What Does Shaving Cream Do?

If you shave regularly, then shaving cream is undoubtedly part of your grooming and shaving kit. But, have you ever wondered what it actually does and how it works? If you have, then keep reading and the Cremo team will tell you everything you need to know.

What is shaving cream?

Let’s kick things off with a definition - what exactly is shaving cream?

Shaving cream - as the name suggests - is a type of cream which is specially formulated to allow for the easy shaving and removal of facial hair.

In short, shaving cream is a type of ‘lubricant’ which makes shaving more comfortable.

Aside from acting as a lubricant, shaving cream also plays a number of other roles, including moisturising facial skin and softening facial hair.

In this way, shaving cream can help nourish both your skin and hair - providing much needed moisture to your follicles and feeding the underlying sebaceous glands that sit just below your skin next to your follicles.

Shaving cream also protects your skin during the shaving process, reducing the likelihood of nicks, cuts, razor burn and other common forms of razor-associated irritation.

Shaving cream also helps you to achieve a more consistent, uniform shave. This is because shaving cream allows you to visibly see where you have, and haven’t, shaved. No more annoying missed bits!

Finally, shaving cream also makes it easier to achieve a closer shave. How? Because the application of shaving cream results in your facial being lifted away from your face and becoming ‘suspended’ within the cream - this results in the hair being cut much closer to your face.

All in all, shaving cream should be an essential part of your everyday shaving kit.

Note - shaving cream is a distinct product from shaving foam and shaving gel. In this guide, we’ll be focusing solely on shaving cream.

Why you should use shaving cream

What are shaving creams made of?

Quality shaving creams, such as the ones you can purchase here at Cremo, will have the following main types of ingredients:


This may sound blindingly obvious, but shave creams contain a considerable amount of water. Often simply listed on the label as water (or sometimes ‘aqua’), it's the job of the water in shaving creams to replace the water that would otherwise be lost during the shaving process.

As we discussed in our guide to encouraging beard growth, facial hairs require moisture to stay healthy. They ultimately draw the moisture they require from your skin. So, poorly hydrated skin will lead to less than healthy facial hairs.

This is applicable even if you don’t have a beard. It’s important to ensure that your skin is well hydrated - a good quality shaving cream will do this.

Fatty acids

Nearly all shaving creams contain stearic acid, which is a type of fatty acid. A saturated fatty acid, stearic acid takes the form of a waxy solid and is widely used in soaps, cosmetics, shampoos - and of course - shaving creams.

Stearic acid is used as a thickener and is what helps to create the cream-like texture of shaving creams.


Nearly all shaving creams contain a moisturising agent. Here at Cremo, many of our shave creams contain glycol distearate; which is an ester of stearic acid - meaning it is a compound derived from stearic acid.

It’s the job of glycol distearate to act as a moisturising agent within shaving cream, nourishing and hydrating your facial skin.


Shaving creams - by necessity - will contain an emulsifier such as cetearyl alcohol.

Don’t worry, this isn’t the type of alcohol you’re probably thinking of!

Cetearyl alcohol is commonly found in shaving creams and other cosmetic/grooming products and is a type of ‘fatty alcohol’ and is one of a group of chemicals that’s known as an emulsifier.

Cetearyl alcohol is actually a combination of cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol and has a waxy texture.

What does it do in shaving cream? Well, it has two main jobs. The first is to ensure that the shaving cream maintains its integrity and doesn’t separate into oil and liquid. Secondly, cetearyl alcohol helps provide the smooth, cream-like texture of shaving cream.

Essential oils

Essential oils, which are compounds extracted from plants, capture a plant’s scent and impart it upon the shaving cream.

Examples of essential oils include argan oil, jojoba oil, and rosemary oil.

Some shaving creams will combine multiple essential oils in order to create a unique, complex and distinctive scent.


You’ll find that the majority of shaving creams contain at least a couple of preservatives - with one of the most common being phenoxyethanol.

Preservatives are added to shaving creams in order to inhibit the growth of bacteria and to prolong the shelf life of the cream.

It’s thanks to this mix of ingredients that shaving creams are able to work in the way that they do. And, it’s how shaving creams work that we’ll cover in the next section of this article.

What is the best shaving cream?

How do shaving creams work?

Shaving creams work by providing a lubricating layer that holds to your face whilst you shave with a razor.

The first stage of using shaving cream should always involve applying water to your face. This provides something for the shaving cream to adhere to, and also provides an extra element of lubrication.

With your face freshly moistened, the next step is to apply a medium-sized blob of shaving cream to your palm and figures and to massage it onto your face in a circular motion.

Ensure you have complete coverage of the areas of your face you want to shave.

At this stage, the shaving cream’s emulsifier and fatty acids will ensure that the cream has lathered up and is adhering to your face. It will also have lifted your facial hair away from your face, priming it for shaving.

Concurrently with this, the moisturising agent and water within the shaving cream will be going to work, adding moisture to your skin, feeding your follicles and pores.

With the shaving cream applied, it’s then time to get down to the business of shaving.

Once you’ve finished shaving, you’ll (hopefully!) note that the shaving cream’s essential oils have left behind a delightful scent. Because essential oils are absorbed by the skin, you’ll tend to find that this fragrance lingers throughout the day.

Finally, you should ensure that you once again rinse your face with water, being sure to wash away any remaining traces of shaving cream.

That’s how shaving cream works…

What are the benefits of using shaving cream?

We touched on the many benefits of using shaving cream in the opening section of this article, but we’ll examine them in more detail below.


Have you ever tried to shave without using shaving cream? If so, you probably found it to be a slightly unpleasant experience.

In fact, it was having to experience this every day that spurred Frank Shields to invent shaving cream all the way back in 1919.

The former MIT professor was tired of having to use a brush to work soap into a lather. Plus, soap didn’t exactly provide a smooth shaving experience - particularly for men like Shields who had the unfortunate combination of sensitive skin and coarse, hard-to-shave facial hair.

And, thus, shaving cream was born!

Today, shaving cream continues to deliver the same benefit for millions of men, acting as a lubricant to make shaving far more comfortable and pleasant.

Importantly, by providing lubrication, shaving cream has the benefit of significantly reducing the number of nicks and cuts you will pick up whilst shaving. Shaving cream will also reduce the likelihood of you developing razor burn or other general types of irritation.


Another benefit of shaving cream is the convenience it offers. Instead of having to work soap up into a lather using a brush, you can simply squeeze out some shaving cream and get to work with the razor!

Shaving cream is also convenient to transport (you can leave the brush behind!). Simply pop it into your toiletry travel bag and off you go!


If you want to keep your skin looking fresh and healthy, then you’ll need to keep it well moisturised and hydrated.

Luckily, if you use shaving cream, then you’re already doing that!

Shaving creams - especially those that feature quality moisturising agents like ours here at Cremo - will nourish and hydrate your skin during use.


Using shaving cream has the benefit of providing you with a visual reference as to where you have - and haven’t - shaved.

In other words, if you use shaving cream, you’re much less likely to miss a spot and have the annoying task of getting your razor out for a second time!


Should you buy a shaving cream such as the Cremo Palo Santo (Reserve Collection) Shave Cream, you’ll find that it leaves behind an attractive, appealing scent after use.

It won’t necessarily replace aftershave, but it’ll certainly add to your overall personal appeal.

Close shave

By lifting your facial hairs away from your face, and suspending them in a ‘standing’ position, shaving cream has the benefit of allowing you to achieve a much closer shave.

Plus, with the added lubrication, you’ll be able to apply a little more pressure to your razor, getting much closer to the follicle and thus cutting more of the hair.

The lubrication provided by shaving cream also reduces the likelihood of your facial hair being pulled or getting tangled up in the razor. Again, this allows you to shave much more closely to your skin.


There’s nothing quite the feeling you experience after having a close shave. Shaving cream - particularly those creams that are imbued with moisturising agents and essential oils - will leave your face feeling fresh, clean and rejuvenated following a shave.

Prolong the life of your razor

An often overlooked benefit of using shaving cream is that it can prolong the life of your razor.

To provide some context, consider the following; each time you shave, you could be cutting up to 25,000 individual hairs. That’s a lot of hair to cut!

By using shaving cream, you are providing your razor blade with a layer of lubrication. This lubrication will soften your facial hairs and reduce the likelihood of snagging, thus reducing the damage to your blade. This, in turn, will mean your razor blade lasts longer.

Think of how you apply oil to a metal part - without lubrication, something like an engine would quickly wear out (it’s why the entire science of tribology exists!). The same goes for razors…

How to use shaving cream

What’s the difference between shaving creams, shaving gels and shaving foams?

Although the question may seem fairly self-explanatory, there are some important differences between the different types of shaving products.

Shaving creams offer the traditional shaving experience, producing a rich, creamy, smooth lather and providing plenty of hydration.

Shaving gels have the advantage of being more transparent than shaving creams, and thus are good if you are aiming to create a particularly complex beard, moustache or other facial hair feature. However, gels provide nowhere near the same level of hydration to skin.

Shaving foams are undeniably the most convenient option, however this comes at the expense of both shaving technique, and the amount of hydration and nourishment they provide to your skin.

It’s for these reasons that we eschew both gels and foams here at Cremo. Instead, we have focused on the superior shaving solution - shaving creams.

What shaving accessories do you need?

By now, you’ve probably gathered that shaving cream is something you really can’t live without; certainly not if you intend to stay on your ‘A game’ and put your best face forward to the world every day.

However, shaving cream isn’t the only item that should have a permanent place in your bathroom cabinet. Below, we’ve set out the other shaving essentials you should always have to hand.

Cremo Barber Grade Razor

Cremo Barber Grade Razor

Buy Now - Cremo Barber Grade Razor

Arguably the most important part of the shaving experience is the razor you use. When it comes to putting sharp blades up against your skin, you certainly don’t want to skimp out and use a cheap, plastic razor.

Instead, you want to use a high-quality, metal, barber-grade cartridge razor.

Enter the Cremo Barber Grade Razor.

Featuring a stylish, weighted handle, the Cremo Barber Grade Razor has a reassuring heft to it that makes close shaves so much easier.

The easily replaceable cartridge features five durable blades, along with three comfort layers and lubricating pools of Cremo’s impossibly slick shave formula.

It all comes together to create the best razor you can buy, at an unbeatable price point.

Cremo Barber Grade Razor Refills

Cremo Barber Grade Razor Refills

Buy Now - Cremo Barber Grade Razor Refills

No quality razor is complete without some accompanying razor refills. After all, you never want to be caught short and unable to get your daily shave in!

Featuring five high-quality blades, a lubricating strip that’s infused with Cremo’s shave cream and a pull-back trimmer for hard-to-reach areas, the Cremo Barber Grade Razor Refills offer the ultimate shaving experience.

Cremo Cooling Post Shave Balm

Cremo Cooling Post Shave Balm

Buy Now - Cremo Cooling Post Shave Balm

If you want to feel maximally refreshed following your shaves, then invest in Cremo’s Cooling Post Shave Balm.

Packed with menthol and healing ingredients such as shea butter, baobab seed oil and tamanu seed oil, the Cremo Cooling Post Shave Balm is the perfect way to close up your pores and refresh and reinvigorate your skin after a shave.

What are the best shaving creams?

Time to upgrade to a better shaving cream? Then you’ll find the very best shaving creams you can buy below.

Cremo Original Shave Cream

Cremo Original Shave Cream

Buy Now - Cremo Original Shave Cream

This is it. The OG. The master. The daddy. Cremo’s Original Shave Cream set a standard which still stands today. A standard by which all other shaving creams are measured.

Formulated with a unique blend of moisturisers and essential oils, our Original Shave Cream features a subtle citrus scent that’ll delight.

What really makes the Cremo Original Shave Cream truly stand out though is its unique molecules, which when combined with water, create an impossibly slick surface that provides the smoothest shave you’ll ever experience.

Try it today and enjoy a barber-grade shave in the comfort of your own bathroom.

Cremo Palo Santo (Reserve Collection) Shave Cream

Cremo Palo Santo Shave Cream

Buy Now - Cremo Palo Santo (Reserve Collection) Shave Cream

Infused with notes of bright cardamom, dry papyrus, and - of course - aromatic palo santo, Cremo’s Palo Santo Shave Cream will leave you smelling great.

Like our Original Shave Cream, the Palo Santo Shave Cream contains unique molecules which, when combined with water, create an incredibly slick, smooth surface that razors glide over.

Plus, at 177ml, you can expect your Palo Santo Shave Cream to last at least 90 days. That’s incredible value and quality in one compact package.

Cremo Cooling Shave Cream

Cremo Cooling Shave Cream

Buy Now - Cremo Cooling Shave Cream

Crisp, refreshing, and reinvigorating. Those are just a few of the words that our customers use to describe how our Cremo Cooling Shave Cream leaves them feeling…

Packed with a lively blend of peppermint, menthol and tea tree oil, our Cremo Cooling Shave Cream will leave your skin feeling cool and fresh. Plus, thanks to the incredibly smooth shaving experience this cream offers, you’ll find that nicks, cuts and razor burns are a thing of the past.

Make the Cremo Cooling Shave Cream a part of your shaving kit today!

Cremo Barber Grade Shaving Bundle

Cremo Barber Grade Shaving Bundle

Buy Now - Cremo Barber Grade Shaving Bundle

Why not save money and pick up everything you need for a perfect shave with the Cremo Barber Grade Shaving Bundle?

Containing our Barber Grade Razor, extra razor blade cartridges and our incredible Original Shave Cream, the Barber Grade Shaving Bundle makes the perfect all-in-one shaving package or gift.

Put your best face forward with Cremo

Trusted by millions, Cremo is the home of astonishingly superior male grooming products.

We design our products to ensure that every shave is the best one you’ve ever had. So, when you want to feel your best, choose the best - choose Cremo.

Shop our shaving collection now

For more shaving, skincare and grooming advice and info, explore the Cremo blog