Once you try shaving with a real, non-detergent based soap, you'll never use commercial shaving cream again. Shaving soap is a bit different than a regular bath soap. As Michael Ham recommends in his book "Leisureguy's Guide to Gourmet Shaving," a shaving soap should have the following characteristics:
- Abundant lather
Using a melt and pour soap base, you are at the mercy of the manufacturer. There are standard soap bases and even shaving soap bases. The main variant you can make with melt and pour is to add clay. The clay helps give the soap extra "slip" and also works to purify your skin (think of a clay or mud mask). You don't want to add any extra oil, as that will diminish the lather.
You might also want to make your shaving soap from scratch using a cold process shaving soap recipe. This recipe produces a solid shaving soap contained in a mug or tin. To use it, a shaving brush is wet with hot water, then rubbed on the soap in a circular motion to produce the lather. Then the gentleman applies the lathered brush to his face before shaving.
While not technically a material, you will need a basic understanding of how to make melt and pour soap. For the soap base, you can use a plain white base or one for shaving. Alternatively, you can use a clear, aloe, goat's milk, or another base of your choosing. Assemble these other ingredients and tools:
- 2 tablespoons of clay per pound of soap base. Bentonite clay is preferred, though you can use kaolin, rhassoul clay, or fuller's earth.
- 1 teaspoon of liquid glycerin per pound of soap. Glycerin helps build the volume and stability of the lather and adds a bit of moisturizing.
- A mug, cup, or tin (to put the soap into)
- If desired, a fragrance or essential oil appropriate for the person using the soap—be sure that it's mild enough for sensitive skin, such as a light combination of lavender, orange, and patchouli.
- A spray bottle with rubbing alcohol
- Double-boiler or microwave
- Metal whisk
- Rubber spatula
Although not part of the recipe, you'll also need a shaving brush to make use of the soap.
Once you've assembled your equipment and supplies, it's time to make your soap!
- Melt your soap base in the microwave or a double boiler.
- Once it's melted, add 2 teaspoons of clay for each pound of soap base you've melted.
- Stir well, making sure that all of the clay gets dissolved.
- Add in the glycerin and your fragrance or essential oil and stir.
- Pour it into your mugs or cups. If you have a lot of bubbles from stirring, just spritz them with a bit of rubbing alcohol.
- When the soap has cooled and thickened a bit, give it one more gentle stir. The clay can sometimes have a tendency to settle to the bottom of the mug.
Experiment with different clays, soap bases, or fragrances. They'll all be just a little bit different. Remember that a real shaving soap is not going to be as foamy as a commercial shaving cream, but with the clay, it has just as much "slip."