What's in Your Shaving Cream?

Posted by Oui Shave on

Toxins in shaving creamIt's pink, the scent is "girly", and the buzzwords are aimed right at our needs. Silky legs, flawless skin, and the promise that we'll feel like satin. It's a beauty advert in a can. Shave creams, foams, and gels were hitting all the right notes, until we took a closer look at their ingredient list. Hormone disruptors, toxins, fillers masquerading as moisturizers. But who can begin to dissect the ingredients in a can of shaving cream?

Ingredient labels are, quite frankly, illegible. In the beauty & skincare industry there is a system of names, the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, or INCI for short, that denotes the scientific names for waxes, oils, pigments, chemicals, etc. In recent years, with the surge of natural beauty products available, companies using real ingredients have proudly displayed the translation of the scientific names on their ingredient labels. It looks something like this: Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Seed) Oil. If a brand relies heavily on chemicals, you won't find a translation, but it might look something like this: Triethanolamine (emulsifier linked to hormone disruption). For all the sexy messaging, that's a terribly unsexy ingredient. 

Let's break it down:

We pulled the ingredient list of a popular shaving cream with over 1700 reviews. That's over 1700 women using a cream containing more than 11 harmful chemicals! Here are the ingredients translated (after water and glycerin, just 2 of 3 recognizable ingredients):

Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Palmitic Acid, Triethanolamine, Isopentane, Glyceryl Oleate, Stearic Acid, Fragrance, Isobutane, Sorbitol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Panthenol, Peg-90m, Peg-23m, BHT, Tocopheryl Acetate, Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter Extract, Pvm/Ma Copolymer, Red 33, Green 3.

  • Palmitic Acid: fatty acid derived from animal or vegetable sources
  • Triethanolamine: Also known as TEA. Used to emulsify water and oil soluble products. Linked to hormone disruption, immune and respiratory toxicity, and skin allergies. 
  • Isopentane: An aerosol propellant that is irritating to skin, eyes, and lungs.
  • Glyceryl Oleate: Used to emulsify water and oil soluble products. Considered an irritant for products used on the skin or in aerosol form. 
  • Stearic Acid: Used to emulsify water and oil soluble products. Most often refers to a fatty substance takes from the stomach of pigs. Can be harsh and irritating and is suspected to be an environmental toxin.  
  • Fragrance: Natural and/or and made substances used to impart a pleasant smell, or mask the odor of some ingredients. Known allergen that can cause dizziness, headaches, and rashes. 
  • Isobutane: An aerosol propellant that is irritating to skin, eyes, and lungs. It is toxic to our organs. 
  • Sorbitol: A type of sugar alcohol used as a thickener and skin conditioning agent. 
  • Hydroxyethylcellulose: A gelling and thickening agent.
  • Pantheon: A moisturizing compound that can be derived from animal, vegetable, or synthetic sources. 
  • Peg-90m: Increases the thickness of the water portion in cosmetic products. Can be toxic to our organs and is suspected to be an environmental toxin. 
  • Peg-23m: Increases the thickness of the water portion in cosmetic products. Can be toxic to our organs and is suspected to be an environmental toxin. 
  • Butylated Hydroxtoluene: BHT for short, is a preservative that slows the deterioration of shaving cream caused by chemical reactions with oxygen. It is considered one of the most toxic chemicals, and is linked to hormone disruption, skin and lung irritation. 
  • Tocopherol Acetate: A chemical compound that acts as an antioxidant. 
  • Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer: A binding agent.
  • Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter Extract: A skin conditioning agent and emollient. Notice that the third real ingredient falls at #18 on the list. 
  • Pvm/Ma Copolymer: An emulsion stabilizer. 
  • Red 33: A synthetic dye produced from petroleum or coal tar sources.
  • Green 3: A chemical colorant that is banned in the EU. 

The shave gel/cream above is comprised of just three real ingredients. Three. The remaining ingredients are faux emollients, binders, thickeners, and emulsifiers. None of which are necessary to achieve a great shave. Thankfully, the climate is shifting and women are voting, with their dollars and their voices, on the ingredients that enter their bodies in the form of cosmetics. We're happy to be a part of that movement at Oui Shave, where our ingredients are not only real, but made with women in mind. 

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