Shaving gel is a lubricating product designed to be applied before shaving in order to soften the hair being shaved, along with moisturizing the skin and preventing the razor from dragging along the skin, potentially creating razor burn. It comes in tubs as well as cans, and is usually designed to foam into a thick, dense lather. Most companies which manufacture conventional shaving cream also make gels for shaving, as many of the basic ingredients are the same, and some consumers prefer more options.
As compared to shaving cream, shaving gel tends to be more efficient, because only a small amount is needed for each shave. This is because the consumer lathers the gel before or while he or she is applying it, rather than dispensing an already lathered product, as is the case with shaving cream. When dispensed in a can, the gel is kept under pressure so that it will dispense when needed. It is also available in tubs into which the shaver can dip a hand or shaving brush.
In most cases, shaving gel will foam when it is gently agitated in the hands or on the surface of the face. In other instances, it is intended to be applied in a thin lubricating layer which does not foam. Some specialized gels function like this to provide more moisturizing properties, or to soften particularly thick hair. When shaving gel does not foam, it is usually lightly colored, so that the person shaving can clearly see which areas of the skin have been lubricated.
Ingredients for this product can vary. Some gels use alcohol as a medium, which can unfortunately dry the skin. Alcohol based shaving gels also cannot be used very effectively in the shower or by people who prefer to wet shave. Most gel packaged in tubes has alcohol, unless the label suggests otherwise. Tubs of shaving gel, however, tend to use glycerin, which can be used to wet shave. Other ingredients may include aromatic compounds, moisturizing products like colloidal oatmeal, and skin soothers like cucumber, chamomile, aloe vera, or lavender.
When shaving, it is important to moisten the area first with hot water to relax the pores, soften the hairs, and relax the muscles. Apply shaving gel as directed on the packaging, and use a very sharp razor to gently skim the skin, cutting the hairs, rather than pulling them out. Most disposable razors do not provide a high quality shave, and will also tend to irritate the skin; if possible, use a double edged safety razor to glide over the skin, rather than pressing in. If a razor is used correctly, the shave will be smooth and close, but will not cause nicks or razor burn.