Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect new selections for 2016.
There are three main factors to every shave: the razor, the lather and the man. While the latter is out of our control (everyone’s skin is different), you have options when it comes to the razor and lather of choice. For razors, there are straight, safety, disposable, electric and cartridge options, each with its own benefits. The same is true for the shaving medium: Creams, oils, soaps and gel all behave differently. Mainstream foams that come out of aerosol cans, like Gillette or Barbasol, can actually irritate skin — in fact, some claim that those foams do little more than show men where they’ve already shaved. Instead, we suggest using higher-quality creams, like the ones here. Unlike the foams, these creams contain more hydrating and conditioning elements, without many of the chemicals that dry out skin. The result is a healthier face and a more comfortable shave.
– Additional Contribution by K.B. Gould
Crown Shaving Co. Shave Cream
This rich and hydrating shaving cream is made in Toronto. According to the brand, it’s meant for “vagabonds, gentlemen and ruffians,” which we take as hyperbole to simply mean: men can, but don’t have to, use a shaving brush with it.
Cremo Shaving Cream
Unlike many popular foam shaving creams, Cremo’s product doesn’t contain any air. The result is a shaving cream that’s more lubricating and protective. Basically it’ll help you get a much closer shave, even if you just have average blade skills.
Elizabeth Street Shaving Cream
Looking for a shaving cream that’s protective and smells great? It has a complex scent with hints of rosemary, juniper, fir and vetiver. Try this guy. It’s handmade in Brooklyn.
Harry’s Shave Cream
This is Harry’s signature shaving cream. It’s moisturizing, with coconut and marula oils, and because they sell direct, each bottle is extremely affordable.
Penhaligon’s London Blenheim Bouquet Shaving Cream
On top of making a vast number of boutique fragrances, this luxury, 146-year-old British perfume house also specializes in men’s grooming products. Plus it’ll leave your skin smelling subtly of citrus and musk.
Proraso Shaving Cream
Proraso has four shaving creams, designated by color: red (for thick-bearded men), white (for sensitive skin), blue (moisturizing) and green. This green tube is their staple, for all skin types. It’ll leave your face with a subtle menthol scent.
The Art of Shaving Shaving Cream
For guys who simply want a smooth shave, choose this unscented option. It’s hydrating and can be used with or without a shaving brush. Just make sure to shave as you usually would, “during or after a hot shower.”
Malin + Goetz Vitamin E Shaving Cream
Here’s a shaving cream that’s specifically made for men with sensitive skin. Using a combination of vitamin e and amino acid proteins, they say it’s able to more effectively balance the ph levels in a man’s skin. Try it to find out.
Wm. Neumann & Co. Shaving Cream
The brand has redefined their original 1911 formula using a blend of various ingredients, including high-quality oils, aloe, shea butter and botanical extracts. The result is a creamy and invigorating shave cream that boasts notes of sandalwood, rosewood and vanilla.
D. R. Harris Shaving Cream
This London-based company makes shaving creams with several scents, including rose, eucalyptus and almond. This is their lavender. It’ll leave your face moisturized and smelling like spring.
Jack Black Supreme
“Triple cushion” sounds like a mattress term or a car safety feature, but it stands to reason that you’d want softness and safety for your face, too. For those who constantly battle redness and razor bumps, Jack Black’s velvety cream contains macadamia nut oil, glycerin and soybean oil (hence the “triple” in the triple cushion), all of which allow a blade to glide across your face.
Dove Men + Care
Dove makes more than inspiring commercials. Those only started with Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004, but since 1955 Dove has made toiletries for the everyman (and woman). Their shave gel, formulated for men with sensitive skin, forms into a creamy lather that protects against shaving irritation.
D. R. Harris Arlington Shaving Stick
London-based chemists D. R. Harris make their high-end product for travelers who want the same effects as bowl soap (you know, the kind you apply with a badger-hair brush) but don’t want to lug a bowl and soap bar around the world. Of course, you still have to bring the brush.