Shaving cream may be a simple grooming product, but it’s one we often take for granted. You’re about to learn some important facts about it you probably didn’t know before.
The purpose of shaving cream is to soften the hair and lubricate the skin, allowing a razor blade to shave more evenly, efficiently, and with less irritation.
Although there are a few different types of shaving cream now on the market, the first documentation of shaving cream can be found going as far back as 3000 BC. A very basic mixture of wood alkali and animal fat, but doing the same job nonetheless.
Anyway, enough with the history lesson. Let’s get down to some practical, rarely discussed facts that you should know.
1. Is Shaving Cream The Same As Shaving Foam?
Shaving foam can be considered a type of shaving cream, but specifically shaving cream that’s contained and released from an aerosol can.
Put simply, shaving foam is shaving cream that exits a can with a whooshing noise and instantly forms a lather on your hand. The main reason people go for shaving foam is to save time.
The aerosolized shaving foam needs to use propellants such as hydrocarbons to release it out under pressure.
Compare this with more traditional forms of shaving cream such as lathering shaving cream (requiring a brush and whisk) and latherless shaving cream that comes in a tube (i.e non-aerosolized shaving cream).
Shaving foam does save shavers time, but it isn’t the type of shaving cream of choice for most shaving aficionados who prefer a more traditional form.
Plus, there are many men who aren’t comfortable with the propellant hydrocarbons often used to make this aerosolized experience possible.
2. Does Shaving Cream Expire?
Shaving creams will expire after a certain period of time after opening. Cosmetic products, including shaving creams, often have a specific “Period After Opening” (PAO) telling you how long you can use it for after opening.
Note that this is different to an expiration date, as it is not a specific date by which you must stop using the product.
It simply tells you approximately how long the shaving cream can be used after opening it. In other words, it doesn’t matter when you opened it – it just matters how long you intend on using it for after you open it.
For many shaving creams, the PAO is “12M” which means 12 months.
This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule and shaving creams will differ. However, it’s a reasonable average to follow.
Ultimately, you’ll need to use your own intuition to really figure out whether a shaving cream has gone bad.
If it smells strange or looks discolored, get rid of it no matter how long you’ve had it for.
3. Are Shaving Cream Cans Recyclable?
Aerosol shaving cream cans are technically almost always recyclable, as they’re usually made from tin-plated steel, aluminum, or both. The small plastic and rubber parts used for the lid and dip tube are usually extracted during the recycling itself.
However, it’s important to ensure that your recycling facility actually accepts aerosol cans. They’re pressurized which could be considered hazardous to the workers, so check with the facility first to ensure it’s OK.
They may request that they’re recycled separately to other aluminum or steel products, or simply not accept them at all.
4. Can You Bring Shaving Cream On A Plane?
Shaving cream can be brought on a plane. 3.4oz/100ml can be taken in hand luggage, but larger amounts will need to be put into checked bags.
This will hold true for the vast majority of airlines, but it’s important to check with your specific airline to ensure they follow these general TSA rules for liquids and gels.
It can be awkward trying to distribute a larger shaving cream can or tube into smaller containers. The easiest option would be to simply buy a travel-sized shaving cream container for convenience.
5. Can Shaving Cream Freeze?
Yes, shaving cream does freeze. It’s a common problem when having shaving cream delivered in very cold temperatures.
If this happens, store the shaving cream at room temperature and wait for it to resume its normal, creamy form.
6. Does Shaving Cream Help You Grow A Beard?
Using shaving cream does not help grow a beard or make the hair grow back thicker or fuller. Its sole purpose is to soften the facial hair and lubricate the skin so that shaving becomes as frictionless as possible.
It’s a common misconception that shaving helps facial hair grow back thicker or fuller. In addition, it’s also a common misconception that using shaving cream will accelerate this process.
But neither of these things actually increases the number or distribution of hairs you have, so can’t be expected to actually change the growth.
When you’ve got a beard, one way in which shaving cream will become important is when shaving outside the borders.
You’ll want to maintain a well-defined neckline – this is the lower border of your beard where your neck hair meets your neck skin.
To define this line, you’ll need to occasionally shave beneath it to make it look neat and crisp. If you’re using a manual razor and not an electric one, shaving cream will be important here.
Another area you may want to shave is above the cheek lines.
So, although shaving cream is not helpful when it comes to actually growing the beard itself, it will most likely play an important role in maintaining the beard in the best way possible.
7. What Happens If You Don’t Use Shaving Cream?
If you don’t use shaving cream when shaving with a manual razor, it’s important that you at least use a lubricating alternative to avoid irritation and soreness.
The most suitable alternatives would be shaving oil, shaving soap, shaving gel, or shaving butter.
However, there are also alternatives that may not have been intended for use as a shaving lubricant but are used with pretty good effect as well.
Don’t get me wrong – they aren’t ideal, but they’ll probably do the trick. Conditioner, baby oil, and coconut oil are alternatives.
Whatever you use, do a patch test first to ensure you’re not sensitive or allergic to it. Apply a small amount to your elbow and review the area in 48 hours to ensure there’s no irritation.
8. What Does Shaving Cream Do To Head Hair?
Shaving cream can be used on head hair with good effect when shaving your head. Given the thickness of scalp hair, you may want to consider also using pre-shave oil to minimize irritation.
However, the hair will need to be short enough to shave using a razor in the first place. Because of this, you’ll need to buzz the hair down to very short stubble using a pair of clippers first.
Just like with facial hair, it’s only necessary to use shaving cream on your head when using a manual razor. In other words, a cartridge, safety, or straight razor.
If you’re using an electric shaver (foil or rotary) to shave your head, you won’t need to use shaving cream or any lubricant for that matter.
If you’re in a rush, an electric shaver would be a better option as you don’t need to be quite as precise and can speed things up without causing as much irritation.
However, there’s something intensely masculine and cathartic about slathering on some shaving cream and shaving the head manually. It takes more time and more concentration, but men seem to find that it’s a pretty zen-like experience.
It isn’t rocket science, but it’s a grooming tool that’s important to get to grips with.
This wasn’t a step-by-step tutorial on how to use it – just a collection of commonly asked yet rarely answered questions on the topic.
Hope you found it useful.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.