These 10 Shaving Creams for Women Will Help Prevent Ingrown Hairs

Say goodbye to nicks and bumps.

Woman applying shaving cream to her legs.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Shaving your body hair is by no means necessary. However, if you remove your hair, ensure you're equipped with the right tools. You'll need a razor and maybe even a bikini trimmer, but perhaps the most crucial product for a seamless, smooth, and ingrown hair-free experience is to opt for one of the best shaving creams for women.

A shaving cream may feel like an unnecessary add-on to your shower routine. If you have the razor at the ready, why bother with another step? Dr. Dendy Engelman, a board-certified dermatologist, has some thoughts on the matter: "A shaving cream or gel can help create a barrier or layer of protection between the blade and the skin, helping to reduce potential irritation, razor burn, and cuts." The right shaving cream can also make your skin feel smoother and more hydrated after you step out of the shower.

Ahead, we turned to additional dermatologists, cosmetic chemists, and shaving experts for their thoughts on the best shaving cream for women. Plus, information on how to use shaving creams, if they expire, and more on why they're so helpful for your skins barrier.

The Best Shaving Creams

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What to Look for in a Shaving Cream

  • Formula

When shave creams were discussed decades ago, most people automatically thought of a cream-based substance, but these days, the formulas are varied, offering gels, oils, and gel-to-milk types. And they work harder. Current formulas offer good-for-you ingredients (like aloe and marula oil) that aid in skin protection.

According to cosmetic chemist Ginger King, today's shaving cream formulas work more like conditioner than shampoo; they never need to foam to do their job. "The cream [or gel] will help to provide a uniform surface by coating skin and hair so when the razor glides over, the hair can be lifted without scraping skin," she says.

  • Consistency

Some shaving creams are foamy and thick. Others are more gel or paste-like and are packaged in a tube, jar or non-aerosol container. When deciding on consistency, it's helpful to consider the shaving experience. Do you prefer to whip the gel into a lather and smooth it over your body? Or do you want a gel-like formula that allows you to see the hairs as you shave? Marzovilla's favorite shaving cream is super thick, almost blanket-like and comforts her. On the other hand, Campbell's favorite is a transparent, lightweight gel formula that isn't too messy in the shower. Both textures get the job done, offering a close shave with minimal irritation, but each editor selected their favorites based on usability and experience.

  • Ingredients

Dr. Engelman explains that artificial fragrances in shaving creams can cause allergic reactions or irritation, so there's no formula-impacting reason to keep them around. "Phthalates can also be potentially harmful to the body by disrupting hormones and they can also harm the environment," she shares. "I recommend looking for a cream that is fragrance-free and hypoallergenic."

Benjamin Knight Fuchs, R. Ph, a cosmetic chemist adds that you should look for shaving creams "that contain topical nutrients and minimal ingredient decks."

woman apply shaving cream in the bathroom

Beauty Director Deena Campbell loves Oui the People's formula for it's lightweight feel.

(Image credit: Oui the People)

Do I Need to Use a Shaving Cream?

While you don't technically need to use a shaving cream, it can make your hair removal routine go more smoothly.

"Shaving imposes constant stress on skin that can cause it to feel dry. There is also potential to nick, cut, or irritate your skin when shaving. For these reasons, it is important to ensure skin is cared for in the shaving process," shares Helen Sung, Head of Global Product Development and Research at Flamingo. "A shave prep is key because it provides a layer of protection between the skin and the blade so that your razor is able to glide across skin to remove hair without issue."

Even if you're just applying a body wash or bar of soap before going to town with your razor, there will be less friction on your skin, meaning fewer nicks and bumps in the end.

How to Apply Shaving Cream

Fuchs shares that shaving creams' slickness is achieved by including fatty acids, emollients, and silicone derivatives. To get these ingredients to work, add a little water (if the formula calls for it) and apply a nice layer to the area you're looking to shave.

For the actual shaving process, Dr. Engelman says you should go in one direction with your (new and sharp!—you should change the blade out every five to seven shaves) razor, which will reduce the likelihood of ingrown hairs, razor bumps, and irritation overall.

"If you shave in the direction your hair grows, you are also less likely to irritate your skin because shaving against the hair tugs on your hair follicles, which increases your risk of irritation," she shares. "Do not forget to hydrate the skin with an oil and moisturizer post-shave to lock in moisture."

Can Shaving Creams Expire?

Like any other beauty product, shaving creams have expiration dates, especially if they contain water in their ingredient list. The typical expiration date is two years from the time the product was formulated.

However, Fuchs says it's probably fine to use them a little longer than the bottle says. "There is nothing in most shaving creams that will expire, and typically, these kinds of products are effective indefinitely," he shares.

Meet the Experts

dr. dendy engelman headshot
Dr. Dendy Engelman

Dr. Dendy Engelman is a board certified dermatologic surgeon at Shafer Clinic Fifth Avenue. Dr. Engelman earned the Presidential Scholar award while a medical student at the Medical University of South Carolina. She was also awarded the Humanism in Medicine Scholarship primarily for establishing and running a free medical care clinic in Charleston and in Haiti.

Following medical school, Dr. Engelman completed her internship in Internal Medicine at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan. In addition, Dr. Engelman completed a one-year fellowship in Mohs and dermatologic surgery, lasers, liposuction and vein treatments. She also has extensive training and experience in cosmetic dermatology—including neurotoxins, injectable fillers, and chemical peels.

Most recently, Dr. Engelman was appointed Director of Dermatologic Surgery at New York Medical College where she oversees the training of future Mohs surgeons and dermatologists. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, American Society of Dermatologic Surgery and American College of Mohs Surgery.

Helen Sung Headshot
Helen Sung

Helen Sung holds a BS in Biochemistry from SUNY Stonybrook and a MBA from Dowling College.

She is currently the Head of Soft Product Innovation at Harry's Inc and led R&D for Flamingo. Helen joined the Harry's R&D team in 2017 when Flamingo first launched, and oversaw the product portfolio. Helen started her career in beauty as a formulation chemist, then moved into various Product Development roles at Estee Lauder and L'Oreal, where she focused on skincare and dermatologist solutions.

benjamin knight fuchs headshot
Benjamin Knight Fuchs

Benjamin Knight Fuchs is a skin care chemist, registered pharmacist, nutritionist, and founder of Truth Treatments. For the past 35 years, he's been developing pharmacy-potent skin health products for estheticians, dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and his own customers.

Ginger King
Ginger King

Ginger King is a cosmetic chemist who has been passionately creating beauty products from concept to finish since 1995. She is well versed in innovative concepts, creative product formulation, advanced technology applications, ergonomic package development and impactful competitive analysis. Ginger has developed over hundreds of products from hair care to skin care, and sun care to color cosmetics. Her claim to fame products include the revolutionary first to market Joico ICE SPIKER, water resistant hair glue, Freeze 24.7 Ice Shield, SPF 15 face wash and Avon Advance Techniques Color Protection series.

Freelance Writer

Sophia Vilensky is a freelance beauty writer at Marie Claire, where she writes about the latest and greatest skincare launches, hair colors, and Cardi B manicures. Her work can also be found at Byrdie, Bravo, and Us Weekly. You can find her on Instagram @sophiavilensky.