Do You Need a Brush for Shaving Soap (What Can You Use Instead?)

Using a brush is the most common way to lather your face when shaving with shaving soap. This is because the brush absorbs the moisture and soap and evenly distributes it into the facial hair. But what if you don’t have one on hand? Is the brush really necessary?

A brush is used with shave soap to thoroughly lather your face and beard because it lifts the whiskers to provide a better shave. If you don’t have a shaving brush available, you can use your hands, a washcloth, or a face scrubber, although none of these will be as effective. You may also want to consider using a shave gel instead of shaving soap.

Keep reading for why you should use a shaving brush with as well as some alternatives you can use to still get a great shave from your shaving soap!

Is a shaving brush necessary?

If you have your shaving soap on hand, but no brush to go with it, then you’re probably wondering if it’s necessary to have one at all. A brush is unnecessary with shaving creams and gels but makes achieving an effective lather much easier when using a shave soap.

A shaving brush is not necessary to use with shaving soap, although it will make the process a lot easier and more efficient.

Shaving brushes are great as the animal hair it’s made from helps to absorb all the soap and moisture into the brush making lathering a more efficient process. 

Using shaving soap without a brush is possible and will work, but if you have sensitive skin or suffer from post-shave razor burn, bumps, etc. it would be a better idea to just get a brush or a regular shaving cream instead that does not require a brush as some of the alternatives are a bit rougher on the skin and may contribute to more irritation.

By using some alternative options instead of a shaving brush, you can still get a great shave out of the shaving soap, but it won’t be as comfortable and easy to apply as just a simple shaving cream or using a brush. 

What’s the point of a shaving brush?

There’s a reason shaving brushes have been used for such a long time. They are a tried-and-true tool in the world of shaving as they provide a more efficient and cleaner shaving experience compared to just using your hands to apply lather. 

Shaving brushes help get lather underneath your facial hair, which helps the shaving soap absorb into the skin and soften the hair better than your hand would. This provides a cleaner and smoother shaving experience. 

Shave creams and gels alone are unable to penetrate the hair and soften it effectively as a brush can. Putting lather on by hand also tends to mat hair on the face rather than lift it up. Using a shaving brush is great as it helps to distribute the lather more finely on the face. 

Shaving brushes also help with exfoliation when lathering. The animal hairs on the brush help to scrub away dirt, dead skin cells, and other bacteria which makes for smoother strokes over the skin. 

Here is a good budget recommendation for a shaving brush if you are on the lookout for one. 

Does a shaving brush really make a difference?

Whether you’re shaving with soap or cream, using a shaving brush is a great way to help get lather deeply into the facial hair and spread more evenly onto the face. They aren’t completely necessary, though and you can get by without using one.

Shaving brushes do make a difference when applying lather to the face that provides a smoother shave as it exfoliates. It also can help prevent razor bumps and ingrown hairs as it helps lift facial hairs from their roots. 

Shaving brushes are great for all types of shaving, but using one is optional, and many people choose to never use one. If you never use one, then shaving cream is probably the best option to go with as shaving soap is usually quite hard and dense making it difficult to distribute efficiently without a brush. 

It’s also important to note that if you use shaving soap, it can get harder over long periods of time, making it even more difficult to use without a brush. Adding a small amount of distilled water into old shaving soap is a good way to soften it up back again especially if you want to apply it without using a brush.

What can you use if you don’t have a shaving brush?

Most men use a shaving brush when using shaving soap as it helps to distribute it evenly over the skin and absorbs the soap from the hard puck easily.

If you don’t have a shaving brush, then don’t worry!

Here are some alternatives to using a shaving brush:

  • Your hands
  • Your stubble or beard
  • Washcloth
  • Paint brush
  • Loofah
  • Face scrubber
  • Use a shaving gel or cream

Your hands

Before using your hands to create a lather, wet your face thoroughly with water to make sure it’s adequately moisturized. It is best to shave after a shower.

Apply the soap to your face and rub your hands on your face to create the lather. Use circular movements with your hands to help build the lather.

Your stubble or beard

Using your stubble or beard to help lather is a great alternative to using a brush in a pinch. Be sure to thoroughly wet your face and wet the soap slightly as well.

Apply and rub the shaving soap onto your face with your hands and move in circular motions to help produce the lather. 


When using a washcloth to apply lather, dampen it slightly and wet the shaving soap a bit as well.

Swirl the washcloth in the shaving soap vigorously then swirl it on your wet face for a few seconds until the lather forms.

Be aware that the lather produced by a washcloth will be much lighter than if you used a shaving brush. 


Using a paintbrush with shaving soap is not one of my favorite alternatives to a brush as it can be a bit uncomfortable, but it can distribute shaving soap well.

Wet the brush thoroughly and press the bristles into the soap cake. Once the brush is loaded with soap, rub it over your face and brush in a circular motion to help produce lather. 


Using a loofah can be an interesting option. It can help to exfoliate dead skin cells and soften the skin much like a brush.

To use a loofah with shaving soap, dip it in warm water and rub it into the soap in a circular motion. Gently rub the loofah into the part of the face that you want to shave. Repeat this until a nice lather is formed. 

Face scrubber

Using a face scrubber such as this one or something similar can be a good option to apply shaving soap in a pinch.

To use a face scrubber, wet the scrubber and the soap slightly, then rub it into the soap and rub it onto your face in a circular motion to produce a lather. 

Use a shaving gel or cream

If you want a simpler option than a shave soap and brush, then using a quality shaving cream such as this one or gel is the best way to go.

Shaving creams, gels, and foams don’t need a brush to apply and lather efficiently onto the face and are great alternatives to shaving soaps. 

Shaving cream is easy, just make sure your face is thoroughly moisturized with water, then apply the shaving cream directly onto your face with your hands and shave!

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