Whether you shave regularly or only on special occasions, using shaving cream when you do so can help ensure you’re inflicting minimal damage to the skin. Shaving cream serves as a thin barrier between the razor and your skin, which allows the blade to glide smoothly and ultimately reduces the likelihood of cuts, razor bumps and irritation. Diminishing the friction on the skin can also help prevent any unsightly razor burns and ingrown hairs.
SKIP AHEAD Best shaving creams, gels and foams | What to look for in shaving creams, gels and foams
“When shaving, there is a risk of injury to the skin from the blade of the razor,” explained Dr. Nkem Ugonabo, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Derm who sells some of her favorite products online. “Shaving cream is important because it helps add a protective layer — a buffer — to reduce this risk by reducing friction and irritation from the blade.”
To help you determine the best shaving cream for your skin, we spoke to dermatologists about the different shaving products out there and what to consider when shopping for a shaving cream, including ingredients and moisturizing properties. We also included their recommendations for the best shaving creams, foams and gels to shop.
What are the different types of shaving products?
Shaving cream is the most popular shaving product, but it isn’t the only one — there are also gels, foams and even powders to consider, and each is distinctly different to fit people’s shaving preferences. Experts broke down the different types of shaving products to help you better understand what might work best for your skin.
Shaving cream is important because it helps add a protective layer — a buffer — to reduce this risk by reducing friction and irritation from the blade.
Dr. Nkem Ugonabo, board-certified dermatologist
Shaving creams are denser than foams and usually produce a “thicker lather that’s easy to rinse away, yet they provide a good amount of hydration and lubrication with ingredients that more readily penetrate your hair follicles,” said Dr. William Huang, a board-certified dermatologist at Wake Forest Baptist Health. Creams are generally better for those with dry skin since they typically include more hydrating ingredients like glycerin and aloe vera, noted Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology who sells some of her favorite products online.
Shaving gelscreate a thick barrier between your skin and the razor and greater lubrication for “an overall higher degree of protection when shaving,” Huang explained. Because of their thick consistency, they provide a latherless application so you can see exactly where you’re shaving on your skin (in other words, it doesn’t foam up). They also typically contain less alcohol than shaving foams and creams, which can make them safe for grooming facial hair and the bikini area, according to Dr. Azadeh Shirazi, a board-certified dermatologist at La Jolla Dermatology & Laser Surgery Center.
Shaving foams tend to be more light and airy and provide you with an instant lather that is easy to rinse away, according to Huang. While foams can be used on the face, Shirazi recommended only using them to shave your body since they don’t offer as much lubrication as shaving creams.
Shaving powders — which turn into a paste when lathered on the skin — can remove hair without a razor. These powders “acts as a chemical depilatory to help minimize the chance of ingrown hairs and razor burn,” Garshick said. However, there is a higher risk of irritation due to chemical ingredients.
9 best shaving creams, gels and foams in 2022
Our experts recommended looking for a shaving cream, gel or foam that pairs well with your skin type and contains soothing and hydrating ingredients like glycerin, oatmeal and aloe vera to avoid drying out and irritating the skin. Each of the shaving products below were recommended by our experts and contain fragrance-free and soothing formulas in line with their guidance.
Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel
Ugonabo said she likes the Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel because it’s not only hydrating, but also “contains oatmeal, which has soothing properties, and moisturizing vitamin E,” which the brand says can prevent razor bumps. Huang told us he uses the gel on his sensitive skin because it’s formulated with a blend of hydrating and lubricating ingredients. Aveeno’s shave gel is also non-comedogenic, meaning it shouldn’t clog pores.
Elemis Ice-Cool Foaming Shave Gel
The Elemis Shave Gel is a foaming gel that “not only helps to protect the skin, but also incorporates aloe vera, which is both calming and moisturizing on the skin, [as well as] oak bark and witch hazel, which help to reduce inflammation,” Garshick said. She added that the shave gel also contains menthol that can leave a cooling sensation on the skin. It’s available in 100-milliliter and 200-milliliter containers.
Vanicream Shave Cream
Garshick recommended the Vanicream Shave Cream for those with sensitive skin because it’s free of fragrances, alcohols and parabens. “It nourishes the skin, helping to reduce irritation and bumps by minimizing friction between the skin and the razor blade,” she said. The brand says this shave cream has a non-lathering formula, which means you’ll be able to see where you’re shaving.
Kiehl’s Ultimate Brushless Shave Cream
Like the Elemis gel, this shaving cream from Kiehl’s can create a refreshing sensation while you shave due to soothing menthol and cooling camphor, Garshick noted. The shaving cream, which Garshick said has a “lightweight creamy texture,” contains sesame seed oil to moisturize and soften the skin, according to the brand.
Eos Shea Better Sensitive Shave Cream
This shaving cream and in-shower lotion from Eos contains a combination of shea oil and shea butter, which Garshick said can help moisturize the skin and provide long-lasting hydration. It also contains oatmeal that can help soothe the skin and “[is] safe to use even in delicate areas,” she added. The cream can either be rinsed off after shaving or left on like a lotion, according to the brand.
Jack Black Supreme Cream Triple Cushion Shave Lather
The Jack Black Supreme Cream uses a vegan formula that’s free of synthetic fragrance, colorants and parabens, according to the brand. Garshick recommended this shaving cream — “[it uses a] blend of jojoba oil, macadamia nut oil and soybean oil to moisturize and soften the skin, glycerin, which helps to draw moisture in, and antioxidants, which help to soothe and calm the skin,” she explained. The shaving cream is available in 2.6-ounce, 6-ounce and 9.5-ounce containers.
The Art of Shaving Unscented Shaving Cream
Garshick recommended The Art of Shaving’s shaving cream because it contains hydrating ingredients, including a high concentration of glycerin that helps “minimize the potential for irritation,” she said. The brand says its unscented shaving cream produces a thick lather to help protect the skin from irritation — it also includes coconut acid, which can help reduce inflammation, according to the brand. Garshick added that the shaving cream is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores. In addition to the shaving cream, the Art of Shaving’s unscented line also includes a pre-shave oil, pre-shave gel and after-shave balm.
Proraso Shaving Cream
Like many other shaving creams on this list, this one from Proraso contains glycerin, which Garshick noted can help moisturize the skin and allows the razor to glide across easily. She added that the eucalyptus oil can help soften facial hair, while the menthol has a cooling and revitalizing effect on the skin. Proraso says its shaving cream is free of mineral oils that can clog pores, as well as artificial colors, silicones and parabens.
Gillette Satin Care Shave Gel
The Gillette Satin Care Shave Gel is free of dyes and fragrances that can be irritating, which Garshick said is “is great for sensitive skin and leaves it feeling soft and smooth after shaving.” It lathers to provide a smoother razor glide and comes in a rust-free can to prevent rust rings in the shower, according to the brand.
What to look for in shaving creams, gels and foams
Choosing the right shaving cream for your face and body depends on several factors, including your skin type and the product’s formula. Huang noted that understanding your skin’s needs and reading the ingredient label “can go a very long way” in finding your ideal shaving cream. To help you determine which one is best for you, our experts noted a few key ingredients to look for in a shaving product and how each type can help (or hinder) your skin.
Shaving products are usually formulated with a combination of ingredients to help soften the hair and help the razor cut more effectively, according to Mamalek. Some shaving creams also have hydrating properties to help soothe and calm the skin, which can “help support the skin and keep it healthy even after shaving,” Garshick said.
Huang recommended looking for soothing ingredients like oatmeal to prevent irritation and antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E to help reduce inflammation. Huang also said hydrating ingredients can support the skin barrier and reduce inflammation — humectants like aloe vera, hyaluronic acid and glycerin, for instance, can “hydrate by pulling water into the skin and strengthening the skin barrier,” Shirazi explained.
Shaving creams, foams and gels can all be used on both your face and body, but knowing your skin type can help you determine which one is best for you. Generally, creams and foams are best for those with dry skin, while gels are usually better for those with oily or combination skin since they are more lightweight, noted Garshick.
If you’re prone to breakouts, experts noted you should look for a cream or gel that contains acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid. Both Huang and Garshick noted that those with sensitive or acne-prone skin should also avoid products containing fragrance, alcohols, sulfates and glycols due to the increased risk of skin irritation.
Ultimately, choosing the right product comes down to personal preference and how you want it to sit on your skin. “Some people love the lather feeling of the foam, while others prefer the lightweight consistency of a gel,” said Ugonabo. She added that the only exception is for those with very dry skin, who should always look for a hydrating formula and a “sensitive skin” label.
CORRECTION (Aug. 19, 2022, 2:15 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled the last name of a dermatologist. He is Dr. William Huang, not Haung.
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