Regardless of the type of razor you use, there are many reasons to learn how to use shaving soap. The timeless traditional art of lathering up for a shave is coming back into style.

Other than knowing how to shave, how to use shaving soap the right way is the most important skill for an excellent shave. As they say, the lather makes the shave, and the shave makes the impression.

Whether you’re into the old-school ways of shaving and want authentic foam or you signed up for a shaving club and want more ways to keep costs down, a bar of shaving soap is what you seek. But how do you use one?


Every great shave truly does depend on a great lather. Whether you’re shaving your face or your body, quality foam is essential for comfort and great results. Learning how to use shaving soap is the foundation of it all.

Now, it’s a simple process, but you can’t just apply the soap to your face or guess your way to a great foam. Each step requires attention, so it’s best to learn the fundamentals of how to use shaving soap in great detail.

What you’ll need

  • A good shaving soap
  • A shaving brush
  • A shaving bowl

Before you begin, prepare your face. It should be moist and warm, so it’s best to shave after a shower. Using a quality pre-shave beard oil is also a good idea, as it can give you a smoother shave and reduce irritation.

A shaving bowl is not an absolute necessity, and you often get one with your brush. You can use a short, wide cup in a pinch. There’s also the option of making the lather directly on your skin.

You will need a proper shaving brush, though. This is as important to how to use shaving soap as the soap itself.

Traditional brushes have bristles made from animal hairs, typically badger hair for high-quality brushes. Modern ones often have synthetic bristles, so there’s a slight difference in how they interact with the soap.

Getting a good shaving soap

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The general makeup of shaving soap is the same as that of any other soap. It consists of fats and alkalis. However, the exact ingredients and ratios differ.

Since the purpose of shaving soap is to reduce friction, you’ll want it as slippery as possible. And that comes down to the fatty compounds.

High-quality shaving soap has a high fat content and plenty of glycerin. Glycerin is what seals in the moisture, softens your beard hair, and helps to keep your skin hydrated. It also acts as a barrier between the skin and the blade.

Fat is the main protective barrier and moisturizer, and it’s what makes the foam so slippery. This is why you want lots of it in your foam, at least 30 percent but ideally even more.

The best shaving soaps source their fats and glycerin from natural sources such as vegetable oil, soy oil, and animal fat. Such compounds are better for your skin than the artificial substitutes that manufacturers use to reduce production costs.

The quality and quantity of glycerin and fat in a shaving soap affect how well it lathers and how your skin feels after a shave. Low-quality shaving soap produces poor foam and leaves your skin feeling dry.

Also, milling the soap repeatedly tends to produce a better soap with creamier foam. So, looking for triple-milled shaving soap helps you find the great kinds.

Shaving cream is basically a liquid form of shaving soap. It’s less concentrated, but it’s easier to use and gives you faster results. If you know how to use shaving soap, you know how to use shaving cream, and vice versa.

Brushing up your technique

Whipping up a rich lather with your shaving brush is the foundation of how to use shaving soap properly. While it may be straightforward, there is a certain technique to it.

What’s more, there are two methods with significant differences and requirements. Therefore, it’s best to get an understanding of each take on how to use shaving soap before you begin.

Foaming in the bowl

First, soak the brush well. You need to submerge it in hot (but not boiling) water. You can do this in your shaving bowl. Don’t plug your sink and leave the brush in it, because that’s not very hygienic.

Running water is an option, but it’s inconvenient since you need to soak the brush for a few minutes. Plus, submerging the brush lets you prepare the soap in the meantime. That means adding around a teaspoon of hot water to the soap and waiting for it to soften.

The brush will be soft and wet when it’s ready. Shake off the excess water, but leave some on the brush. This is extra important with synthetic brushes, because those can’t retain water like a badger hair brush.

Now, you brushing up a lather with circular motions on the soap. As you work it, the bubbles will get smaller and smaller.

As you swirl the brush around in your shaving bowl, an increasingly thick foam forms. After about half a minute, you’ll have proper lather.

Next, bring the brush to your face or whichever part of your body you want to shave. Use circular motions to massage the foam onto your skin and lift the hairs. A good foam will keep the hairs standing and let you shave close to the base.

If the lather isn’t thick enough, you can simply brush it more. If it’s too thick, add a few drops of water.

To re-lather for another pass with the razor, you can usually add more warm water and swirl it into a thick lather without using more soap. When you finish your shave, it’s time to remove any excess water from your soap and store it in a dry place.

Face your foam

There’s another traditional method of how to use shaving soap properly, and it’s simpler in some ways. For one, there’s no need for a foam cup or bowl because you do most of the foaming on your skin.

Like the other way how to use shaving soap, this one begins with soaking the brush. Again, you need hot water.

Softening the soap isn’t as important with this method, but it’s still worthwhile if you want the best lather possible. Only use a few drops of hot water before brushing.

Now, the soap is ready for a good swirl. Use gentle circles for 10 to 15 seconds to lather up the brush.

Next, simply apply the foam to your skin. Swirl it around for another 30 seconds or so on your wet skin to thicken the lather.

If the lather isn’t thick enough, brush the soap some more and keep swirling on your face. You can thin lather that’s too thick by adding some drops of water to the bristles and then brushing your face again.

Now you’re ready for a fantastic shave.


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Shaving soap has been around since the middle ages and only recently lost its place as the only worthwhile shaving foam solution. There are many reasons for this long-lasting popularity, and serious shavers still hold it in high esteem.

First of all, you have many options for the type of soap you use and how thick your lather is. This isn’t the case with canned shaving foam or gel.

Plus, a shaving soap lasts for ages. Canned gel and foam degrade over time, and the propellant may escape and render them useless. A can only gives you a limited number of shaves, but a shaving soap can last for months of daily shaving.

Another advantage is that shaving soap is much more portable. And you can bring it as hand luggage when you fly, unlike spray foam.

What’s more, canned shaving foam is full of strange chemicals. While they’re generally safe, they may cause dry skin, and you may have insensitivities to some of the contents of the chemical cocktail.

Shaving soaps typically have very simple and natural ingredients. It's often also hypoallergenic. Therefore, the soap is nicer to your skin.

Last, but not least, there’s the matter of scent. Shaving soaps come in a variety of fragrances, most of which are quite mild. It’s nothing like the harsh, cheap, artificial scent of most canned foam.


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Now that you know how to use shaving soap the right way, shaving will be a better experience. If you want great comfort and control as well as a closer and more consistent shave, shaving soap is the way to go.

There’s nothing complicated about how to use shaving soap, and it becomes easy quickly. All you need is soap and a brush. It’s even easier if you start with shaving cream.

Shaving soap works great with all types of shaving razors. We recommend these.

Do you use a shaving brush and soap, or is this your first time? Let us know down in the comments why you love shaving with soap and a brush, we'd love to hear from you.

Last update on 2021-11-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API