Shave gels and shaving creams have dominated the men’s skincare market for decades, perpetually in competition with each other. And as SPY readers know, we’ve consistently named Dollar Shave Club’s Shave Gel as the top option for a close shave. But there’s a lesser-known option vying to be king of the hair removal hill — shave butter.
Shave butter offers a super-close shave that rivals the results of its predecessors, and sooner or later you might be reaching for the best shave butter instead of your go-to shaving cream.
This gel and cream alternative provides a low-lather shave that you scoop from the jar or squeeze from the tube and rub directly on your face. It doesn’t foam as you apply, nor does it come pre-foamed right out of the can. This yields a few key benefits when it comes to your standard grooming routine.
To help you find the best shave butter, we tested the 12 most popular options to find out which offers the closest shave.
What Are the Benefits of Shave Butter?
First, the best shave butter will have a foamless design that allows it to go on thin (in most cases), so you can see where you’re shaving more easily. That means less wondering whether you missed a spot or not. Because the shave butter isn’t designed to expand and spread, you can skip the brush and bowl step you need for many other shaving products. Simply squirt or scoop a bit of shave butter into your hand and massage it into your skin and facial hair, coating every bristle or stubble.
Second, because the best shave butter isn’t concerned with artificial, over-the-top foaming, its formulas rely more on all-natural, plant-based ingredients. For example, one popular, well-established brand of foaming shaving cream contains propane. You know — propane; the same stuff you use to fire up the grill. Propane is a standard propellant in shaving creams to help create the foam and expel the cream from the can, but it’s obviously unnatural to use stuff like that on your face.
With the best shave butter, you’ll find more ingredients like macadamia nut and rosemary oils, pineapple and orange peel extracts, and shea, mango, and cocoa butter. Those are just some of the incredible ingredients from two of the most popular shaving butters. Not only are plant-based ingredients, butter, and oils great for your skin and make for a smooth shave, but you know what they have in them and they are not known to contribute to any illnesses or skin sensitivities.
Third, the thicker consistency does a better job of delivering nutrients and moisture to your skin, resulting in a smooth, pain-free shave and a rejuvenated feeling afterward. For an improved shave and better absorption of the hydrating and moisturizing ingredients, you’ll want to evenly apply the shave butter and let it sit for at least 15 seconds. As you shave, your skin will continue to absorb it. It may dry out depending on how fast you go, but using a little more goes a long way if you want to re-apply.
Lastly, the smooth consistency is easier on your razor, allowing the blade to glide without getting clogged as quickly. Sure, foamy shave creams are great at standing your facial hairs up, but they can clog razors and add time to your shave with all the rinsing. And that’s when using high-quality or safety razors; forget about using foamy creams with even the best of disposable razors.
We think every guy should give shave butter a shot for a high-quality shave that not only removes hair with ease, but also delivers a one-two punch of moisturization to the skin. There aren’t many shave butters on the market, but we tested 12 tried-and-true options below to get you started.
The Best Shave Butter At a Glance
1. Woody’s Shave Butter
Best For: The guy who is brand new to shave butter and demands nothing but the best.
Why We Chose It: Smooth gliding? Check. Close shave? Check. Zero irritation? Check. Good smell? Check. Woody’s Shave Butter ticks all the boxes, making it the best of the bunch in this epic battle of butters.
- Size: 6 oz.
- Key Ingredients: Aloe Vera, Vitamin E, Chamomile, Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter
Testing Woody’s Shave Butter yielded some pretty remarkable results. When shaved alongside five other formulas in the neck area, you could run your finger across the skin and actually feel that its patch was the smoothest and most stubble-free. While the tube is quite expensive, it’s worth investing in the best shave butter if you’ve been searching for a near-perfect product that puts the care and protection of your skin first.
- Provides the closest shave of the bunch
- Wonderful herbaceous smell (almost like basil)
- Left skin feeling very smooth
- Made in the USA
- Quite pricey
2. Dollar Shave Club Shave Butter
Best For: The guy looking to save on money, but not sacrifice quality.
Why We Chose It: Dollar Shave Club makes some of the industry’s best shave butter, and for good reason. The brand’s butter, like its gel and cream, delivers on performance, but not at a ridiculous price.
- Size: 6 oz.
- Key Ingredients: Golden Barley, Vitamins A, C, and E
Dollar Shave Club has developed a bit of a cult following, and rightfully so. What was once a monthly subscription box has evolved into an entire line of products (available in over 40,000 retailers) with shave butter as one of its stars. Not only does the product offer one of the closest shaves you can get, but it’s also affordably priced so that you can stock up and purchase the company’s other offerings (like beard oil) without breaking the bank.
- Goes on translucently for extra precision
- Very affordable
- Part of Dollar Shave Club’s impressive line of shaving products
- Felt a little greasy on the face
- Contains alcohol, which can be drying
- Size: 7.5 oz.
- Key Ingredients: Shea Butter, Aloe, Squalene
Shaving can be quite the abrasive act on the skin, but not with RemeVerse. Apply a thin layer of butter and let the razor do all of the work. It really does feel like magic — like a scene from “Beauty and the Beast,” if you will — where an inanimate object takes on a life of its own. One gentle press of the blade against prepped skin activates the razor and allows it to glide in either direction and remove the hair swiftly and without pain or redness. The spearmint fragrance is also a wonderful way to start the day, working in tandem with a morning coffee to provide that much-needed jolt of energy.
- Impressively smooth and slippery glide
- Invigorating spearmint smell
- Thick texture that coats every hair follicle
- Prone to blade-clogging
- Size: 6 oz.
- Key Ingredients: Aloe, Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Vitamin E, Chamomile
Clubman Pinaud prides itself on no-frills products that excel in providing consistency and quality. Its shave butter, in particular, represents everything that makes the shaving essential great: thick, luxurious, and able to create a barrier between the skin and blade that allows for quick, smooth strokes. While you may need to tap your razor a few times to discharge accumulated hair, it’s a minor inconvenience that’s worth the pay-off: smooth, bump-free skin that smells as good as it looks.
- Texture is almost like a frosting
- Attractive, masculine scent
- Can buy in packs of three or more to save money
- Thickness of formula can clog blades
- Size: 5 oz. and 2 oz.
- Key Ingredients: Shea Butter, Maracuja Oil, Tea Tree Oil
While the butter may not have offered the best shave of the bunch for this reviewer, it might be the best shave butter for curly hair, as advertised. Despite our experience, it was salvaged by a restoring cream that fed moisture directly to the face and alleviated irritation with tea tree oil. Also, its coconut-forward, sunblock-smell is a chef’s kiss, making the shaving experience something you actually look forward to and not a chore. Create a triple threat by incorporating the company’s beard balm into the mix, as well, which can be used to style, tame, and soften longer facial hair.
- Coconut smell will transport you somewhere exotic
- Prevents redness and bumps associated with sensitive skin
- Formulated with men of color in mind
- Tugged on hair a bit
- Works best in tandem, which adds an extra step
6. Beast Shave Butter
Best for: The guy who shaves daily and requires a larger supply.
Why We Chose It: Not only is Beast a premiere product with its high-quality ingredients, but it’s the only option on this list that sells a 16-oz. refill bag so that you’re not spending hard-earned cash on bottle after bottle.
- Size: 16 oz.
- Key Ingredients: Aloe, Oats, Shea Butter, Ginseng
Some dudes prefer to be bare-faced every day, requiring hundreds of dollars in shave products to preserve that youthful glow. Thankfully, we found the best shave butter for guys who shave a ton. Not only does Beast offer refill pouches to keep things more affordable and eco-friendly, but it’s also a product that stands up to every other tube and jar in quality. The secret weapon is the ginseng, which reduces redness and brightens the skin so that it looks healthy, refreshed, and almost like you’ve emerged from a facial treatment at a spa.
- Environmentally-friendly refill bag
- High-quality vegan ingredients
- Left behind very smooth skin
- Formula is a bit runny
7. OmniShaver Shave Butter
Best for: The guy who is shaving more than just his face.
Why We Chose It: Butters are ideal for thick, coarse facial hair that requires excess moisturization, but OmniShaver’s Shave Butter more than delivers in providing these benefits for the rest of the body.
- Size: 6 oz.
- Key Ingredients: Tea Tree Oil, Shea Butter, Aloe
If you’ve ditched the barber and/or have zero interest in getting waxed, OmniShaver’s has the best shave butter for your needs. Formulated specifically for full-body hair removal, the silky, slightly tacky substance melds with your skin to ensure that every exposed layer is covered and coated. We particularly enjoyed using this on our arms where finer hair was gone after one quick stroke and can imagine it will have the same effect on gentlemen who are rocking and maintaining a bald scalp.
- Excellent for shaving arms, legs, and scalp
- Stays in place so you can be more precise
- Formulated to work with the brand’s razor
- Slightly sticky formula that isn’t blade-friendly
- Size: 4 oz.
- Key Ingredients: Shea Butter, Aloe Juice, Papaya and Pineapple Enzymes
Because it’s available in most drug stores, this $6 tube may have been your first experience with shave butter. In our testing, we found it to be an effective moisturizer with a smooth consistency, and just a small amount of product was enough to cover the entire face and neck. Unfortunately, it is the only product that made me bleed after not softening my beard hairs enough. Of course, every beard type is different and this may work for men with finer facial hair, but I’d be remiss to not mention this less desirable outcome after using it.
- Super affordable
- A little goes a long way
- Moisturizing formula
- Not great for thicker facial hair
9. The Henna Guys Shaving Butter
Best for: The guy who is concerned about the products he puts on his skin.
Why We Chose It: We could recognize nearly every ingredient that goes into The Henna Guys’ jars, which gives us the reassurance that it won’t react negatively with our skin.
- Size: 4 oz.
- Key Ingredients: Shea Butter, Aloe Juice, Papaya and Pineapple Enzymes
If you’re a stickler for high-quality, “clean” ingredients, look no further than The Henna Guys. The brand has concocted a line of the best shave butters with dermis-friendly ingredients like aloe juice and fruit enzymes. And the brand leads with them, unlike the hard-to-pronounce preservatives you’ll find with some other options. While the jar is somewhat small for the price, a little goes a long way and will last you months before having to place another order.
- Clean ingredient list
- Great for sensitive skin
- Provides a lot of moisturization
- Butter separates in jar and may require mixing
- Quite expensive for the amount
The Best Shave Butters: Honorable Mentions
Though three options didn’t make the final cut, they’re still worthwhile investments that may work for many consumers. Here are some quick highlights on each product, as well as their shortcomings.
Faccia Bella Shaving Butter
It has a fresh, invigorating scent, but is quite difficult to spread across the face. This also makes the butter accumulate on the razor, so you are constantly tapping the blades against the sink and rinsing them under warm water — not the most ideal experience for the guy on the go.
CODE 3 Shave Butter
The pump feature made CODE 3’s shave butter easy to use, but there are problems with the formula’s consistency. It goes from gloppy to runny and I didn’t love the slightly granulated texture that reminded me of an exfoliator. The clean and masculine scent is great, though, despite the product feeling more like a shaving cream and gel hybrid than a lathering butter.
How We Chose the Best Men’s Shave Butters
Finding the best men’s shave butter wasn’t entirely difficult. With a somewhat limited market, there are really only 12 mainstream varieties that are sold through major retailers.
Just as we tested for shaving creams and gels, there were six pillars of criteria used to determine the best of the lot:
- Clean Ingredients: The best shave butter formulas have high-quality, plant-derived ingredients. Look for these, as they’ll be less likely to contribute to skin irritation.
- Sensitivity to Skin: Shaving is an abrasive action. Many guys are prone to things like breakouts, rashes, and the inevitable nicks that tend to never stop bleeding. The best shave butter creates a barrier between the blade and your skin to prevent all that bad stuff.
- Coating Ability: A shave butter is not meant to lather, meaning you must manually apply it to your face so that it coats the skin and — hopefully — every hair follicle.
- Glide and Smoothness: It shouldn’t be difficult for the razor to run across the grooves of your face and leave behind a hydrated, smooth surface.
- Scent: Since this is a product that is applied near the nose, it’s essential to choose a fragrant scent that is pleasant but not too overpowering.
- Price: You shouldn’t have to drop big bucks to yield successful results.
When ranking the best shave butter, we start with the ingredients list. Know that the majority of skincare products have preservatives that aid with performance and extend their shelf life but also increase the risk of health issues when used in high concentrations.
Try your best to avoid the ingredients on the list below when shopping for a top-of-the-line men’s shave butter:
- Parabens: These are chemicals and preservatives that can promote skin aging and trigger reproductive health issues.
- Emulsifiers: These might cause eye or skin irritation and have been linked to hormone disruption.
- Phthalates: These are endocrine disruptors linked to asthma, male fertility issues, type II diabetes, among other ailments.
- Mineral oil: This is a petroleum byproduct that blocks pores and increases the risk of skin irritation.
- Sulfates: Sulfates have been known to lead to health issues such as cognitive impairment, cell mutation, dermatitis, and nerve damage.
- Benzene: This is a solvent that affects the immune system and may result in health issues.
Why Trust SPY When Buying Men’s Grooming Products
The research team at SPY has toured the grooming and shaving industry to identify products that dermatologists, grooming professionals, and editors are currently talking about. This includes products like the best face washes, the best moisturizers, as well as lesser-thought-of items like spray deodorants.
Over the course of a month, 12 different shave butters were tested. To keep the process consistent, a fresh razor blade was used each time and all product directions were followed as recommended to maximize application. We also tested multiple products at one time, lining them up on the neck area so that we could compare and contrast the feeling of skin and stubble.
Products were then ranked and reviewed in various categories to accommodate a wide net of potential customers who prioritize different qualities (i.e. formula, price, scent, etc.).
About the Author: Joey Skladany
Joey is a writer, editor, TV/radio personality, lifestyle expert, former entertainment publicist, and author of Basic Bitchen. As the son of a former esthetician, he has worked extensively in the men’s beauty and skincare space and is a frequent contributor to outlets like AskMen, Beautytap, Today.com, People, Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Food52, Cosmopolitan, Apartment Therapy, and more. When not writing, he enjoys traveling, fine dining, perfecting his stand-up comedy routine, and volleyball.