As far as mass market shaving creams go, there's a pretty standard recipe that you'll find across the board. These shaving creams consist of about 80 percent water, and the rest of the ingredients do the jobs of lathering up on the face, binding the lathering ingredients to the water and propelling it out of the can. Unfortunately, many of these shaving creams feature more harmful ingredients than beneficial ones. Here's what to keep an eye out for.
Propolene glycol is a humectant like glycerin, but unlike glycerin, it's more frequently found in antifreeze and brake fluid. Triethanolamine, better known as TEA, is an emulsifying agent, meaning it helps keep the oil and water from separating. It's also a very controversial ingredient in the cosmetic industry because not only is it a skin irritant, but many formulas containing TEA are found to be contaminated with nitrosamines, which are linked to cancer. Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) are two more controversial skincare ingredients. These make a great lather, but they also have a number of health implications. Lauryl mimics estrogen, which is especially problematic for women, and laureth often hosts a known carcinogen called dioxane.
On the moisture front, an oil that will frequently pop up in shaving creams is mineral oil. This is something you definitely don't want to put on your face. Mineral oil is a byproduct of petroleum. Yes, that's right -- gasoline. It sits on top of the skin, which locks in moisture, but it can also block your pores. You're better off sticking with oils that are derived from nature, so look for plant-based oils. You're also better off avoiding formulas that contain synthetic colors and fragrance oils. Both of these ingredients have been found to be highly irritating.