How To Build a Better Shaving Soap Lather

Still learning the tips and tricks of this wet shaving adventure? Maybe you can get a decent lather that works. And you could get by with a run-of-the-mill whip, but here we explore how to reach a better lather.


Loading a Shaving Soap vs Cream

  • Loading a brush on a soap is usually done right in the container. Most shaving soaps today come in a wide mouth tub. Soaking the brush helps to soften the tips and soak up water needed for creating a lather. As you do that, slowly add water by just drops at a time on the top of the soap. (You can simply dip your fingers in water and sprinkle a few drops at a time.) 
    • Step 1: Lightly swirl the damp tips of the shaving brush on the surface of the shaving soap. Some shavers choose to “bloom” the soap (leaving a small amount of water on the surface of the soap for a few minutes before lathering/loading). The water helps loosen the soap to work into the shaving brush head.
    • Step 2: Proto lather develops. (A thirsty soap might have quite a bit of water/bubbles overflow but it can handle that much water. Go slowly for the first time trying a new soap.)
    • Step 3:  Swirl until the tips of the brush head are pasty. Some shavers prefer a 30 second load, but others like a much longer load to really get a lot of soap into the brush. 
  • Shaving creams don’t need the load time that a soap takes. In fact, creams are soft enough to be scooped out so they don’t even need to be loaded in the tub/container.
    • To Load: Place a small (dime-sized) amount of shaving cream on the head of the brush or in the bottom of a mug/bowl. Press the cream into the bottom/ridges of the bowl.
    • Begin to swirl the brush and create a proto-lather.

Lathering a Shaving Soap/Cream in Bowl vs Surface (face/palm)

  • After loading, both shaving soaps and shaving creams can go to your surface to build a lather. If you are face lathering, you will get more of an exfoliating effect by building your lather on your visage. Some prefer to lather on their palm and then apply to their face.
  • You can also continue to build your lather in a bowl or mug. Finding one with ridges on the bottom is helpful as it helps to activate the lather more than a smooth/flat surface. Continue to swirl the brush, adding a few drops of water at a time.

FINISH LINE: You will know you have achieved a final product when you get a sheen to the lather – bright, shiny white.  However, you can still get a good shave with a lather anywhere along this range. Some prefer a quicker load and whip to get done and get going. Other shavers really enjoy the lather making process and like to take their time on a denser whip.

Final Thoughts on Lathering a Shaving Soap or Shaving Cream

  • Remember a natural, animal hair shaving brush (like badger) is likely to retain quite a bit of water (this is a good thing) but you might want to squeeze it out pretty good before starting your load, as it is easier to add water than take it away.
  • Most US artisans today are crafting shaving soaps. Most shaving creams you find are coming from long-time brands from Europe. This isn’t exclusively the case but definitely the trend. 
  • Make sure you work past the proto-lather stage, but then how long you spend developing your froth is up to you. You can get good lubrication and protection with a range of lathers.

How are your lathering skillz? Are you a lather guru – loving the time and attention you spend on crafting a dense, frothy, voluminous lather? Are you a lather pragmatist – good enough to get the job done but efficiently as possible? Let us know your lather love language in the comments below.

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