As the winter rolls slowly onwards, you may be tempted to let your facial hair grow a little. It gives you a bit of extra warmth, you tell yourself, and anyway, the unshaven, unkempt look can suit a season where eating and drinking your own body weight then lounging on the sofa with a box of miniature chocolates is par for the course.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. The Christmas party season may have passed for another year, but this doesn't mean you shouldn’t still strive to look your best - and when it comes to facial hair, that means picking a good quality shaving cream or gel.
You may have been using the same product for years, so even the most fleeting of glances into the shaving section of the pharmacy could bewilder and intimidate. There’s a huge range of products out there, with ingredients and descriptions as varied as their prices. Should you buy cream, foam or gel? Which products are best for your type of skin? Is paying more really worth it?
It’s all too easy to buy your usual, keep your head down and head home as quickly as possible. But thankfully T3 is here to offer you a helping hand, just like that time your dad bought you your first razor. Only with less emergency tissue paper.
Knowing your skin type
Generally speaking, skin falls into one of three categories; oily, dry and sensitive. What’s important to know here is a shaving product’s inclusion of astringent and glycerin.
Readers with sensitive skin will want to avoid astringent-based shaving gels, creams and foams, as they’ll likely cause discomfort. However, these products are fine to use if you have oily skin, as they’ll help prevent your pores from getting clogged up, and reduce your face’s oily texture.
If you skin tends to be on the dryer side, then look out for shaving products which contain glycerin, as this will help the blade slide more smoothly over your face.
Foam, gel or cream?
This is mostly down to personal preference, with the popularity of each coming in and out of vogue over the years. Blasting your face with shaving foam from an aerosol can probably seems a bit old-fashioned these days – like something your dad is probably still doing – and it can be a messy process.
The only tip for gels is to try and avoid those which contain alcohol, as this can irritate the skin – especially if you nick yourself with the blade by accident. That leaves cream, which is arguably the most popular option at the moment, especially when dispensed from a designer-looking tub.
Best shave cream ingredients
Not all shaving creams are made equal, so it’s worth checking the ingredients list before making your purchase – especially if pushing the boat out and spending over £40 on a single tub. Ingredients we recommend slathering on your face include eucalyptus, rosemary, aloe and sandalwood.
On the other hand, if a shaving product boasts about generic fragrance, then you should ask if yourself – what chemical is being used to produce this, and is it good for my skin? When running a sharp blade across your face, you only want natural ingredients going anywhere near it.
A truly luxurious shaving cream, this option by American fashion designer Tom Ford featured an air-whipped texture and zesty citrus herbal scent to turn shaving from a chore into an experience.
The cream softens your beard hair when applied, then immediately soothes any irritations as the blade passes by. Tom Ford also offers a complimenting range of toiletries, including a deodorant and eau de parfum.
An all-in-one option for the shaver in a hurry, this cream by Burberry is designed to be applied without water. Just squeeze some out of the bottle, into it onto dry skin with your fingers, then start shaving once it has thickened and turned opaque.
If there’s any left over afterwards, you can simply rub it into your face as a soothing post-shave balm. This cream is infused with Burberry’s cologne of the same name, so it’ll even double as a subtle aftershave too.
For those who want their shaving cream to be a feast for the senses as much as a grooming product, Floris is hard to beat. A British perfumers since 1730, the royal seal-equipped No.89 includes top notes of lavender, nutmeg and orange, heart notes of geranium and rose, then base notes of cedarwood, musk, sandalwood and vetiver. And that was an abridged description.
Along with that smorgasboard of scents, the No.89 also includes natural extracts of aloe vera and camomile to help soothe your skin as you shave. Can also be bought in a wooden bowl with refills available.
Best known for their fragrant hand wash and bathing products, Molton Brown has applied a similar recipe to this shaving gel, producing a scent-ladent shaving spectacle. You’ll find top notes of mandarin, heart notes of jasmine and violet, and base notes of musk, sandalwood and vanilla.
Described as an invigorating experience, this gel is designed to combat against shine, while prepping your facial hair for a close and comfortable shave.
Taylor of Old Bond Street’s shaving cream is available in a range of scents, including sandalwood, cedarwood and peppermint, plus an option specifically designed for more sensitive skin.
Not afraid to embrace the old school, this shaving cream offers a traditional alternative to the neon-coloured contemporary products currently in your bathroom – and at less than a tenner, it does so without breaking the bank.
A luxury shaving gel enriched with basil and ginseng, but one which won’t break the bank. This gel by Rituals turns into a rich foam when rubbed into your skin.
At under £4 per 100ml, this Samurai shaving gel is excellent value for money. Good news for those with sensitive skin is this gel’s inclusion of glyceryl to help keep the blade’s movement smooth.
Clinique’s shaving gel is rich in aloe vera for a smoothing and cooling shave. This 125ml bottle is reasonably priced for its ingredients, and it reviews well among buyers. The gel turns into a luxurious foam when applied, helping to soften the thickest of beards and reduce razor burn.
Camomile is added for a hint of fragrance, but this is mostly a shaving gel for those who don’t want to be overwhelmed by the complex scents of the options featured above.
This sharing cream by Benecos is natural, organic, vegan-friendly and is produced with zero animal testing. It also comes in a 75ml tube which means it’s small enough to take in your holiday carry-on.
The use of aloe vera helps to give a calming, cooling sensation as you shave, while organic cedarwood protects the skin and keeps it soft and smooth.
This having cream by Mr Natty strikes a well-judged balance between nourishing your skin and doubling as a complex aftershave. It’s formulated with allantoin to help moisturise, and includes a dash of coconut oil to help soothe dry, itchy and sensitive skin.
To offer a scent which is distinctive without being overwhelming, this shave cream includes lime, basil and mandarin.