Everything You Need to Know About the Best Shaving Soaps

Getting a quality old-school shave requires investing in quality products, and other than the razor itself (check out our list of best safety razors), there’s no other product where this is truer than when it comes to choosing a shaving soap. We’ve previously covered the differences between shaving soap and shaving cream and also provided you with the instructions on how to use shaving soap, so now it’s time to help you sort through the huge number of products to find the best shaving soaps on the market today.

best shaving soaps

A Quick Intro to the Best Shaving Soaps

A traditional wet shave requires spending the money on a quality shaving soap, otherwise you may soon find that the extra time wet shaving takes may not be worth it. Of course, wet shaving is about more than just the shaving soap, as the entire process is behind the reason why it can provide a closer, more comfortable shave. So in essence, investing in a high quality shaving soap typically means the difference between a good and a great shave (unless you happen to choose an awful product, of which there are still many).

In the past, shaving soaps were mainly the domain of men who used straight razors, or at the very least, double-edged safety razors (how to shave with a safety razor). However, considering the huge difference in quality between a good shaving soap and a cheap canned cream, we would definitely recommend them to any discerning man who is looking for a higher quality shave.

Choosing a Shaving Soap: Triple-Milled, Semi-Hard or Croap?

If you’ve never used a shaving soap before, there are a few things you need to know before you run out and buy one. For starters, you need to be aware of the fact that most traditional shaving soaps require a bit more preparation time before you can shave, as the soap puck will need to be soaked in water for a few minutes to soften it up. So, if you’re one of those men who’s always in a hurry, you’d probably be better off to go with a quality shaving cream (Check out which are the best shaving creams here). On the other hand, there are now also a number of decent croaps (cream-soap) on the market that can provide a similar quality without the need for pre-soaking. Nonetheless, if you’ve got the time, we definitely recommend choosing a quality hard soap.

If you’re planning on using a traditional shaving soap, you’ll also need to invest in a nice shaving brush, as hard shaving soaps cannot be lathered with your fingers. On the other hand, if you don’t want to go the full nine yards with the brush, you can always find a somewhat softer soap or croap that doesn’t require a brush.

Most of the best shaving soaps on the market (and every one on our list) are triple-milled, which makes the puck much harder and usually results in a product that lasts a bit longer than the softer soaps and croaps. However, triple-milled soaps are also probably the most expensive shaving “cream” you’ll ever use, with some products costing as much as $50 or more for a single puck. Nonetheless, you can probably expect to get a few months of use out of one puck, meaning they’re probably not much more expensive in the long run.

The final thing to consider when looking for the best shaving soaps is whether or not you’ll be using a shaving mug or bowl. Although they are usually considered unessential, even in a traditional wet shave, you may find that some brands of soap require a shaving bowl to build the best lather. I sure do live by my shaving bowl. Check out our article for the complete 411 on shaving bowls/mugs/scuttles. Still, when searching for your soap, you’ll quickly see that some pucks come in their own tin, bowl or container, while with other products you’ll only get the puck.

In truth, the only difference between the two is the price, as the products without a container are usually a bit cheaper than those that come with one. Nonetheless, you can always kill two birds with one stone, as you can typically purchase refill puck and reuse the same container over and over again. On the other hand, if you decide to go with a container-less puck first time, you’ll need to invest in a bowl to soak the soap in (or simply use a coffee mug or bowl from your kitchen).

Choosing the Best Shaving Soaps: Tallow vs. Oil vs. Glycerin

The final thing to consider when deciding on the best shaving soap is the actual ingredients themselves. For old-school shaving purists, tallow based shaving soaps are the only way to go, as these are about as traditional as it gets. Nonetheless, nowadays there are a number of excellent products that are made using oils (such as olive, coconut, palm or argan oil), some of which work easily as well as the tallow based products.

Not only that, but some men find the idea of using an animal-fat based shaving soap (tallow is rendered animal fat) slightly off-putting, which also helps to explain the popularity of oil-based soaps. Finally, there are also many newer soaps that are now being made using glycerin. While glycerin may be a good choice for lotion or regular soap, most people find the majority of glycerin-based soaps to be inferior to those made of tallow or oil. That being said, this isn’t always the case, as there are some oil-based soaps that are downright terrible, while there are at least a few decent glycerin-based shaving soaps on the market today.

The Best Shaving Soaps on the Market

#1 Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Soap with Bowl

Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Soap with BowlIf you’re a shaving enthusiast or have read our reviews of the best pre-shave oils and best shaving cream for sensitive skin, then you’re probably already familiar with Taylor of Old Bond Street. Generally speaking, English shaving products have a reputation as being amongst the best in the world (with perhaps only Germany producing close to as many outstanding brands), and amongst the best English shaving soaps, Taylor of Old Bond Street stands out near the top.

The company actually produces a number of different scents of shaving soaps including Sandalwood, which has a classic manly scent that pleasantly fades away soon after using. It also comes in some other great exotic scents including Avocado and Grapefruit! For around $25 for a puck and reusable wooden bowl, we feel you’d be hard pressed to find a better shaving soap for the price. Nonetheless, there are a number of men who report this product dries out their skin due to the fact that it contains glycerin in addition to palm oil. While the glycerin adds more lubricant, this one still may not be the best choice for those who often suffer from dry skin.

#2 RazoRock Mudder Focker Shaving Soap

Razo Rock Mudder Focker Shaving SoapWhile I generally prefer English shaving soaps, I recently decided to try to expand my horizons and one product that stood out above the rest in my search was RazoRock’s Artisan Shaving Soaps. I am already a big fan of their natural deodorant and alum bloc and their soaps did not disappoint. This Italian made product is quite soft and really more of a croap than a true shaving soap—making it perfect for those who can’t be bothered to take the extra time to soak a hard soap puck or find that hard soaps dry out their skin. Although I generally stay away from croaps, I must say I was more than pleasantly surprised with the performance of this particular product.

Not only is it incredibly easy to create a nice lather, but it is also one of the most lubricating soaps I’ve come across in a long time thanks to it being enriched with nourishing thermal mud. This clay, “Fuller’s Earth”, really improves your overall skin complexion. It’s almost like getting a facial at the same time.  The slickness of this one really is something to behold. Plus, it also does a great job at protecting the face, resulting in an incredibly smooth, painless shave. The smell is also great—having a complex scent with vanilla and tobacco — making it both manly and cologne like. All in all, this is definitely one of the best croaps on the market. This is truly a 5-star cream soap.

#3 Sir Hare Old Fashioned Shaving Soap

Sir Hare Shaving SoapI have to admit, I was not aware of Sir Hare’s products until recently but I was recently encouraged to try out their old fashioned shaving soap with a traditional Barbershop scent and boy was I impressed!!. How this soap slipped under my radar for so long, I don’t know, but I am glad I discovered it now and can share my impressions with you.

First, I do have to mention the branding as I really do enjoy the dressed up hare that is resembling an old fashioned barber. The packaging as a whole has an old timed classy feel that I am proud to have on display on my bathroom counter.

Anyways, onto the important stuff. This shaving soap creates a great creamy lather that felt great on my face. The barbershop scent is fresh and clean and is very pleasing to the nostrils, but is not overpowering. The tallow based soap provided a stupendous shave that was smooth and irritation free. Another thing I really liked about this soap is that it did not dry out my skin. I have sensitive skin and some soaps tend to do this to me sometimes, but Sir Hare’s shaving soap is enriched with Shea and Mango butter that left my skin feeling fresh and moisturized. Lastly, as you know, I love products that use natural ingredients and Sir Hare does indeed use all natural ingredients with no synthetic preservatives. Overall this is just a great quality shaving soap at a reasonable price in which I can’t really find anything bad to say about.

#4 Truefitt & Hill 1805 Luxury Shaving Soap with Bowl

Truefitt & Hill 1805 Luxury Shaving Soap with BowlLike Taylor of Old Bond Street, Truefitt & Hill is another one of the most well-respected English shaving brands, and the only brand to be named as the official shaving products of the British Royal Family. In terms of smell, we find most of their scents (including the popular 1805 and Trafalgar) to smell a bit more like something your grandpa used, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re looking for something ultra-traditional.

We found that the Truefitt & Hill shaving soaps didn’t dry out the skin as much as those from Taylor of Old Bond Street (despite the fact that both contain glycerin in addition to oil), but on the other hand, they typically cost about twice as much with a puck and bowl typically selling for $45-60 or around $25 for only the soap puck. For real old-school shaving enthusiasts, it doesn’t get much better than Truefitt & Hill, although there are a number of similar quality products for a lower price.

#5 Mitchell’s Wool Fat Shaving Soap

Mitchell’s Wool Fat Shaving SoapIf you’re looking for an all-natural shaving soap that uses organic ingredients, we highly recommend Mitchell’s Wool Fat shaving soap. This soap contains primarily lanolin (made from sheep, hence the name) instead of a vegetable or synthetic oil, which is precisely why we love it, as there’s no doubt that animal fat provides better results than vegetable oil. Not only will this product not dry out your skin, but it also creates one of the richest, most lubricating lathers we’ve come across (and no, it doesn’t smell like a barnyard).

At around $15 for a puck (or around $35 for puck and bowl), this is probably about as good as you can get for the price and is hands down our number one choice for those looking for a true traditional shave. After using it, you’ll instantly see why Mitchell’s has developed such a cult following amongst shavers in the know.

#6 Tabac Original by Maurer and Wirtz

Tabac Original by Maurer and WirtzEnglish shaving products are so good that Tabac Original by Mauer and Wirtz is one of only two non-English products to make our list. Still, there’s really nothing not to like about this one, except perhaps it’s misleading name—it doesn’t smell like tobacco, but instead has a pleasant citrusy, floral and yet masculine scent. Still, some men find it to be a bit off-putting, but we personally think it’s a nice change from the others.

Like Mitchell’s Wool Fat, this is another traditional tallow-based shaving soap that works like a charm. Nonetheless, many men find it a bit harder to get a decent lather at first, but you should quickly get the hang of it. The puck of soap itself normally sells for around $20, or you could get it with a hard plastic bowl for another $10. However, in truth, we’d recommend purchasing a separate bowl if you decide to go with this soap, as the plastic bowl this one comes with seems quite cheap.

#7 D.R. Harris Marlborough Shaving Soap

D.R. Harris Marlborough Shaving SoapAnother product with a misleading name, just like Tabac, D.R. Harris Marlborough smells nothing like cigarettes, but instead has a unique ultra-manly scent. While it’s not our favorite scent in the world, there are a huge number of men who swear by it. Still, if you like the soap but not the scent, you’ll be happy to know that D.R. Harris (another one of the most loved English brands) also makes soaps in lavender, Arlington and Windsor (the last two of which are impossible to describe, just like “Marlborough”).

We find that the D.R. Harris soaps produce an incredibly rich lather, and usually with less effort than many others. However, there are also those who find it inferior, so your mileage may vary. Nonetheless, we still feel it offers decent value for the price (around $30 for puck and beautiful wooden bowl).

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