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Shaving cream

People who shave using manual razors rather than electric shavers or trimmers should use shaving creams or gels to provide more protection. While a state-of-the-art razor can provide a lot of benefit for your skin and hair on its own, shaving cream is the final piece of the puzzle for a great shave on any part of your body.

Shaving cream benefits

Shaving cream provides unique benefits that razor shaving on bare skin or with soap alone cannot fully provide. This is true even of razors that have large moisturizing and lubricating strips built into the razor head.

Skin hydration and soothing: Modern razors provide a very close shave, but that often means that the blades make very close contact with your skin, even potentially providing some exfoliating benefits. This means that you may experience post-shave dryness or irritation if you don’t adequately protect your skin while shaving. Shaving creams help to moisturize your skin, making it softer and more supple to support regular shaving, and they can also soothe any burning or prickling feelings that may occur in the immediate aftermath of shaving. If you have particularly sensitive skin, look out for shaving cream formulas that specifically mention moisturizing benefits.

Lubrication and protection: In addition to soothing any irritation that does arise, shaving creams help protect your skin and create a lubricated surface for the razor head to slide on, which helps prevent irritation, redness and other issues from arising in the first place. Thicker shaving creams are particularly effective in forming a thin barrier between your skin and the razor blade that still allows blades to cut your hair. It may be necessary to frequently rinse the razor to remove shaving cream buildup, and even highly protective shaving creams can’t undo the damage of a dull razor, so some responsibility for successful shaving does still rest with the way you use the razor.

Shave tracking: If you frequently miss patches or sections of hair while shaving, you may benefit from introducing a highly visible shaving cream into your hair-removal routine. The built-up foam on your legs, arms or face can make it obvious where you've already shaved. This technique works best when you turn off the shower to avoid accidentally washing shaving cream away from sections that you've already shaved.

Differences between shaving cream formulas

The type of shaving cream you choose should vary depending on your skin sensitivity and other shaving-related needs. Use the filters on the left side of the page to narrow down product results to the formula that best suits you.

Cream or foam: Shaving creams have a foamy, light texture that dispenses from bottles in a lather that you can apply directly to your skin. Creams are usually white in color and are easy to see for tracking purposes. The light, airy texture means that shaving creams don’t provide very thick protection, so they might not be the best choice if you have especially sensitive skin. They're easy to wash off of your skin, though, and leave little residue behind, making them an efficient option for quick shaves.

Gel: Gel shaving cream formulas are more modern and advanced, offering a thicker layer of protection and more lubrication due to their denser texture. However, they're more time-consuming to use because they usually require manual lathering and are harder to wipe away. Shaving gel sits closer to your skin and is less airy than creams, which means it isn’t quite as easy to see for tracking purposes. However, many shaving gels come in colors such as blue or purple, which does allow the gel to stand out against your skin.

Oil: Most shaving oils are intended for post-shave application as a way of conditioning and soothing your skin. If you experience razor bumps or ingrown hairs, aftershave oils that include ingredients intended to combat these issues may interest you. Natural ingredients such as tea tree oil or lavender may be particularly effective at calming post-shave irritation on sensitive skin.

Hair-removal cream: Hair-removal cream, also known as depilatory cream, includes hair-removal chemicals that aren’t part of most shaving creams. These are two separate products that you should not use interchangeably. Hair-removal cream can irritate the skin, and shaving over areas treated with this product type can cause further irritation and damage.