A bowl is a bowl, right? As you progress further and further down the wet shaving path, you may be wondering if you need a dedicated shaving bowl, or if any old bowl can be used with shaving soap. What about a mug? Could that be an option as well? Let’s take a deep dive into the subject of shaving bowls and mugs.
A shaving bowl is not required for a good shave, but using one can greatly enhance your experience by creating the best quality lather. With material options ranging from ceramic and stone to metal and even wood, a wide selection of sizes, and the occasional handle, you’ll be able to find a bowl that will help you achieve the best possible shave.
Read on to learn more about how and why shaving bowls are used as well as some common materials they are made from. We’ll also look at whether it makes sense to get a shaving-specific bowl or if a regular bowl can be repurposed.
What is the point of a shaving bowl?
To begin, let’s first examine the purpose of the shaving bowl.
A shaving bowl is generally used to hold the puck of soap and is used with a shaving brush and water to whip up the lather needed to coat your face.
It allows you to keep your hands free of soap and lather while you shave, minimizing the chances of the razor slipping out of your hand.
Is a shaving bowl necessary?
Back to the shaving bowl question at hand, do you really need one?
As long as you have a shaving brush, a bowl is not strictly necessary since you can whip up a lather in your hand or directly on your face. For a lot of men, a bowl or mug adds a lot to the experience.
A big benefit is keeping the bathroom cleaner since the bowl keeps the lather in one place, while hand or face lathering tends to come with more drips and splatters. Using a bowl can make shaving easier as well since you can look directly into the bowl and mix the soap with the brush until you get the desired amount of lather.
Hand and face lathering usually requires you to go at a quicker pace to prevent the soap from sliding off your skin. Since the use of a bowl or mug is such a matter of personal preference, it is absolutely worth trying one out to see if it works for you and your routine.
Do you need a shaving bowl to use shaving soap?
Shaving soap is where a bowl probably makes the most sense as soaps come in pucks.
Since soap gets slippery when wet (the best Bon Jovi album by the way) a bowl is a fantastic option for both use and storage. Shaving soap can be difficult to hand or face later, so using the puck in a bowl or mug lets you use your brush most effectively to build a nice lather.
A bowl also lets you keep your shaving soap in a secure place where it won’t be mistaken for bath soap and used by somebody for a shower. It also keeps the soap off the countertop where it can get a bit gunky.
If you’d like to try out a shaving bowl, check out these great options:
- Proraso Shaving Soap in a Bowl – Proraso is a classic shave soap, and this version is especially convenient as it comes in a disposable plastic shaving bowl. Keep in mind that you’ll also need a separate bowl or cup that can be filled with hot water to prep the soap for use.
- Henry Cavendish Gentleman’s Ceramic Shaving Soap Bowl with Handle – This is a great looking bowl if you’re looking for something that can handle a variety of pucks. Its generous size means you have lots of room to create a good lather, and the handle helps keep it securely in your hand despite the overall weight and size. Use with your choice of shaving soap (sold separately).
Do you need a bowl to lather shaving cream?
If you’re anything like me, maybe you were taught to squirt the shaving cream into your hand and then apply it directly to your face. Did you know that you’re much better off taking a few seconds to create the lather in your hands instead of trying to do it on your face?
A bowl isn’t necessary when using shaving creams as they are very easy to create a lather with in your hand, with or without a brush.
There are advantages to using a brush with your shaving cream, including that it will typically build a greater amount of lather with the same amount of cream. This is good for your wallet as it means you’ll need less cream overall but, it can also be handy for subsequent passes over trouble spots on your face.
Do you need a shaving bowl to use shaving foam?
Shaving foams are self-lathering, so the only real benefit of a bowl would be to keep your hands free of lather.
If you’ve read this far though, you probably understand that a bowl is best used with soap or cream to provide the best wet shaving experience.
Can you use any bowl for shaving soap?
Technically you can use any bowl to whip up your shaving soap, but honestly what fun is that?
If you find yourself researching shaving bowls and mugs, it’s apparent that you should find a cool piece of shaving swag and dedicate it to your shaving practice.
Shaving bowls and mugs come in many shapes, sizes, and materials. Some have handles, some have lids. Let’s take a look at some of the choices.
What is the best material for a shaving bowl?
Next, we’ll look at some of the most common materials used for shaving bowls.
Most shaving bowls will be made of:
There are some factors to weigh such as heat retention, durability, and cost but personal preference is the true deciding factor.
Bowls and mugs made of ceramic material tend to have good heft to them and feel good in your hand.
Ceramic bowls retain heat well, which is why they are used commonly to hold coffee. Ceramic can be cost-effective as well since you can buy one typically for about $15 or less or just use an old coffee mug you already have.
They come in a myriad of colors and designs as well, and several ceramic shaving bowls come with a handle that helps with grip.
The main drawback to ceramic bowls is that they are breakable.
When dealing with soap, things can get slippery so a bowl that comes out of your hand and hits the floor is going to shatter.
Stone bowls have many similar properties to ceramic.
Stone bowls retain heat well and have substantial weight.
Aesthetics are what really sets stone pieces apart, as they look fantastic.
The drawbacks to stone are cost and breakability.
Stone bowls tend to be more expensive than comparable ceramic bowls, and while a dropped bowl probably won’t shatter as much as ceramic, breakage is definitely a possibility.
Metal, specifically stainless steel is a great option for shaving bowls.
Stainless steel bowls can be found online for about $5, and are extremely durable. Stainless steel is a hygienic material as well, and it does a good job of retaining heat.
If you drop a stainless steel bowl, it likely won’t break, though thinner bowls may suffer damage.
The only real con to stainless steel is that they look cold and clinical.
This may not even be a bad thing for everyone, as that look goes nicely with some bathrooms.
Some shaving bowls can also be made of wood, and the big advantage to this material is grip.
Wood shouldn’t get as slippery as ceramic or stone. It costs about the same as stone and looks nice aesthetically.
The possibility for water absorption is the biggest drawback to wood when compared to ceramic, metal, and stone.
Over time, a wood bowl could warp from absorbing water.
How big should a shaving bowl be?
A quick look at your hands will give you the best answer to how big a shaving bowl should be.
You want something that fits nicely in the palm of your hand and gives you a good firm grip. You wouldn’t want to use something as big as a mixing bowl, as it would be tough to keep the lather confined enough to be efficient and would be difficult to hold.
Try several options and, like a baseball glove, chances are you’ll come upon an option that just feels right.
Does a shaving bowl need a handle?
In general, a shaving bowl does not need a handle.
The benefit of a handle is that it gives you another option for gripping the bowl when holding or moving it. If your hands are slippery from soap residue, the handle could be a second line of defense against dropping and breaking your bowl.
This is purely a matter of personal preference however, trial and error is the best way to find the bowl or mug that will be your hand’s perfect match.