You took the decision to start shaving in the traditional and more manly way and what’s better than knowing how to use shaving soap. Good for you.

You got yourself a very nice and sharp DE safety razor. A straight razor? Even better.

You did your search online to build your shaving set, compared prices for hours and bought all the things that you need for a great traditional shaving experience. You got the shaving soap, the awesome badger brush with a shaving bowl which by the way was a great bundle deal, and lastly the aftershave balsam.

So how are you going to use all these goodies that you just bought?

How do you use shaving soap?

Before you even begin thinking about shaving, you need to start with the fundamentals of traditional shaving. That includes lathering with a shaving soap.

It is necessary to understand how to build lather and when/how to apply it on your face in order to have an easy and pleasant shaving session.

There are 2 common methods to build lather with a shaving soap and are pretty similar to the one with shaving cream. One way is to prepare it in a shaving bowl and then apply it on your face. The other one is to build the lather directly on your face. By the way,  this is the method that I personally prefer. I will dig into the reasons in more detail.

So let’s not lose more time and let’s find out how to use shaving soap to wet shave like a boss.

Things you ‘ll need for using a shaving soap effectively

  • A shaving brush (like my new favorite one by Atto Primo Gold)
  • Shaving Bowl (if you aren’t building lather on face directly). You can also use any bowl, mug or cup if you don’t want to spend money in this. Keep in mind that you ‘ll have to swirl the shaving brush in it . Therefore, a short and wide bowl is more preferred.
  • Shaving soap. Thank you captain obvious.
  • A properly wet face with warm water when you are about to apply the lather.

Method 1: Building lather in the shaving bowl

How to use shaving soap - lathering in bowl


Before we begin, we assume that you already follow a few steps to prepare your face skin for shaving. Pay special attention in case your skin is sensitive to shaving.

Ideally, you have at least splashed some warm water on your face just before you begin applying the lather. Here we go then.

1. Soak the brush

Since you have the shaving bowl, fill it with hot water -not boiling, and let the brush soak inside for a minute or two. Alternatively, you can also soak the brush with running hot water.

Avoid soaking up your brush inside a sink full of water since most of the times the sink is not at its cleanest state. Since this shaving brush is going to touch your face, it doesn’t seem to be the most hygienic thing.

Tip: Make a wise decision when selecting a shaving brush. A badger hair brush is a good choice for retaining water and it’s usually softer than artificial brushes.

2. Empty the water

Once you let the brush soak in the bowl for a couple of minutes, take it out and empty most of the water. Leave just a teaspoon in it. You will also now need to get rid of the excess water on the brush. Shake it a couple of times until the brush stops dripping.

3. Soften the shaving soap

Now it’s time to do some preparation for the shaving soap. Add a little bit of hot water on top of the soap, a few drops or a teaspoon maybe. This will make the soap softer. Ideally, this step is completed at the same time that the brush is soaking in hot water.

4. Swirl on the soap

This is the most important step if you want to make a great lather. Take the brush and start swirling it on the soap. You will need to swirl it a few times for 10-15 seconds. Once you ‘ve finished swirling the brush on top of the soap, it’s time to make the lather in the bowl.

5. Swirl in the bowl

Time to grab the shaving bowl. You kept a little bit of water already in it, right?

Grab the brush and start swirling it in the bowl. This will take you approximately a minute or a bit less. When you swirl the brush in the bowl, you will see the lather starting to build up. In the beginning, it will be bubbly but as you swirl but it will soon become thicker.

6. Check if lather is ready

Now, there might be a chance that the lather is not exactly how you want it to be. There are 3 possible outcomes.

The first one is that the lather is perfect, and you can start applying it evenly across your face, that’s great.

Alternatively, it might be too bubbly and you will need to continue swirling until it gets the necessary thickness.

There is also the chance that the lather is too thick and in such case it’s a good idea to pour a few drops of water in the bowl and swirl once again. The key here is to add water little by little to avoid making the lather too watery.

Tip: If the lather seems to be too bubbly, continue swirling in the shaving bowl until it gets thicker. If you still can’t get the lather thick enough, go back to the soap, swirl a few times and repeat the swirling in the shaving bowl.

7. Happy shaving

Once you are confident that you have a good and thick lather, it’s time to start applying it with the brush on your face until it covers all the areas you wish to shave. Just brushing your face would be enough and no extra swirling required.

You ‘re good to go with the shaving.

Method 2: Building lather on the face (Preferred)

How to use shaving soap with face lathering

Img Credit:

If you’re just starting out with wet shaving and want to know how to use shaving soap, I’m confident that this method is something that you will enjoy. Besides that, I’ve got the impression that it’s a bit easier to build up lather.

Just like in Method 1, we assume that you prepared your face properly for shaving and avoid possible irritation or razor bumps.

1. Soak the brush

Just like in method 1, you will need to soak the brush in hot water (caution with the water temperature) and make the badger hair soft and moist. Once you’ve done this, shake the brush a few times until most of the water goes away but be careful not to dry the brush too much.

2. Soften the soap

This is not as important as in method 1. Pour a few drops of warm water on the soap to make it a bit softer.

3. Swirling time

Now that you have a soap ready to be swirled and a wet shaving brush, time to do some swirling. Take the brush and swirl for 10-15 on top of the soap. You don’t have to put pressure here. Just make some gentle moves on the soap until the tips of the brush get some soap on it.

4. Apply it on your face

You prepared your face already right? Your face needs to be properly wet.

Start swirling actions on your cheeks for the lather to build up. After 30 seconds of swirling on your wet face, you will have a nice and thick lather.

Similarly to Method 1, there is a chance you might get either a watery or a very thick lather. If this happens, follow the same procedure.

  • If you got a watery lather, swirl the brush on the shaving soap and continue with swirling on your face.
  • If the lather is too thick, pour a few drops of water on the tips of the shaving brush and put it again on your face and get the swirling started once again.

5. Shave yourself

You ‘ve done it. You got yourself a great lather and you ‘re ready to shave.

How I use the shaving soap. My preferred method

Both methods of using the shaving soap are the same and you should expect similar if not identical results.

Personally, I prefer creating lather directly on the face. However, I believe that lathering in a bowl is a more pleasing experience and you get some sort of a manly feeling that you are creating something.

S(h)aving Time

When I lather directly on my face, it saves me time. Since you ‘re not using the shaving bowl, all you do is swirl on the soap and then directly on the wet face. Besides that, you have one less thing to wash off once you ‘re done shaving.

I know that this doesn’t necessarily save you much time but it adds up, especially if you ‘re late at work and every second matters.

Shaving Sensation

Besides the time benefit, building the lather directly on my face gives me the impression that the shaving is more pleasant. I am not sure if this is a placebo effect but it seems as if my face is more moist and the lather gets deeper in the pores and makes shaving easier.

Shaving Soaps to Consider

Now that you know how to use shaving soap in a few ways, you’re ready to take the next step and find the best shaving soaps to get you started.

There are quite a few shaving soaps that I used over the past few years. Few notable soaps can be found on amazon and they are the following:

#Bonus Video

Lastly, I would like to share with you a video by Michael Freedberg which shows you a step by step tutorial of lathering a shaving soap. I hope you enjoy.


How do you use shaving soap?