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Shaving gel, foam or oil? Where do I start?

Written by Advice Team on October 4, 2017

You’ve probably already decided whether you prefer a wet or a dry shave. They both have their benefits but when it comes to wet shaving, there’s a little more involved to achieve a comfortable and clean shave. There are traditionalists out there that opt for the time old lather of soap but that doesn’t quite offer our skin the protection it needs when facing a blade.

All wet shaving preparations have the same primary function and that’s to prepare and moisturise the skin and whiskers to allow for a more comfortable cut. It creates a cushioning effect when met with a sharp blade and if you’re using a shaving brush alongside, the lather really gets between the whiskers to soften and lift them from the face.

The more daunting aspect of using wet shaving products is which one should you choose? There’s an overwhelming amount of brands on the market between gel, foam and oil. We’ve broken down the pros and cons of each to help your decision making a little easier.

Shaving gel

Most shaving gels come in canisters for ease of use with a push button dispenser. Gels don’t form an instant lather, so it’s designed to be lathered in your hands or with the use of a shaving brush. Different brands produce different levels of thickness but all generally come through when it comes to moisturising.

Who should use gels?

Gels are great for men who have sensitive skin because of the moisture and the barrier they offer the face. This tends to help with any irritation, redness and cuts. Gels are also good for those who are maintaining a shape to their facial hair and need a guide which can be built with the lather.

What are the setbacks?

The lather that is created by gels tends to clog up razor blades more easily but they’re straight back to working order with a good rinse and thorough cleaning.

Shaving foam

Foam is one of the most popular products when it comes to wet shaving. It’s also stored in canisters and easy to dispense alongside your shaving routine. Foam is already lathered and can be applied directly to the face. The lather is generally much thicker than its gel counterpart.

Who should use foam?

Those that don’t shave everyday should look to using a foam. When teamed with a shaving brush and hot water, it creates a much thicker lather. This helps those that need a little more help when shaving days-old stubble or hair that hasn’t been regularly lubricated with post-shave balms. The hair will be drier and harder to shave which could lead to some irritation of the skin.

What are the setbacks?

Foam is as widely popular as using soap, so you’ll find that a lot of men use it over the more recent introduction of gel and oil. Some men find it difficult to work with because it’s messy and there’s more cleaning involved after. Just like gels, you’ll need to ensure you give the blades a thorough rinse.

Shaving oil

Oil is a bit of a dark horse but it’s been in the running a lot longer than many would have you believe. It’s a much more natural product and has been used by our ancestors long before foam or gel became a thing. It’s often made from plant-based items such as olive oil and it’s economical too. A small bottle of oil may appear more expensive but only a few drops needs to be used at a time.

Who should use oil?

Those with naturally dry skin should look to oil as their main shaving lubricant. When we shave, we lose natural oils from our skin and shaving oil fights to replace them as soon as it’s applied. It’s especially good during winter months when the cold air and heated rooms dries out our skin. It also eases the glide of your blade against the hair.

What are the setbacks?

Just like foam and gel, it’ll require a thorough cleaning with hot water as oil is generally somewhat water resistant. You’ll need to give your hands a good rinse with hot soapy water if you’ve applied it with your fingertips too.

It’s all preference really and in the end it’s down to you which shaving product you use alongside a wet shave, if any. However, we’d recommend considering your skin type and how regularly you shave to see which product would help your routine and any irritations you suffer from.