Thursday, 13 January 2011

Shaving Cream – Do we really need it?

In July 2009, I had gone on holiday to Russia. As I always do when I travel, whether on work or for pleasure, I carried with me a small blue toilet case, which has all the toiletries I need while on tour in “check-in luggage friendly” sizes. However, when I unzipped the case in Moscow, I realised that after my previous trip, I had thrown away the empty tube of shaving gel and hadn’t replaced it. Rather than cry over the missing item, I rather stolidly wet my face, lathered my palms with the toilet soap provided by the hotel, liberally applied it to my face and ...... started shaving. There was no pain or any discomfort. What was more, I thought I could shave better, because unlike traditional shaving creams and gels, which are very foamy, the lather from toilet soap merely covers your face with a thin transparent film. For the whole of that trip, I relied on plain toilet soap to get the stubble off my face.

After that trip was over I went back to shaving the way I usually did – which was to lather my face from a gargantuan can of shaving foam. However, when it was time to buy another ozone-busting can, I took a brave decision, one that I have not regretted so far. I started shaving the way I had in Moscow and St. Petersburg, with lather generated from a toilet soap. And it made no difference to the end result. What was more, the actual shave was easier for reasons mentioned above.

Which brings me to the question posed in the title of this piece. Is shaving cream really necessary for a shave? Can it provide a benefit which toilet soap cannot? Other than being foamy and more fragrant, is shaving cream any different from ordinary soap? Have a few generations of men from all over the world been misled by manufacturers into buying something they don’t need? Come to think of it, adverts for shaving cream don’t really address any of these questions, do they? And finally, if shaving cream is a waste of money, what of shaving brushes which, when I last checked, cost a small fortune?


bm pharmacy said...

wow you are so lucky I have always wanted to go to Russia, but I have not had either the money or the time to do that kind of trip unfortunately

Anonymous said...

I´m from Poland. My grandfather has used soap as a shaving cream his entire life. Never had a problem with it. Always looked sharp.

Anonymous said...

First of all, you might be blessed with an easy beard (i'm new here so I don't know if you've covered this), which is why it was possible for you to shave with soap. My facial hair is so thin that I can shave with hot water. A can of shaving cream lasts months for me. Secondly, even if you have a crazy beard you don't need shaving cream, but you do need a good lather. One way to do that is to buy a special type of soap, a brush, and a mug, but no ozone depleting cans. The "wickededge" community on reddit covers this and other 'traditional' shaving techniques.

Dave said...

I use a shaving brush, shaving soap, and a mug. I love the ritual of it. The brush wasn't expensive. It was around $10. It's a Tweezerman. But yes, soap and water is much better than shaving cream, as water is a better lubricant than the air in shaving cream.