10 Best Shaving Soaps 2020

For many years, tallow (derived from beef or mutton fat) was the principal ingredient of most shaving soaps and die-hard traditionalists will tell you that the best shaving soaps must be tallow-based. While tallow soaps are generally, but not always, of a high quality, scientific advances mean that shaving soap is also nowadays glycerin-based and uses various oils such as olive, coconut, argan and palm as well as Shea butter which comes from the nuts of African Shea trees.

Selecting something as mundane as shaving soap should be a simple task, and it is, but there are a few basic facts you should know and certain criteria to be followed if you want to get the best out of your soap. Knowing what you are looking for and what characteristics are desirable will simplify your selection and narrow your choices to manageable proportions.

Considerations

As we mentioned previously, shaving soaps are now manufactured using several main ingredients. Whether you select traditional tallow soap or opt for a glycerin- or oil-based soap is a matter of personal taste and choice but there are a few other details you should also consider.

  • Format. Usually shaving soap comes in what is known as a puck which is a hockey-puck shaped cake of soap. There are, however, other formats such as shaving sticks and bars similar to normal soap.
  • Lanolin. Most shaving soaps are suitable for various skin types but if you have particularly sensitive skin it is probably best to avoid those that contain lanolin.
  • Scent. Whether a shaving soap is strongly, mildly or barely scented is entirely up to your personal tastes but some soaps only come with one scent, which may not be to your liking.
  • Hard Soap. Some of the top shaving soaps are triple-milled which means that the puck is hard. The upside of this is that triple-milled soaps generally last longer but, against that, they tend to cost more and you will need to soak the puck before use as well as requiring a shaving brush to apply the soap.
  • Semi-Hard Soap. Not much different from triple-milled but softer and doesn’t need to be soaked before use. A shaving brush is useful, but not necessary, for applying the soap before shaving.
  • Cream Soap. Otherwise known as “croap”, cream soap is not a favorite among the traditionalists but is quick, efficient and simple to use.
  • Mug or Bowl. At the bottom of the list of considerations is whether or not you will require a mug or bowl to mix the soap into foam. Some soaps need to be mixed to a lather in a container but that problem is easily solved using a kitchen bowl or mug. Most pucks come with their own mixing bowl but others are just refill pucks. Not a big deal but something to be aware of.

Top 10 Shaving Soaps Table

PictureNameMain IngredientsGlycerin or TallowPriceRating (1-5)
Picture
Name
Main Ingredients
Glycerin or Tallow
Price
Rating (1-5)
1. Arko Shaving Soap StickCoconut Oil, Palm OilGlycerin$$4.8
2. Lather & Wood Shaving SoapShea Butter, Coconut OilTallow$$4.8
3. Henry Cavendish Himalaya Shaving Soap with Shea Butter & Coconut OilShea Butter, Coconut Oil and SoyGlycerin$$4.7
4. Shaving Soap Made with All Natural Ingredients Creates Rich LatherShea Butter, Coconut Oil and SoyGlycerin$$4.7
5. Mitchell's Wool Fat Shaving Soap RefillLanolinTallow$$4.7
6. Lather & Wood Shaving SoapShea butterTallow$$$4.7
7. D.R. Harris Marlborough Shaving Soap in Mahogany BowlCoconut OilTallow$$$$4.7
8. Barrister and Mann Tallow Shaving SoapCoconut Milk, Shea butter, LanolinTallow$$$4.7
9. Proraso Shaving Soap in a BowlCoconut Oil, Menthol, EucalyptusGlycerin$4.6
10. Col. Conk Worlds Famous Shaving SoapAvocado OilGlycerin$4.5

Top 5 Best Shaving Soap Reviews

1. Arko Shaving Soap Stick

Glycerin-based Arko shaving soap sticks are the standard used by most Turkish barbers and we can understand why. Relatively inexpensive and very simple to use, the Arko shaving stick lathers up very easily whether you choose to apply the soap directly to your face or build up the lather on the brush before applying. By the way, a brush is essential unless you want to spend half the morning rinsing your soapy hands. The aroma can only be described as soapy. Not strong or sharp but fresh and clean smelling, reminiscent of the way shaving used to smell in decades gone by.

There are certainly more expensive soaps on the market, but there are few better. The Arko soap stick scores well for price, fragrance, lather and ease of use and is one of the best shaving soaps you could use.

2. Lather & Wood Shaving Soap

Lather & Wood is a highly popular shaving soap in the mid-price range. The fragrance alone is probably worth the additional cost as the aroma of sandalwood, rum and tobacco rose will leave you with a refreshing and pleasant sensation, but is in no way overpowering.

This is a soft shaving soap so it is easy to build up a lather and is easily applied using a decent brush. The most noticeable effect is that the razor seems to shave easily even with a heavy stubble but there is none of the usual feeling of razor burn or dry skin afterwards as can happen with other soaps. Thanks to the Shea butter and coconut oil in the formula, skin is left feeling moist and hydrated after rinsing (although following up with a quality moisturizer is still recommended to help lock in that moisture).

3. Henry Cavendish Himalaya Soap

Himalaya from Henry Cavendish is produced in America but based on traditional English manufacturing methods. It is another excellent choice when it comes to shaving soap.

The soap puck, containing glycerin, coconut oil, Shea butter and soy, gives a long-lasting lather quickly and easily. The inclusion of Shea butter moisturizes the skin and leaves it feeling smooth and moist but never oily as happens with some inferior soaps while the soy oil is an excellent skin conditioner.

The Himalaya perfume oil used in the soap gives a pleasant and refreshing aroma without smelling particularly of anything but freshness. Mild and slightly earthy would be the best way we could describe the fragrance and it lasts throughout the day. As with all soap pucks, the Henry Cavendish Himalaya soap is best lathered up using a bowl or mug and a decent quality brush is also a good idea.

The Henry Cavendish Company have been producing top quality shaving soaps for decades and the Himalaya soap is another impressive addition to the list. Those of you looking for a good old-fashioned shave with one of the best shaving soaps available won’t be disappointed with Henry Cavendish Himalaya shaving soap.

4. Men’s Soap Company Himalaya

Another Himalaya oil scented shaving soap makes it into our top five, but please don’t think that we are a Himalaya oil addicts!

This Himalaya soap is produced by the Men’s Soap Company but differs from the Henry Cavendish soap in one key area. Although it is also a glycerin-based soap and uses the same basic ingredients, the Men’s Soap Company stress that all ingredients are natural and bio-degradable.

Whether those ecological values are important to you or not, the Men’s Soap Company have produced another great shaving soap puck that is not only environmentally friendly but also long-lasting. The first puck lasted almost six months shaving daily which is excellent by most standards.

Being a hard soap, it can take five to ten minutes to soften the puck enough for use which can be a chore at times but the quality of the shave makes up for the time taken. We probably would have rated the Men’s Soap Company Himalaya shaving soap a bit higher, but some mornings those precious minutes taken to soften the puck can be annoying and a softer soap is more to my liking. That said, it is still a great shaving soap and delivers a top quality shave without causing any skin irritation.

5. Mitchell’s Wool Fat Shaving Soap

The strange name comes from Fred Mitchell’s discovery that wool fat contained lanolin which kept wool workers hands soft. Lanolin is used in hand softeners and creams to this day but some people can have a reaction to it and Mitchell’s Wool Fat shaving soap is best avoided if you are one of those people. Fortunately, we did not experience this issue, and Mitchell’s Wool Fat is a classic English shaving soap that continues to be a top product today.

The soap only takes a couple of minutes to work into a thick and creamy lather which lasts and the fragrance is mild and pleasant. However, Wool Fat soap comes with only that one mild fragrance and the lack of choice is a drawback. For many people, Mitchell’s Wool Fat is the “only” shaving soap they would ever use but, while it is indeed one of the best shaving soaps, there are better options available.

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