including preparation, lathering, shaving, and moisturising. This makes it one of the most comprehensively developed products on the market, and one that negates the risk of shaving will dull or used blades.
To begin with, this natural and fragrance-free cream generates a rich and foamy lather, which provides an outstanding cushion against the friction of the blade. This also allows for excellent lubrication, while the dominant presence of Sandalwood plays a pivotal role in nourishing, soothing and moisturising the skins once the shave has been completed.
This product is also glycerin based and features an array of additional essential oils, with Sandalwood and coconut oil providing a pleasing, natural scent that lasts throughout the day.
As you would expect, this product is a little pricier than the others on our list, with 5 fluid ounces costing you around $25.50 (£20.00). It’s worth every penny though, especially if you shave your skin every single day.
Jack Black’s Supreme Cream
The Jack Black brand has a number of products on the market, but our own pick is the suitably named ‘Supreme Cream’.
At the heart of this product’s appeal is its unique formula, which includes a so-called ‘Tripe Cushion Shave Lather’ that offers additional protection against cuts and nicks.
This is combined with a fusion of glycerin, soybeans and macadamia nut oil, which may sound a little unusual but actually contributes to one of the slickest, smoothest and closest shaves imaginable.
As with all of the market leading shaving creams, it’s also chemical and fragrance-free, with the product’s fresh and entirely natural scent provided by the trace of pine.
The unique composition of this product, coupled with its star ingredients, means that Jack Black’s Supreme Cream typically sits at the higher end of the price spectrum. However, prices start online from as low as $13.00 (£10.00), and this represents genuine value in the current market.
Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Cream
No list of this type would be complete without referencing a product from the Taylor of Old Bond Street brand, which has long represented the gold standard in male grooming and has traded since 1854.
The brand’s Sandalwood Shaving Cream is arguably its standout product, providing stark competition with The Art of Shaving alternative listed earlier in the piece.
This product definitely boasts a unique and superior formula, with the use of botanical extracts affording it a genuine competitive edge. Presented as a shaving cream with a lotion-like consistency, it can easily be worked into a thick and rich lather that provides an exceptional cushion against the blade and allows for a smooth and close finish.
The deployment of sandalwood is also inspired, as it leaves your skin feeling cool and moisturised once you’ve finished shaving. This, coupled with a glycerin base, makes for a sophisticated product that keeps the skin hydrated throughout the whole process.
This products also offers a masculine and completely natural scent, despite being fragrance and chemical free. With hints of cedar and vanilla, this is unlike anything else on the market while it’s also capable of lasting throughout the day.
As one of the market’s leading brands, it should come as no surprise that Taylor of Old Bond Street has applied a premium price to their product, with 75ml of this shaving cream costing around $30.00 (£23.00). It’s important to note that you’re investing in quality, however, and a proven formula that has been tried and tested for generations.
The Last Word
So there you have it; our top seven shaving creams on the current market, along with a list of the key considerations when choosing your product!
Just remember to enter the market from a position of knowledge, as you look to measure the cost and benefits of potential products against your own skin type.
This way, you’ll achieve the best possible results while also protecting the unique needs of your face and scalp.