The Myth Behind Shaving Foams & Gels October 31 2012, 1 Comment

Over the years I have been repeatedly asked for my opinion on the use of canned foams and gels when it comes to shaving. These 'time-saving' products may do just that - save you time, however, with the best will in the world, they will not give you a great shave - and here's my professional opinion why.

The modern man, who is uneducated when it comes to shaving (and that accounts for the vast majority - after all, who teaches a guy how to shave?!) has simply become accustomed to seeing 'white stuff' squirted directly from a can on his face whilst shaving. After all, that's what all the adverts depict, right?

Sadly, they neither know nor understand the underlying reasons behind exactly why they are using it. "To soften the beard" they say. Oh really? So exactly what part does a canned foam or gel play in 'softening the beard' when it is on the face for only a matter of seconds before being scraped off by the razor? 

Indeed, I challenge you to find any canned foam or gel advert that actually demonstrates to the viewers exactly how to apply the foam or gel. The advert starts by showing the guy already 'lathered up' and, by doing so, the producers of the advert miss out the most important part of the shave - the appropriate preparation of the beard! 

Perhaps a little explanation of the 'science' behind 'the white stuff' may help some to understand how canned foam came about and therefore why it is used.

Too Busy to Shave 

Unfortunately, the modern and at times frantic pace of life coupled with men's ignorance when it comes to shaving, has led shaving companies who mass produce these foams and gels, to appeal to those who want to get 'the dastardly deed' out of the way as quickly as possible.

Simply put, as your face is on show to all and sundry together with the fact that you also have to live with the consequences of your shaving habits, it is in your best interest to learn how best to look after it - and that means learning how to shave correctly using the best products for your skin type as well as the correct technique.

 What does 'the white stuff' actually do?

When a traditional barber shaves a guy he should use a quality shaving soap or cream together with a quality shaving brush and very warm water. It is the actual process of applying the soap/cream to the beard using circular motions with the brush and adding the water as needed thereby creating a lather - a process which should take several minutes to undertake as it opens the pores, softens the beard and the heat from the water being continually added relaxes the more than 30 facial muscles - this is what is actually preparing the beard ready for shaving. Canned foams and gels merely give you instant lather without the vital preparation of the beard.

Be honest, if you have ever shaved using canned foam or gel, how long is the 'lather' actually on the face for before you start to shave?  Seconds! So frankly, it can say "For Sensitive Skin" a thousand times on the can, but if the foam or gel simply isn't on the beard long enough to do what it's supposed to do - prepare the beard - then you'd be as well squirting it down the plughole for all the good it's doing! The canned stuff was designed by marketeers who simply wished to 'cash in' on the 'too busy to shave correctly' man. And boy, have they cashed in!

Instant foam and gel out of a can also need a propellant to squeeze the stuff out of its container. These propellants tend to dry out the skin rather than help add moisture. Add into the mix also the chemicals, alcohol and parabens usually contained in these products and you have a recipe for red, sore and irritated skin!

Remember then - wet and warm are the two key assets to a great wetshave. Therefore, acquiring and maintaining moisture in the beard throughout the shave is of paramount importance. That will rarely, if ever, be achieved with canned foams and gels!