Though beards have made an extraordinary comeback in recent years, many still prefer a silky smooth face. We’re guessing that a lot of bearded guys would shave were it not for the hassle involved with finding the right shaving products. Other guys have been using the same bargain-basement shaving foams for decades, and still wonder why their skin dries out so quickly. Whichever category you’re in, we suggest you take a look at this list of the best shaving creams (and oils and gels!) out there (in our humble opinion).
1. Proraso Shaving Cream, $10
If you’re a man alive on planet Earth — or in Italy, at least — you’ve doubtless heard of Proraso. Calen Koenig, Brick and Mortar barber and friend of The Manual, swears by this stuff. Proraso has four lines of shaving products; including red, green, and blue; which nourish, refresh, and protect the skin, respectively. White, the fourth line, is reserved for men with especially sensitive skin. Which shaving cream you select depends on your skin type and your nose — blue has notes of licorice, red has earthy notes, white smells like oatmeal, and green smells of mint and eucalyptus.
2. Art of Shaving Ocean Kelp Shaving Cream, $25
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to shave your face with the ocean? No? Well, Art of Shaving — one of our favorite grooming companies — can show you anyway. This delightful shaving cream has a number of refreshing ingredients, including coconut acid, orange peel oil, and Bergamot fruit oil. After your shave, the scent of the sea will linger on your face for hours, making you feel like a sailor on the high seas — only without the motion sickness.
3. ClarinsMen Smooth Shave, $20
Clarins has created one of the smoothest shaves around with a combination of aloe vera, galanga and wintergreen in this foaming gel. Each serves a purpose in getting your face to shaving heaven: the aloe vera for mositurizer, galanaga to revitalize and wintergreen for that minty post-shave feeling. It’s also alcohol-free, which means less of that notoriously unpleasant burn afterwards.
4. Blind Barber Watermint Gin Shave Cream, $22
The name may not inspire much confidence, but Blind Barber makes some mighty fine grooming products. Their Watermint Gin shave cream works up into a clean-smelling lather that helps your razor glide against your skin with minimal risk of cuts or nicks. Ingredients include juniper fruit extract, shea butter, and mentha aquatica extract, which provide the fresh and subtle scents of mint and gin.
5. Ursa Major Stellar Shave Cream, $24
If you’re a bear of a man with grizzly whiskers, you might consider trying Stellar shave cream from Ursa Major. This delicious-smelling shave cream can imbue your face with scents of pine, grapefruit, bergamot, ginger, and vetiver. Over half of the ingredients are organic, and many are sourced from sustainable farmers. The active ingredients in this wonderful shave cream — which include aloe, birch sap, and sunflower seed — can make your face look and feel bright after every shave.
6. Taylor of Old Bond Street Organic Shaving Cream, $19
If you’re a dapper English Gentleman from the Victorian era, you probably already use Taylor of Old Bond Street products. If not, then you might want to give their organic shaving cream a try. This shaving cream is made from 95% raw materials, and delivers a crisp, natural-feeling shave. There’s no fragrance or irritating chemicals, making it a fine choice for men with sensitive noses and faces. Ingredients include jojoba, aloe vera, and vitamin E.
7. Crown Shaving Co. Shaving Cream, $34
Crown Shaving Co.’s line of excellent grooming products has certainly helped them earn their kingly name. Their shaving cream in particular is exquisitely smooth, and filled with many wonderful ingredients. The eucalyptus and spearmint are perhaps the most noticeable, making every shave smell like a mystical, refreshing forest. Other ingredients include shea butter, white tea leaf extract, and pomegranate extract.
8. Cremo Cream, $6
This wonderfully rich shave cream allows your razor to glide across your face, helping reduce the likelihood of nicks and leaving your mug smooth and hydrated. Men who use Cremo Cream shave cream are treated to a subtle, refreshing orange scent. You may be pleased to know that the scent doesn’t linger, and won’t clash with your cologne or aftershave. And at just $8 for 6 oz, the price is certainly right.
9. Harry’s Foaming Shave Gel, $4
If you’re a fan of the classic foaming shave gel, we recommend that you try Harry’s. If you don’t like licorice, however, you may want to move further down the grooming products aisle. Harry’s has several other natural ingredients, which is unusual for foaming gels. Cucumber and aloe are among the foam’s natural moisturizers that can make the shaving experience and aftermath much more pleasant.
10. Castle Forbes, $38
If you’re the kind of fella who likes to splurge on ultra-premium grooming products, then you might just think about Castle Forbes. Yes, the price is daunting, but it really is a rather stellar shave cream. Its distinct lime scent will definitely wake you up in the morning, and the rich lather will turn every shave into a cozy, meditative experience. Works best with a shaving brush.
11. Prospector Co., $22
We discovered this mighty little brand down in Savannah, Georgia. After giving their Miss Annie Jones Shaving Oil a go, we were hooked and bought one for home and one for the dopp kit. The mixture of grapeseed and kukui nut oils in this shaving formula create the base for a perfectly smooth and clean shave. While it is indeed an oil, we use it on its own, although feel free to use it as a shave oil before you apply your shaving cream if you want a super slick shave.
Since all men have different skin and whiskers, there isn’t really such a thing as a universal “best shaving cream.” Still, those listed above are some of our favorites, and trying one or two of them will certainly help you on your shaving quest.