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Shaving cream

Shaving gel
See also depilatory cream for the cosmetic potion of this name.

Shaving cream is a substance that is applied to the face or wherever else hair grows, to provide lubrication and avoid razor burn during shaving. Shaving cream is often bought in a spray can, but can also be purchased in tubs or tubes.[1] Shaving cream in a can is commonly dispensed as a foam or a gel. Creams that are in tubes or tubs are commonly used with a shaving brush to produce a rich lather (most often used in wet shaving).

The cream itself commonly consists of a mixture of oil, soaps, surfactants, and water or alcohol, manufactured under carefully controlled conditions to ensure proper pH and consistency.



A man shaving his undercheek using shaving cream.

A rudimentary form of shaving cream was documented in Sumer around 3000 BC. This substance combined wood alkali and animal fat and was applied to a beard as a shaving preparation.[2]

The gas in shaving cream canisters originally contained chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) but this substance was increasingly believed to be detrimental to the Earth's ozone layer. This led to restrictions or reductions in CFC use, such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency ban in the late 1970s.[3] Gaseous hydrocarbon propellants such as mixtures of pentane, propane, butane and isobutane could be used instead of the CFCs.[4] Because of the large proportion of water in pressurized shaving cream, the risk from the normally flammable hydrocarbons was reduced.[5]

In the late 1980s, shaving gel was developed which dispenses as a gel then rubbed on the face to produce a lather.[6]

In 1996 a British company called King of Shaves launched two shaving gels in a tube. The packaging was recyclable and no CFCs were used in the manufacturing process. Since then, many companies including Gillette, Nivea and L'Oreal have followed suit and launched shaving gels in tubes.


Shaving cream is not normally used when using an electric razor, however some newer models feature a wet shave.

A debunked myth is that two cans of frozen shaving cream, when thawed, will expand to sufficient volume to fill the interior of an automobile.[7]

See also

  • Aftershave
  • Shaving
  • Shaving oil


  1. ^ Greenberg, Corey (30 January 2005). "How to get that perfect shave". Weekend Today (MSNBC). http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6886845/. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  2. ^ "History of Shaving" at Gillette
  3. ^ "A Look at EPA Accomplishments: 25 Years of Protecting Public Health and the Environment". United States Environmental Protection Agency. 1 December 1995. http://www.epa.gov/history/topics/epa/25b.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  4. ^ "Cost and Emission Reduction Analysis of HFC Emissions from Aerosols in the United States" (pdf). United States Environmental Protection Agency. June 2001. http://www.epa.gov/highgwp/pdfs/chap10_aero.pdf. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  5. ^ Gannes, Stuart; Slovak, Julianne (14 March 1988). "A DOWN-TO-EARTH JOB: SAVING THE SKY". Fortune. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1988/03/14/70302/index.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  6. ^ "Canadian Patent #2027218". Canadian Patents Database. Canadian Intellectual Property Office. http://patents.ic.gc.ca/cipo/cpd/en/patent/2027218/summary.html. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  7. ^ Foam on the Range (Rover) at Snopes.com