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There is, perhaps, no task more annoyingly mundane than shaving. Applying gel or cream to your face and removing thick stubble with a sharp razor requires a level of frequency, care and precision that, frankly, most people simply don’t have the time or patience to do. Shaving can also feel less like an act of self-care and more like an act of self-harm with the nicks and razor burn that result from having more sensitive skin.
But lucky for us, abundant men’s shaving products are available and ready to protect your dermis and make the process as smooth (pun intended) and irritation-free as possible.
In this shopping guide, we go over the best shaving creams after our rigorous product testing. When reviewing grooming products like these, we make sure to highlight any benefits or drawbacks discovered while testing. We put 13 of the best shaving creams and gels to the ultimate test, narrowing this list to the ones we found to excel most in individual categories. Here are the results as well as our testing strategies.
The Best Shaving Creams at a Glance
1. Best Overall: Marlowe No. 141 Shave Cream — $13.99 on Amazon
2. Best Value: Gillette Foamy Sensitive Shave Foam — $2.29 at Target
3. Best Skin Smoother: Evo Uberwurst Shaving Cream — $32 on Amazon
4. Best Sensitive Skin Defender: Cremo Cooling Shave Cream — $5.99 on Amazon
5. Best Shaving Gel: Dollar Shave Club Shave Gel — $5.99 at Target
6. Best Scent: Bravo Sierra Hair, Body Wash & Shave — $8.99 at Amazon
7. Best Splurge: MadeMan Cleanser & Shave Gel — $60 at MadeMan
1. Marlowe No. 141 Shave Cream
Best For: The guy who shaves frequently.
Why We Chose It: It offered the closest shave of the bunch sans irritation.
- Size: 6 oz.
- Type: Shaving cream
- Key Ingredients: Shea butter, coconut oil and willow bark extract
Marlowe has quietly emerged as a medicine cabinet staple with their line of men’s shaving products, though the No. 141 shave cream is the undisputed star. The sensitive skin-approved, paraben and phthalate-free blend of shea butter, coconut oil and willow bark extract guarantees a close shave experience without nicks, bumps and redness. Its alluring aloe, citrus and wood scent is a bonus, especially for the guy who relies less on cologne or deodorant to smell fresh throughout the day.
Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed, especially as somebody who shaves often to maintain an effortless-looking stubble. My neck, in particular, is one of the most sensitive areas on my body and is highly prone to breakouts and even bleeding. This cream remedied that issue entirely, almost like magic.
- Lightweight formula
- Contains shea butter and coconut oil
- Made in the USA
- Not available in individual travel sizes
2. Gillette Foamy Sensitive Shave Foam
Best For: The guy on a budget. Guys with sensitive skin.
Why We Chose It: Low on price does not mean low on quality.
- Size: 11 oz.
- Type: Canned shaving foam
- Key Ingredients: Water, i.e. nothing special
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – at least when it comes to Gillette’s nostalgic range of shaving products. Though foams are a bit passé (compared to creams and gels), there is a reason why this sensitive shave variety has established itself as one of the most popular cans on the market: it works, and it works damn well.
The smell projects typical musky barbershop vibes while its silky-smooth formula spreads on the face like a dream, allowing men with more tailored facial hair to maintain precise shapes and angles to contour their cheeks and jawlines. At less than $2.50 for something you won’t have to replenish for months, it’s also an absolute steal.
- A lot of product
- Silky-smooth formula
- Very strong smell
3. Evo Uberwurst Shaving Cream
Best Skin Smoother
Best For: The guy who cares about his skin and/or facial hair.
Why We Chose It: I came for the shave but stayed for the skin-hydrating benefits.
- Size: 4.7 oz.
- Type: Shaving cream
- Key Ingredients: Water, peppermint, aloe vera juice
If you’re spending over $30 on a can or bottle of shaving cream, the product has to walk the walk and not just talk the talk of fulfilling smooth, irritation-free hair removal promises. With that said, consider Evo’s Uberwurst an Olympic speed walker.
The lightly-scented formula not only helps prep the face before shaving, but it also conditions hair, moisturizes the skin and protects from burns and rashes, making it one of the best creams on the market. It’s also vegan and cruelty-free, which we love.
This is for the guy who takes his skincare seriously, as it flawlessly integrates into any night or morning routine.
- Conditions facial hair
- Luxurious mousse-like texture
- Range of sizes
- Somewhat difficult to spread
4. Cremo Cooling Shave Cream
Best Sensitive Skin Defender
Best For: The guy who is prone to skin irritation.
Why We Chose It: Cremo’s cooling shave cream takes its OG formula and makes it even better.
- Size: 6 oz.
- Type: Shaving cream
- Key Ingredients: Macadamia Seed Oil, Aloe, Calendula Extract, Lemon Extract, Papaya Extract
Rashes, bumps, ingrown hairs and nicks, begone! Cremo’s Cooling Shave Cream is the superman of shaving, protecting skin from any potential irritants. The cream adheres to the face exceptionally well, offering quick and easy glides across the cheeks and neck to remove hair in one fell swoop. It’s also chock-full of peppermint and menthol that cools on contact and leaves behind a refreshing, tingling sensation.
If you’re a fan of Cremo’s original formula but find your skin to be a tad on the inflamed side after a shave, this is the one for you. If you’re the type of guy who keeps a beard and just shaves around it, also consider Cremo’s Beard & Scruff Cream to keep your fuzzy chin happy.
- Extremely slick
- Mint is cooling and fragrant
- Won’t clog your blades
- Doesn’t wash off easily
5. Dollar Shave Club Shave Gel
Best Shaving Gel
Best For: The guy who prefers the cooling effects of gel.
Why We Chose It: Dollar Shave Club’s gel is great, but even better when you bundle it with a subscription. This is one of our favorite-ever shaving products, and a little goes a long, long way.
- Size: 6.7 oz.
- Type: Shaving gel
- Key Ingredients: Shea butter, aloe vera juice
Ice, ice baby. If you like the cooling sensation of a gel on clean skin, you’ll love Dollar Shave Club’s shaving gel, which has developed a bit of a cult following. This gel has staying power, not just within your skincare arsenal, but also on the face it coats. Dollar Shave Club’s foam-ula foams instantaneously and spreads quickly to cover the entire surface in mere seconds.
If you’re a fan of this product, you’ll want to invest in the brand’s monthly subscription service that provides oils, post-shave balms, and even razors that match the gel in quality.
You may have also heard that Dollar Shave Club has one of those industry-breaking subscription models – and you’d be right. If you’re wondering if it’s for you, we’ve taken the time to research and report back in our razor review.
- Foams fast to cover a large surface area
- A little goes a long way
- You can join the company’s award-winning shave club
- Acts more like a lotion-turned-gel
6. Bravo Sierra Hair, Shave & Body Wash
Best For: The guy who likes to smell good.
Why We Chose It: There’s no need to invest in an expensive cologne with the lingering scent.
- Size: 9 oz.
- Type: 4-in-1 face wash, body wash, hair shampoo and shave gel
- Key Ingredients: Ginseng, aloe vera, blue algae
I’m not the type of person who would tell you to purchase a 10-in-1 miracle product that provides all of your grooming needs in one can, but having four legitimate uses was quite cool. Shockingly, each worked better than the next (with shaving foam being my favorite). This is a one-stop-shop bathing experience, sans water, and ideal for a traveling man (who also happens to have a mirror in his shower).
This was also the best smelling of the bunch, with its white vetiver, Virginian cedarwood and juniper berry aroma that should be bottled and sold as cologne to the masses.
- Four uses in one
- Amazing scent
- 5% of sales go to military charities
- The gel-turned foam can get a bit messy
7. MadeMan Cleanser & Shave Gel
Best For: The guy who doesn’t have too much time on his hands.
Why We Chose It: The price is steep, but the product more than delivers.
- Size: 3.4 oz.
- Type: Cleanser and shaving gel
- Key Ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, glycerin-infused coconut oil
A well-shaved face doesn’t necessarily make the man, but understand this – a well-shaved man has it made. MadeMan really wowed me with their cleanser and shave gel duo that gave me one of the closest shaves of this group. I also went full meta and washed my face with the product before and after using it to shave. The result – soft, smooth skin with virtually zero traces of redness or bumps.
The one thing I must say is that I don’t care how effective this shaving cream is, the price is just too steep (even with a subscription option). This should come with a 24-kt gold-plated razor. And someone to shave my face for me.
- Two great products in one
- Relaxing, spa-like eucalyptus scent
- Coated face flawlessly
- Consistency is a bit runny
- Ridiculously expensive
The Best Shaving Cream: Honorable Mentions
Though six options didn’t make the final cut, they’re still worthwhile investments that will work for many consumers. Here are some quick thoughts on each product:
Jack Black Supreme Cream Shave Lather, $13 on Amazon: The tried-and-true men’s skincare brand delivers, but this formula felt just a touch too oily when applied.
Harry’s Shaving Cream, $15.96 for a 2-Pack on Amazon: A wonderful middle-of-the-road option with a light scent and conveniently available in TSA-approved travel sizes.
Proraso Shaving Cream, $10 on Amazon: I loved how this went on like cupcake frosting, but the smell was so overpowering that it could potentially induce headaches.
Truefitt and Hill Shaving Cream, $32 on Amazon: The consistency is quite thick and the bowl is a bit cumbersome to work with, but my skin was left feeling extremely soft. I couldn’t stop touching my face.
Kiehl’s Close-Shavers Squadron Shave Cream, $18 at Kiehl’s: This is a skincare routine classic and does an excellent job of coating the entire face with very little product. It’s just a bit too expensive, unfortunately.
Pacific Shaving Co. Caffeinated Shaving Cream, $13.17 on Amazon: It was one of my favorite tubes to use, but I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it excelled at most. The tingly spearmint sensation is extremely intense, though, which could deter those with more sensitive mugs.
How We Chose the Best Men’s Shaving Creams
Finding the best men’s shaving cream was challenging. With a robust market that offers a multitude of formulas to accommodate a wide variety of skin and beard types, we had our work cut out for us. That said, there were four pillars of criteria used to determine the best of the bunch:
- Clean Ingredients: Opt for shaving creams and gels that boast high-quality, plant-derived ingredients that won’t contribute to potential skin irritation.
- Sensitivity to Skin: Shaving itself is an abrasive action and many guys are prone to breakouts, rashes and even pesky nicks that seemingly never stop bleeding. It’s important to find products that create a barrier between blade and skin to prevent the aforementioned skin issues.
- Ability to Lather: Whether it’s a cream, gel or foam, a good shaving product lathers with water to coat the entire face, which simultaneously softens the hairs and skin to create a smoother, closer shave.
- Scent: Since this is a product that is applied directly to the face and so close to the nose, it’s essential to choose a fragrant scent that is pleasant but not too overpowering.
Before you jump online and buy just any shaving cream listed on Amazon’s Best Sellers page, you need to know which of the best shaving creams for men really are the best shaving creams for men. This will help you maintain a blemish-free mug and protect your skin, which is also vital for you manscaping gents out there.
When ranking the best shaving cream, 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 serious 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 shaving cream:
- Parabens: Chemicals and preservatives that can increase skin aging and trigger reproductive health issues.
- Emulsifiers: May cause eye or skin irritation and is also linked to hormone disruption.
- Phthalates: Endocrine disruptors linked to asthma, male fertility issues, type II diabetes and several other ailments.
- Mineral oil: A petroleum byproduct that blocks pores and increases the risk of skin irritation.
- Sulfates: Can lead to numerous health problems such as cognitive impairment, cell mutation, dermatitis, and nerve damage.
- Benzene: 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 scoured the shaving industry to identify the products that dermatologists, grooming professionals and editors can’t stop raving about. This includes the shaving creams, face washes and many other products, that SPY readers themselves are searching for and have requested more information about.
Over the course of two weeks, 13 trending creams and gels were tested. To keep the process consistent, a fresh razor blade was used each time with no special additions other than a splash of warm water (or whatever the directions recommended to maximize lathering effects). Products were then ranked and reviewed in various categories to accommodate a wide net of potential customers who prioritize different shaving cream and gel aspects (i.e. formula, price, scent, etc.)
FAQs About Shaving Creams
Are you foaming with questions about shaving cream and gels that we haven’t answered below? Reach out to the SPY team on social media or leave a comment on this article. We’ll add questions to this FAQ in the future.
What type of razor should I use?
There are so many types of razors available to buy but it’s best to consider your personal shaving regimen. Do you shave very frequently? Do you shave your whole face or do you simply clean up the edges of a beard? Maybe a subscription model for razor heads is the way to go. As a rule of thumb, or maybe a rule of hand, find something that feels comfortable to hold. To make things easier, we’ve compiled our list of the best razors for men. Our top choice in this article, The Truman Razor from Harry’s, has been an ongoing favorite. We even did a deep dive in our Harry’s razor review.
Can a brush be used to apply shaving creams?
Yes. In fact, it’s recommended. Fingers will suffice in creating a lather, but the bristles of a brush will make your cream or gel spread and expand to its fullest potential.
How long should you leave shaving cream on your face before shaving?
Around 2-3 minutes. This will help to create a protective barrier on your skin and open up your pores so that the hair is removed easier.
Is it possible to use too much shaving cream?
Yes. Stick to the recommended amount printed on the back of a tube or can. Too much of it can easily clog your blade and weigh down hairs so that they won’t be removed in one quick swipe.
Should I trim my beard before shaving?
Absolutely. If the hair being shaved is too long, you risk a smooth glide as well as nicks, burns and bumps. Today’s razors are designed to cut short hair specifically. Luckily, we have got your back! Read up on the latest trimming equipment – a complete field guide on our favorite beard trimmers for men.
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.