Shaving Science

Do You Really Need Shaving Cream? The Science Behind Shave Gels and Foams

Do You Really Need Shaving Cream? The Science Behind Shave Gels and Foams

Why You Need Shaving Cream or Shave Gel

shaving with shaving cream
You lather up dutifully with shaving cream, gel, or foam before starting each shave but you may be left wondering, why?

How necessary is lathering up with shaving cream before you start shaving?

The answer lies in your skin and hair.


Your beard hairs are tough and wiry – if you were to rub your hand across your stubble, you would notice how sharp beard hair can be.
On the other hand, the skin on your face is soft and has gel-like texture and movement properties.

These copper-wire-like hairs can be hard to deal with – literally: You may shave up to 25,000 hairs each time you commence your facial shaving routine. Cutting each of these hairs – and closely – is already challenging enough. But cutting each of these hairs close to the skin without harming the skin? This takes protection and shaving cream.

Shave Gel Performs Four Tasks


  1. Hydration. Shaving cream helps to keep moisture in the beard hairs during the shave, leaving them softer and easier to cut. When less force is needed to cut each hair, your shave can more comfortable.
  2. Lubrication. Shaving cream creates a thin layer of protection between the blade and the skin, ensuring less friction and minimising the risk of of redness, shaving rash, and irritation – and fewer nicks and cuts.
  3. Tracking. It’s so intuitive, we may not realise it, but the act of removing shaving cream as you shave helps you keep track of where you’ve already run your blade. This will help to ensure that you don’t miss a spot.
  4. Soothing and refreshing. Using a shaving cream will help leave your skin feeling soothed and refreshed afterwards.

These four tasks combined are the cumulative value of shaving cream – but what’s the difference between shave foam and shave gel?

The Difference Between Shaving Foam and Shave Gel

Depending on your personal preferences, you may choose shave foam over shaving gel– but are there any actual, appreciable differences?

Shaving Cream Shaving Gel
Shave Foam Attributes: Shaving Gel Attributes:
Instant light lather Richer lather
Airy Enhanced lubricants
Easy to rinse away More razor glide
Table More protection for your skin

Every man’s face is different. The only way to find out what works for you is to experiment.

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Gillette Editor

Gillette Editor

Writer and expert


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