A well-made shaving soap can provide a pleasant shaving experience. Shaving soaps can vary widely from one brand to another.
In this article, we’ll be reviewing many different types of shaving soaps from the leading brands including artisanal makers. We’ll also provide guidance on what to look for when choosing a shaving soap as well as answer some common questions related to this grooming product.
We’ll also provide a buyer’s guide at the end of the article to assist you in making an informed decision when purchasing a shaving soap.
Shaving Soaps Compared
|Ranking||Shaving Soap||Base||Scent||Size (ounces)||Price||Price per Ounce||Country of Origin||Includes Bowl?||Award||Rating|
|1||Tabac Original||Tallow||Lavender and Citrus||4.40||$13||$2.95||Germany||Yes||Tallow Base||99.1|
|2||Cella||Tallow||Fresh||5.10||$13||$2.55||Italy||Yes||Affordable Tallow Base||97.4|
|4||Chiseled Face||Tallow||Ghost Town Barber||4.00||$16||$4.00||USA||Yes||Made in the USA||95.4|
|5||Art of Shaving||Glycerin||Sandalwood||3.30||$55||$16.67||USA||Yes||Barbershop Scent||93.5|
|6||Stirling Soap Company||Tallow||Traditional Barbershop||5.80||$15||$2.59||USA||Yes||Wet Shaving Enthusiasts||92.9|
|7||Pré de Provence||Glycerin||Cedarwood||5.25||$17||$3.24||France||Yes||Quad Milled||91.8|
|8||Henri et Victoria||Tallow||Cognac and Cuban Cigar||4.00||$28||$7.00||Canada||Yes||Triple Milled||90.3|
Best Shaving Soaps of 2023
Here’s our list of the top shaving soaps currently available:
If you enjoy the shaving ritual and are looking for an upgrade to your routine, consider Tabac Original. The scent is pleasant, the performance is good, and the bowl makes it easy to generate a nice, cushioned lather.
Strong performance for a tallow-based shaving soap.
The glass bowl is a premium upgrade.
The scent is warm and inviting.
The lid isn’t secure at all.
German-made Tabac Original is the quintessential shaving soap. Relying on a tallow base, Tabac can generate a slick and well-cushioned lather.
We found that a liberal amount of water is required to get shave-ready results when using this soap with a badger shaving brush. Given the thicker body of this shaving soap, straight and safety razors will perform well.
Fragrance, while subjective, was found to be quite pleasant. You can expect warm notes with hints of sandalwood as the lather develops.
While the performance of this shaving soap is worth considering alone, the glass bowl container is an upgrade to any bathroom countertop. However, this shaving soap is intended for home use only. Not only is it a bit larger at 4.4oz, but also, the top of the shaving soap isn’t secure in any way; it just simply rests on the top of the jar.
Cella Crema Da Barba Shaving Soap
Cella keeps things simple with their Crema Da Barba almond shaving soap. The shave soap is budget-friendly and well-made.
Relies on a select set of quality ingredients
Performs well with basic shaving brushes
Requires effort for a good lather
Cella, pronounced “Chella,” is an Italian-made shaving soap that depends on a few ingredients.
While this is tallow-based shaving soap, also listed on the side of the box are coconut oil and sweet almond oil. Therefore, you can expect a decent level of moisture and nourishment to the skin to help make it supple and ready for shaving.
When generating a lather with Cella, expect to add plenty of water. Additionally, this shaving soap tends to favor stiff bristle shaving brushes, such as boar’s hair.
The fragrance for Cella is polarizing. The almond scent isn’t refreshing, nor is it inviting. Ultimately, it’s suitable for daily shaving cream.
At $14, Cella is priced below the market average. To help keep the cost low, Cella relies on a screw-top plastic container. The total size for the shaving soap is a generous 5.2oz.
Proraso Shaving Soap
If you are looking for a good starter shaving soap, you should consider Proraso. It’s affordable, lathers well, and delivers a comfortable shaving experience no matter which razor you prefer. Additional varieties are also available to meet your skin and facial hair needs.
Delivers consistently good results regardless of shaving brush type
Affordably priced while still coming with a plastic bowl
Contains some chemical ingredients
Proraso shaving soap is a beginner-friendly option for those who want a satisfying shaving experience.
Glycerin-based, Proaso’s shaving soap is easy to lather no matter what type of shaving brush you currently use. Once your lather has been generated, you can expect this shaving soap to deliver a slick yet cushioned base for your preferred razor.
Unlike many other shaving companies that only make one type of shaving soap and just change the scents across their lineup, Proraso makes a few different soaps depending on your skin and facial hair type.
Here’s a summary of their current lineup of shaving soaps:
- Green Label: Intended for general use and has a nice refreshing scent of eucalyptus and menthol.
- White Label: Made for men with sensitive skin. The shaving soap has a fresh, bright scent.
- Red Label: This shave soap was designed for thick, coarse beards. The shaving soap has a sandalwood scent.
Regardless of your skin or facial hair type, all shaving soaps by Proraso only cost $10 and are 5.2oz in size.
The Proraso Shave Soap is set in a plastic bowl, so no additional shave accessories are required.
Pair this shave soap with the Proraso pre-shave cream for stellar results.
Chiseled Face Ghost Town Barber
It’s easy to see why Chiseled Face Groomatorium is quickly growing in popularity. Their shaving soaps are well made and provide a pleasant scent. Sample packs are currently available on their website.
Once lathered, the shave soap is slick and comfortable
Uniquely warm and pleasant scent
Tough lather to master – expect some effort here
Dissipates quickly upon application
You don’t have to go to some other country to get a well-made shaving soap. One quality offering that is getting noticed by many in the wet shaving community is Chiseled Face Groomatorium.
Made in Greenville, OH, Ghost Town Barber is a uniquely scented tallow shaving soap. With notes of bergamot, cedar, leather, and gunpowder, the shave soap has a warm scent that makes for a pleasant start to the day.
The tallow formula, with effort, can generate into a slick lather. One drawback is that the lather does dissipate quickly, so expect a few tries before you master this shave soap.
Housed in a plastic bowl paired with a screw top, it can easily preserve the soap between use.
Art of Shaving Shaving Soap
Housed in a nice wooden bowl and easy to use, this shaving soap is perfect for gift giving. The classic barbershop scent makes for a pleasant shave experience with every use.
Best-in-class barbershop sandalwood scent
The wooden bowl only adds to the traditional shaving experience
Easy to lather for all skill levels
Bowl and soap are overpriced, given the glycerin base
If you want to recreate the barbershop experience in your bathroom, consider the Art of Shaving Soap. With a glycerin base, it is an easy-to-use lather that feels great once applied.
The formula for this shaving soap has changed over the years. Initially, it used to contain a tallow base; however, that has since changed to glycerin. Depending on where you purchase the shaving soap, you could (although not likely) receive the tallow variety.
With a heavy and warm sandalwood scent, this shaving soap will transform the shaving experience and bring you back to your favorite barbershop with each use.
As for price, this shaving soap is expensive – exceedingly so given the ingredients within. The shaving soap with a wooden bowl will cost approximately $50. Individual refills are slightly more affordable at $30.
Unfortunately, Art of Shaving has closed most of its stores in the USA. Therefore, your best bet is to buy this shaving soap online.
Stirling Soap Company Shave Soap
If you want a shaving soap in vogue with wet shaving enthusiasts, you must consider Stirling Soap Company. This shaving soap is well-rounded and provides a lovely classic scent.
A simple formula that delivers
Made in the USA
Works well with all single-edge razors
Not widely available
With a simple yet effective formula, the Stirling Soap Company has a well-made shaving soap often recommended by professionals and wet shaving enthusiasts. This tallow shaving soap has been paired with many natural ingredients, including castor oil, almond oil, coconut butter, and many more.
When lathered and applied, you can expect your skin to get nice and supple. The slick and cushioned base allows single-edge razors to glide and remove facial hair in a single pass.
Made in the USA and housed in a rather hefty 5.8oz container, this shaving soap delivers value.
Unfortunately, given the boutique nature of this shaving soap, it’s not widely available. Your best bet is to order it from a specialty shaving retailer such as West Coast Shaving or Maggard Razors.
Pré de Provence No. 63 Shaving Soap
If you are looking for a nice balance of both quality and value, then the Pré de Provence shaving soap should be considered. The quad-milled soap will develop into a slick base that will feel nice when applied daily.
Provides a high-performance lather
Comes in a metal container
A heavy concentration of natural ingredients
It may not provide as thick of a cushion when compared to tallow soaps
French brand Pré de Provence is known for its high-end men’s grooming products, and the No. 63 quad-milled shaving soap is no exception.
Housed in a metal travel-friendly tin, the shaving soap relies on several natural ingredients, including shea butter, aloe vera, coffee seed extract, and others.
These ingredients help prevent irritation or tightness when shaving.
Given that this shaving soap was milled four times, you expect a rigid body to the soap that generates a smooth and slick lather. At 5.25oz, the shaving soap should also last you a few months of heavy use before needing replacement.
Lastly, the scent for Pré de Provence shaving soap is warm and slightly spicy and one that can pair well with many colognes.
Henri et Victoria
If you like to get out of your comfort zone and try emerging brands, consider Cognac and Cuban Cigars by Henri et Victoria. The scent is warm, and the performance is top-notch.
‘Clean’ ingredient label
Available in a few different scents
Provides a slick and cushioned base
Canada-based Henri et Victoria delivers an uber-masculine, yet well-performing, triple-milled tallow-based shaving soap.
Labeled Cognac and Cuban Cigars, the shaving soap has a rich and sweet aroma that, while polarizing, might just be an excellent way to start your day. Of course, if Cognac and Cuban Cigars aren’t the first things you are looking for when shaving in the morning, consider their fresh
The formula for this shaving soap delivers an excellent cushioned base. Just be sure that the shaving brush you are using has a stiffer backbone to generate the optimal lather.
Be aware that Henri et Victoria does sell two versions of Cognac and Cuban Cigars; one version is tallow base, and the other is glycerin-based (vegan). Only the tallow-base shaving soap is triple-milled.
8 Tips to Buying Shave Soap
- Base: Shaving soaps will have either a glycerin or tallow base. Tallow is rendered fat, typically from cattle, and provides a rich and creamy lather. Glycerin, typically sourced from vegetables, is vegan-friendly and provides a slick base. When using tallow-based shaving soaps, considerable skill is required to generate a good lather. If it’s your first shaving soap, consider glycerin.
- Size: From 2 to 6oz, the size of shaving soap varies. Larger quantities often provide better value, especially if you decide on a premium shaving soap brand.
- Container: Most shaving soaps are sold in a bowl. However, some brands may sell the shaving soap as just a disc packaged in cardboard. This will require you to supply a mug or bowl.
- Shaving Brush Required: Unlike other shaving creams, a shave soap requires a shaving brush for effective use. So make sure that you have a shaving brush on hand before making a purchase.
- Scent: Most shaving soaps are scented. The scent is, of course, subjective. If uncertain, sandalwood is a great starting point as it’s the classic barbershop scent. Invigorating scents such as eucalyptus or menthol are a nice, bright way to start your day.
- Razor Type: Most shaving soaps are used by men who use straight razors, safety razors, or shavettes. If you typically use a cartridge razor, don’t worry; you can still use shaving soap. Our only recommendation is that if you use a cartridge razor, go with a glycerin-based soap as it’s less likely to clog the blades. All other razor types mentioned previously can work well with tallow or glycerin shaving soaps.
- Milling: Some shaving soaps may be advertised as being milled. This means that the soap has gone through the milling process, where chunks and impurities are smoothed out and excess water is removed. The higher the milling number typically will equate to a higher price point, a harder soap brick, and ultimately, a longer-lasting shaving soap.
- Price: Shaving soaps vary wildly in price depending on the ingredients, brand prestige, size, and more. Expect to pay approximately $20 for a well-made shaving soap from a reputable brand.
How to Use Shaving Soap
Unlike traditional shaving creams, shaving soaps require the use of a shaving brush.
- The first step is to wet your shaving brush and then shake off any excess water.
- Next, rub the bristles of the brush against the surface of the soap in a circular motion until a rich lather forms. Once you have achieved a thick lather, apply it to your face using the brush in a circular motion.
- Be sure to cover all areas that you plan on shaving. Allow the lather to sit on your skin for about 30 seconds as this will help to soften the hair and prep your skin for a close shave.
- After you have shaved, rinse off any remaining soap from your skin and brush.
- Pat your skin dry with a towel and apply a post-shave balm or lotion to help soothe your skin.
The trickiest part of using shaving soap is lather generation. To help you out, we put together a visual guide on how to lather shaving soap.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does a shaving soap that is milled more mean it is better?
The short answer is maybe. A higher milling number typically will equate to a higher price point, a harder soap brick, and ultimately, a longer-lasting shaving soap. If you are new to using shaving soap, we recommend starting with a soap that is not milled, as it will be easier to work with.
How does water impact shaving soap performance?
It will require more effort to generate a rich lather if you have hard water. Conversely, it will be easier to produce a thick lather if you have soft water.
Do I need a special shaving brush to use shaving soap?
Not necessarily. A cheap $10 shaving brush can make a sufficient lather. However, if you want to treat yourself, badger hair brushes are the gold standard and will result in a richer lather. The biggest difference between a cheap and expensive shaving brush is the latter relies on real animal fibers and will retain heat and moisture better, resulting in a more pleasurable shaving experience.