A shaving soap (or cream) and a brush is used to lubricate skin since we are finally running a blade across it, and to soften, swell, separate, raise and support beard hair, thus making it easier to cut. An easier cut implies a more even shave and more importantly reduces the number of passes required, thus reducing the possibility of razor burns.
A natural oil based shaving soap massaged into your skin using a brush ensures that not only is there enough lubrication for your first pass, but for your subsequent passes as well. The process of patting readymade foam on your face does not account for this.
Softening and swelling of the beard is achieved by allowing our hair to absorb moisture. Leaving water on our hair for only a few minutes1 while at the same time allowing the soap to increase the hydrophilicity of the hair2, ensures that enough water is absorbed by the keratin, the protein that our hair is primarily made of.
The raising and separating of hair is done by the creation of lather using a brush while the supporting is done by the air bubbles surrounding the hair i.e. the lather3. Again the, processing of patting readymade foam on your face does not account for this.
There are other incidental benefits of the whole process of wet shaving, for example the exfoliation of dead skin cells due to the use of a brush, but we have decided to stay away from listing them since they do not directly imply a better shave.
Though some companies (including ours) in the wet shaving industry continue to try and test the boundaries of what a wholesome shaving product and process can mean and provide. We do not use mineral oils for instance, unlike most off-the-shelf products, and stick to natural oils. Apart from being derived from a non-renewable resource, petroleum, mineral oils are known to be comedogenic i.e. they clog our skin’s pores. And unlike natural oils, mineral oils bring no nutritional benefit to our skin.
1 “Cutting Characteristics of Beard Hair” By Thozhur, S.M., Crocombe, A.D., Smith, P.A. et al. J Mater Sci (2007) 42: 8725. doi:10.1007/s10853-006-1338-3
2 “Applied Surfactants: Principles and Applications” By Tharwat F. Tadros, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. February 2005, ISBN: 978-3-527-30629-9
3 “The Handbook of Cosmetic Science & Technology” By J.L. Knowlton, S.E.M Pearce, Elsevier Science, December 1993, ISBN: 978-1-856-17197-7