Have you tried using shaving soap instead of shaving cream? To be honest, I had no idea that shaving soaps even existed, until I bought my first straight razor. 


Straight razors have a single, sharp blade that requires a rich and slick lather for a comfortable shave. The lather needs to provide a soft cushion to the blade to avoid nicks.

I found my regular shaving cream to be sorely lacking, making my shaving experience inefficient and a tad painful.

Initially, I blamed my poor shaving to my inadequate experience with straight razors. But after many failed attempts, I did some research online and discovered the shaving soap.

A classic product that has been around for years, shaving soaps can provide slick lubrication at incredibly affordable prices. Shaving soaps are perfect for use with straight razors or double edge safety razors.

There is a myth that shaving soaps are too laborious or inferior compared to shaving creams. I got comfortable with my shaving soap pretty quickly and got a much better shave.

Honestly, I felt so manly using my shaving soap – like a dude straight out of the wild, Wild West! I have put together this little guide on how to use shaving soap, so that you too can experience amazing shaves.

Selecting the right shaving soap

There are quite a few brands of shaving soap out there to choose from. I generally prefer ones with a mild, masculine scent and a glycerin base.

It’s important to ensure that the soap has added moisturizer – otherwise it can leave your skin very dry post shave. My go to soap for daily use is the Col. Conk Glycerin Bay Rum Shave Soap – it is enriched with avocado oil and is very affordable.

I also keep aside this luxury shaving soap for date nights or other special occasions. It’s sandalwood scent and smooth finish makes me appear incredibly well groomed.

Prep your soap

The next step in how to use shaving soap is the prepping. The best way to do this is to pop the soap into a coffee mug and microwave it for 10 seconds to allow the soap to mould and stick to the bottom of the mug.

An affixed soap lets you lather easily and the heated soap gives a more luxurious, warmer and closer shave. Instead of a regular coffee mug, I prefer using my Edwin Jagger porcelain-shaving mug to store and prep my soap.

Bloom your soap

Soaking the shaving brush

After the soap is prepped, you need to soak it in hot water for ten minutes. This lets you draw out all parts of the soap, not just the top surface, making lathering easy.

Along with the soap, you need to soak your shaving brush in hot water as well. Submerging the shaving brush in water is important as it allows the brush to soak up enough liquid to build good lather.

The amount of soaking time needed depends on the type of hair the brush is made from.

Most horse or boar hairbrushes need soaking for at least ten minutes. My favorite shaving brush is this Parker Brush – I love the vintage handle and nifty brush stand that comes at an affordable price. I bought it six months ago and haven’t had to replace it yet.

If you have read how to use shaving soap this far, you might be thinking, it is too much work. Microwave , soak etc just for a shave. But honestly, it is no big deal if you work it into your routine. For me, my mornings go something like this:

  • turn on the kettle
  • brush my teeth
  • turn on the coffee machine
  • prep my soap (ten seconds)
  • add hot water into soap
  • soak shaving brush in hot water
  • drink coffee and read up the morning news.

After that, my soap and brush are ready for shaving and I haven’t wasted any time in prepping or blooming!

Load the shaving brush

Preparing the shaving soap

How to use your shaving brush is an important step in how to use shaving soap. Firstly, you need to give it a light squeeze to get most of the water out.

Never shake the brush as doing so can loosen brush fibres and drastically reduce the lifespan of the brush.

Rubbing the soap to hands or face is a novice mistake – shaving soap does not lather like regular soap and needs to be lathered with the brush only.

Load the brush by getting the bristle tips coated with the wet shaving soap. Load it for 10-20 seconds.

Build up the lather

Loading the soap

With shaving creams, generally the lather is built up on the face. But the best way to do this with shaving soap is in a separate shaving bowl.

I preferred investing in this Schone stainless steel bowl for this step. Add a little bit of water and start swirling the brush in the bowl. Rotate the brush for about 90 seconds and examine the lather.

If the lather has a lot of large bubbles, there is too much water in your mixture. To counteract this, I would recommend loading your brush for a few more seconds and adding more soap into the shaving bowl.

On the other hand, if your lather feels dry and crusty, add more water into the shaving bowl. Add only a few drops of water at a time, else you might end up with large bubbles.

The perfect lather is a fine balance of moisture and richness. There will be little or no bubbles visible and the lather will feel oily to touch. Such lather lets your blade glide across your face without leaving your skin to dry out afterword.

This is a great video tutorial that demonstrates 2 ways to build up rich lather using shaving soap. If you follow the above guidelines carefully, you will be able to get the perfect lather in a couple of shaves.

Begin your shave

The final step in how to use shaving soap is to actually begin shaving. Before applying the shaving soap to your face, it is a good idea to apply some pre shave oil.

I recommend this one. However, if you don’t have pre shave oil, you can apply any excess water from the blooming step. The excess soapy water also acts similar to pre-shave oil. Make sure your face is moist and oily before you start shaving!

I have tried to simplify further by summarizing below. How to use your shaving soap has never been easier!

  • Purchase the right shaving soap, suitable for the occasion.
  • Choose and buy your accessories – shaving mug, shaving bowl, shaving brush and pre-shave oil.
  • Prep the soap by microwaving it in the shaving mug for 10 seconds.
  • Soak the soap and brush in hot water for 10-15 minutes.
  • Use pre shave oil or moisten your face with water before shaving.
  • Load the brush by tipping it into the wet soap.
  • Build up lather by swirling the brush in the bowl. Good lather is moist and rich.

How do you use your shaving soap? Let us know in the comments below!

​Image Credit: Charlie Essers

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Alex Palmer

The editor here on The Shaveyard, loving life and all things shaving.

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