What does shaving cream do and do you really need it?
First, it seems that "shaving cream" is the umbrella term for shaving foam and shaving gel. Shave cream is also used interchangeably with the term shave foam by some companies. So, foams and gels are types of shaving cream and they do these things for your skin: hydrate, lubricate, track (to show you where you've shaved) and soothe and refresh. Facial hair is generally tough and airy and trying to cut these hairs close to the skin need protection...and shaving cream.
Shaving Foam/Cream or Shaving Gel: What's the Difference?
The biggest difference between the two is the lather. Shave foam or cream creates an instant, light lather, it's airy and easy to rinse away. It coats the skin and moistens the hairs pre-shave. It can usually be removed with a wet towel. But, heavy foams can also hide the shaving surface, making it difficult to see the facial hair and increasing the number of your razor strokes. Shave foam is generally found in aerosol cans.
Shave gel has a richer lather and enhanced lubricants. It offers more razor glide and more protection for your skin and are recommended for men with sensitive skin. Many are fragrance-free which which is also helps to not irritate sensitive skin (or nostrils). Shave gels are also popular among men with facial hair because they are usually clear and it's easier to trim around beards without removing too much hair. Clear means less strokes, less nicks and, of course, less irritation. One con to shave gel use is that they tend to clog razors because of their thick consistency.
There are many choices, but it all comes down to personal preference.