[UPDATED January, 2015!]
What is the best shaving cream? There is a lot of it out there–the good, the bad, and the ugly. And shaving cream can be pretty important: it can make using a blade a pleasant, fragrant diversion or a painful, bloody chore.
Criteria For The Best Shaving Creams?
So what are the “best” shaving creams? To be sure, there are a lot of good shaving creams, but what rises above the rest? Let me propose my set of criteria for determining which are among the best (heaviest weighting first):
- Superior performance (based on my own experience and what I have read on review sites and forums)–with both “cushion” and “lubrication” better than most.
- Ease of applying and using under a variety of water mineral content conditions (in other words it works well with “soft” water and “hard” water).
- Available in a variety of scents (you won’t use even the best cream if you don’t care for it’s smell) or no scent at all.
- Availability (from more than just a single artisan website).
- Time on the market, and price.
Admittedly these criteria are somewhat arbitrary but I want a way to narrow the field down. An “Honorable Mentions” list of products that I think deserve attention but don’t meet all the criteria above is also included. I am not going to include gels or oils in this article…I will save those for another time. I have already written a separate article about the best shaving soaps. Since most of Sharpologist’s readers are in the United States I will concentrate on products available there. Remember, “Your Mileage May Vary” (YMMV) with these recommendations! Although there is a large majority that like these creams there will always be some for which a product does not work as well. This list is not sponsored: I did not get paid to mention any of these products, and the list is in alphabetical order. I plan to update this post as products enter and leave the market.
Honorable Mentions – The Best Of The Rest
There are a number of shaving creams that are excellent but don’t pass the criteria I have set for the best shaving cream. I think they still deserve some love though, so here are “the best of the rest.”
- DR Harris – Available in Almond, Arlington, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Marlborough,Rose, and Windsor scents. I may catch some flack for not including DR Harris shaving creams in the Best Traditional Lathering Shave Cream section and they may be right. They are another old-school English shaving cream with interesting scents (Arlington is a personal favorite of mine!) and they perform very well. But I think their shaving soaps are better than their shaving creams. Maybe it’s my hard water that makes the difference.
- Jack Black Supreme – Available in a single scent but can be used either with a brush or brushless, Jack Black Supreme consistently gets excellent reviews.
- Kiehl’s White Eagle – Though some might have trouble with the fairly strong Menthol and Camphor ingredients, Keihl’s brushless White Eagle cream performs really, really well. Even fussy Sharpologist co-founder Andy Tarnoff is a fan of this cream.
- Knockout Shave – An artisan cream available from only a single source, Knockout Shave scents tend to get “love it or hate it” reactions but the performance is among the best traditional-style shaving creams available today.
- Lucky Tiger – Lucky Tiger’s “Liquid Shave Cream” is reasonably widely available, in a single (mildly citrus) scent. As the name implies it is less firm than many other creams (I think it has a consistency of an aftershave balm) but the performance–with or without brush–is a stand-out among its peers.
- Nancy Boy – Available in several difference scents from a single source, Nancy Boy shave creams consistently get rave reviews from those who have tried them (their “Signature” cream is a particular stand-out). Though it can be used with a shave brush it is a low-lathering product, so don’t expect the luxurious experience you might get with other creams. The performance makes converts though.
- Piccadilly – New to US shores so not widely available yet, and only in a single scent (Sandalwood) for the moment, Piccadilly is another shaving cream cut from the cloth of traditional British brands. Keep an eye on this one….
- Speick – Reasonably widely available but in a single scent, Speick is an awesome German-made lathering shaving cream. Its unique, spicy scent is appreciated by most who have tried it. And it is inexpensive to boot!
- St. James Of London – Another British brand new to the US, St. James is currently available only from their website. Their scents are “traditional with a twist:” Mandarin & Patchouli, Cedarwood &Clarysage, and (coming soon) Black Pepper &Lime. I was lucky enough to get a tub from the first batch produced and I was duly impressed with the quality. You will be hearing more from these guys….
- The Art of Shaving – Available in Unscented (for sensitive skin), Sandalwood,Lemon, Lavender, and Ocean Kelp scents. Art of Shaving may be another controversial choice here, I admit. Some will say it deserves to be on the regular list, while others will say it should not be on the list at all (though mainly for more emotional, “part of a giant conglomerate company” reasons I think). My personal opinion is their shaving cream performance may not be as good as it used to be before a reformulation a couple years ago, but I think Art of Shaving creams are solid performers and their wide availability makes it a great “gateway drug” into good shaving!
- William Neumann – Another artisan shave cream with a number of creative scents like “Old Fashioned Soda” and “Heartwood,” Wm. Neumann shave creams are among the best I have ever tried. Another fairly “liquid” consistency cream, it is dispensed from a convenient pump bottle and can be used with or without a brush.