This is a guest post by Chris of Custom Shaving, an online purveyor of all things shaving. Custom Shaving is a great place for all guys, no matter how familiar you are with a straight razor strop. Be sure to check them out after you read this article.
The recent introduction of a number of new and innovative brushless shaving creams and the resurgence of tried and true traditional shaving methods have changed the way we think about shaving creams. This paradigm shift is a result of the efficacy of these shaving products which focus on the heart of what produces an excellent shave: high quality, natural ingredients that moisturize and lubricate. Aerosol cans contain highly pressurized gas in order to eject the contents out. The reality is that introducing air or gas hinders the ability for creams to lubricate. Additionally, aerosol creams all contain highly flammable chemical ingredients. These canned creams are rapidly declining in popularity due to nontoxic alternatives that are not only more favorable to your skin but also allow for a significantly smoother, closer and less irritable shave.
Unless you’re attempting to preserve your shaving cream for the next 10 years, there’s no need to purchase aerosol based shaving creams when you consider their downside risks versus the benefits of using alternatives. It’s become well known over the past few years that canned creams contain a number of chemicals that are harmful to your skin and to your health when used over a prolonged period of time. Here are the most common harmful ingredients you’re likely to encounter each morning using aerosol creams:
Propellants – used to force the shaving cream out of the can, you’ll typically find something flammable like butane, isobutene and propane, which displace water from your skin causing it to become dry and irritated.
Lubricants - in order to compensate for the dryness caused by the propellants mentioned above, additional chemicals like propolene glycol – which is found in antifreeze and brake fluid – are added to act as lubricants so your blade can (attempt) to glide over your skin smoothly.
Moisturizers – many canned creams will contain mineral oil to act as a moisturizer. This ingredient is a byproduct of petroleum. You might be more familiar with its other name – gasoline. It sits on the top of your skin to lock in moisture, but it can also block your pores.
Bonding Agents – to allow all these ingredients to stay together, an agent known as TEA (triethanolamine) is used to bond the agents. Unfortunately, this controversial agent is often contaminated with nitrosamines which irritate the skin and are linked to cancer.
Eliminating the chemically laden ingredients in aerosol cans has allowed these new products to focus on high quality, natural lubricants and moisturizers. You’ll likely find ingredients like olive oil, tea tree oil, seed oil, shea butter and vegetable glycerin which allow the blade to glide over the skin smoothly. Oils naturally work themselves into facial hair, making them 10% – 20% easier to cut while also doubling as a moisturizer. Similar to a piece of paper when it gets wet and becomes easy to tear, the same thing happens when oil makes contact with your facial hair.
Also, natural ingredients are more friendly to the skin and cause less irritation. These new products will often contain an abundance of eucalyptus, aloe, melaleuca, olive oil, coconut oil, tea tree oil, meadowfoam seed oil, shea butter, vegetable glycerin, witch hazel, vitamin B5, vitamin C, vitamin E and bilberry that act as lubricants, moisturizers and vitamins to help you maintain a good complexion and healthy skin. These natural ingredients are often anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, improve complexion, reduce acne, balance oil production, and prevent signs of aging. To experience the qualities of these new shaving solutions, we recommend trying RazoRock 888 Shave Gel, Portland General Racer Shave Cream, John Allan’s Shaving Creamand Lucky Tiger Liquid Shave Cream.
If you prefer something more tried and true, there a number of traditional shaving products that allow for an equally smooth and healthy shave. Most of these shaving creams and soaps will require a shaving brush, shaving bowl, and an extra minute of your time to create the necessary lather. Brushes typically cost between $12 for a low end boar hair brush and upwards of $150 for a top of the line silver tip badger shaving brush. If you’re looking for a cream we recommend D.R. Harris Luxury Shaving Cream, Edwin Jagger Aloe Shave Cream and Taylor of Old Bond Street Cream.
While most of these shaving creams are priced higher than aerosol cans, they are highly concentrated which allows the user to get about 30% more shaves out of traditional creams.
Before creams even existed, the consummate gentleman shaved with a shaving soap that came in a hard puck-like form. Similar to the traditional shaving creams above, these soaps will require a brush and shaving bowl. It takes a little bit more time to create the lather (usually 1 to 2 minutes) using soap but the end result is a shave you’ll never forget. We recommend using
Mitchell’s Wool Fat Soap, Edwin Jagger and Jack Black soap.
A New Shaving Chapter
It’s been a good run for the aerosol creams but it’s time to clear the way for time-tested traditional products and their more modern iterations. Over the past decade the average consumer has demanded healthier, eco-friendly, quality products from the food he eats to the car he drives, and now the time has come for shaving creams. We welcome this new era with open arms and we encourage our fellow shavers to as well.
To a pleasurable shave,
The Custom Shaving Team