A warning—once you try a real non-detergent-based soap to shave with, you'll never use a commercial shaving cream again!
An excellent 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 be:
- abundant [in lather]
- long lasting
Now, with 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.
For this project you'll need:
- Melt and pour soap base—I'm using a plain white base, though you can use shaving, clear, aloe, goat's milk, or other bases as well.
- 2 tablespoons of clay per pound of soap base—I prefer Bentonite clay, though you can use Kaolin, Rhassoul or Fuller's Earth.
- 1 teaspoon of liquid glycerin per pound of soap. The 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.
- Fragrance or Essential oil appropriate for the person using the soap. Be sure that it's mild enough for sensitive skin—I'm using a light combination of lavender, orange, and patchouli.
- Basic understanding and equipment for melt and pour soap making.
- And though not part of the recipe, you'll also need a shaving brush.
Note: If you want to make a batch of shaving soap from scratch, check out my Cold Process Shaving Soap recipe. Get all of your ingredients together and:
- 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.
That's it! 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."