Shaving mugs are designed to hold shaving soap and often to keep it warm. Some shaving mugs include separate sections known as "scuttles," which are designed to hold hot water into which one dips a shaving brush.
Vintage shaving mugs often feature elaborate designs, some of which show off the shaver's occupation, fraternal organizations or hobbies. From 1880 to 1920, men often purchased their own shaving mugs at barbershops, which customized the mugs for each man. Shaving soap manufacturers also provided free shaving mugs as a promotional gimmick. In addition, souvenir shaving mugs were also manufactured to commemorate vacations or special events.