The original purpose of the shaving cream is to give a closer, smoother shave. Shaving cream can come in a spray can, a tube, a stick or container. It can be applied as a cream, foam, or gel. It’s usually applied to the face for a few minutes before shaving to help soften the hair. During shaving, the cream will break the surface tension of water droplets adhering to the face, which allows the razor to properly contact the skin.
It is formulated to a pH compatible with the skin and is made from oils, soaps or surfactants, and water or alcohol. There is little variation in the types of ingredients present, as there are only a few substitutions that can be made of each ingredient. What distinguishes the different brands is the amount of each ingredient, and the substitutions made. Other ingredients may be included to achieve specific effects, such as hydrating agents or perfumes to provide scents. Shaving cream that comes in a spray can is actually the same formula that comes in a tube; it’s just canned with a propeller.
The biggest trend in the shaving cream is the emergence of green options. They come in a tube or a tub, to avoid the need for propellants used in aerosols. Several brands now have organic ingredients instead of synthetic chemicals and essential oils (with mint, eucalyptus and aloe – non female) instead of perfumes. Some include witch hazel to help soothe irritation.
To ensure a shaving cream is truly “green”, look for ones that have natural ingredients, preferably certified organic by the USDA. The natural ingredients rather than synthetic have the greatest environmental impact. Organic simply refers to how these natural ingredients are grown and harvested. Although these products are typically more expensive than their traditional counterparts, prices are falling as more companies include a “green” choice in their product lines.