How To Use A Shaving Bowl – 4 Easy Steps!

Although he didn’t do it all that often, I used to be intrigued watching my Dad produce a nice rich lather in his shaving bowl. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to step into manhood, and celebrate my lather-filled rite of passage.

Many years have passed, and I now enjoy the process of creating the perfect creamy lather in my own shaving bowl.

Right from the outset, I want to say that if you don’t want to use a shaving bowl…you don’t have to! Although it’s my preferred method, there are plenty of blokes that are happy to lather into their palm, or alternatively, lather directly onto the their face. There is no right or wrong here, it’s just your personal preference.

On the whole, most shaving soaps and creams lather well in a bowl. Some may take a bit more work than others. That of course is just a matter of trial and error.

==> Click here for my shaving showdown: Shaving Soap vs Cream <==

You have three main options when it comes to getting your lather ready in anticipation of the first stroke of your razor.

  • Lathering in your Palm
  • Lathering on you Face
  • Lathering in a Bowl


Lathering In Your Palm

Palm lathering is a great option if you don’t have a bowl handy. You load your desired shaving brush with soap or cream, add moisture as required and swirl away.

==> Click here for my review: Synthetic Brushes <==


No Bowl

If you don’t have a bowl handy or if you’re travelling, palm lathering is a simple alternative.


You will get a general sense of the lather feel and density before applying it to your face.


Water Control

Due to the design of your hand, it’s difficult to control the amount moisture added to your lather.


The enemy of wet shaving is having slippery hands and fingers. With this method there is no getting away from the fact that your hands will get very soapy and slick. Of course if you are using a straight or safety razor, even more caution is definitely warranted.

If you are using this method, it’s important to make sure you wash all soap off your hands before shaving.

Lather Control

Lather can in some instances build up very quickly. This in turn can result in lather overflowing the edges of your hand leading to unnecessary waste.

Limited Space

Although some soaps and creams will lather well, the restricted area your palm offers can make it difficult for some soaps and particularly creams to create a decent lather.


You need to build your lather all over again for each subsequent pass.

==> Click here for my Wet Shaving Tips & Tricks <==

Lathering On Your Face

One of the huge positives of lathering on your face is that it cuts out the middle man. You load your shaving brush with soap or cream and apply it straight to your handsome visage.


No Bowl

As in palm lathering, the lack of shaving bowl doesn’t impact on your choice of lathering technique.

No Mess

Unlike lathering into your hand, with no soap or cream pooling in your palm, there is no (or very little) mess to deal with.


Water Control

Even more so than lathering in your palm, you really need to have the correct water ratio for that perfect lather. Unlike a bowl where you have far greater moisture control.


Like palm lathering, you need to build your lather all over again for each subsequent pass.


Although many men use this technique successfully, it takes practice and patience to have just the right amount of water captured in your brush. And as you’re perfecting this, you may find yourself with less than adequate lather on your face in preparation to your shave.

Lathering In A Bowl


At the beginning of this article, I said that I preferred using a shaving bowl. I like to be able to have greater control over the formation of my lather and a bowl allows me to do that.

Shaving Bowls – Amazon style=

Shaving Bowls – West Coast Shaving


Water Control

The secret to a creamy lather is the amount of moisture added. A bowl will give you a lot of control over your lathers richness due to its captive environment.

No Mess

Lathering in a bowl keeps your area cleaner, and soap off your hands


A bowl gives you somewhere to rest your brush in between passes


Not only does a bowl enable you to build the perfect lather, you don’t have to repeat the process in between passes. Once your lather is created, it’s there and ready to rock and roll whenever you need it.


It’s super easy to give your bowl a quick rinse along with you brush after shaving.



Although you can pick up a bowl for a few bucks at your local discount store, it needs to be noted that if you can’t find anything suitable in your kitchen cupboards, you’ll need to buy one.

==> Click here for my Pre-Shave Routine <==

How To Use A Shaving Bowl

I’d love to be able to tell you I got it right from day one…but that would be far from the truth. I think my first attempt resulted in bigger soap bubbles than you’d see at a five year old’s birthday party. 😉

In time I got better though, and now my lather is usually bang on each and every time.

Most bowls are suitable to use as a shaving bowl. As long as it’s a decent size and you can maintain a firm grip on the base.

Step 1

Wet your shaving brush thoroughly with warm (or cold) water and gently flick off any excess.

==> Click here for my tips on Cold Water Shaving <==

Step 2

Place an almond sized amount of cream onto the end of your shaving brush. If you’re using soap, add a little water to the puck and swirl your brush on the puck until soap had loaded into the bristles

Step 3

Holding your shaving bowl at an angle, swirl your brush on the bottom of the bowl until your lather starts to build.

Step 4

If your lather seems too dry, just drip water from your fingertips a bit at a time until your lather has a thick, rich consistency. If you see larger bubbles, it means you’ve added too much water, but in a bowl this is easily corrected. Just continue to whip your lather until the bubbles disappear.

That’s it, your lather is ready to go. Ready for it’s contribution to a close and comfortable shave. By following these simple steps, you will have a great lather every time.

A great shaving experience is a combination of good quality razors, brushes and creams. But it’s the little things like your technique and the quality of your lather that make it exceptional.

I’d love to hear about your lathering successes (and fails) in the comments below.

Time to get your shave on! 😉

16 thoughts on “How To Use A Shaving Bowl – 4 Easy Steps!

  1. Luis

    I have to be honest and say that I did not know there was even a such thing as a shaving bowl. I learned something new today and your post makes me really want to give it a try.

    My wife recently bought me the art of shaving kit and I absolutely fell in the with it and before that I didn’t experiment with many shaving kits. However, after reading your post I feel like I should try new things and perhaps I can discover other products that I can enjoy using also.

    I really enjoyed your article and I found it to be informative and helpful. Thank you so much for sharing.


  2. MikeyJ

    Im most definitely more of a palm guy. Ive always had to shave for work, working at gas plant’s can be a pain, I couldn’t tell you how many times Ive had to hit up a cold water sink and use hand soap to get the job done. Great article man

    1. Andrew Post author

      G’Day Mikey

      I agree mate. You can only use the tools that you have available at the time. So if all you have available are your hands…then go for it!


  3. Mohammad Makki

    Excellent article Andrew. This is one of the factors I think is holding me back from a closer shave. I can only ever get a very thin lather. Sometimes I see a little bit of what a true rich lather looks like. I’ve always used my face, never my palm (too messy) or a bowl.

    I’m starting to think I should use a bowl though. My dad does, and his shave comes out great. Does it really matter if I use just any bowl? What’s the advantage in buying those specialized bowls?

    1. Andrew Post author

      Hi Mohammad

      Yes mate you can definitely use any bowl for lathering your shaving soap or cream.

      The specially made shaving bowls tend to have a protruding base so you gain a better grip whilst lathering. Some also have bumps or nodules that can assist with the lathering process.


  4. Claudia

    this just reminded me of my Grandfather – he was like you a bowl person. Because my Grandparents raised me for a little while, I thought he was the coolest man on the planet. Thanks for the reminder of that time (he passed away quite a few years ago).

  5. Pete

    Cool article! I had seen these bowls before when I would get a straight shave at the barbers sometime, and I always thought they looked classy. I think the best and closest shaves I’ve ever gotten have been that way. I may have to check it out. Thanks for the info!

    1. Andrew Post author

      G’Day Pete

      I agree mate. The awesome thing about a bowl is that you can build a really rich lather, which in turn translates to a great shave.


  6. Sam


    Thanks for such a detailed article. I remember my grandfather used to use a shaving bowl. I used to want to do it as well. Those were the days! Thanks for reminding me of them! After reading this article, I am inspired to try it!


    1. Andrew Post author

      Thanks for that Sam

      One of the great things about classic shaving are the memories it often brings back!


  7. Sandeep

    Thanks for the detailed article Andrew, I loved it. You have truly taken the act of shaving to a whole new level!
    As a consultant I travel often and shaving has always been a hurried activity that I want to get over and done with. Your article has inspired me to slow down a bit and enjoy the process of shaving.

    1. Andrew Post author

      G’Day Sandeep

      Yes mate we do live in a fast paced world, but it’s nice to sometimes slow down and reflect.

      A wonderful way to do that is to lose yourself in the gentlemanly routine of classic shaving.


  8. Matt

    Whats a lather? Is it the cream you put on your face? I’m still not sure what a shaving bowl is used for in this case though?

    1. Andrew Post author

      Thanks for your question Matt.

      After putting (loading) shaving soap or cream onto your brush, the circular motion on your palm, face or into a bowl builds lather (creamy, dense looking foam). If you’re using a bowl, once you have the desired richness, you apply it to your face, ready for the first stroke of your razor.



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