Choose natural shaving cream
Shaving creams and gels contain a cocktail of chemicals to give you a soft, supple shave, including triethanolamine (TEA), which is also used in nitrogen mustard gas. Choose a natural shaving cream to avoid letting these dangerous substances make contact with the environment—and your skin.
What to look for when choosing natural shaving cream
When choosing natural, eco-friendly shaving cream, look for the following:
- Avoid antibacterial agents: A recent study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that triclosan—the main antibacterial agent in soaps—can be linked to cancer in lab animals, may disrupt hormone function in humans, and is a non-biodegradable toxic agent that pollutes ecosystems and threatens wildlife when it is discharged into the water stream.
- Look for plant-based, biodegradable ingredients: Conventional shaving creams are made from petroleum-derived chemicals that persist in the environment, creating pollution and threatening human health. A standard shaving cream recipe contains about 8 percent stearic acid, 4 percent triethanolamine, .5 percent lanolin, 2 percent glycerin, 6 percent polyoxyethylene sorbitan monostearate, and 80 percent water. Shaving creams that use plant-based ingredients and essential oils for fragrance replace these dangerous ingredients with ones that are healthy for you and the earth. In particular, try to avoid ingredients like parabens and phthalates, and seek out soaps labeled as biodegradable.
- Go organic: Because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spends only a tiny portion of its budget investigating the chemical composition and toxins in skin care products, shaving creams can tout their use of organic ingredients and still have up to 30 percent synthetic materials, even the ones labeled "organic" or "made with organic ingredients." The only way to be sure that the product you are purchasing is, in fact, organic is to look for the USDA Organic Seal on the label. This seal guarantees that every ingredient is organically produced as defined by the National Organics Standards Board, which bans the use of harmful pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and genetic engineering.
- Look for shaving creams that do not contain animal fats or employ animal testing: While you're contemplating green attributes, you may also wish to join the cruelty-free movement. Just keep in mind: a company may claim that they don’t employ animal testing for their products, but without third-party verification, it’s hard to know whether these statements are in fact completely true. So stick to those products certified as cruelty-free by looking for products with the Leaping Bunny Logo or the Certified Vegan Logo. You can rest assured that no bunnies (or monkeys or cats for that matter) were harmed in the making of these non-animal-tested products.
Find it! Natural shaving creams
Natural shaving creams and gels swap chemicals with soothing, sometimes organic, plant-based ingredients.
Alba's botanic-based, Leaping Bunny-certified line of Moisturizing Cream Shaves smooth and soothe with jojoba oil, and vitamin E in a soap-free formula; the Moisturizing Foam Shaves with organic aloe vera provides a close, clean, and non-razor clogging shave with patented, aerosol-free technology; the Hawaiian Moisturizing Cream Shaves keeps skin moisturized and healthy with three tempting scents: Coconut Milk, Papaya Mango, and Cocoa Butter.
With Men's Stock Shave Systems from Aubrey Organics, men can indulge in a simple, cruelty-free three step shaving system—face scrub, shaving cream, and aftershave or after shave balm—available in three sweet-smelling scents.
Aveda's Rosemary Mint Shaving Gel boasts a menthol-based formula for men and women sure to awake the senses and provide a soft, silky shave. Other ingredients include organic rosemary, lavender, and peppermint, and coconut-derived moisturizers.
Herban Cowboy's rich, luxurious shave cream contains organic lavender, peppermint, and aloe; the after shave balm contains organic carrot, cucumber, and shea butter. Both have a subtle dusk scent to keep you from reeking like a barnyard animal (important to all Herban Cowboys looking to wrangle a cowgirl).
Fellas, indulge those frisky follicles to silky, sustainable Supreme Cream from Jack Black. This easy-gliding, fragrance- and paraben-free formula contains Certified Organic sea kelp extract, Certified Organic sunflower seed extract, macadamia nut oil, jojoba oil, glycerin, soy, and licorice root extract.
This shaving cream from coveted Greek natural beauty line Korres is free of mineral oil, silicone, propylene glycol, and ethanolamine. So what does it contain? Try absinthe extract, jojoba oil, vitamin E, Active Aloe®, and provitamin B5 on for size (or shave, rather.) Follow up with Marigold and Ginseng Aftershave Balm.
This UK-based purveyor of natural goodies for body and bath offers three non-foaming shaving creams: Ambrosia, Prince Triple Orange Blossom, and Razorantium. All contain a mix of natural/organic ingredients and safe synthetics and can be applied to a guy's goatee or a lady's legs without worry of washing chems down the drain.
Forgo those creams and gels completely and try the Pacific Shaving Company's Shaving Oil on for shave. Effective in remedying the shaving woes of both and women, this product—made from essential oils—packs a powerful punch.
Weleda is an eco-conscious beauty company that sources fair trade ingredients from around the globe and cultivates its own organic and biodynamic botanicals at production facilities in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Brazil, and New Zealand. Weleda's non-foaming Shaving Cream combines pansy extract, goat's milk, and almond extract ideal for the sensitive skin of both green guys and gals.
Before you buy
Keep in mind that if you choose a specialty shaving cream concocted with green ingredients in lieu of an easy-to-find variety, you'll likely be confronted with a higher price tag as chemicals generally come cheaper than botanical, organic certified ingredients. For example, a can of Gillette Foamy Shaving Cream will set you back $2.79 while Alba Botanica's Coconut Lime Moisturizing Cream Shave cost $5.79.
Choosing natural shaving cream helps you go green because...
- They rely on ingredients found in nature, not in a chemist's lab. These ingredients have natural healing properties and do not pose risk to those with chemical sensitivities.
- Like other conventional skincare and cosmetic products, shaving creams contain petroleum-derived components. Petroleum is a non-sustainable resource with various eco-repercussions.
- Many makers of natural shaving creams also practice green business practices, such as using recycled packaging and harnessing renewable energy sources like wind power.
Like other beauty, hair, and skin care products, such as lipstick, deodorant, and shampoo, many popular shaving creams contain petroleum-based ingredients. The production of the petrochemicals used in bath and skin care products pollutes the environment by releasing hazardous chemicals into the air and water. These products support the hazards of the petroleum industry, which include about 2.6 million gallons of oil spilled every month during transportation and about 71 million pounds of toxins released into the air and water during refinement.
Supplementary preservatives in conventional shaving creams can include parabens, known endocrine disrupters that are not only detrimental to human health, but also destructive to animal hormones and development. (Studies have found higher levels of parabens in tumors from human breast tissue, but, because the potential damage to the endocrine system has yet to be proven, the controversy surrounding the toxicity of parabens is still being debated.)
And the list of not-so-friendly ingredients goes on. The potent synthetic antimicrobial agent triclosan, used in some shaving creams and other personal care products, has been found in 55 percent of streams examined in 2002 at levels high enough to disrupt the natural life cycle of frogs. While diethanolamine (DEA) is infrequently used in skin and hair care products because it is a known carcinogen, the more commonly used chemicals TEA and MEA are often contaminated with diethanolamine. Lauryl/laureth sulfates are common skin irritants that can dry out the skin and hair with longterm use.
The fragrances in shaving creams and gels pose risks as well. Fragrances are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which add to air pollution, are persistent in the environment, and contaminate waterways and aquatic wildlife. An estimated 5.72 million Americans have skin allergies to fragrance, while around 72 percent of those suffering from asthma claim that their condition can be triggered by synthetic fragrance. Shaving creams with artificial fragrances can shaving cream#phthalates | phthalates]], widely used industrial chemicals that are estrogenic or anti-androgenic. Studies conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health reveal a link between monoethyl phthalate, a chemical used to preserve scent in perfumes and colognes, and sperm damage. Click here for a breakdown of the leading chemicals found in fragrance products and their related health effects.
The personal care industry is in turmoil trying to agree upon a set of standards for organic labeling of personal care products. While the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains clearcut standards for organic food, the same can’t be said for body care products. Some companies use the USDA certified organic food standard, which requires 95 percent of the ingredients to be organic. Others use the less stringent California state standard for organic cosmetic products, which requires at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients. And still others label their products organic without meeting any external criterion. Fortunately, the guidelines for labeling a soap as "100% Organic" are strict. Products carrying this label maus contain all organic ingredients.
To clear up this confusion, a nonprofit standard-setting group called NSF International has released a draft set of rules for organic personal care products and a group of 30 cosmetic companies recently devised their own set of specifications called Organic and Sustainable Industry Standards (OASIS). How it all washes out remains to be seen.
- DEA: Diethanolamine (also related to the additives TEA and MEA). Suspected carcinogen, used as an emulsifier or foaming agent.
- parabens: This family of synthetic preservatives (which includes methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, and butyl-parabens) can possibly disrupt the endocrine system.
- phthalates: Additives commonly used in plastics and other materials, mainly to make them soft and flexible, that may damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system, particularly the developing testes, according to animal studies.
- triclosan: An antibacterial agent that may form dioxin and chloroform in the right circumstances, both probable carcinogens.
- volatile organic compounds (VOCs): Organic solvents that easily evaporate into the air and may cause immediate and long-term health problems.
- Mindful Momma - Eco-Shave
- Restroom Critic - Cancer in Your Bathroom?
- Grist - Ask Umbra: Stubble Trouble
- Grist - Made in a Shave: A dozen men's shaving creams get put to the blade
- Shaving Stuff A shave-centric weblog for men and women
- Environmental Working Group - Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database Before you lather up, check out where your favorite cream ranks on the hazard scale.