Shaving cream

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Shaving cream is applied to the skin to facilitate hair removal. Shaving cream softens and moistens the skin and the hair, thus making shaving more comfortable.


Why should I be aware of this?

Shaving creams are an item of necessity. It is important to know the ingredients of the product you are applying twice if not once daily on your skin. Brands across the world do not list all the ingredients used in their products under the pretext of it being a trade secret.

Though most shaving creams use the same ingredients and its is easy to find the names of these ingredients from chemistry text books, the secrecy revolves mostly around the quantities in which standard ingredients are used, and the choice of substitutes for the few ingredients that are variable.

Very few people are aware that shaving creams are very effective in cleaning grime over gravestones. However, most graveyards explicitly ban the use of shaving creams for this purpose because it causes immense damage to the tombstone.

The pH of typical shaving cream is in 5 range, which makes it more acidic than acid rain.

How does this affect me?

Shaving creams might contain ingredients which might have both short term and long term impact on your health. There are a few ingredients you should make a point to avoid and go for products which use alternatives in their place.

Some shaving creams contain DEA which in iteself causes no harm to your skin. However, a lot of time elapses between the time the shaving cream is manufactured, transported to the store and finaly used by you.

In this period, chances are that the DEA could have reacted with other ingredients of the shaving cream and turned into NDEA. NDEA stands for nitrosodiethanolamine. And one of the characteristics of NDEA is that the humanr body absorbs it through the skin quiet easily. It has been linked to incidence of stomach cancer, bladder cancer, liver cancer and esophagus cancer.

Many of the newer shaving creams such as the Gillette Series line have replaced

All about shaving creams

The advantages of using shaving cream, rather than soap, oil, or just water, are many. Shaving with a modern bar of soap approximates shaving with cream but does not provide all of the benefits: soap is only one element of many in a modern shaving preparation.

The objective of shaving preparation is to wet and soften the hair to be shaved, cushion the effect of the razor, and provide a residual film to soothe the skin. This film should be of the proper pH value: neither excessively alkaline nor overly acidic, it should correspond to the skin's pH level.

Ingredients of shaving cream

A standard shaving cream contains approximately

  1. Stearic acid (8.2%)-- It is a fatty acid used as an emollient and as an agent to help keep other ingredients intact in a formulation. It is considered an irritant to the skin and can be readily absorbed by the skin.
  2. Triethanolamine (3.7%)-- It has been identified as a skin or sense organ toxin.[1]
  3. Glycerin (5%)
  4. Lanolin (2%)
  5. polyoxyethylene sorbitan monostearate (6%)-- This has also been identified as a suspected skin or sense organ toxin. It has been given a rating of terible by "The Green Media Toolshed, Suspected Skin or Sense Organ Toxicants".[1]
  6. Water (79.6%)
  7. Fragrance -- There is currently no requirement to disclose fragrance components used in consumer products. A listing of nearly 3,000 compounds used by the fragrance industry indicates that approximately one third of the compounds are known allergens or respiratory irritants

Two major ingredients are common to most shaving creams. Stearic acid is one of the main ingredients in soap making, and triethanolamine is a surfactant, or surface-acting agent, which does the job of soap, although much better. While one end of a surfactant molecule attracts dirt and grease, the other end attracts water. Lanolin and polyoxyethylene sorbitan monostearate are both emulsifiers which hold water to the skin, while glycerin, a solvent and an emollient, renders skin softer and more supple.

Common substitutes for the third, fourth, and fifth ingredients listed above include laureth 23 and lauryl sulfate (both sudsing and foaming agents), waxes, cocamides (which cleanse and aid foaming), and lanolin derivatives (emulsifiers). Most ingredients are powdered or flaked, although lanolin, lanolin derivatives, and cocamides are liquids.

The differences between one brand of shaving cream and another amount to adjustments in the proportions of ingredients and in the processing method (longer or shorter heating times, storage of the finished product, and so on), and choice of ingredients such as emulsifiers or perfumes. Also important is the choice of aerosol propellant. Some mixtures contain more than one propellant; most common are butane, isobutane, and propane.

Other ingredients

  1. Propylene Glycol -- Provides hydration. It has been given an "excellent rating".[1]
  2. Isobutane -- It is a suspected neurotoxicant and its use is banned in cosmetics by the EU.
  3. Acetic Acid -- It is toxic to the skin.
  4. Butylated Hydroxytoluene -- It has been been identified as a suspected neurotoxin as wel as a skin or sense organ toxin.
  5. DEA -- which in itself is not considered harmful but can react with other ingredients to form NDEA.

Shaving cream and the environment

Peoplit comes to their tube of shaving cream. But washing these chemicals down the household drain into our waterways and sea, thereby posing a risk to sea life, plants as well as people's health.

The plastic tubes, steel cans and rubber caps also add to your carbon footprint. These are rarely recycled and find their way into landfills.

What can I do?

You can look at the product lable and evaluate the impact of various ingredients before settling for one. For example many brands are replacing stearic acid with palmitic acid which while somewhat safer for use on your skin should still not be used on the surface of a gravestone.

You can also check out organic or natural shaving creams or go for a homemade shaving cream.

90 degrees

Shaving cream on gravestones

Shaving Cream contains a chemical known as stearic acid which causes the surface of the stone to exfoliate, especially if that stone is either granite, marble or limestone. Granite is an igneous rock, and therefore highly susceptible to any type of chemical weathering. Experts opine that putting shaving cream on the stone, is like subjecting it to acid rain over a long period of time

Marble and Limestone are highly reactive to acids and might go from a solid to a gaseous stage , as it releases certain parts of its chemical structure. Further reason for not using shaving cream lies in the potential damage over a very long period of time, not just a few years. The chemicals in shaving cream permeate into the microscopic pores of the stone and can not be readily washed out.


  • Shaving Cream


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