The Men's Room

The Final Word on Shave Creams vs. Shave Gels

As the men’s grooming industry continues to grow, so do our choices in products. And, in my opinion – while that is a good thing – sometimes it can also be overwhelming! Even beyond all the brands to choose between there are also different types of products that do the exact same thing. How is a guy to know which one to use?

Case in point: Shave cream and shave gels.

I’m often asked this question by many of my clients, and it never dawned on me to write an article about it until I was asked by someone on my YouTube channel… Silly of me not to share! (And a client also pointed out this is a good time for holiday gift tips, so pay attention as you make your wish list and be sure to share this with your Secret Santa!)

First off, let me say that both shave gels and creams are designed to deliver the most comfortable shave each product can offer. With that being said, choosing one over the other is all based on preference.


The stand-out difference between a gel and a cream is that most gels are sold in aerosol canisters. When dispensed, it is in gel form but when agitated by hand turns into a foam-like cream. The common challenge can be dealing with a clogged razor from time to time, which can potentially compromise the end result of the shave. Also for me the moisture the gels contain comes into question. Many men trust there will be enough of a protective barrier from the blade by simply applying this gel to a dry face, and in my opinion there isn’t. The best way to effectively use this product is to get the face wet first then apply. This will help to moisten the skin enough since gels typically cannot do this on their own.


The key difference in shave creams is that they are generally found in tubes and tubs. The large percentage of shave creams are the lather-based kind (i.e. Truefitt & Hill, The NewYork Shaving Co., Speik Men); however, there has been an increase of lotion-based creams (i.e. Kyoku, Lab Series, Urth) that are growing in popularity. The larger percentage (lather-based creams), require the use of water to create a lather. This can be achieved by using the hand or a badger brush. With current shaving creams on the market, and the right mixture of lather and water, either method can yield an effective lather for shaving.

Sometimes when stating the facts, there can be a sense that I am leaning toward one over the other… And to be honest, I am. As a barber, I have to be 100% confident in the cream that I am using to shave my clients, not only for their comfort but also for my standards. So for now, shave creams will be the #1 choice for my face, and my clients!


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