Best Lather - Face Lathering vs Bowl Lathering

Best Lather - Face Lathering vs Bowl Lathering
Lathering shaving soap is like making bread.  There are only a few simple ingredients and steps, yet the results can be amazing or completely bomb.  It’s an art more than a science, but a few simple steps and you’ll produce a better lather on your face or in a bowl.

Face Lathering vs Bowl lathering is one of the most commonly asked questions similar to shaving soap vs cream for people getting started in the world of wet shaving.  Not only will we break down the pros and cons for each, but you will learn how to lather shaving soap no matter what shaving soap or brush you use.


What is Lather

First things first.  What in the world is Lather anyway?  The old timers and shaving enthusiasts throw around the term like everyone should know.  Unfortunately the newbies have no clue what is lather.  Don’t worry you’re about to learn exactly what lather is.

Lather is the foam or in shaving better described as froth produced while agitating shaving soap with water.  

Simply put this is the end product you get when pushing the button on the shaving cream can of barbasol.  That white thick foam that comes out is lather.

We are not here to talk about canned shaving cream, so now that you know what lather is let’s talk about how to lather shaving soap.

How to Lather Shaving Soap

You’ll need a few things to lather. Of course Shaving soap is required and a shaving brush and finally water.

There are different types of shaving brushes (synthetic, boar hair, badger hair, etc).  Let’s not go too deep because it will open a much more elaborate discussion.  The main purpose of a shaving brush is to agitate the shaving soap with water and do something called loading the brush.

This is typically done by soaking the brush and then gently squeezing excess water from the bristles.  You don’t want too much water because it will water down the lather.  Too little water and it will not produce anything, so usually getting the brush wet for a few minutes and gently squeezing it will provide the right about of water to start.

Once your brush is damp it’s time to start loading the brush.  This is simply painting the shaving soap.  Use back and forth strokes or circular.  Some people care what direction, but whatever it really doesn’t matter.  Just start working on that soap with the brush.  You are trying to get the soap worked into the brush at this time and that’s all.

The brush should have almost a matted look.  If you see lots of foam you might be using too much water and no foam is probably too little water.  Adjust as needed and just keep practicing.  The brush, soap, water type, and technique have  a lot  to do with how well it lathers.


For a more comprehensive guide here is another detailed article on this subject how to use shaving soap

Face Lathering vs Bowl Lathering

Now that you have the brush loaded it’s time to lather.  Back to the million dollar question  

Let’s go over pros and cons of each to make sure you make the right choice.

Bowl Lathering

Once your shaving brush is loaded with shaving soap it’s time to take the load and turn it into proper lather.  Bowl latherers usually have a shaving bowl made from ceramic, metal, or other material and place a few drops of water in it.

Next you take the brush and go in a circular motion around the bowl.  Add a few drops of water until you star seeing the later really start to explode.  Remember too little water and you’ll get nothing.  Too much water and it will be too thin.

The benefits of using a shave soap bowl is that you produce the lather directly in the shaving bowl and can apply on your face like normal shaving cream.  The cons of it are you need to buy a bowl, store the bowl, and honestly most people don’t care for bowl lathering.  Save your money in other words.

Face Lathering

After you have a loaded shave brush it’s time to start lathering directly on your face.  Paint your face is the best way to describe how to star the lathering process.  Add drops of water to the brush and keep going until the lather pops.

Again if you use too much water the lather will be thin and too little you’ll get nothing more than soap film on your face.

The benefits of face lathering are you don’t need to buy a shaving bowl.  When you face lather you are naturally exfoliating your skin.  I personally prefer face lathering over bowl lathering.


Getting into the world of wet shaving will require mastering the skill of lathering shave soap.  Wether you decide to face lather or bowl lather is totally up to you.  I would recommend starting with face lathering, which will save you a few bucks and provide just as good of a shave as a bowl.

Good luck on your wet shaving journey.  Feel free to contact Sir Hare with any questions
Checkout or Artisan Shaving Soap if you are ready to start lathering

3 Responses

Harry Hellman
Harry Hellman

May 07, 2019

First time user. Great shaving soap. I’ll be back for more and look forward to trying your other products. Keep me posted.


July 17, 2018

Hi. I’m new to using brushes. I read this page but it seems too confusing. Which do you recommend: bowl lather or face lather, and which is easiest? Thanks.

Sal Dominianni
Sal Dominianni

July 30, 2018

Excellent tip for bowl VS face lather good for the novice getting into wet shaving !

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