Shaving cream

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Shaving cream prepared with a shaving brush
Man using shaving cream

Shaving cream or shaving foam is a frothy cosmetic cream applied to body hair, usually facial hair, to facilitate shaving. The use of cream achieves three effects: lubricates the cutting process; swells keratin; and desensitizes skin. Shaving creams commonly consist of an emulsion of oils, soaps or surfactants, and water.[1]


"A barber getting ready to shave the face of a seated customer", c. 1801.

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]

Until the early 20th century, bars or sticks of hard shaving soap were used. Later, tubes containing compounds of oils and soft soap were sold. Newer creams introduced in the 1940s neither produced lather nor required brushes, often referred to as brushless creams.[3]


Modern commercial creams are often sold in spray cans, but can also be purchased in tubs or tubes.[4] Shaving creams in a can are commonly dispensed as a foam and sometimes as a gel that starts turning into foam as it is rubbed into the skin, also known as post-foaming shaving gel.[5] 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).

Post-foaming shaving gels have been found to have benefits over regular pressurized shaving cream in the prevention of pseudofolliculitis barbae. This is due to their better hair softening qualities; post-foaming shaving gels allow more water to enter the hair shaft, which leads to the hair becoming softer and easier to cut.[5]

Pressurized creams

The first can of pressurized shaving cream was Rise shaving cream, which was introduced by Carter-Wallace in 1949.[6] By the following decade this format attained two-thirds of the American market for shaving preparations.[7] 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.[8] Gaseous hydrocarbon propellants such as mixtures of pentane, propane, butane and isobutane could be used instead of the CFCs.[9] Because of the large proportion of water in pressurized shaving cream, the risk from the normally flammable hydrocarbons was reduced.[10]

In the 1970s, shaving gel was developed that is dispensed from a pressurized can.[11] In 1993, The Procter & Gamble Company patented a post-foaming gel composition, which turns the gel into a foam after application to the skin, combining properties of both foams and gels.[12]

Aeroshave, the first instant shaving cream in a pressurized can, was introduced in 1947.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Thomas Clausen et al. "Hair Preparations," Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. Wiley-VCH, Weinheim (2006). doi:10.1002/14356007.a12_571.pub2
  2. ^ "History of Shaving" at Gillette Archived 10 June 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Butler, Hilda; Poucher, William Arthur (2000). Poucher's perfumes, cosmetics and soaps. Springer. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-7514-0479-1. 
  4. ^ Greenberg, Corey (30 January 2005). "How to get that perfect shave". Weekend Today. MSNBC. Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  5. ^ a b Draelos, Zoe. "Best shaving practices reduce occurrence of pseudofolliculitis barbae". Dermatology Times. UBM Medica, LLC. Archived from the original on 9 September 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2016. 
  6. ^ "1949: Carter launches Rise, the first pressurized shave cream". Funding Universe. 
  7. ^ Butler, Hilda; Poucher, William Arthur (2000). Poucher's perfumes, cosmetics and soaps. Springer. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-7514-0479-1. 
  8. ^ "A Look at EPA Accomplishments: 25 Years of Protecting Public Health and the Environment". United States Environmental Protection Agency. 1 December 1995. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  9. ^ "Cost and Emission Reduction Analysis of HFC Emissions from Aerosols in the United States" (pdf). United States Environmental Protection Agency. June 2001. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  10. ^ Gannes, Stuart; Slovak, Julianne (14 March 1988). "A DOWN-TO-EARTH JOB: SAVING THE SKY". Fortune. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  11. ^ "Canadian Patent #2027218". Canadian Patents Database. Canadian Intellectual Property Office. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  12. ^ U.S. Patent 5248495, issued 28 September 1993
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