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Shaving cream?

What I don't understand about shaving creams is how they are formulated. All regular shaving creams/gels I tested have pH values between 8.5 and 10 and use surfactants like sles or cocamide mea that can be drying. Most of the times its combined with something like stearic acid.

For very dry sensitive skin , like I have, it leaves my skin itchy, red and dry. Considering it has some of the properties of an old fashioned bar soap, wouldn't it be wise to substitue it with something else? And why are they even formulated this way, why does it have such high ph-values?

Dermatologist recommend for eczema patients to substitute their face wash with their regular emmolient cream and to also shave with it (search on Google "eczema emmolient shaving substitute"). I tried it with a couple of basic cleansing milks and moisturizers, and my skin is less dry, but it doesn't really give the same barrier/slip most of the times.

So I wonder is it wise to substitute your shaving cream with an emollient moisturizer, and what ingredients have a slippery feeling and give a barrier on skin so that the blade glides easily over your skin?


  • edited January 2016
    (Most) shaving creams are true soaps which means they're formulated with saponified fatty acids (stearic in your example) and some kind of alkaline agent like triethanolamine (hence the high pH.) 

    The benefit of this type of formula is that it provides a lot of lubricious slip. The disadvantage is that it can be irritating to some people. 

    As you pointed out, shaving with an emollient cream is a great idea if you have sensitive skin but, depending on the formula, it may not provide the same level of slip. 

    Unfortunately, it's not as easy just telling you which ingredients have a slippery feel because it depends on how those ingredients are formulated into the finished product. For example, many silicones provide a lot of slip but if they're formulated into a cream with cetyl or stearyl alcohols then the finished product can feel draggy. 

    This is one of those cases where you'll have to use trial and error to find an emollient cream that gives you the right level of slip for your personal taste. 

    Having said all that, I do have one off the wall suggestion for you. You might try one of those anti-chafing bikini gel products like this Monistat product. It's almost pure silicone so you might like the way it feels. Just a thought. 

    Let us know if you find anything that works!
  • I personally like to use creamy body washes.  I also like Lush's ambrosia shaving cream.
  • Unfortunately as far as I know all Lush products contain fragrances (like limonene, linalool etc). For sensitive skin not very good, and it contains triethanolamine, so probably it has a high ph-value as well.

    What I tried was Avene Extremely gentle Cleansing Lotion (mineral oil with silicones), that didn't work at all. Avene Xeracalm ad cream, does work, but doesn't give same protection as regular shaving cream. A danish brand, Decubal Reiningsmelk, works best but not available over here. I also tried some body lotions, but up till now it's not perfect.

    So I will keep experimenting. But it's strange shaving creams are almost like bar soaps (while bar soap strips and dries skin, see what Paula Begoun has to say about it). You would expect they could make fragrance free shaving creams, that are extremely gentle with a ph of about 5.5 these days.
  • I love the lush product, and I have sensitive skin.  But I do not have allergies at all, just skin that is sensitive to irritants.  In general, though, creamy body washes work for my shaving needs, maybe they would work for you as well.
  • An update:
    What I've been doing for the last weeks is applying 5-6 drops of grape seed oil before applying the avene xeracalm ad cream. And I must say that it works much better. Although I still have some irritation, but maybe I simply have extremely sensitive skin. I will keep experimenting.
  • Have you thought about using a shaving oil? Most of them are unscented and I am sure there are products formulated for the face. I am using one to shave my legs for quite some time now and I haven't had an issue with dry irritated or bumpy skin ever since. So far I can say that it gives the same slip a shaving cream or foam would, it's an oil so there aren't any issues with a ph level and the only downside I can see so far is that you have to rinse your razor under scolding hot water to clean it afterwards, but that's a small price to pay :-)
  • I have sensitive skin as well. I have yet to find a shaving cream that doesn't irritate my skin. I'll certainly keep checking back to see if any helpful advice is posted for you.
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