Difference between shaving cream and shaving gel

by | Dec 2, 2019 | Product Knowledge Base | 0 comments

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Most men have spent more time then they would ever like to admit standing in the aisle at the local store staring at the huge variety of products available for shaving. Not only are there several brands, but each brand often offers creams and gels. So, how in the world are you supposed to figure out which one you should use?

We are providing this guide as a way to help you figure out which is better for your individual shaving needs. Not only will we discuss the differences and similarities of shaving gel and cream, but we will also help you pick the quality products that will give you the best results. Finally, we will share with you a few of our favorites to give you an easy option for getting the best options available.

Shaving cream and Shaving gel are different

First things first, many people think of those old-fashioned metal aerosol cans that our father’s and grandfathers had around when we hear shaving cream. Those products are actually not a cream at all, they are shaving foams. While, like all shaving products, they can contain some similar ingredients, a shaving foam usually contains some harsher ingredients that are not very good for your skin.

Modern shaving creams are much closer to the traditional shaving creams from years past. A denser formula meant to be combined with water and worked into a rich lather either in a bowl with a brush or directly on the face. Unlike shaving foams that already have air in them, and actually deflate during use.


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Some men want to have a rich lather experience when they shave. A great lather helps you achieve a better shave by lifting the hairs away from the skin allowing you to obtain a comfortable, close shave. Shaving gels do not produce any lather. Shaving creams with premium ingredients will allow you to achieve a great lather by hand or using a shaving brush.

Waterless shave

The fast pace of the world today often means that we are forced to rush through our mornings to head out the door as quickly as possible. The ability to eliminate the need for water is one way that speeds up your shave time. Shaving gels are the only product currently available that allows you to shave without any water.


Skin conditioners

Great shaving products of all types will usually contain some type of skin conditioners, where gels and creams differ is that shaving gels contain oil-based ingredients. Oil-based conditioners are not able to penetrate as easily as non-oil based ingredients. While this may work well for some men who condition their skin in other ways, those that only get their skin conditioners from their shaving products may find that shaving gels do not provide enough skin conditioners.

Softening of hair for removal

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Most men know that it is harder to remove stiffer, coarse hairs than softer hairs. One of the best features of high-quality shaving creams is that, by nature, they have the ability to soften the hairs. This does take some time for the ingredients to penetrate the hair shaft to soften the hair from the inside out. This is part of the reason that using a shaving cream usually takes a bit more time than a gel.

Efficient guide to protect skin

Glide refers to the ability to easily move your razor across your skin. Whether you use a shaving gel or cream you will notice that you can move your razor fairly easily across your skin. Both products are designed to help you shave. The biggest difference you will find is that gels create a barrier between your razor and skin. Men that are more prone to razor burn, ingrown hairs, or skin irritations may find that a gel provides more protection.


In addition to the differences mentioned above, you will quickly discover that there can be a great difference in the cost of shaving gels and shaving creams. Unlike the inexpensive shaving foams, we spoke of earlier, most high-quality shaving creams will run a bit higher.

Shaving gels can also cost a bit more, especially if you take into account the number of shaves you are able to get from one container. In general, if you shave every day a container of shaving gel may last about 2 months, while a premium shaving cream packaged in a bowl can last a bit longer. This is partly done to the addition of water when you shave with a cream.

Which should you buy?

When it comes to choosing which is better, the truth is that every man has very specific shaving needs and they may be very different. Here are some of the things that you may need to keep in mind when making the choice of whether to go with a gel or cream.

Skin conditions

Individuals with these skin conditions will want to avoid products with added fragrances or alcohols that may irritate the condition. Increased glide, like that you can get from a shaving gel may help to reduce irritation with the added benefit of an extra layer of protection. You will have to change out your razor more often, a dull razor can increase damage and irritation.

Using a good quality moisturizer between shaves will also help to protect your skin from irritation. Some individuals may require medicated creams to help calm their skin. Extremely irritated skin may require foregoing shaving for a period of time to allow the skin to heal.

Hair growth, thickness and density

The density and thickness of your hair can absolutely influence the type of products you want or need to use. Men who grow their facial hair quickly will likely find that shaving is more difficult using a shaving gel due to the lack of hair penetrating conditioners that soften the hair making them easier to remove.

Men with especially thick and coarse facial hair will likely have better results from a premium quality shaving cream and can get some even better results if they use warmer water for a hot lather. This will penetrate the hair fibers faster and also work deep into the hair follicles that will be more open from the heat, meaning the regrowth will be softer as well.

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Type of razor

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Finally, the type of razor you use is going to have an impact on the shaving products you use. One of the biggest things to keep in mind is that some oils and metals do not mix well. Therefore, it is not uncommon for shaving gels to increase the speed of rust or corrosion on your razors. This is likely fine for individuals that use disposable razors or cartridges.

However, men that use a wet/dry electric razor may find that a shaving gel does not rinse as cleanly as a cream, which not only leads to a clogged razor head but an increase in corrosion or at minimum dulling of the blades faster. The higher price of replacement heads on electric razors will push most men toward using shaving creams.

What to look out for in shaving creams and gels

Now that you know whether you want to use a cream or gel, how do you pick the right one? The most important things to consider when comparing products are discussed here.

Harsh ingredients

No matter whether you are looking for a cream or gel, you are going to want to pay attention to the list of ingredients. What you want to look for is natural, and preferably organic, ingredients; things found in nature, not produced in some lab.

It is important to know that any product can claim that is made from natural ingredients, but that does not mean they are good for your skin. Hydrochloric acid is a natural substance, but extremely toxic to people. Here is a short list of the most common ingredients that you should look for and avoid if possible:

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  • Sulfates and Parabens – Sulfates are often added to products to help them create a lather, but they can be very harsh on your skin. Parabensaffect horm one function and have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer (and yes men can get breast cancer too).
  • Chemical Dyes, Or Artificial Fragrances – Not only are these ingredients completely unnecessary, but they can also cause some major issues with your skin, including allergic reactions, dryness, and clog your pores where they can be even more harmful.
  • Alcohols Alcohol-based products should not only be avoided by individuals with skin sensitivities. These products can cause even individuals with normal skin to have issues with burning, dryness, and in some cases even swelling and extended irritation. Additionally, alcohols strip away your skin’s natural oils, leaving your skin open to environmental contaminants and other issues.

Healthy ingredients

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  • Pure oils – Healthy oils, such as coconut, almond, or jojoba oil provide important vitamins and minerals to your skin. They also help your own natural oils to remain balanced and not have to overproduce.
  • Essential oils – Those looking for great smelling products want to look for products where the scents are derived from essential oils. There are several essential oils used in shaving products, each with their own unique benefits. Most essential oils are pure and made from plant extracts so contain no harsh side effects when used properly.
  • Conditioners – There are several options when it comes to quality skin conditioners. Individuals with sensitive skin will likely want to look for products that contain Aloe Vera. Not only does Aloe Vera condition, but it also soothes the skin thanks to the anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties built-in.

Another great skin conditioner is coconut oil, it helps to hydrate and protect the skin, leaving it much softer between shaves. To learn more about healthy ingredients and oils for hair, check out our guide:

10 healthy foods for hair 

5 homemade hair masks

Choosing a haircut(men)

How to fix split ends

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