Shaving Soap vs Gel Debate: Which is Right for You?

by Jay Kang | Updated on January 24th, 2023

Are you trying to decide between shaving soap and shaving gel? Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced shaver, knowing which product will give you the best results can be hard.

This blog post will help clarify the confusion by comparing the two and offering our top picks. So, let’s dive in and find out which is best for your needs!

Shaving Soap vs Shaving Gel

Overview of Shaving Soap and Shaving Gel

Shaving soap and shaving gel are two popular products used for wet shaving.

Shaving soap is a traditional product that has been around for generations and is made from a combination of oils, lye, and other ingredients. It is designed to create a thick lather and provide a protective layer on the skin while shaving.

Shaving gel is a more modern product often preferred by men who want an easier application process and smoother shave. It comes in an easy-to-apply gel form and is usually infused with lubricants and other skincare ingredients to help protect the skin while shaving.

Both offer advantages depending on personal preference, but ultimately, they provide an effective way to get a clean shave.

The Benefits of Using Shaving Soap

Traditional, tallow-based hard soaps create a richer, deeper lather, delivering more hydration than other shave prep products like foams and gels.

The point of shaving soap is to provide a protective barrier between your skin and razor blade – making for a smoother shave – and many soaps are infused with ingredients that help to deeply condition the skin, softening and lifting the beard hair for an effortless shave.

Shaving soap provides a thick layer of protection and contains moisturizing oils to help glide and hydration. Many people prefer the thicker lather created by mixing and applying hard soap, as it provides extra lubrication and moisturizes the skin. Shaving soap also protects against razor burns and irritation, which can be amplified using gels or creams.

The downside is that it can take longer to mix and prepare, plus it’s not as readily available as shaving cream or gel. On the plus side, shaving soap is more economical since it can last for months.

The Benefits of Using Shaving Gel

Shaving gel offers many benefits, as it is thicker and more lubricating than shaving soap, making for a smoother and more comfortable shave. It also lathers up more easily and quickly than soap and provides a thicker layer of protection between your skin and the razor. They usually contain moisturizing agents to help the razor glide smoothly.

However, shaving gels are not as cost-effective as shaving soaps and do not exfoliate your skin since gels quickly lather and don’t require a shaving brush. When deciding between shaving soap and gel, it’s important to consider your individual needs and preferences.

Why Shaving Soap is Generally Considered Superior

When it comes to wet shaving, many experts feel that shaving soap can provide an equal, if not better, cushion and lubrication than shaving creams or gels. This is because shaving soaps create a richer lather than their cream counterparts, which helps to provide a smoother glide across the skin while also protecting it from the blade.

The lather created from the soap can also form a thicker layer of protection between the blade and skin, making for a more comfortable shave. Not only that, but shaving soaps typically last longer than creamy alternatives since less product is needed for each shave.

As mentioned before, shaving gels don’t require a shaving brush, which only serves one purpose. While shaving soap can help exfoliate via a shaving brush. Most people and I complain that gel does dry out the skin, whereas, with soap, I can get it or make it dry as possible and customize it to my skin.

On top of all this, many people find the traditional method of lathering up with a shaving brush and soap more enjoyable and satisfying.

The Difference Between Shaving Soap and Gel

The difference between shaving soap and gel is quite significant. Shaving soaps are harder in texture and require a bit of work to pick up on the brush, but they provide a more robust lubricating layer. Gels, on the other hand, are softer and lather more easily than brushless creams. They also contain more water and protect the skin more than cream.

While shaving creams and shave gels both can help with achieving a smoother, softer shave, there are a few differences between the two—mainly the consistency. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which is best for your skin and shaving routine.

Differences in Consistency

The consistency of shaving soap and shaving gel can vary significantly. Shaving gels are softer, contain more water, and are easier to work into a lather. However, what gel lacks soap provides. Most canned gels add “features” like cooling and gooey texture to make it seem like it can help. They have perfected consistency via “niche” reasons to buy a special gel.

Soaps are harder in texture, requiring more effort to pick up on the brush, but they offer a robust lubricating layer. One thing is for sure; gels are much colder on your skin when you first apply them than a soaping gel; that is probably the most consistent thing for a shaving gel.

Moisture Content

The moisture content of shaving soaps and shaving gels can vary greatly. Shaving creams are generally infused with more moisture and come up on the brush from the container immediately, providing a quick lather.

On the other hand, real soap retains moisture in your skin thanks to glycerin, while synthetic, petroleum-based detergents, including commercial shaving gel, can often leave your skin feeling dry and tight. Shaving gels are more moisturizing than soaps, but you’re in control of your destiny and skin to add or reduce the amount of water used when lathering soap.


The difference between shaving soap and shaving gel is immediately apparent in lather and foam. Shaving creams are often quick to lather, while shaving soaps takes a little more effort.

Shaving soap and gel produce a creamy lather, but their latherability varies. Shaving creams are softer, often containing more water, making them easier to scoop and add straight to your face. Shaving gel is designed to be easier to lather than brushless creams, while shaving soaps may take more effort to create the desired lather. However, once the lather is produced, it generally lasts longer with a shaving soap than gel or shaving cream.

Skin Protection

Regarding skin protection, shaving soaps are more protective than shaving gels. While gels typically provide a layer of protection against the razor and help to reduce irritation, if you are not exfoliating your skin, the dirt on your face can cause friction and eventually damage the blade.

Soaps also provide a protective barrier between the blade and your skin, allowing for a closer shave with less irritation. Using a shaving brush can also remove all the dirt on your skin, so there are fewer particles to worry about when you shave.

Speed of Application

Shaving gel is a great choice for those looking to speed up their morning grooming routine, as it is easy to use and quickly generates a lather. Unlike shaving soaps, which need to be lathered up in a bowl or mug, shaving creams are applied directly to the face and don’t require any additional steps.

You must work it up with a brush or fingers in circular motions for a soap shave to create the foam. You can get a good lather quickly with either product, but it may take practice and experimentation to find the most suitable product for your needs.

Ease of Use

With the ease of use, shaving soaps require more effort to pick up on the brush and create a lather, whereas shaving gels are quick and easy to use. If you’re looking for a product that requires little effort and produces a good lather quickly, shaving gels are the way to go. However, if you’re willing to invest the time and effort into creating a thick lather with shaving soap, you can reap the rewards of an incredibly effective shave.

Quality of Shave

Shaving quality is a major factor when deciding between soap and gel. Shave soap creates an incredibly rich, creamy lather that provides a close, comfortable shave. On the other hand, shaving gels provide a slightly silkier lather with more lubrication, making it easier to use but potentially sacrificing some closeness of the shave. Shaving soaps and shaving gels offer protection to the skin during the shaving process, helping to prevent irritation and razor burn.

Cost Comparison

If you’re looking to purchase shaving gels online, you might see a 3 pack deals that can cost less than a shaving soap. Both would be around $10 and above. However, a can of shaving gel would last 50-70 shaves, depending on how much lathering you need.

One shaving soap can last up to 6 months of daily use for shaving soap, so around 180 shaves.

In contrast, good-quality shaving soaps are often more affordable. Ultimately, the key to achieving a great shave isn’t necessarily in the product you use but in the type of razor you use and the amount of lathering you do for your skin.

When to Use Shaving Soap

When it comes to wet shaving, it is important to know when to use shaving soap and when to use shaving gel. Shaving soap is good for those with more time for their shave, as it requires a bit more water on the brush to make a good lather.

When to Use Shaving Gel

On the other hand, shaving gel is a great option for those who want to streamline their routine and get great results quickly, as it produces a lather easily without needing extra water.

Which is Better for Your Skin: Soap or Gel?

Overall, deciding which shaving product is superior depends on personal preference. While shaving soaps may provide a more thorough shave, shaving creams and gels are easier to use and produce a thicker lather. Additionally, canned shaving gel is not as economical as soap, so it is important to factor in the cost when purchasing; throwing a bunch of canned gels isn’t sustainable.

Ultimately, it comes down to what you’re looking for in terms of protecting your skin, convenience, quality of shave, and cost.

Jay Kang

Just because i'm asian does not mean I don't need shaving. I always wanted to grow a beard when I was young, now I need to shave because hair growth for me is a problem. I'm going through what every man will and has gone through before.